Arkansas Journalists Pick Top 10 Stories of '04

JANUARY 1, 2005 - Posted at 12:22 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The top ten stories in Arkansas during 2004, as selected by Associated Press-member broadcasters and newspapers:

1) ARKANSAS SCHOOLS: Arkansas revamps its public education system after a state Supreme Court ruling that found the old way of educating students unconstitutional.

2) ALL THINGS CLINTON: Bill Clinton has heart surgery, then later opens his presidential library on the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

3) ELECTIONS: Arkansans vote to send Republican President Bush back to the White House and Democrat Blanche Lincoln back to the U.S. Senate.  Retired General Wesley Clark ends his bid for the presidency.

4) IRAQ: 18 Arkansas soldiers counted dead in the Iraq war by mid-December.

5) NOLAN: Former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson loses his federal lawsuit against the University of Arkansas over the 2002 decision to fire him.

6) AUTOS: Manufacturing interests come to northeast Arkansas.  Japanese truck maker Hino Motors Ltd., Denso Corporation, and Eakas Corporation work on plans for facilities in Marion, Osceola and Wynne, while voters approve a constitutional amendment to further industry in the state.

7) GAY MARRIAGE: Arkansas joins ten states in banning so-called "gay marriages" after a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling declaring such bonds legal there.

8) OBESITY: By the spring of 2004, Gov. Mike Huckabee has lost 100 pounds after learning he has diabetes.  He extols the benefits of physical fitness and is recognized at a national summit on obesity.

9) BUS CRASH: A Chicago tour bus heading to Mississippi casinos leaves Interstate-55 near Marion and flips over, killing half the 30 people aboard.  Federal investigators say the bus was in poor condition and shouldn't have been in service.

10) PARDON ME: Huckabee decides to be more forthcoming about how he handles clemency requests after some prosecutors criticize him for not providing enough explanation for his decisions.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)