It's been a year, hasn't it?

Admittedly, 2020 probably won't rank as most people's favorite year or even rank in the column of "good" years with everything we've been through.

But if there was one good aspect of 2020, at least from the newspaper's prospective, it was that for a period of time this year people were really plugged back into local news to get information about what was going on.

Thousands more people logged onto this year to get their news, which showed as our papers posted big online pageview numbers.

So what were people reading this year? Well, 2020 isn't quite over yet, but it'll be hard for any late-breaking news to top this stories.

Let's take a look at the Top 20 most-read stories of 2020 at

1. Children rescued from 128-degree van — 66,053 views

Cops and court stories always are well-read, but 2020's top story of the year circulated widely around northeast Indiana, racking up more than 66,000 views.

In June, a Camden, Michigan, woman was arrested on two Level 6 felony counts of child endangerment after allegedly leaving two children in a locked vehicle in the parking lot of an Angola store.

Angola Police Officer Evan Howe rescued the children from the vehicle that officials said registered 128 degrees on its interior.

Sallie Wireman, 23, the mother, was arrested and is facing two Level 6 felony counts of child endangerment and one count of Class A misdemeanor theft.

An Angola police officer was dispatched to the store in the 2100 block of North Wayne Street where he found an orange minivan in the parking lot with only the rear window vents opened.

When he approached the vehicle that was surrounded by bystanders, Howe found it locked with the two children inside, crying. After checking video footage from the store’s security system, where it was also determined that Wireman allegedly didn’t pay for all of the items in her grocery cart, it was determined that the children had been in the van about 37 minutes.

2. Lake James makes Good Morning America — 47,832 views

There's no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Let's hope so, as Lake James in Steuben County made a national morning show segment in July about young people contributing to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases this summer.

Lake James and the Main Beach at Pokagon State Park were featured in a news story that aired on ABC’s Good Morning America.

This rise, the story said, is due in part to the apparent lack of mask wearing and social distancing measures being taken during large, outdoor gatherings.

The news story has circulated on social media sites such as Facebook since it aired and people have had mixed reactions in the comments sections.

The Lake James area wasn’t the only area pointed out in the video, either, as places around the country including Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, were also mentioned and shown with a heavy presence of people partying in close proximity on the water.

3. and 4. Welcome to Stage 4; Welcome to Stage 2 — 43,633 views and 32,380 views

These two stories are paired together because they're similar, as they explained what was open and not open as Indiana changed steps on its five-step COVID-19 reopening plan.

After about a 45-day stay-at-home order this spring, Gov. Eric Holcomb released a staged reopening plan that slowly allowed certain types of businesses and activities to resume.

The "Welcome to Stage" informational series was widely read around the region as people logged on to see what changed. Oddly, the Stage 3 story didn't chart, but Stage 2 and Stage 4 were widely read after circulating on social media.

The Stage 4 story reached more than a half million people on Facebook this summer.

5. Adult drowns at sandbar near Pokagon State Park — 28,826 views

A tragedy in June in Steuben County charted in at No. 5 this year.

An Illinois man died of an apparent drowning at one of the two sandbars near the beach at Pokagon State Park after attempting to retrieve his boat that had drifted away.

The man, identified as Rocky R. Rutledge, 61, of Romeoville, Illinois, was taken to shore and pronounced dead at the scene. Family has been notified.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Sgt. Patrick Heidenreich said Rutledge was with his family on the sandbar when his boat, apparently a rental, began to drift away from them.

6. Auburn Police release policy on mask order — 27,346 views

In July, the Auburn Police Department issued a statement about how it would handle a then-new statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Readers, apparently, wanted to know.

“As of Monday, July 27, 2020, Governor Holcomb’s executive order regarding mandatory wearing of masks while in public will take effect. In its current form, we do not believe it is a criminal offense that should be legally enforced by the officers of the Auburn Police Department. The Auburn Police Department will not be dispatching an officer for the sole purpose of addressing a complaint of an individual who fails to wear a mask in public," Police Chief Martin McCoy said.

7. Fremont truck stop closed, cleaned — 27,046 views

Back when COVID-19 was still new in the area, news that a Fremont-area truck stop shut down temporarily for a deep cleaning in April was big local news.

Customers at the Pilot Travel Center, 6900 Old U.S. 27, were ushered out of the 24-hour facility at midnight apparently because the novel coronavirus was suspected to be present.

People in white and yellow hazardous materials suits and masks set up operations outside the glass doors of the gas station entrance while others appeared to be disinfecting gas pumps with chemical spray and cloths.

The store reopened later that morning.

8. Stiner sentenced to 2 years for neglect at 'feces strewn' Wolcottville home — 26,960 views

In February, a sentencing in one of the Noble County's most heinous neglect cases drew the ire of many readers as they vented on social media pages, spreading the story widely.

