2021′s Top News Stories

KOLO 8 News Now's Ed Pearce recounts the top stories of the year.
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 5:15 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -We begin each year with a sigh of relief, ready for a fresh reset, our hopes focused on the future, but as we celebrate we can’t resist a quick backward glance at what we just saw and experienced. 2021 began that way too and, what followed--of course--was a mix of the unexpected and the unresolved.

In any case here are our choices for the top eight stories of 2021.


Number eight unfolded before our unbelieving eyes before the new year was even a week old. An angry mob storming the nation’s capital, forcing our elected lawmakers to flee. there were, apparently, a few local residents, were present outside, but the investigation that followed didn’t lead here until 11 months later when, checking on the welfare of what they believed was a homeless family camping on the foothills of Peavine Mountain, Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies stumbled upon 34-year-old Josiah Kenyon of Winnemucca, wanted by the FBI for allegedly taking part in the insurrection and the assault on a capitol police officer.


The soaring price of keeping a roof over our heads. home prices and monthly rents rose again in our area, squeezing everyone’s budget and forcing some on the bottom out of the market. Some, of course, have been on the outside for some time. Our homeless population didn’t shrink in 2021, but it did get a new alternative to survival on the streets. the Cares Campus, a 600-bed shelter opened on east fourth street. There have been concerns it is still understaffed, but it’s a big step forward


There are no such heartwarming details in number six, the trial of Averyauna Enoch, found guilty of the first degree murder of her 5-year-old stepdaughter, who died of starvation, neglect and abuse. Enoch also helped her husband, Tyler Anderson, hide the girl’s body stuffed in a duffel bag in a Sacramento storage unit. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder. District Attorney Chris Hicks called Cali Anderson’s death “Merciless, as bad as they come.”


Number five began with a murder spree that kept our area on edge for a week almost three years ago. A now 22-year-old Salvadoran immigrant, Wilber Martinez Guzman, killed two Gardnerville women in their homes, then an older couple in south Reno. His arrest soon followed and he gave a confession, but the legal case stalled. Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. The defense argued his mental disability disqualified him for that punishment. It seemed the case would drag on for years, but finally, this October, a plea agreement brought things to a sudden end. Martinez Guzman pleaded guilty. The prosecution took the death penalty off the table. Sentencing to life without the possibility of parole will follow in March,


Fourth on our list, and often leading our newscasts, is the weather. It’s hard today to recall, but 2021′s summer was the hottest on record in Reno, 22 days of 100-degree temperatures, And it was dry. We spent the year in drought, Lake Tahoe fell below its natural rim. Upstream reservoirs turned into relative puddles. Of course, recent days have flipped the switch. A series of winter storms closed I-80 over the Sierra for four days, Did these storms at least break the drought? The truth is, we don’t know yet. We’ll have to wait for the final snowpack survey in April for that answer.


Weather--or rather climate--played a role in our next story. the Dixie Fire. It started with a small brush fire in mid-July. by the time it was declared 100 percent contained in October, it had scorched nearly a million acres, the largest non-complex fire in California history, the second largest overall. The damage was startling. most of all--a personal note here--the nearly complete destruction of the historic Sierra town of Greenville. I’ve never seen anything like it.. Little was left. A masonry wall here and there. a chimney where a home once stood. and, in the surrounding mountains, a blackened forest.


Number two...the Caldor Fire. it followed the Dixie Fire by a month. Starting near Pollock Pines, wind drove it east toward the Tahoe Basin, burning over the Sierra crest, joining the Dixie Fire as the second to ever to do so. It threatened the city of South Lake Tahoe. Residents fled under a mandatory evacuation order. As it turned out with the efforts of the firefighters, it slipped by the town’s southern edge.

The flames barely touched the state border, but it and the Dixie Fire touched us all, blanketing western Nevada with thick smoke. For weeks every breath was a reminder of their presence and a glimpse of the future of wildfires in the west.


Finally, no drum roll please and no surprise. COVID19 was an ever-present factor in our lives, and near the top of every newscast. with, among other developments, the daily scorecard of cases and, sadly, deaths which this month topped one thousand here in Washoe County. The year began with progress and hope. Vaccines were available locally, for the older and more vulnerable at first, then those younger. And eagerly, many lined up and got their shots. In the fall, students were back at school, But there were also anti-vax, anti-mask protests. The delta variant surged and now omicron is here. We end the year with more than 60 percent of those 5 years and older fully vaccinated, about 1,500 current cases in Washoe county and nearly 200 added every day.

To be honest, all in all, we end the year not where we imagined hoped to be a year ago. But it could have been worse and there are no crystal balls in this business.

Once again, we’ll take this coming year day by day as we find it. See you then

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