20 Greater Cincinnati News Stories From 2021 That We’ll Never Forget
By Allison Babka
What can we say about 2021? Year two of the COVID-19 pandemic was slightly more interesting than 2020 was, since safe, effective vaccines emerged and we could finally leave our homes and hug relatives again (unless they remained unvaccinated).
But there were plenty of other interesting happenings in Cincinnati that had nothing to do with a virus that continues to wipe out the country's population at a pretty devastating clip. Below, read the Greater Cincinnati news stories that made 2021 memorable in both good and bad ways.
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Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley Finally Enters Ohio Governor Race, with Legal Weed as a Platform Centerpiece
After months of teasing that he'd make a run for a higher office, Cranley announced in August that he would officially enter the race to become Ohio's next governor in 2022. Cranley's campaign largely is framed around Cincinnati's population and civic "comeback," as he calls it, with criminal justice reform, job creation and legal recreational marijuana as focuses. Read CityBeat's story about Cranley's platform.
Photo: Allison Babka
Cincinnati Elects Aftab Pureval as Its First New Mayor in Eight Years
A changing of the guard is coming in 2022. By defeating opponent and longtime politician David Mann in November's election, the 39-year-old Pureval cemented two important firsts: the first new mayor since Cranley took office two terms ago, and Cincinnati's first Asian American mayor. City Council member and Cincinnati Herald publisher Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney will join Pureval’s administration as vice mayor. Read CityBeat's story about Pureval's big win.
Photo: TheAustinMan/Wikimedia Commons
Kentucky Sees Its Most Devastating Tornado Ever
More than 20 tornadoes descended upon the Midwest and mid-South on Dec. 10 and early Dec. 11, hitting Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee. At least four of them zipped through the Commonwealth during the multi-state blitz, including one that the National Weather Service says stayed on the ground for at 227 miles. The tornado cluster is considered to be one of the most devastating in history. At least 75 people were killed in Kentucky, ranging in ages from 2 months old to 97, and the death count still could rise as recovery efforts continue. U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. government will cover 100% of the disaster relief costs for the first 30 days. Read CityBeat's coverage of the tornado aftermath.
Photo: Janetandphil/CC by-NC-ND 2
Cicadas Invaded Cincinnati — and We Were Ready
Following a 17-year residency underground, billions of cicadas emerged throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky this summer. Brood X, as this generation of insects is called, is the largest of all the cicada broods; we last saw them in 2004. Prior to their arrival, Gene Kritsky, the dean of behavioral and natural sciences at Mount St. Joseph University, and his team created the Cicada Safari app, which lets users search, photograph, record and map cicadas in their area. Users can submit their findings to scientists, who then study the info to learn more about the health and habits of the creatures. And if you wanted to totally avoid the swarm instead of photographing it? Local company Under the Weather had you covered, literally, with their wearable mesh pod. The screened-in box came with shoulder straps to slip over your body and keep the bugs off of you. Read CityBeat's story about the invention that generated a lot of buzz (and laughs), and then see our big feature package with everything you've ever wanted to know about cicadas. And we mean ever.
The Future of Roe v. Wade Actually Seems to Be in Jeopardy
Controversial — some might say ill-conceived — legislation in Mason was aborted in December. After months of attempting to become a "sanctuary city for the unborn," Mason finally gave up its mission to ban abortions when the city council voted 6-1 to repeal an anti-abortion ordinance that was supposed to have taken effect in November. Had the abortion ban stood, it would have outlawed abortion at all gestational stages within Mason's city limits and punished those who "aid and abet" abortions through funding, transportation and more. Violators could have been fined $2,500 and spent a year in prison. In May, nearby Lebanon council members unanimously passed a similar anti-abortion ordinance; the ACLU of Ohio said Lebanon's legislation was “blatantly unconstitutional” and ripe for legal challenge. These acts line up with recent Supreme Court decisions regarding controversial abortion bans in Texas and Mississippi that pose a threat to other precedent-setting abortion cases. Read CityBeat's story about Mason's many abortion-ban attempts
3CDC Reveals Historic Architecture Behind Brick Façade While Redeveloping Downtown Building
Cincinnati's architectural elements always shine through. The former Chong Inc. building downtown was built in the late 1800s and several department and furniture stores inhabited the space, as well as a Kroger store from 1960-1969. In 1951, the building went through a massive renovation, removing the 5th and 6th floors and covering the exterior with a new brick façade. While 3CDC was renovating the structure at the start of this year, the Midcentury brick was removed, uncovering the original beauty underneath. Read CityBeat's story about how construction crews discovered the gem.
Former Bengal Chad Johnson Leaves $1,000 Tip at Cincinnati Restaurant
The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off with diners leaving massive surprise tips in bars and restaurants throughout the city. But then "Ochocinco" went and upped the game — dramatically. He left a $1,000 tip for a server at Redlands Grill. In a post on Twitter later, Johnson took a photo of the receipt and captioned it, “Proverbs 11:25 (Cincinnati edition).” The bible verse reads, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Read CityBeat's story about Johnson's act of generosity.
Photo: Mary LeBus
LGBTQ+ Community and Allies Raise Voices After Anti-Trans Speaker Addresses Crossroads Church in Oakley
This summer, members of Cincinnati's LGBTQ+ community and their allies asked Crossroads to support everyone — or to stop pretending. In addition to welcoming a controversial speaker who denigrated transgender folks during a sermon, the megachurch has policies that prevent LGBTQ+ individuals from holding leadership positions. Community members protested outside Crossroads, pressing senior pastor Brian Tome to claim no prior knowledge of the contents of the speaker’s sermon and to profess supporting LGBTQ+ people despite Crossroads’ homophobic and transphobic policies. Read CityBeat's story about the whole incident.