2018 in review: The top 7 stories of the year in metro Detroit

Posted at 2:17 PM, Dec 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 08:16:54-05

(WXYZ) — 2018 saw the passing of icons and the passing of a torch. We learned that pillars of our city would be shuttered and long-forgotten jewels would shine again. And through our lens here at Channel 7, we helped show you it all: a remarkable, unforgettable year.

Aretha Franklin

No story at home gained more international attention than the passing of the Queen of Soul. We knew for years that Aretha Franklin’s health was declining…but that didn’t make her death in August any easier to take.

"She cared about broken people, she cared about people who were disappointed, she cared about people who didn’t quite succeed as much as she did," said former President Bill Clinton at her funeral.

Michigan’s Governor once declared Franklin’s voice a state natural resource. But her funeral proved she was treasured everywhere, attracting dignitaries from every corner of the world.

"Each time she soared, it felt like the people of Detroit soared with her because she never lost her connection to our city," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Gretchen Whitmer

In November, Michigan voters unleashed a blue wave…flipping the Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State’s offices from red to blue. But Republicans still kept control the state house and senate…meaning Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer will have to make some deals once she takes office January 1.

Legalization of marijuana

The blue wave was accompanied by a green one, too, when Michigan became the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana. You can’t smoke it in public, but you can smoke it in your home and plenty of people did, and have, since the law changed December 6.

Commercialization of weed won’t kick be allowed for a while…maybe not until 2020. That will give state officials and local police some time to catch their breath.

Ford's purchase of Michigan Central Station

In June, a beacon for the city’s future rose from a symbol of blight. Ford bought the long-shuttered building, pledging $740 million to turn the one-time jewel into a new home for some 2,500 Ford employees, plus retail and gathering spaces for the public.

"I’m just excited because this marks the first time where the whole renaissance of Detroit that we’ve seen happening downtown, it starts to flourish into the neighborhoods," said rapper Big Sean.

General Motors plant closures

In November, GM announced plans to shutter the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant and Warren Transmission, along with three other plants in North America.

"They’ve got an excess of plant capacity in cars and Detroit-Hamtramck part has always been a place tooled for cars," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

It’ll put 1,500 Michigan jobs in jeopardy…with the threat of more cuts on the horizon.

Infant bodies found in funeral homes

Perhaps no story was more shocking than news of infant bodies found in local funeral homes.

First, an anonymous tip led investigators to 11 bodies found at the Cantrell Funeral Home. Days later, more than 60 were discovered at the Perry Funeral Home.

Authorities continue to investigate both funeral homes along with one in Canton that was recently discovered to be storing more than 300 infant bodies.

Larry Nassar scandal

One story that resonated for nearly all of 2018: the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal. The once acclaimed gymnastics physician sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

"This is what it looks like when institutions create a culture where a predator can flourish unafraid and unabated," said Nassar survivor Rachael Denhollander.

Michigan State’s fight song calls it “a school that’s known to all.” And in 2018, it was known for all the wrong reasons. From repeated missed opportunities to stop Nassar to an insensitivity towards abuse victims to its former president charged with lying to police.

Nassar’s survivors continue to demand change at MSU as the school continues to find its way.