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Top Stories of 2020 in Buffalo and Western New York

In a year dominated by COVID-19, 2 On Your Side covered many other important local stories in 2020.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Most years are quickly forgotten, but 2020 may turn out to that one year that's simply unforgettable. In a year dominated by a deadly virus, our team at 2 On Your Side takes a look back at some of the other important stories we covered. 

Western New York wins thanks to your votes 

With all of the fear, outrage and uncertainty surrounding this year, there was also plenty of positivity and pride in our city. Western New Yorkers turned out online in a big way and, thanks to your votes, Fredonia was featured on the series "Small Business Revolution," the National Comedy Center in Jamestown was named "Best New Museum in America," Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs in Kenmore won $50 thousand dollars, and Buffalo's Cami Clune made it to the top 10 on "The Voice." 

Bills Mafia Raises over $1 million dollars for Oishei Children's Hospital

Western New Yorkers became everyday heroes when donations started pouring into Oishei Children's Hospital after the Bills big win over the Seattle Seahawks in November. Donations came in increments of $17 dollars, quarterback Josh Allen's jersey number, and finally crossing the $1 million mark before the end of the year. The money is a big "thank you" to Allen from fans for his leadership despite having just lost his grandmother before that game. 

Grand Island loses planned Amazon development and what would have been over 1,000 new jobs 

It would have been one of Western New York's largest developments ever. "Project Olive" was that plan to build a massive Amazon distribution center that would create over 1,000 new jobs. Opponents said the project was too big for Grand Island. The developer ended up dropping out this summer with no explanation. New plans for that site are still in the works. 

Remembering Luca Calanni, 11, of Hamburg

As we wrap up 2020, we remember 11-year-old Luca Calanni of Hamburg. Despite being vaccinated, Luca died from complications with the flu. Doctors say he was happy, healthy, and that his parents did everything right. His death is a mystery, one his parents might never get answers to. The community rallied in support of Luca's family, and now there is a foundation set up in his name. 

Aircraft crashes kill two well-known Buffalo figures 

Two well known Western New Yorkers died in aviation accidents months apart this year. In January, one of Buffalo's most influential developers, Mark Croce, was flying his helicopter when it crashed in Pennsylvania. He and Orchard Park businessman Michael Capriotto died. Then in October, a small plane piloted by Steve Barnes went down in Genesee County. The well-known personal injury lawyer died along with his niece, attorney Elizabeth Barnes. The two were on their way to a birthday party for Barnes' mother. 

The 2020 voting experience across WNY

Decision 2020 was like no other election we've ever experienced. From the Niagara Frontier, to the City of Buffalo, the Southtowns and the Southern Tier, Western New Yorkers turned out in huge numbers to vote early in the election. There was also the huge surge in mail-in voting that kept some local races from being decided until weeks after election day. 

Diocese of Buffalo files for bankruptcy 

2020 was a tumultuous year for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The Diocese filed for bankruptcy protection amid the more than 260 Child Victims Act lawsuits on the table. Childhood victims of sex abuse by a priest or other diocese employee now have until August 2021 to file a claim. Buffalo's newly appointed Bishop Michael Fisher says he hopes to lead the Diocese into better days in 2021. 

Chris Collins imprisoned, then pardoned

The years-long insider trading case finally sent former congressman Chris Collins into a federal prison camp this fall. He was sentenced in January to spend more than two years in prison, but that sentence was delayed multiple times due to the coronavirus. Collins ultimately spent 10 weeks in jail before getting a pardon from President Trump, just in time to spend Christmas with his family in Florida.

Protests ignite violence, spark change in Buffalo

Protests ignited here in Buffalo after a Black man in Minneapolis suffocated under the knee of a white police officer. We saw fires set, buildings vandalized, and police in riot gear for days. Buffalo even became the center of some of that anger when an officer pushed a 75-year-old protester to the ground, cracking his skull. The outrage, combined with long simmering anger over police treatment of Black and Brown people in Buffalo, led to changes in policing.

Buffalo Bills clinch AFC East title 

In a year like no other, a Bills season like we haven't seen since last century. Buffalo captures that long awaited AFC East title for the first time in 25 years. Bills fans, of course, haven't been allowed inside the stadium to enjoy it due to limits on large gatherings due to COVID-19. But all that is about to change in early January when some season ticket holders will be able to see the Bills first playoff game at home since 1996.