In Anne Arundel County, 1991 probably will be remembered as a year that began in tragedy and ended in uncertainty.
Just over a month into the year, the county lost one of its most distinguished citizens when Aris T. Allen, a medical doctor and legislator with a list of firsts stretching back four decades, shot himself to death in an Annapolis parking lot.
Over the ensuing months, residents watched as:
* Anne Arundel was caught unawares by mapmakers intent on creating a safe seat for an incumbent congressman -- even if it meant carving the county up four different ways.
* An investigation into charges that Annapolis police and firefighters were having sex while on duty led to disciplinary action against seven firefighters and police officers -- and charges that the investigation itself had been badly botched.
* The county's largest employer laid off more than 1,500 workers.
Then in December, Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced another round of state budget cuts -- including a proposed $14.9 million from Anne Arundel's slice of the state pie.
That comes on top of $17.2 million already trimmed by County Executive Robert R. Neall, largely at the expense of employee wage concessions.
None of which is to say the yearwas without its bright spots. The good news included:
* Completion of a deal handing over surplus land at Fort Meade to the Patuxent Fish and Wildlife Center, protecting a huge parcel of land from development.
* Northeast High had the nation's top-ranked high school baseball team.
* The last leg of Route 10 opened, providing a high-speed link between Severna Park and the Baltimore Beltway.
* And --in an unusual piece of good economic news -- word that America West Airlines was moving its reservations center out of Hanover was followed by an announcement that Northwest Airlines would take over, preserving about 200 jobs.
What follows are synopses of the Top 10 stories of 1991, as chosen by the editors of the Anne Arundel County Sun.
We leave predictions for 1992 to our readers.