Top Iowa Stories of 2013

1. TEEN KILLED: Residents of the small community of Dayton must deal with the nightmarish abduction of two teenage girls. One girl manages to escape, but 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard is killed. The abductor commits suicide.


2. SPEEDING GOVERNOR: After an off-duty state investigator reports speeding by Gov. Terry Branstad’s official vehicle, the investigator is fired. Officials say the firing and the speeding complaint weren’t connected. In the following months, the investigator sued the state, Branstad’s driver was cited, the public safety director was fired and questions arose about the state’s use of special license plates.


3. JUVENILE HOME: State officials scramble to deal with problems at the Iowa Juvenile Home, which houses troubled teenagers. The issues, including use of isolation rooms and apparent abuse of some children, follow an investigation by The Des Moines Register.


4. IOWA LEGISLATURE: After repeated sessions with few accomplishments, the Legislature reaches agreement on key measures dealing with health care, taxes and education.


5. HUGE HARVEST: Despite a soggy spring and dry summer, the corn crop soars to a new national record and Iowa remains the top corn-producing state.


6. MENTALLY DISABLED WORKERS: A Texas company is ordered to pay $3.4 million after being found guilty of mistreating 32 mentally disabled employees who worked for decades in Iowa amid appalling conditions and for little pay.


7. BROKERAGE COLLAPSE: After years of enjoying the perks of being a successful businessman, investor Russ Wasendorf Sr. is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Wasendorf was convicted of stealing $215 million over 20 years in the biggest fraud in Iowa history.


8.  IOWA SENATOR RESIGNS: Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson resigns after an investigator concludes he likely broke ethics rules in receiving $7,500 in monthly income from presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s political action committee and presidential campaign in exchange for being her state chair in 2011.


9. ETHANOL ADVERSITY: Ethanol has long enjoyed strong support where the fuel is produced because it provides an economic boost to farmers and rural areas. But for the first time since 2007, the EPA has proposed reducing the amount of ethanol required in the nation’s fuel supply. Critics are again questioning ethanol’s value.


10. DATA CENTERS: Microsoft and Facebook join Google in the construction of huge data centers in Iowa.