A woman whose four children were suffering from malnourishment and disease while living in deplorable conditions in a Wolcottville home strewn with trash, urine and feces and was sentenced to two years for that neglect.

Her then 3-month-old infant may have been just days away from death, on the verge of starvation and so emaciated and dehydrated that it weighed less than many newborns. Three other children were suffering other various ailments including lice and scabies.

Cheyenne Stiner, 27, received a total sentence of four years, but only two will be served as executed time. Of those two years, one year will be served behind bars in prison, while the second can be served on Noble County Community Corrections. The other two years are suspended to probation.

The case was pleaded down from more serious neglect charges.

9. Carotidynia could be causing neck pain — 26,943 views

Credit this one to Google search results or something, as this March 2008 column from Noble County Health Officer Dr. Terry Gaff charted again this year.

The column, which describes a possible cause of swelling and neck pain, collects thousands of views every year, presumably as people punch terms into search engines looking for answers about why their neck hurts.

10. How's it going? Dr. Egli is fighting for his life — 26,441 views

This year, KPC columnist Grace Housholder launched a series of "How's it going" articles, talking to local people about how they were doing during the pandemic.

The most popular of those was a check in with the family of Dr. John Egli, a Topeka physician who was hospitalized in serious condition with COVID-19.

“We don’t know what the outcome of this will be,” Egli's wife Deb said at the time. “The doctor says it still could go badly. We take it day by day and hour by hour.”

Egli did end up recovering and now serves as a voice in LaGrange County asking people to take the virus seriously.

11. LSC Communications closing Kendallville plant, 307 job losses expected — 26,029 views

In September, LSC Communications, formerly known as Courier, announced closure of its book bindery in Kendallville. The plant was expected to close permanently just before Christmas.

12. New COVID-19 cases keep rising across Indiana, Noble County records fifth death — 25,680 views

The April 25 daily COVID-19 update was unusually popular as it reached more than 25,000 readers early in the pandemic. At the time, Noble County had just five deaths and statewide cases topped 700 for the first time. Now, the four-county area has seen more than 150 deaths total and cases have hit more than 8,000 at their all-time high.

13. Garrett woman allegedly killed husband with blow — 22,257 views

In May, Indiana State Police and the DeKalb County Coroner’s Office began a death investigation in the 1100 block of Franklin Street in Garrett. Michelle Converset, 48, of the 1100 block of South Franklin Street, was arrested and charged with murder, a felony, and aggravated battery, Level 3 felony after allegedly bludgeoning her husband in the back of the head with various objects.

14. Governor suspends all non-essential work, travel March 25-April 7 — 21,042 views

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his stay-at-home order in late March to slow the spread of COVID-19 and buy the state time to marshal supplies and prepare to treat patients. The "hunker down" order ended up sticking for about 45 days before being lifted in May.

15. Community mourns ConLei Walworth — 19,221 views

In February, 13-year-old ConLei Walworth lost her battle with spinal and brain cancer. The Prairie Heights student was recognized by Steuben County's Liv It Up block party benefiting youth cancer patients as the community rallied around Walworth.

16. Noble County has first death from COVID-19, and five new cases — 18,941 views

On April 2, the first Noble county resident and first resident of the four-county area died of COVID-19. The first local death was a resident of Sacred Heart Home in Avilla. It, unfortunately, wasn't the last death the region would see from coronavirus.

17. Body Found in Hamilton Lake after teen goes missing Saturday night — 18,838 views

In August, the body of an 18-year-old Mason Shuey from Ottawa, Ohio, was recovered from Hamilton Lake by conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Law Enforcement. Divers searched the lake for more than 12 hours before finding Shuey's body.

18. Body found in Wolcotville creek — 17,748 views

In August, police found the body of a man floating face down in the Little Elkhart River in Wolcottville. He was later identified as 22-year-old Wolcottville resident Austin Padgett. Police said Padgett’s body did not indicate foul play was involved in his death.

19. Piper Placencia obituary — 17,734 views

Piper C. Placencia, 47, of Garrett, died on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at her home. She started the art program at Lakewood Park in 2004, and taught there for 12 years, before teaching at Garrett Middle School and Garrett High School.

20. Garrett woman charged with murder — 17,495 views

The initial breaking news story about the Garrett woman, Michelle Converset, arrested for murder in May provided few details, but was still widely read by northeast Indiana readers.

Honorable mentions: Auburn councilman arrested on trespassing charge (17,452); Garrett Community mourns popular assistant principal (16,575); Health officer raises alarm over spike in LaGrange County COVID-19 cases (15,005); Commissioners issue quarantine request to lake property owners (14,598); and Rising COVID-19 infections frustrates LaGrange County health officer (14,486).

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