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Things that could've gone wrong this year, but didn't

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A tsunami could have swept Atlanta: The last 365 days have given us massive budget deficits, a tornado, a foreclosure crisis, record unemployment levels, spikes in crime and even an atrocious reality show that highlights everything wrong with metro Atlanta. But at least a giant tidal wave filled with piranhas didn't rise from the Chattahoochee River and swallow us – yet.

Troy Davis could have been executed: It wasn't for lack of trying, but somehow the state failed to send longtime death row inmate Davis to the death chamber this year. Twice in '08 (and once the year before), Davis' execution date was set. But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Davis received last-minute stays. He's currently waiting on the Appeals Court to rule on whether the justice system should consider evidence pointing to his innocence.

Wordsmiths Books could have closed: The Decatur book peddler found itself so far in the red last August it was faced with closing its doors. But the store and the community hustled and pulled together enough funds to keep the indie retailer and party-thrower afloat.

The Sunday Paper could have bought CL: Last month, former Loafer and current Sunday Paper Publisher Patrick Best made a (hopefully) ludicrous offer to buy the Loaf for $1 million. Dr. Evil would be proud.

Lake Lanier could have run dry: Mother Nature saved metro Atlanta this year from a dry-tap dilemma with a steady supply of much-needed rain. (The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also played a role by reducing releases from Lake Lanier.) But now's no time to leave the faucets running. While we may seem to be in the clear, Northeast Georgia remains in a state of "severe to extreme" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Plaza Theatre could have ceased to be: Despite recurring rumors of its imminent demise, the Plaza Theatre survived its second year under new owners Johnny and Gayle Rej, who livened up the 1939 cinema with art exhibits, midnight screenings and the monthly Silver Scream Spook Show. Hooray for the lifeline to indie theaters!

Victor Hill could have been re-elected Clayton County sheriff: The controversial sheriff who dispatched snipers on rooftops when he unceremoniously fired 23 deputies his first day of office has been a journalist's dream and a citizen's nightmare. Luckily for the latter, he was defeated in an Aug. 5 Democratic runoff by Kem Kimbrough, a former sheriff's attorney who went on to win the general election.

The Green or Libertarian parties could have won: Yes, McPalin could have taken the election, but let's not forget two candidates from Georgia were also on the ballot. Say it with me: President Bob Barr. Commander in Chief Cynthia McKinney.

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