Each year, the Brainerd Dispatch newsroom votes on its Top 10 local stories covered throughout the previous 12 months.

Needless to say, 2020 was the year marked by COVID-19, and very few stories we’ve covered since March were untouched by the coronavirus. Its effect has resulted in many changes — some good, some bad — that will no doubt have a long-lasting impact on the Brainerd lakes area.

Below is the list of our Top 10 stories from 2020 that can be found throughout the pages of this edition of the Brainerd Dispatch.

No. 1 — COVID-19 and its impact on the Brainerd lakes area. Life seemed to change in an instant in the middle of March after the global pandemic hit, a national emergency was declared, businesses were ordered shut, events were canceled and schools closed.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 1: A year like no other

Newsletter signup for email alerts

No 2 — Local elections. Absentee and mail-in voting surged because of the pandemic, with record voting turnouts reported. While there were few surprises locally, write-in challengers for Crow Wing County Board and Baxter City Council made pushes to win seats.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 2: Election year like no other

No. 3 — The impact of George Floyd’s murder reaches Brainerd lakes area. George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer resulted in mass protests and counter protests throughout the country, and Brainerd was no exception.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 3: Black Lives Matter

No. 4 — Nisswa mayor arrested. The city of Nisswa received national attention after its mayor, Fred Heidmann, was arrested after a profanity-laced tirade against two police officers.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 4: Nisswa mayor controversy

No. 5 — Brainerd Dispatch reduces print days. For the first time in 137 years, on July 16 the printing presses at the Brainerd Dispatch didn’t roll out the daily newspaper. Earlier in the year, the Dispatch announced it would reduce its print days from six to two in an effort to offset financial losses brought to a head by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 5: After 137 years of the daily printed page, the Dispatch reduces its print days, moves to daily e-edition

No. 6. — Leadership changes. Several area community leaders left their position in 2020.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 6: Leadership changes across the lakes area

No. 7. — Second Amendment resolution at Crow Wing County Board. A push to make Crow Wing County a Second Amendment sanctuary turned out differently than proponents hoped.

Dispatch Top 10 Stories, No. 7: Citizen group seeks 2nd Amendment resolution

No. 8. — East Gull Lake helicopter controversy. Whether to permit the installation of a helicopter landing area at a private residence dominated East Gull Lake government for several months.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 8: No helipads allowed in East Gull Lake

No. 9 — Fate of historic water tower gets deadline extension. Brainerd historic water tower, scheduled to be demolished unless plans were developed and funds were raised to save it, was given a reprieve from being demolished.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 9: Water tower gets deadline extension

No. 10. — Brainerd building projects. A couple fires aside, work continued on city of Brainerd and Brainerd Public Schools projects.

Dispatch Top 10 - No. 10: Construction continues in city and Brainerd schools