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Friday, 30 December 2016 09:14

2016: Top stories in Walworth County

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Cars begin to sink through the thin ice during last year's Winterefest in downtown Lake Geneva. The parking debacle proved to be one of the most talked-about stories of 2016. Cars begin to sink through the thin ice during last year's Winterefest in downtown Lake Geneva. The parking debacle proved to be one of the most talked-about stories of 2016. Dieter Sturm

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- It’s 2017, and people don’t gather around the water cooler anymore to talk about what’s going on in their communities.

They gather around their smartphones to comment on Facebook posts.  

The technology may be changing, but good local stories always generate a buzz, whether it’s a 20-year-old Sharon woman who overcame life-threatening odds or 19th century shipwrecks as close as the waters of Geneva Lake. As we look back on the year just past, we review five of the stories that really got readers talking in 2016:

Underwater oddities

There are a lot of surprising things that have been uncovered beneath the waters of Geneva Lake, including a Volkswagen chassis and a bag of human ashes. But what keeps divers coming back to the area is the bones of ships like the 19th century Lucius Newberry, considered one of the area’s most luxurious excursion vessels, complete with brass fixtures and oil paintings. Those who have visited the underwater wrecks have stories to tell about those majestic and ghostly sites:

Lakeside luxury

Looking for a house with a pedigree? With 11,000 square feet, a private dock along Geneva Lake, a guesthouse and a garage with eight heated bays, Hillcroft’s prestigious surroundings are matched only by its history. The one-time summer residence of Philip K. Wrigley -- whose fortunes once included the Wrigley Chewing Gum Co., the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field -- went up for sale last year:

Update: Since our story ran in September, the selling price was reduced from $16.45 million to a cool $14.5 million, according to the Keefe Real Estate listing for the property at W3245 Snake Road in the town of Linn.

Sinking feeling

Drivers who thought they found a perfect parking spot in downtown Lake Geneva during a busy winter weekend on Feb. 6 eventually discovered ice-covered Geneva Lake wasn’t it. Despite warning signs along the lakeshore about driving onto the lake, dozens of drivers parked there -- and then were surprised to see their cars sinking into the water. About 10 vehicles were total losses:  

Chronicle of courage

When Kaitlyn Vegter, a 20-year-old Sharon woman and 2013 Delavan-Darien High School grad, was seriously injured after hitting a payloader tractor with her car Jan. 7 in Delavan, her family updated friends and relatives on the accident through Facebook. The photos and posts became an almost daily chronicle of Vegter’s multiple surgeries, progress and recovery to a wider circle of community, spurring everything from prayer services to fundraisers.

Update: Vegter started publicly sharing her story on distracted driving, including an assembly at Delavan-Darien High School, in October.

Veteran’s journey

Dave Perkins was 17 when he signed up to join the U.S. Navy during World War II. As a Seabee he was constructing facilities for troops in spots as distant as Morocco and Cuba. Nearly 70 years later the Delavan resident was headed on his first trip to Washington as an honored serviceman in a VetsRoll trip. Perkins passed away Dec. 7 at age 87.



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