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Top 10 most clicked-on feature stories of 2015
Katie Harrison measures out a dose of cannabis oil for her son Hawk. The boy suffers from several seizure disorders.

Personal stories of struggles overcome, shining moments and finding the positive amid adversity were popular with readers this past year.

The feature story most clicked-on this year is even No. 1 on the list of most clicked-on overall.

Those other most clicked-on stories are breaking crime stories, but this year we share more with you about the most popular features of 2015.

1. Cannabis oil offers local mom, son a new life

The move to approve the use of cannabis oil to treat certain illnesses was big news in 2015, and Hall County mother Katie Harrison was in the middle of the push in the legislature.

Harrison’s son Hawk suffers seizures, and she now treats him with the oil. Hawk was in a "zombie fog" before the medicine, according to his mother.

"So to see him recognize me and acknowledge me ... is something that cannabis has given us that we didn’t have before," she said.

2. Gainesville hospital ranked No. 2 behind Mayo Clinic in overall care

Northeast Georgia Medical Center is often ranked well in a variety of measures. But this ranking by CareChex was extra special.

The hospital was ranked No. 2 in a study of "America’s Top Quality Providers," behind the renowned Mayo Clinic.

The CareChex study includes virtually all general, acute, nonfederal hospitals in the U.S. and measures them across several categories, including quality of medical care, outcomes of care and patient satisfaction, according to its website. Hospitals do not apply to be part of the CareChex study, and they cannot opt out of being rated.

3. Ask the Times: A flood of memories rest at bottom of Lake Lanier

This feature was actually published in 2012, but of course nothing dies on the Internet. And curiosity about what lies beneath the lake never dies either.

A reader submitted a question asking why structures were not torn down before the lake was filled in the 1950s. Many families moved their houses to higher ground and other structures were removed according to how deep they would be once the lake was filled.

"If it was going to be far enough underneath the planned full pool, it just wasn’t worth the time or the effort to tear them down," Northeast Georgia History Center Director Glen Kyle said. "Especially if they were wood, they would eventually deteriorate to a certain point."

4. Gainesville High linebacker excels amid struggles

Lemi Williams’ story captured hearts as his team headed into the playoffs.

The senior’s family has struggled with housing issues for years. Their lights had just been turned back on when we spoke with them, but the gas was still shut off, meaning no hot water. The family has lived out of motels, sought help from The Salvation Army and eventually Family Promise of Hall County, which helped shelter the family while they searched for a permanent home.

After this story was published, a GoFundMe account was started that raised more than $2,500 to help Williams’ family.

5. After 43 years, iconic deli Goes to new owner

Longtime local residents know the Inn-Between Deli well. The sandwiches served there are simple — a thick layer of mayonnaise, a pickle cut longways, meat, cheese and bread.

Husband and wife owners Wesley and Suzanne Gailey sold the business at the end of July. New owner Anderson Dunlap pledged to keep pretty much everything just the same.

6. Motivated by brother’s optimism, UNC’s Kanler Coker switches to basketball

Keaton Coker lost his battle with brain cancer in July of 2014.

This season, his brother is honoring him each time he suits up for the Tar Heels’ basketball team.

Kanler Coker was a quarterback for three years but gave up his football scholarship this summer to join the basketball team after an elbow injury. The Coker brothers bonded over a spring ski trip to Utah in 2005, where they watched as North Carolina won its fourth national championship. When Kanler was admitted to Chapel Hill, Keaton always held on to hope that he would get to play basketball in Carolina baby blue.

"It was a no-brainer," Kanler said of his decision. "I think about Keaton smiling down from heaven, and I knew he’d be proud. It was motivation for me the whole time."

7. Gainesville football team collects money for alumnus Devan Stringer

Former linebacker Devan Stringer and La’Kiera Smith lost their daughter at 11 days old. And Stringer’s team came together to help.

Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller said when he told his team the news "I’ve never seen a team react as ours did. Usually, they sit there stonefaced, when you tell them something, but it was a unanimous ‘Oh no’ that came out of 100 players’ mouths. It was like, what can we do?"

Coaches accepted donations to help pay for the memorial services for Noelle Marie Stringer and a GoFundMe page was set up that raised $3,985.

8. North Hall’s Nicholas Bennett has moment to shine

Nicholas Bennett was born with autism, fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Since being welcomed into the North Hall basketball family by its coach, Benjie Wood, he found his identity as a young man. Fans were filming with cellphone cameras as Bennett flung his 1,000th halfcourt shot at halftime. His underhanded shot drained through the bottom of the net without hitting rim, and North Hall students stormed the court and put him on their shoulders.

9. Firefighting ‘sisterhood’ makes history in Hall County

The highest number of female firefighter recruits — by far — graduated at one time with the Hall County Fire Services’ training program last year. Each of the five female recruits has her own reason for wanting to be a firefighter, but the common ground these women share is a sense of sisterhood.

10. Gillsville family wins spot on ‘Family Feud’

The Barrett family of Gillsville didn’t think they’d really be put on the show when they applied, but they were asked two days after their audition to participate in the game show. "We started screaming," Katie said. "It was like Christmas morning." The Barretts didn’t win big, but they did walk away with about $800 to be split among the five of them.



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