Township Council President James J. Byrnes perhaps summed up 2012 the best recently.
"I'm glad it's over," Byrnes said at the Dec. 27 council meeting, the governing body's last in a tumultuous year.
We've culled what we feel are the top ten stories from 2012. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.
• Berkeley Reeling From Hurricane Sandy
Our biggest story of the year is a no-brainer.
Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm Sandy, Frankenstorm - whatever you want to call it - pummeled the Jersey Shore and devastated sections of Berkeley. Good Luck Point, Glen Cove, Pelican Island, South Seaside Park and the Toms River Shores section were the hardest hit. Two months after Sandy, many residents have still not been able to return to their homes. Those whose homes were destroyed will have to decide if they want to rebuild.
Those whose homes were deemed more than 50 percent damaged will have to raise their homes to new Federal Emergency Management Agency advisory base flood elevations, which will become mandatory in 2014. The recovery from the storm will undoubtedly be the biggest stories of 2013.
• A Dream 30 Years In The Making: Amato Sworn In As Mayor
Former two-term Ward 2 Councilman Carmen F. Amato Jr. took the oath of office in the packed Berkeley Township Elementary School auditorium on Jan. 3. Amato cracked a joke as he made his way to the podium to address the crowd.
"Ok, you asked for it," he said.
But he had little idea then what challenges he would face in 2012. The 42-year-old Amato has been going nearly non-stop since Sandy slammed into his town on Oct. 29.
Amato became the township's first Republican mayor in 20 years. And the once Democratic bastion of Berkeley Township — one of the few in Ocean County — is now solidly Republican.
He narrowly defeated Democratic Mayor Jason J. Varano by 248 votes out of more than 14,000 cast, in a campaign that turned acrimonius in the later weeks.
• State Planning Commission Members Unanimously Approve Town Center Plan
Township officials rejoiced when the state Planning Commission on July 6 at long last gave the okay to the township's massive redevelopment plan. It set the stage, they hoped, for the demolition and redevelopment of the Beachwood Shopping Center, a longtime eyesore on Route 9 South in Bayville. But their joy was short-lived. Donato Donofrio - the redeveloper of record - backed out in late November, citing poor economic conditions.
• Pit Bull Leads Good Samaritan To Stricken Owner In Double Trouble State Park
Dona Timoney often took her much-loved pit bull mix Lily for romps down the sugar sand paths of Double Trouble State Park. The afternoon of June 4 was no exception. She trundled Lily into her car - the backseat full of dog treats and toys - and headed for the park off Pinewald-Keswick Road.
But sometime on their walk, Timoney suffered an aneurysm. Frank Delarosa spotted Lily running up the path, her pink leash dragging behind her. Lily ran up to him, then ran back down the path, to Dona. Dona was rescued, but no one really knows how long she lay stricken on the path. The year before, Dona saved Lily from a drug house in North Carolina. In 2012, Lily saved Dona.
Their story became the most viewed story in Patch history, with more than 24,000 recommendations and half a million views. Sadly, Dona died two weeks later after never regaining consciousness. Lily now lives with Dona's daughter in her mother's Beachwood home.
• A Stabbing In The Supermarket
Customers in the express checkout lines at the Bayville ShopRite watched in horror on the morning of March 23, when Christopher Page, 34, stabbed Noah Jackson, 37, three times shortly before noon. The stab wounds "went down to the bone," Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele said. Page later pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jackson was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center after the incident, where he eventually recovered. Jackson, a cart pusher at the store, may have been doing some other pushing as well. He turned himself into police at police headquarters after they went to his Tuckerton home to arrest him on charges of possession of cocaine and and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
• Man Shot By Beachwood Police Officer Died Of Gunshot Wound To Chest
Beachwood Sgt. Bruce Harris was on a routine patrol in a marked police cruiser when he responded to a late night call in July about a man "creating a disturbance" in the parking lot of the sports bar on Route 166.
Harris got out of his patrol car and confronted a drunken Mark Tanouye in the sports bar parking lot. Tanouye was carrying a .25 caliber handgun. He ignored repeated commands to drop the gun. Harris shot once and hit Tanouye in the chest. Tanouye was pronounced dead at the scene.
Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said after an investigation that Harris had acted "appropriately" when he shot Tanouye. Tanouye was later determined to have a blood alcohol level of 0.092. The legal limit is 0.08.
• Berkeley Board Of Ed Appoints Roselli As Superintendent
After a nearly two-year long search, the Berkeley Board of Education unanimously appointed James D. Roselli as the district's new superintendent.
Roselli, an administrator in the Berkeley school district for more than 10 years, will be paid $148,000 a year over the course of a five-year contract.
His appointment after two years of interim superintendents, including Arleen J. Lippincott and former superintendent and Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari.
The board hired the consulting firm Leadership Advantage for $6,500 on April 19 to begin a search for candidates. The firm's president, Richard Marasco said in May at a community forum he did not expect to have a permanent superintendent on board until school opened in September.
Central Regional Schools Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides applied for the Berkeley position and offered to do the job for free, but was never interviewed by Marasco.
• Double Trouble State Park's 'Red October' Returns
For the first time in two years, crimson cranberries were harvested from several flooded bogs at historic Double Trouble State Park in mid-October. There was no harvest in 2011, because the previous leaseholders had retired. It didn't look like there would be a 2012 harvest either, until Southampton-based Honest Berries and the state Department of Environmental Protection hammered out a last-minute arrangement that granted the company a limited use permit for 2012.
Brandt hopes Honest Berries will be around a lot longer than that. He'd like a long-term lease to maintain and harvest the bogs. Let's hope the company gets one. Double Trouble's rich cranberry history dates back to the early 20th century, when Edward Crabbe began planting vines in the moist after he harvested as much Atlantic White Cedar as possible.
• Second Central Regional Graduate Dies In Afghanistan
Unfortunately, there will be another plaque added to the War Memorial at Central Regional High School. Christopher M. Monahan, class of 2006, joined the U.S. Marines after graduation. He lived most of his life in Ocean Gate, but had moved to Island Heights before his deployment, his third.
Monahan - a Marine Corps motor vehicle operator assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force - was killed on Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
He left behind a wife and three small children. Monahan was the second Central graduate to die in little more than a year. Army Sgt. John A. Lyons, 26, class of 2003, died in late October 2011 of wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
Lyons' name is one of four plaques at the newly-dedicated War Memorial at Central Regional. The dedication ceremony was held the day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Monahan's name will be on the fifth plaque.
• Gregory A. DePaul's Death A Blow To Berkeley
Lifelong Bayville resident Gregory A. DePaul devoted his life to the town he grew up in. He died of complications from lung cancer on Dec. 2, at the age of 61.
He founded the Pinewald Pioneer Fire Company and the Berkeley Township Hazardous Materials Response Team. He also served as superintendent of the Berkeley Township Sewerage Authority for many years.
He was the founding vice-president, past fire chief, and a 36-year member of the Pinewald Pioneer Fire Company. He was an active adjunct instructor for New Jersey State Police Hazardous Materials Training Programs for over 20 years.
DePaul was a Deputy Coordinator of the Berkeley Township Office of Emergency Management, a founding committee member for the New Jersey Task Force One (NJTF-1) Urban Search and Rescue Team, and past Deputy Fire Warden for the New Jersey State Forest Fire Service.