Stories our readers loved in the 2010s

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 28, 2019

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On Wednesday morning, another decade will have passed.

Lots of stories have happened in that decade.

The Star-News used Google Analytics to see what stories received the most traction on our Website in the last decade from our readers.

The clear winner was a story of a mistaken car from Jan. 7, 2011.

The Star-News reported that a gentleman traveled to Wal-Mart to get an oil change and pick up a few necessities, leaving the keys in the car so store officials could take care of business, Sgt. Ray Dixon of the APD said.

“Instead, he comes back out and finds his car gone,” Dixon said.

The man immediately called the APD, and a quick review of the store’s surveillance tapes revealed what happened, Dixon said.

“First off, his car was a silver Buick, early 90s, with blue interior,” he said. “We rewind the video and watch as a woman comes out of the store, walks up to the car, opens the door, gets in and drives off. So, we backtracked the tapes even further and watched her get out of a silver Buick parked three spaces down from the man’s car.

“It made sense then,” he said.

“The only difference between the two cars really was the color of the interior,” he said. “Her’s is red; his, blue.”

Dixon said the woman, who apparently had traveled to Wal-Mart to get a prescription filled, had left her purse inside her unlocked car with her keys inside. When she came out of the store, she got into the first silver Buick she saw, thinking it was her car.

Dixon said once the woman’s identity was learned, he and the man traveled to the woman’s home in the Paul Community to retrieve his vehicle.

The second most viewed story from the decade came from Jan. 3, 2014.

The Star-News reported Westview Baptist Church in Opp’s Mission and Discipleship Pastor Johnny Warren was killed in a skiing accident in West Virginia.

No. 3, Dec. 14, 2018, The Star-News reported: Cooking has never been one of Kristy White’s favorite activities, but she likes it even less this week, after she opened a can of Italian green beans and found a mouse in it. “I’m so not a cook like my mother, so when I saw pink, at first I thought it was seasoned with ham,” she said. “But then I saw the ‘ham’ had arms and legs!”

She was tired, and thought her eyes were playing tricks on her. It is, after all, the end of the semester for White both as an LBW instructor and a PhD student.

“I just covered it and sat down until Chuck came home,” she said.

After her husband, Chuck White, confirmed that she had, indeed, found a mouse in her beans, she called the consumer helpline for Glory Foods.

“They said they take it seriously, but then also said that if we had consumed any of it, not to worry because ‘everything’ in the can would have been sterilized in the process,” she said.  She emailed photos to the company, provided her name and address, and was told the company would likely send her a voucher – for more beans.

No. 4: Aug. 7, 2017, The Star-News reported: What began as a domestic call in Florala Monday afternoon ended with the Dothan Police Bomb Squad on the scene and a local man charged with manufacturing meth and making explosives.

Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole said officers were called to a home on 7th Avenue regarding a domestic violence situation. The Department of Human Resources was also called.

Bedsole said that while officers were investigating the incident, they learned there were potentially bombs in the home. As a result, the FPD notified EMA, who called the Dothan Police Bomb Squad to secure the area.

At press time, Bedsole said they had found one explosive and the bomb squad was working to locate two others. Officers also found items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

The suspect, Kelly Wayne Hardy, gave consent to search the home, the chief said.

Hardy was charged with manufacturing II and unlawful manufacturing of an explosive device. Both are Class B felonies.

No. 5: Jan. 26, 2016, The Star-News reported: The City of Andalusia on Tuesday announced two major downtown revitalization projects- a new restaurant and a remodeled theater.

Mayor Earl Johnson said the city has partnered with Big Mike’s Restaurant for a new location in the former Andala Building in downtown Andalusia.

In a separate project the O’Neal family has agreed to donate the existing theater building to the city. The city will renovate the facility, including new restrooms and concession areas, and new seats, and has a long-term lease with the current tenant, Clarke Theatre.

Representatives of both companies were on hand for the announcements.

Johnson said the projects will be let for bids as soon as the architects complete the plans, and it is hoped they will be done by late spring. RLS Design Group of Birmingham has planned the projects.

No. 6: June 8, 2013: Layden Lee is a fighter, and she’s got the knife wounds and survival skills to prove it.

Lee, a then-14-year-old rising freshman at Red Level High School, fought off a knife-wielding attacker in her Main Street home around midnight Thursday. Now, police are actively working leads to find the identity of the man wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans that came through the Lees’ back door that night.

On Friday, when most teens would be traumatized to the point of being non-verbal, Lee said she wanted to share her story.

“I want girls to know that, no matter how little you are, you can fight someone off,” Lee said.

And “little” she is – at little more than five feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, Lee suffered knife wounds on her stomach and upper left arm, as well as defensive wounds on her hands and face.

No. 7: March 21, 2017: PHS principal Craig Nichols said Taylor Kelley was an upbeat young man who liked to make people laugh and was well liked by his friends.

Pleasant Home School had additional counselors available yesterday in the wake of a high school student’s death in a Sunday afternoon wreck that claimed three lives.

“He enjoyed working outside, and he was respectful to the faculty and administrators,” Nichols said. “This is a great tragedy to lose a life at such a young age. Taylor will be greatly missed by the faculty, staff and students of Pleasant Home School. The school will have additional counselors on staff today available to help students and faculty as they grieve. Our hearts break for his family in this time and we pray for comfort and healing in the days to come.”

No. 8: March 19, 2015: Investigators and authorities with the FBI, ABI, Opp Police Department and Coffee County Sheriff’s Office have ended an almost all-day excavation at a remote site along the Covington County and Coffee County line  after authorities received a tip involving a nearly 18-year-old case.

Authorities there were looking for the remains of Opp teenager Kemberly Ramer. Ramer has been missing since 1997. They had no luck.

Coffee County District Attorney Tom Anderson, who was on the scene Thursday morning, said the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office received a tip three to four weeks ago that Ramer’s remains were located in a well behind a dilapidated home on Coffee County Road 412.

“The person who gave the tip had connections with people who have been deemed persons of interest by the Opp Police Department,” Anderson said. “We felt it was our duty to look into this further.”

Anderson said the Sheriff’s Office was in communication with the FBI, who recently brought two cadaver dogs to the location to search.

Anderson said the dogs didn’t pinpoint human scent, but did hit on the general area of the well.

The Coffee County Commission supplied machinery from its road department to help with the dig.

No. 9:  Feb. 18, 2015: The Covington County community remembered Megan Leigh Kelley this week for her infectious smile and positive attitude.

Through Megan’s nearly two-year battle with cancer, she’s been an inspiration to the community and surrounding areas.

Megan’s valiant battle with cancer ended early Tuesday morning. She was 19.

As her pastor at Bethany Baptist Church, the Rev. Josh Wilson knew Megan well.

“Megan’s faith and perseverance through this journey has made ripple effects far and wide,” he said. “She has inspired many people inside the county and throughout our country to consider their own faith and what their ultimate hope is really in.”

In 2013, Megan was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and spent a good portion of her senior year near the hospital in Birmingham.

She was declared cancer free and in remission, but was diagnosed with leukemia – a side effect of her previous treatment – this past fall. Despite all she went through, Megan remained positive.

Wilson said that Megan’s peace and hope in the midst of a dark circumstance of life has challenged many others to realize where ultimate hope is truly found not in money, a job, education, or politics, but only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

No. 10:  Oct. 6, 2012: A trick by a would-be drug trafficker turned into a treat for police Friday as officers found two pounds of marijuana stuffed inside two pumpkins.

Drug Task Force agent Greg Jackson, who also serves as the River Falls police chief, said the discovery is credited to Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Adams who noticed something “wasn’t quite right” about the Halloween staples.

Jackson said Adams pulled over the Lincoln LS driven by David Rondell Elliott, 46, of Marietta, Ga., while on U.S. Hwy. 84 at Debro Hill.

“Deputy Adams said the driver was acting pretty nervous and was evasive in answering his questions,” Jackson said. “(Adams) called for assistance from the River Falls Police Department, and when we arrived (Adams) said he could smell the odor of green marijuana.”

Jackson said the two, along with River Falls reserve officer Thomas Huggins, began to search the car and found the contraband in the back seat.

“Deputy Adams said, ‘There’s something not right about these pumpkins,’ and turned one of them over and found a cut out area on the bottom,” Jackson said. “He took his knife and easily pried the bottom open. Inside was a silver package, containing marijuana.”

The same practice was applied to the second pumpkin, which also revealed another silver package. In total, Jackson estimated two pounds of marijuana was seized. Its approximate street value is $3,200, he said.