The most-read stories of the year are not always the biggest stories of the year. That is particularly true for 2020, when COVID-19 was by far the biggest story to hit our shores since Gayle Corrigan was town manager. Yet, of the top 10 most-read stories of the year, only two are pandemic related – the restaurant takeout guide and a story about Meadowbrook Farms closing for a day after a child who’d been abroad got sick. Both stories were from March.
That said, there were more than 20 stories about COVID-19 and the government’s response in the 100 most-read stories. Interestingly, there were only three election-related stories in the top 100 and one of them was from June 2019, about Sara Gideon, EGHS Class of 1989, who ran in a hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Maine (she lost). Another was about a Trump stand-and-wave event on Main Street in October. The only other election story in the top 100 was about the dearth of local Republican candidates.
People often tell us they like the police log. They aren’t lying – the police logs are by far the most well-read articles we post. While only one made it into this year’s Top 10, they accounted for 25 of the Top 100. The other big-clickers are any story about restaurants opening (or closing 🙁), stories about schools and, very sadly, stories about untimely deaths.
Here are the stories that got the most clicks of 2020, in ascending order:
#10 Meadowbrook Closed Today After Sibling Falls Ill (4,109 views)
It was early the morning of March 3 when a parent contacted Meadowbrook Farms Principal Neil Marcaccio to say one of their children (a sibling of a MFS student) woke up with a fever and cough and the family had recently returned from a European trip. Out of “an abundance of caution,” school officials closed for the day. The sibling’s test result came back negative that evening so classes resumed.
#9 Developer Looks to Build 418 Units off Division (4,222 views)
In August, the Planning Board heard a preliminary plan from a developer interested in building what could be the largest housing development in decades, maybe ever: 418 units (a combination of single family, duplexes and triplexes, and apartments) on land across from Westfield Drive on Division Road. Aside from the number of units and their potential impact on the schools, one sticking point could be there that all traffic will come in and out via Division. This story will continue in 2021 and, very likely, beyond.
#8 Police Log: A Missing Chicken & Main Street Drug Bust (4,230 views)
It’s hard to say why this particular police log – from just last week – ended up in the Top 10 but something tells us it wasn’t the missing chicken. Still, it is not that different than other EG police logs we posted in 2020 – a mixture of car violations, domestic problems, animal complaints and curiosities.
#7 Early Morning Crash Kills 1, Injures 3 (4,505 views)
Car crashes are brutal reminders of the frailty of life. When they involve young people, as this one did in October, we are tempted to hug our children a little tighter. The young woman who died lived in Warwick, not far from East Greenwich. The accident took place right on the EG border with both North Kingstown and Warwick, and Warwick police ended up taking over the investigation.
#6 Death of Cherished Father, Spouse, Friend Rocks Community (4,814 views)
When EG resident Josh Selle, 49, died suddenly in late July, it was almost as if there was an audible wail that rose from the town. Selle was married with four young children. Many who talked about him on social media described a man who was the heart of the neighborhood (one who fed anyone in his sphere), a loyal friend, a beloved husband and father.
#5 Brady Sentenced to 8 Years in $4.8 Scam (6,807 views)
This story is the stuff of high tragedy: a glamorous woman with a firefighter husband and four children, including one with a developmental disability, cons friends and family members out of millions of dollars, then nearly flees to Vietnam with her lawyer/lover before being arrested for her schemes. She was sentenced in U.S. District Court in February, in a grueling hearing where various former friends got up and told the court how Brady’s actions had affected them both financially and emotionally, many of them weeping. Three of Brady’s children and her now ex-husband were in attendance as well. That wasn’t the end of Brady’s story: she has twice applied for early release from prison, citing the dangers of COVID as well as her disabled son needing her. The judge denied her both times.
#4 Who’s Open for Takeout? An 02818 Guide (7,351 views)
When Gov. Raimondo closed restaurants to in-person dining in mid-March, many restaurants immediately pivoted to takeout and customers were eager to support them. We decided to compile a list of all the 02818 restaurants, including basic information about what they were offering. It was a bigger job than we initially thought – there are a LOT of restaurants in this small town of ours! Happily, it was a useful guide that we tried to keep updated through the spring. While Red Stripe and 1149 closed pretty quickly during the shutdown, most restaurants have worked hard to adapt and have remained open. We are very glad for that.
Stories about new businesses, especially restaurants, always do well. This one confirmed that Chipotle and Orange Theory would be joining Starbucks in the Showcase plaza. And, despite the pandemic, all three stores opened in 2020 and seem to be doing pretty well.
#2 EG Police Sergeant Dies After Parachute Jump (8,357 views)
This one hurt a lot. So many people knew and liked Chris Callan. He died in July doing something he loved – he’d been in the military and was still in the National Guard, having earned a bronze star during a stint in Afghanistan. He had often spent time practicing parachute jumps. The town turned out to show its respect during a procession that began at EGPD and continued down Division to Main Street.
#1 Knead Doughnuts Coming to Main Street (8,941 views)
We are so predictable! Doughnuts. They are good (and that’s not because we’ve been eating them a lot or anything … really!).
What were your favorite stories of the year? We will be sharing our personal favorites Dec. 31 – if you have one, tell us and include why ([email protected]).