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Our greatest hits: Read 10 popular stories from 2017
Film production trucks line Perry Street on Monday, June 5, 2017, as a production company begins filming at the Brenau University library in Gainesville.

We’ve compiled a selection of greatest hits for you to peruse. These stories, published in the past year, were popular with readers. In case you missed them, you can find links to each on

1. ‘The Rock’ shows up for Gainesville fans

For a brief time this summer, folks talking about The Rock in Gainesville were more likely referring to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson than the boulder near Gainesville High.

Johnson shot scenes for “Rampage” in May and June on Brenau University’s campus. Some fans traveled from other states to catch sight of the actor while local residents came out, too.

The movie is set to release in April and features Johnson as a primatologist with a strong bond with a silverback gorilla who mutates into “a raging creature of enormous size.”

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Julie Davidson talks on the phone with a coordinator about the dedication of her quadruplets at their church, The Torch, in Habersham County while she and her husband feed the four girls Wednesday at their Banks County home. The Suches native had always wanted to be a mother, but couldn’t imagine facing such a proposition this time last year. - photo by Erin O. Smith

2. Mother of quadruplets says work is hard but comes naturally

Julie Davidson gave birth to quadruplets in January — and she and husband Justin came by them naturally. We caught up with Julie on Mother’s Day, and she said mothering four babies is hard work, but “a lot of this comes naturally. It’s maternal instinct.”

This house at the corner of Jesse Jewell and Queen City parkways is set to be demolished soon.

3. House targeted for demolition and its occupants have ties to Gainesville history

The corner of Queen City and Jesse Jewell parkways is empty now, but before the historic house that once stood there was demolished, we dug into its history. The home is “commonly associated with John A. Pierce, a prominent builder in North Georgia,” according to a document prepared by a historic preservationist with the Georgia Department of Transportation. Pierce is attributed with putting up buildings at Riverside Military Academy, Brenau University and Shorter College, as well as the city hall in Gainesville. The house dated to at least the early 1900s and possibly the late 1800s.

Dr. Ronald G. Beebe is living his life to honor his daughter’s life. After two years of fighting stage 4 colon cancer, Lauren Beebee lost her battle barely five months ago. Now, her father is continuing her mission by raising awareness and money with Relay for Life of Hall County.

4. Gainesville doctor spreads awareness about colon cancer after daughter's death

Ronald Beebe’s daughter Lauren was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 at the age of 28. In November 2016, she died. Beebe has found new purpose since then by working to raise awareness about colon cancer in young people. “I think that’s what Lauren would want me to do to bring attention to early detection,” he told The Times ahead of the American Cancer Society’s 2017 Relay for Life in Hall County.

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Danielle and Derrick Case, owners of Dress Up, talk Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, about their decision to open their first store seven years ago in an 800-square-foot lot in Dahlonega. - photo by Erin O. Smith

5. Dress Up has lots of place to go

Dress Up boutique is headquartered in Gainesville, but in a short time, it has expanded to about 20 stores across the state and beyond. The first store quickly grew out of its first space, an 800-square-foot lot in the basement of a building in Dahlonega opened in August 2009.

Christos Nicolaou, pictured on Friday, June 23, is opening Alpha Gyro Grill on Jesse Jewell Parkway with his wife, Sarah Griffin, and an Atlanta-based business partner. Nicolaou came to Georgia as a student in 1982 after a stint in the Greek navy.

6. Greek restaurant coming to Gainesville

Alpha Grill has now been open for a few months, and it’s quickly grown in popularity. Before it opened, we got the scoop on the owner’s Greek background, how he met his wife, who is from Gillsville, and his plans for the food and atmosphere of the eatery at the corner of Jesse Jewell and E.E. Butler parkways.

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From right, Kellyn, Jose, Laticia and Jasmin Garcia stand outside their van in the parking lot of the RaceTrac gas station on E. E. Butler Parkway on Friday. The family has been living in the vehicle since May, and the van broke down in the past week, leaving the girls unable to get to school and Jose Garcia missing his medical appointments. - photo by Nick Bowman

7. ‘I need good news’ — Father struggles when unable to provide for family

Jose Garcia told us this fall that he would prefer to end his life. The 42-year-old has come to that point after two years of joblessness, five months of homelessness and constant pain from illness and injury. But Garcia draws hope from his daughters, and many readers reached out to help after his family’s story was published as part of a weeklong series on poverty in Hall County, When jobs aren’t enough.

Gainesville High graduate Deshaun Watson, who led Clemson to the 2016 national championship, now has his name on a road on his high school’s campus. Touchdown Drive has been renamed Deshaun Watson Way.

8. Deshaun Watson gets Gainesville street named after him

Former Gainesville High football star Deshaun Watson led his Clemson Tigers to a national championship in January. The next month, a roadway leading into the high school was renamed Deshaun Watson Way. He was drafted by the Texans later in the year, where he threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in just seven games before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.

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After 55 years at Oakwood-based Clipper Petroleum, Robert Stringer retired from his career as a service technician in February 2017 on his 80th birthday. Through the years, Stringer helped maintain gas pumps and tanks at Clipper stores. - photo by Erin O. Smith

9. Gainesville man retires on 80th birthday after 55 years at same company

Robert Stringer spent 55 years working at Oakwood-based Clipper Petroleum. He wrapped up his career as a service technician and construction worker on Feb. 22, his 80th birthday.

“I just got tired,” said Stringer, a Fulton County native who has spent most of his life in Gainesville.

Brenau outfielder Mackenzie Oliver Mullis, a senior from Martin, holds her daughter, Palmer, after a game. - photo by Courtesy of AJ Reynolds

10. Brenau softball player gets back into the game after having a baby girl

Mackenzie Oliver Mullis took a year hiatus from collegiate softball. On Dec. 28, 2015, Mullis gave birth to Palmer. Days later, classes resumed and Mullis returned, too, with baby in tow. In May, she and her Brenau University team landed the Southern States Athletic Conference championship.

Most-clicked stories of 2017

  • Chestatee teacher among suspects in $6M drug bust in Oakwood
  • Oakwood road shut down due to truck stuck in sinkhole
  • 3-year-old killed after being pinned between cars in Cleveland Ingles parking lot
  • 3 killed in Friendship Road wreck, including an infant
  • 2 people killed and another 8, including 3 kids, injured in I-985 wreck
  • Clarks Bridge wreck kills 3, injures 3
  • Shaw Carter remembered: Gainesville, world ‘has lost a bright light’
  • Authorities: Father kills daughter’s shooter in northwest Hall
  • State officials: Avoid swimming at Don Carter State Park
  • Gainesville radiologist, son dead in murder-suicide

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