In 2015, BenitoLink saw its readership expand exponentially as residents of San Benito County and beyond checked in with the website as well as our Twitter and Facebook accounts to find out what was happening in the community.
As the calendar changes to 2016, we checked out analytics to reflect on which stories garnered the most views between Jan. 1 and the end of December.
The list below highlights some of those stories, with clickable links for you to check out what piqued readers' interest in the year that was.
– San Benito High School Principal Todd Dearden placed on leave pending an investigation. This story from November, along with the follow-up when Dearden tendered his resignation in Decmber, were both among the top 20 viewed stories of the year. The reasons for the investigation have not been made public, other than officials saying it was not criminally-based.
– The second-most viewed story of the year was the BenitoLink story about an Air Force paratrooper killed when his parachute failed during a skydive in Tres Pinos.
– The story about a dead body found along a road in Panoche Valley garnered reader interest, as the deceased was found with multiple gunshot wounds.
– When 11-year-old Hollister resident Joe Fata performed on the "La Voz Kids" show on Telemundo, San Benito County applauded. The story of his success in the blind auditions was a popular one with our readers, who loved reading about a local boy making good on a national stage.
– Everybody loves a deal, so the story about San Benito County residents getting free admission to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in December prompted thousands of clicks.
– Illegal fireworks have become a staple of local Fourth of July celebrations, so the story about a local man being arrested when some of those fireworks injured five in an Independence Day celebration was one of those "it was bound to happen" moments. The case is still making its way through the court system. Online efforts were launched during the summer to help some of the injured with their medical costs.
– The story about the reopening of Dollar Tree, which was closed after a fire, and the planned opening of Grocery Outlet, made the favorite stories list in 2015, with locals showing curiosity about the comings and goings in the retail world.
– The appearance of "Sons of Anarchy" actors at the Fourth of July motorcycle rally downtown drew big crowds and was a favorite of our readers.
– The story of 24-year-old Jordan Archer's path from Hollister to Harvard struck a chord with BenitoLink readers in June, when they learned about the ambitious young lady's impressive educational journey.
– When San Benito High School's annual Grad Night trip to Disneyland was almost canceled because the bus company pulled out at the last minute, parents and members of the Class of 2015 were up in arms. The situation was made worse when school buses that were used as emergency back-ups broke down on the way to Anaheim. The school district offered refunds to families and threatened legal action against the bus company.
– Everybody loves a parade, and a lot of people loved our story about the annual Portuguese Parade through downtown Hollister in May.
– A feature on noted horseman Buck Brannaman galloped off with a number of page views, as readers learned of the clinician's efforts.
Other stories on BenitoLink's Top 20 most-read list of 2015 included the story about a PBS documentary about a Hollister native who teaches in Salinas, the recap of the San Benito High School graduation ceremony, and our story that introduced new SBHS wrestling coach Steven Salcedo.
All of us at BenitoLink want to thank our community for their ongoing support and we look forward to a wonderful 2016.