As we prepare next week to take a look back at the Top 12 stories in 2012 (check out The Herald’s Thursday edition), I thought I would look back at some of my favorite quotes from articles I wrote in 2012. Here’s my top five:

No. 1. If the demolition of the three-story, 130-year-old building at 124 S. Main St. in Ottawa were approved, CrossFirst Bank of Leawood would leave the vacant lot in pristine condition, an attorney representing the bank told Ottawa city commissioners in mid-February.

“We wish we wouldn’t have foreclosed on the building now, but we take full responsibility for the building,” Jay Shadwick, the Overland Park attorney representing the CrossFirst Bank, said during a Feb. 15 public hearing called by Ottawa city commissioners to consider demolition of the building in the historic downtown district.

“We have a reputation to maintain, and we want to be a good citizen,” Shadwick continued. “I can assure you it would be the best looking vacant lot in the county.”

Now, 10 months later, the lot remains unfilled and continues to be an eyesore. That could change soon. Richard Wright, who owns the property next door at 128 S. Main St., has acquired the lot and said Friday he plans to make improvements to it and perhaps turn it into a garden and patio area where receptions could take place.

No. 2. As the last witness took the stand in a day of complicated DNA testimony during Ralph Corey’s sexual assault cold case trial in October, a juror’s cell phone began to warble the Johnny Cash tune, “Ring of Fire.”

The song seemed to grow louder as the juror frantically dug deeper into her purse.

“I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher.”

All the while, the juror apologized to the judge. After a few seconds, she found the phone and cut off the call. Then she apologized again.

Franklin County District Judge Eric W. Godderz took the interruption in stride.

“It’s a good song, so that’s OK,” he said.

No. 3. Rex and Jean Browning took off from Miami in a prop plane and landed 70 minutes later in a classic car lovers’ paradise.

“It was like a cruise night every day in Havana,” Rex Browning said of the hundreds of 1950s-era U.S. cars that lined the boulevards of Cuba’s capital city. “These are the cars I grew up with.”

The Brownings, who used to cruise around in Rex’s 1950 baby blue and white Ford when they first were dating, were part of a Chamber-affiliated contingent of 30 U.S. travelers who explored Cuba for nine days in June.

The Ottawa couple signed up for the people-to-people cultural program in conjunction with the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s member partner, Chamber Explorations.

The cars, the architecture, the technology and the unspoiled land reminded Jean Browning of the U.S. in the 1950s.

“It was like we stepped back in time,” she said.

“And they love their baseball,” Rex Browning said. “The [Ottawa University] baseball coach jokingly asked me to bring him back a pitcher, but I couldn’t swing it.”

No. 4. If a bionic man or woman had to be assembled, Dr. Dale Dalenberg is the guy to build it. Larry Felix, chief executive officer of Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, made those comments about the hospital’s new orthopedic surgeon to the nearly 150 business, education and health care professionals who gathered in August at Garfield Elementary School, 1213 S. College St., Ottawa, for the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon to welcome new health care providers and educators to the local community.

Orthopedic surgeon Dalenberg confessed after the luncheon he actually couldn’t build a bionic man — as Felix good-naturedly had suggested.

“That would imply I can build a ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ who can perform superhuman feats,” Dalenberg said, chuckling, as he referred to the old TV series of that title. “Let’s just say I can keep people playing golf when they are 70.”

No. 5. Hundreds of local residents turned out for a free community Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 23 in the basement of the North Baptist Church, 413 E. Wilson St., Ottawa.

Kim Wilcox, North Baptist Church pastor, said organizers wanted to ensure everyone in the community had a good Thanksgiving meal.

Members of about a dozen churches came together to help with the event, Linda Sears, North Baptist member and the meal’s lead coordinator, said. The outpouring of food was tremendous, she said.

The meal included 28 turkeys, 320 pounds of potatoes, 48 gallons of green beans, 150 pounds of corn, 90 dozen rolls and about 80 pies, Sears and Wilcox said. A small army of volunteers came together to prepare and serve the food.

Diana Bowlby smiled as she took a bite of chocolate pie.

“I didn’t have anywhere to go this Thanksgiving — I wish I did, but I don’t,” the Ottawa woman said. “This is wonderful.”

Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at