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      CNY Central's Top 5 stories of 2011

      There were many important stories and issues covered by the CNY Central news team over the course of 2011. Boiling down the thousands of hours of news coverage across the networks of CNY Central was no easy task.

      CBS5 news anchor and managing editor Michael Benny gathered the people who work on producing newscasts to determine the biggest local stories of the year.

      # 5: Baby Isabella

      It was January when a man looking for wood in a Liverpool dumpster found what he thought was a doll. It turned out to be a baby girl, who police say was smothered by her mother, Nicole DeJaynes, and left in the trash.

      "When you think of a mother being accused of this, it is just so horrible," said CNY Central anchor and producer Lisa Spitz.

      The child was named Isabella by police who buried her. The mother is charged.

      # 4: Hail, Rain, and the Petco Disaster

      A wild hail storm in April ushered in what would be months of wild weather in Central New York. Flooding shutdown a section of Interstate 81 in Syracuse at least twice. The biggest disaster was in the Binghamton area where more than one hundred animals died at a Petco store because of flooding.

      CNY Central news producer Kristy Smorol said "This generated so many calls and comments, people were truly upset by what happened."

      # 3: The EEE Death of Maggie Wilcox

      "This was a turning point, no one in our community should be dying of this in our own backyard," said CNY Central news producer Dan Scharfenberger.

      The death of Maggie Sue Wilcox over the summer launched a new effort by state leaders to tackle the problem of Eastern Equine Encephilitis. There have been three deaths from EEE in Central New York since 2009.

      # 2 CNY Town Clerks React to Gay Marriage

      Days after same sex marriage became law in New York State, town clerks from Central New York were making national headlines on the issue. The clerk in Granby resigned rather than sign licenses for same sex couples. What happened in rural Cayuga County became a top news story for weeks.

      "It certainly put Central New York on the map on this issue," said CNY Central producer Nate Crossett.

      The clerk in Ledyard, Cayuga County was challenged in the last election by a fellow Republican who said her religious beliefs should not impact her job. Rose Marie Belforti, who said signing gay marriage licenses would violate her deep faith, won re-election in November.

      # 1 Bernie Fine Abuse Allegations and the Laurie Fine Tape

      As the nation was still digesting the bombshell allegations against a coach at Penn State, the world of Syracuse athletics was rocked with a scandal. Longtime Syracuse University associate basketball coach Bernie Fine is accused by four men of sexual abuse when they were younger. In a strange twist, the chief accuser secretly recorded a phone call with Fine's wife Laurie during which she seems to suggest she knew about the abuse.

      "There are so many aspects of this case even beyond the allegations," said CNY Central Vice President of News Rae Fulkerson. "There is the infighting between the DA's office and Syracuse Police, the University investigation, which many have called into question - wondering if it was done properly," Fulkerson said.

      It is clear the Bernie Fine case will carry into 2012 as the federal investigation continues.

      What do you think of our list of top stories of 2011? Which stories would you have added to the list? Leave a comment below and give us your opinion.