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The Story: Best of 2021

From politics to homelessness to severe weather, here are some of the best stories and segments from The Story in 2021.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — From politics to homelessness to severe weather, The Story covered a lot of ground in 2021. Here are some of the segments and stories viewers watched and read the most: 

Portland is trashed

The city of Portland is on track to clean more garbage off the streets this fiscal year than it ever has before, but ask most Portlanders and they’ll tell you: It doesn’t look like it.

KGW put out a call on Facebook, asking Portlanders to pinpoint the areas that frustrate them most. Hundreds of responses poured in.

Knute Buehler on leaving the GOP

Knute Buehler, one of Oregon's most well-known Republicans, announced he would leave the party to become a non-affiliated voter. Buehler told KGW several events had a major influence on his decision to leave the party — the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, and the Oregon Republican party subsequently passing a resolution describing the insurrection as a "false flag" operation.

Watch the full interview:

Dozens died in Oregon’s heat wave. Where’s the outrage?

At least 79 people are dead in Oregon because we couldn’t save them from the heat. We asked leaders what they’ll do to prevent another tragedy like this.

Is there really an "infestation" of heat domes?

A high-pressure “heat dome” caused the Northwest’s extreme heat wave in June, and in late July there were several more forming in the northern hemisphere. But were we really "infested" with heat waves as a Washington Post headline claimed? Matt Zaffino dug into the science.

If 911 isn't the best choice, who do you call when you see someone in distress in Portland?

Portland’s housing crisis appears worse than ever, with an unprecedented number of people camping on the city’s streets. Whether on the streets or in your own home, when you see someone who appears to be experiencing a mental health crisis in Portland, who do you call? What resources, besides 911 and police, exist? And when you do call, what should you expect?

Old Town is in crisis 

The Lan Su Chinese Garden, once a gem city leaders touted, is battling a slew of society's ills that have been brought to light since the pandemic began in 2020.

Businesses and nonprofits in Portland's Old Town district are struggling, not just to stay open, but to keep their workers safe.

Once considered mundane, school board meetings becoming heated, violent

There was once a time when your local school board meeting was, to be honest, a little boring. And if you've been paying attention to the news in the last year or so, you already know that's no longer the case.

There have been several instances throughout the year when meetings have had to be shut down, or be moved to a virtual format, because of threats against school board members or unruly crowds.

Oregon bans home buyer ‘love letters’

Our most-read story of 2021: Come 2022, homebuyers in Oregon will no longer be able to submit "buyer love letters" with their offers in an attempt to sway sellers to accept their offer over others. Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2550 in June, which directs seller's agents to reject direct communications from buyer to seller outside the scope of a traditional offer. The move was meant to avoid any possible discrimination that might happen, but the move has sparked outcry from potential buyers and even a lawsuit.

Portland’s meth crisis

Three men, formerly homeless and addicted to meth who are now housed, in recovery and employed by Central City Concern, want to spread the word about dangerous side effects of drug use, especially P2P meth.

"It had me hearing people talking that wasn't even talking, but I could hear them in my head, and they were all cops," said Eddie Breedwell, who’s been sober since August 2020. "I sat in the park for three hours [when I was high], afraid to move off a park bench because I thought, as soon as I get up and started walking, that they were going to get me."

The Story teams up with SOLVE to clean up Portland 

After months of stories about Portland's trash problem, KGW News employees — alongside dozens of The Story viewers — gathered in downtown Portland to help clean up litter with SOLVE staff.

Our group of 61 people collected more than 600 pounds of trash. It was part of a downtown cleanup event put on by SOLVE, which totaled 228 volunteers around downtown, and collected 2,470 pounds of trash.

We have fun, too! Here are some of The Story's lighter moments.

Devon braves harsh conditions to cover the winter storm

With howling winds and pelting ice and snow in the Columbia River Gorge town of Corbett, KGW's Devon Haskins really took one for the team. 

Not daytime Emmy winners — yet

A viewer of The Story congratulated us on our Daytime Emmy award. We don’t have one — but we think we could.

Dan Haggerty says goodbye to Portland

Dan Haggerty, who helped launch The Story in 2020, left Portland in October 2021. For his final show on KGW, he offered some parting words about the state of journalism, our city and the people who make it what it is.

Watch our full Year in Review special:

Read more 2021 Year in Review stories