Help the Times Free Press pick 2015's top stories

Alison Gerber
photo Alison Gerber
Note: The links to the top stories will be available Tuesday when voting begins.

We need your help, readers.

As we wind down the year in the newsroom, we always look back at the big, local stories we've covered in the past 12 months. We try to rank them in order of importance, but we want your opinions, too.

There was no shortage of major news stories this year in Chattanooga.

From the tragic and gut-wrenching attack on July 16 that robbed four Marines and a Navy petty officer of their lives to Volkswagen's admission that the company rigged cars to cheat emissions tests, we saw stories that broke out of regional interest and drew national and international attention.

Journalists from around the globe came to Chattanooga to cover the military attack, and the story's significance increased when other killings were carried out in Paris and California.

And the VW story, a huge international scandal involving a global company, has serious implications here. Some of the cars equipped with the cheating software were built at the Chattanooga factory, leaving many people wondering if the impact will take a toll on the local plant, which employs 2,500 and is set to start manufacturing a 2017 model SUV.

These two are on a list of 30 significant news stories from 2015 that the Times Free Press staff has curated. Now it's your turn: We're asking readers to vote on stories and rank, in order of importance, the top 10 news stories of the year. Look for the list in Tuesday's paper. Online voting will open that day.

You can vote at Or you can mail your picks to: Beth Blansit, 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.

While the Chattanooga shooting and the VW stories are unusually big news for our area, we still saw our share of other significant news: The bankruptcy and closing of Hutcheson Medical Center followed by an 11th-hour purchase; the defeat of Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee at the hands of members of his own party.

The list of 30 includes uplifting stories, too: The victory of bespectacled tenor and Lee University student Jordan Smith on "The Voice," Chattanooga being christened the Best Town Ever - again - by Outside magazine and becoming the first city ever to host four Ironman events in a year.

Also among the biggest stories of the year was the June 25 Interstate 75 crash that killed six people including four members of the same family, spanning three generations.

And starting today, the Times Free Press publishes a four-part series by reporters Shelly Bradbury and Alex Green that examines truck-involved fatal crashes in and around Chattanooga. Stories today are on the front page and in the Business section, and another story runs Monday on the front page.

The reporters traveled to Kentucky to report on Ben Brewer, the Kentucky-based truck driver who caused the I-75 crash and is charged with six counts of vehicular homicide. In Tennessee, they rode with drivers, watched truck inspections, interviewed experts and trucking industry leaders, reviewed crash data. Their stories cover the human impact of the crash, spell out the risks we all take on the road and examine the challenges facing the trucking industry. It's an important issue, and these are crucial stories in a metropolitan area with three interstate highways.

At, you'll find additional, interactive content.

It could be that you think the trucking story is one of 2015's Top 10. Maybe you have 10 others you feel are more important. Whatever you think, go to and give us your opinion. Voting starts Tuesday and will run through Sunday, Dec. 27.

Alison Gerber is editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at or 423-757-6408 and @aligerb.