10. The successful relaunch of the Sunday business page. After a three-year absence, The Olympian brought back the business page, providing space to take a closer look at businesses throughout the county. I have profiled about 30 small businesses since May and look forward to many more in the new year.
9. The parent company to Heritage Bank -- Heritage Financial Corp. -- had a good year, producing consistently positive earnings and rewarding shareholders with healthy dividends. The company also recently acquired Northwest Commercial Bank of Lakewood.
8. The housing market showed signs of life last year, including an eight-month streak of improved home sales from April to November.
7. More hiring last year helped to chip away at Thurston County's jobless rate, reducing it to 6.9 percent late in the year.
6. Higher gasoline prices once again spooked consumers and businesses, rising to an average of $4.28 per gallon in the Olympia area in May.
5. The Port of Olympia secured a new import for the next two years, bringing in bagged ceramic proppants from China that are then sent to the upper Midwest to aid in oil exploration.
4. Three key acquisitions took place last year in the county: the parent company to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound -- Great Wolf Resorts -- was acquired and is now privately held; the venerable Olympia Golf and Country Club was purchased by local philanthropist Angela Bowen; and the Nisqually Tribe and Bellevue-based Wig Properties bought the Lacey Gateway property in Hawks Prairie. The two groups paid $23 million for the 215-acre site.
3. Univera, a longtime company in Hawks Prairie known for the manufacture and distribution of health supplements, uprooted about half of its operations here and moved to Seattle.
2. Washington state liquor is privatized. Former state-run stores in the county were auctioned off to the highest bidders and stores throughout the area applied to sell liquor. Contract liquor stores, too, shifted from working with the state to going it alone.
1. The public power movement, which pitted supporters of public power and the Thurston Public Utility District against Puget Sound Energy. This was a hot-button issue for most of the year. Supporters gathered enough signatures to get Proposition 1 on the November ballot -- its passage would have allowed the PUD to pursue public electrical power -- while PSE spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat the ballot measure.