News stories on crime and crashes are always the most-read stories on our website, but instead of rehashing those here are the Top 10 non-crime and accident stories from 2019 on thesalemnewsonline.com:

No. 1 – A column by yours truly on the demise of Topix, an internet gossip site that let people anonymously attack anyone and anything they wanted. I wrote, in part: “One of the most divisive and controversial forms of social media is no more. Topix, the internet site that allowed sickos, troublemakers and muckrakers to post anything they wanted anonymously, has been shut down by the owner. Okay, I’ve gotten that off my chest, and you know how I feel about it. In short, Topix was a cesspool and many of the folks who took part fit right in.”

No. 2 – A story on Dwayne McClellan, who wrote news and sports for The Salem News spanning four decades, who died in August. McClellan, 57, took a job as editor of the newspaper in June of 1984, writing news and feature stories and covering Salem Tiger sports. He worked full-time until 2012 when he started kidney dialysis and then worked part-time for about two more years. In September of 2014 as his health continued to deteriorate, he retired due to medical reasons.

No. 3 – A Salem doctor with a penchant for long-distance running competed the weekend of Nov. 2-3 in a 100-mile trail race event in Talladega National Forest in Alabama. Staff writer Craig Montgomery wrote a feature story on Dr. Gregory Maynard, the primary physician at Mercy Clinic on West Rolla Road since 2006, who ran in the 12th annual Pinhoti 100, an ultramarathon through rough terrain that extended over rocks, through creeks and across ridge lines that included the highest point in Alabama.

No. 4 – Local legend Frankie Schwartz died in October. The re-posting of a March 2015 story on Frankie by former staff writer Tyler McConnell was quite popular. “It would take a hefty book to catalogue all of Frankie’s stories, but it’s worth diving into some of the larger stretchers that have become Dent County folklore, the biggest of which is probably the story of Frankie paying his taxes with a wheelbarrow full of pennies,” McConnell wrote.

No. 5 – The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services announced in December which applicants were approved and denied licenses to operate medical marijuana cultivation facilities in the state. Staff writer Andrew Sheeley wrote the news story. In South-Central Missouri, the approval list includes one facility each in Maries and Pulaski counties as well as two in Crawford County. The three applicants for Dent County were denied.

No. 6 – A picture of a black bear taken in May within the city limits in the southern part of Rolla was submitted by Tim Cahill and began a flurry of bear sightings in Phelps and Dent counties. Cahill texted the photo to Phelps County Focus, saying a friend sent it to him. Cahill said the photo was taken on Highway O. A bear was also sighted and photographed within the Salem city limits the same week. Both bears were followed on thesalemnewsonline.com.

No. 7 – C&E Auto Sales had been on the same lot on Highway 19 since 1965. Ed Carmack, owner, reminisced about 50 years in the used-car industry in a March story by managing editor Catherine Wynn. His time in the Army took him to Germany, where he bought and sold cars in his free time. He gained knowledge and a love of the auto sales industry. Fast forward to 1965, and Ed and his brother, Charlie, opened C&E Auto Sales.

No. 8 – “Believe it or not, Bigfoot is coming to the Ozark Natural and Cultural Resource Center,” an October online headline screamed. Staff writer Craig Montgomery wrote about the exhibit. The legendary pop culture phenomenon, also known as Sasquatch, was the subject of a joint effort display by local Bigfoot enthusiasts Michael Helm and Dr. Emmett Reary. The highlight was a giant relief sculpture created by Helm that stands over eight feet tall. It was accompanied by a Bigfoot skull Helm sculpted, along with old newspaper articles, posters, paintings and several photographs. An audio track made of night sounds that includes shouting, groaning and howling enhanced the exhibit habitat.

No. 9 – For the first time the DEA released nationwide county-level data documenting the number of opioid pills shipped from 2006 to 2012. The records were obtained by The Washington Post and first reported in a July 18 report which was analyzed by staff writer Andrew Sheeley. The DEA database reveals Dent County comes in second in Mid-Missouri behind Phelps County with 6,560,850 total pills distributed from 2006 to 2012, or 60.8 pills distributed per year per person.

No. 10 -- The city of Salem utility bills were issued weeks late in December, but the city did not release that information or the cause to local media. After numerous phone calls, emails and social media posts to The Salem News asking about the issue, the newspaper contacted the city, and officials immediately issued a news release. The release and ensuing news stories on why bills were delayed lifted the story into the Top 10. Utility billing was running a couple of weeks later than normal due to an unexpected need for manual data entry as part of the swap out of electric and water meters for all customers, according to the release.