As the year 2018 comes to a close, here’s a look back on The Times’ stories that made the biggest online impact. These stories are chosen based on the number of clicks they received as well as the time readers spent with the stories, both as recorded by Google Analytics.
This story about federally mandated electronic tracking of commercial trucks was by far our most popular story of the year — and the biggest surprise to the analytic experts in our office. It got more than twice the number of clicks of any other single story of 2018. Less surprising, it came from truckers across the country who got hold of the story via the traditional method: Facebook.
School security has been a hot topic as law enforcement and school officials continue working to determine whether supposed threats are real, rumor or prank. In this case from February, a 16-year-old student on a Hall County bus was arrested after school officials say he joked about having a gun. Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said in December the student was charged as a juvenile and that there was no update in the case. Records pertaining to Juvenile Court are not accessible to the public.
A gunman opened fire on passing cars on Ga. 365 in May. The gunman, Rex Harbour, 26, shot himself after wounding two. Disturbing writings were later found at his Snellville home that indicated he idolized Nikolas Cruz, the shooter in the Parkland, Fla., massacre that killed 17 at a high school.
A 6-month-old boy was found dead in an Alabama hotel room in June, and police believe his parents, who are from Hall County, are to blame. The mother was charged with manslaughter and the father with murder. The mother was indicted in December and the father was still incarcerated in Levy County, Florida.
A 13-year-old Dawsonville girl was killed in a head-on crash with a Hall County school bus in May. No formal accusations or indictments by the Hall County District Attorney’s Office or Hall County Solicitor’s Office have been filed in the case, according to the Hall County Courts database.
Northside’s move into the region has been a hot topic in the community. The most concrete example of the move into Northeast Georgia Health System’s territory was this acquisition.
Michael Williams has been in the news again in December as fraud charges were brought against him. But he first made a splash with his “deportation bus” during his campaign for the Republican nomination to governor during the May primary.
Translated as City of the Light of the World, this religious group proposes a 272-acre, development featuring housing, retail, hotels, offices and church space in Flowery Branch. No proposals have been filed with the South Hall city, but residents have mobilized just in case, largely through social media.
This piece was actually published in 2017, but as Kemp marched toward the governorship he eventually won, readers kept coming to this story, in which he sat down with one of our reporters to lay out his views and campaign goals.
Construction still hasn’t started on Parkside on the Square, but downtown development has been top of mind for anyone who drives through the area. A new place to eat is always a popular topic with readers. In March, The Times learned of plans for a Mexican cantina, a French bakery, an ice cream and dessert shop, a smoothie joint and more on the ground floor of the development planned on the fourth side of the square. Later in the year, more specific details about those plans were announced.