So, 2016 will go down in history as the year that killed your favorite celebrity (and Harambe). And the year Donald Trump became president.
In North Carolina, it’s the year Hurricane Matthew put the eastern part of our state under water. And the year of HB2. And the year our one-term governor wouldn’t lose gracefully.
So it’s probably not a surprise that many of The Rant’s Top 10 “most clicked” stories of 2016 dealt with “bad news” in and around our fair burgh. We list those stories below, and we thank you for reading our little site. Here’s hoping the news in 2017 is a little more enlightening.
You’re probably thinking two things: 1. I’m already tired of Top 10 lists, and 2. Hey, didn’t this story happen in 2015? What kind of cruel prank are you trying to pull here, Rant? Well, yes, our story about The Rant’s Billy Liggett and his terrible experience in a movie theater thanks to viral video king Penn Holderness did happen in 2015, and thanks to Deadspin picking up our story and enhancing it, our story went semi-viral as well. Since it happened toward the end of 2015, many of those clicks continued through 2016 (over a few thousand) … making it our 10th most-clicked story of this year as well. Thankfully, the Holderni were nowhere to be seen for the opening of Rogue One.
A few months before Libations set up shop in Downtown Sanford, The Rant was the first to report its impending arrival. Business partners Ryan Elliott, Kevin Foushee and Chas Post opened the new business at 139 Chatham Street in September, offering a wine and craft beer store in the front half of the building and a taproom and wine-by-the-glass area in the back. With the craft beer craze still trending, Libations has become a much welcome and needed addition to Sanford’s revitalized downtown area.
When you post good news on a good guy with a lot of friends, it’s bound to be a popular story. But even we were surprised at the popularity of our story on Sanford native Chris Black, a master trooper with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, becoming one of just a handful of recipients of the D.R. Bowick Trooper of the Year award. Black has been with the Highway Patrol for a decade after beginning his career with the Sanford Police Department. In what was a rough year for law enforcement officers throughout the country, it’s nice to get to share news like this.
The opposite of No. 8, when a popular guy with a lot of local friends dies in an unfortunate accident, that story reaches a large audience as well. In May, retired Lee County magistrate and former Lee County sheriff and commissioner candidate Butch Johnson was killed in a car wreck in Myrtle Beach. Johnson was a popular figure in the Lee County Democratic Party. He ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for sheriff before losing to Tracy Carter, and announced another run in 2010 before rescinding his candidacy and supporting Carter in ads.
Back in January, The Rant opined on a highly discriminatory pledge Lee Christian School was requiring students and parents to sign. Those who signed pledged to denounce all thing homosexual or transgendered or risk being booted from the school. In our post, we wrote:
Now, you can sugarcoat it all you want by saying the pledge falls in line with religious beliefs, but what the school is essentially saying is this — if you are gay or support gay rights such as marriage or think of yourself as a different sex … you’re not really welcome there. Go find another school.
Lee Christian never backed down despite the media coverage both local and regional. In October, the Charlotte Observer listed the pledge in its series “Permission to Hate” and cited The Rant’s coverage in its own.
The video itself went viral, and The Rant was among the first to share it. Back in April, the goalkeeper for Pine Forest High School in Moore County laid out a forward from Pinecrest WWE-style on the soccer pitch. The goalkeeper was assessed a flagrant personal foul and docked at least two games as her penalty. Here’s the video below (it has 1.8 million hits … our story not quite as much). It still hurts.
OK, OK, so he never came. That’s not our fault. At least we got ol’ what’s-his-name from Hillary’s side. It was true, though, that back in September, Donald Trump’s campaign reserved the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford for an evening event shortly after his first televised debate with Clinton. It was never confirmed whether Trump himself, Mike Pence or a Trump family member was going to speak. It didn’t matter, as the plans fell through. Still … at least they thought of us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In July, The Rant reported on a man walking into the Lowes Foods on Spring Lane screaming a woman’s name, then taking off his shirt and attacking police officers as they arrived on the scene. We reported on it because it happened right in front of us. It was the damndest thing.
At one point, three uniformed officers and as many as three bystanders were holding the man face own on the ground as he screamed out that he would kill them. As many as six uniformed officers and one out of uniform officer were eventually on scene. Later, he appeared calmer as he sat up, cuffed and silent, drinking water that officers provided him with.
One of the few Sanford stories that made national news this year, and obviously not for good reasons. Two teenage boys were injured when a 20-year-old man shot them during the annual nighttime Sanford Christmas Parade. The incident caused the large crowd on hand to scatter and cut the parade short (it was later redone on a much smaller scale a few weeks later with no incident). The Rant was the first media outlet to report the shooting and provided updates as they came in well into that night.
This one came as a surprise to us. Both the story itself and the fact that it was our top-clicked story of the year. In June, “noted famous people” Clay Aiken and Raven-Symone appeared at the Fairview Dairy Bar in Sanford to film a segment on people’s reactions to House Bill 2 for the daytime talk show “The View.” The Rant was the first to report the “celeb sighting,” and while the two declined to be interviewed, Aiken could be heard explaining to Raven why he wanted to film in Sanford. “This is Sanford, which is about 40 minutes outside of Raleigh,” he could be heard saying. “This place just sort of feels like a microcosm of the whole state.” Click the image below to view the segment: