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2021 is done — Here are 10 of our most-viewed news stories this year

MacNolia Cox 1936 National Spelling Bee
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phones.jpeg
AlexanderRios.jpg
Memorial Day Speech Silenced Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter
Akron Dome 1.jpg
Amy Mihaljevic
Wadsworth woman finds son she put up for adoption 33 years ago through 23andMe
Brad Beun Springfield
Fake Farms 1.jpg
Posted at 2:27 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 14:27:30-05

CLEVELAND — As the year comes to a close, the News 5 digital team wanted to share the 10 most-viewed stories on our website in 2021.

It’s important to note that these are not necessarily the biggest stories, or news items that had the largest impact in our area. However, many of these stories are reflective of our team’s focus on high-quality, local journalism that engages, delights and informs our diverse audience.

Thank you all for your continued viewership and support over this difficult year, thank you for your honest and constructive feedback, and thank you for everything you do to make Northeast Ohio the wonderful, vibrant, inspiring community that it is.

Without further ado, and since we don’t have much time left on the clock in 2021, here are the top 10 most-viewed stories of the year:

Remembering the 1936 National Spelling Bee and how hatred eliminated a bright young girl from Akron

MacNolia Cox 1936 National Spelling Bee

Earlier this year, 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde became the first African-American winner of the National Spelling Bee, taking home the trophy after correctly spelling the word "murraya." The moment was exciting and groundbreaking, but also stirred up the history behind the journey leading up to the moment that should always be remembered, especially here in Northeast Ohio.

Our most-viewed story of the year delves into that difficult moment and the history around it.

Former Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer moved to hospice care, ESPN reports

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After a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, former Cleveland Browns coach Marty Schottenheimer has died at the age of 77.

One of the most successful coaches in Browns franchise history, Marty Schottenheimer, was moved to hospice care in February, and tragically passed away days later. Our initial report on his devolving condition struck a chord with Browns fans.

Mandatory 10-digit dialing goes into effect in Ohio on Sunday, Oct. 24

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We regularly produce “news you can use” stories, but this important update that affected how some Ohioans make phone calls had a background that was newsworthy in itself: the digit change was caused by the adoption of “988” as a three-digit number to call or text the National Suicide Prevention Line.

A Fatal Five Minutes — Man’s family wants answers after Richland jail video shows critical moments before his death

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Alexander Rios.

Investigator Sarah Buduson’s in-depth examination of the death of Alexander Jose Rios caused quite a stir among our viewers in a year when law enforcement agencies across the nation were under the microscope. Even after several follow-up investigations, many questions about how and why Rios died in a Richland jail linger.

Hudson American Legion leaders resign after cutting veteran's mic during Memorial Day speech

Memorial Day Speech Silenced Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter
In this frame grab from video provided by Hudson Community Television, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter taps the microphone after organizers turned off the audio during his speech at a Memorial Day ceremony, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Hudson, Ohio. Organizers of the ceremony turned off Kemter's microphone when he began talking about how freed Black slaves had honored fallen soldiers soon after the Civil War. (Hudson Community Television via AP)

A local American Legion member’s decision to cut a veteran’s microphone as he delivered a stirring speech about Memorial Day’s connection to Black history caused national outrage and led to the temporary suspension of the entire Hudson post.

Strange dome-shaped UFO-looking object stumps Akron motorists

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A strange dome seen on the highway in Akron Sunday.

Of course we’re passionate about our monthslong investigations and holding the powerful accountable, but for many on our team, the news of the weird is our secret love. Any day we can answer the question, “Just what the heck was THAT?” is a good day for us.

EXCLUSIVE: Court documents reveal startling new developments in Amy Mihaljevic murder investigation

Amy Mihaljevic
Mihaljevic

Another year brought more answers, but still no true resolution, to one of the most infamous cold cases in Northeast Ohio.

Wadsworth woman finds son she put up for adoption 33 years ago through 23andMe

Wadsworth woman finds son she put up for adoption 33 years ago through 23andMe
(L) Melanie Pressley holding newborn Greg Vossler in 1988. (R) Melanie and Greg in June 2021.

You may not see it from our reporting, but it is rare for a family to open up and share their lives with news organizations to the degree that a story often requires. We’re glad this family did, as it was an inspiring and fascinating story that brought some considerable heart and hope in a year that desperately needed it.

Akron-area Springfield Local Schools employee accused of messaging undercover FBI agent to arrange sex with girl

Brad Beun Springfield

These stories are difficult to report, but an essential function for the community, especially when they involve those we trust with the wellbeing of our children.

Feds: Six family members received $7.4 million in pandemic loans by creating fake Ohio farm

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Another in-depth investigation by News 5’s Sarah Buduson reveals the tip of the iceberg in terms of malfeasance and fraudulent abuse of the U.S. government’s largesse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Thank you again for weathering 2021 with us and sampling the content that we work hard to produce for you each and every day of the year.

If consuming and supporting great local journalism is on your 2022 resolution list, and why wouldn’t it be, you can check that off with one click by subscribing to Digital Director Joe Donatelli’s “What Happened Now?” newsletter. Joe curates the most important local news from us and other outlets on the daily, offering expert commentary with the wit and insight that only a true Clevelander can deliver.

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