Looking back at top local stories of 2012 -- Part 2

Published On: Jan 01 2013 06:55:34 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Gov. Walker survives recall

It was the biggest story in Wisconsin politics this year.

Gov. Scott Walker became the first-ever U.S. governor to survive a recall.

The June election attracted attention -- and money -- from across the country.

"Thanks to all the people who yet again entrusted in me your vote as the governor, to be the 45th and continue to be the 45th governor of the great state of Wisconsin," said Walker.

Walker beat out Democratic challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

"I just got off the phone with Gov. Walker and congratulated him on his victory tonight," said Barrett.

Walker's win came nearly a year and a half after arguments over collective bargaining rights in Madison sparked a political firestorm.

Drought sweeps Midwest

The summer wasn't just a time of fiery political rhetoric; the worst drought in 50 years caused increased fire risk across the Midwest.

A burn ban meant fireworks were banned in many counties on July 4.

The drought also dehydrated crops across the region.

"When you have thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on this crop; you wake up in the morning and you see hot temperatures forecasted, your guts are in knots," said University of Wisconsin Extension Agriculture Agent for Crawford County Vance Haugen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted the drought could cause food prices to go up 3 to 5 percent next year.

Record-Setting Heat Wave

It wasn't just dry weather gripping the Midwest this year; it was heat.

July 2012 was a record-setting month for La Crosse. Not only was it the city's hottest July on record, it was the hottest month on record.

The dangerously high temperatures led to two heat-related deaths in La Crosse County.

It also hit Mother Nature hard. Dead fish lined the shore of the marsh in La Crosse.

"The marsh is getting shallower and shallower. Water temperatures are getting in the 90s, and we're going to lose this fish population" said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official Ron Benjamin.

Jennifer Livingston stands up to bullies

News 8 morning anchor Jennifer Livingston made international headlines for taking a stand against bullying.

In October, she used a critical viewer's email about her weight to touch off a discussion about bullies.

"To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face -- listen to me right now. Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies," said Livingston.

It struck a chord with people all over the world, getting more than 10 million views on YouTube and landing her on programs like CBS' "This Morning" and "Ellen."

On New Year's Eve, she was featured on the "Today Show" as one of three women who have inspired in 2012.