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A different kind of year in review: the top stories from 2017 ‘Great State’ style

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- You know it's going to be an interesting year when you start with a counting dog named Cookie and a police chief who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator in the town of Alex.

"It's basically like a second job," said Tim Keef. "It'll keep you busy."

Big anniversaries also made their mark in 2017.

Jesse Chisholm's old cattle trail turned 150.

We helped Cecil Nelon celebrate 100.

It's been 100 years since another Cecil, Cecil Cartebury, and his Choctaw mates first developed the Code Talker program for the U.S. Army.

"Machine gun translated as 'little gun shoot fast'," says Carterbury's grand-daughter Nuchi Nashoba

100 years as well since a group of adventurous drivers made it from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, Texas in 8 hours on the new Ozark Trail.

Oklahoma City's own hard shell landmark, Tacoville, turned 50, and it's been 50 years since Marty Hall started flipping fried onion burgers in El Reno.

He's still going strong at Sid's Diner too.

"It's really fulfilling for me," he told us in early December.

We witnessed plenty of historical comebacks in our Great State.

UCO's Old North reopened after years of restoration work.

This old cavalry barn at Fort Reno, which dates back to the 1870's, welcomed horses once again.

The WKY Kilgen Organ made its first music in years at a new home in the Oklahoma History Center.

The original Douglass High School made a comeback as affordable housing.

Norman's Prairie House, Hollis' downtown, the Bethel Church, and the old Creek Council House in Okmulgee all received new leases on life.

Creek historian Vernonica Pipestem said, "It has really been called the jewel of the Muscogee Nation."

It all those miles and 365 days we met some interesting people, as always.

We marveled at Ray Wiseman's tree house resort near Eufala, and at Anthony Roberts 14 years of public school in Tuttle without ever missing a single day.

"I was really like, that's kind of cool," he said.

We also congratulated Vertina Long on getting all 7 of her children through their senior years at Putnam City West High School.

But which 4 stories stuck out in our memories the most?

That day in Stillwater we visited dozens of orphaned kittens at the state's only neonatal cat rescue operation.

That story makes the Top 4 for the curious creatures who seemed to really like our visit.

Another of our Top 4; going through Curtis G. Austin's windmill collection near Erick, Oklahoma.

Looking at one of dozens that line the highway outside his shop, Austin said, "This is an 8 foot Dempster."

In the the Top 4 as well; Ronnie Lehenbauer's blacksmithing work in Waukomis, Oklahoma making old pennies into cowboy hats.

It isn't the work but the works that matter to him.

He gives his cowboy hat pennies to children wherever he may go.

Describing his reward, Ronnie told us, "Just seeing the different kids' faces."

But when it comes to the most memorable story, it's this vision, Oklahoma's own 'leaning tower'.

The old grain elevator in Adams, Oklahoma is in the midst of a slow motion fall it the Panhandle.

It's an amazing thing to see and is sparking visitors who are able to find Adams on a map.

They stop to take pictures just like we did.

"I think it's a little top-heavy by now," one longtime Adams resident remarked.

Tourist brochures are nice but we always try to dig a little deeper.

The best memories always come from the people you meet and the adventures you create on your own initiative.

Here's to hoping 2018 is just as fun as 2017.

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