A look at the top stories in The Town Line in 2017

by Eric W Austin

We’ve published a lot of stories over the past year, but which ones stood out from the crowd?

More than 20,000 people visited townline.org in 2017, with pages on the site viewed more than 70,000 times.

One of the advantages of a website over a traditional newspaper is the ability to track which stories are being read the most. Here I’d like to highlight those stories from The Town Line that attracted the most interest over the past year.

This article is based on statistics supplied by Google’s Analytics website tracking service, which monitors activity on townline.org.

Managing editor Roland Hallee’s November story, “China baseball player working to crack lineup at Newbury College,” about Dylan Presby’s impressive scholastic baseball career, claimed the top spot with more than 1,000 views. Presby, of China, went to Erskine Academy where he was named the Kennebec Journal’s Baseball Player of the Year, before being accepted by Newbury College in Brookline, Massachusetts. There he competes in the Division III New England Collegiate Conference (NECC). Roland writes, “But, that was high school. He has now moved on to a higher level of competition.” Read the entire article on townline.org.

Roland captured the second spot on this list as well, with his terrific (and prescient) column on the lack of birds in 2017. Appropriately titled, “Where have all the birds gone?”, Roland explores that very question and looks at some of the reasons behind the phenomenon. He writes, “The loss of bird populations in the Western Mountains of Maine includes three major causes.”

National Geographic magazine recently declared 2018 the “Year of the Bird,” putting a spotlight on the importance of our avian neighbors. I’m glad to see NatGeo has been reading The Town Line! Be sure to read Roland’s follow-ups as well, including “Update on birds” and “Bird disappearance is a phenomenon that exists nationwide.”

The 2017 Windsor Fair was a rousing success by all accounts and evidently people appreciated that we posted a ‘Schedule of Events’ for the festivities on townline.org. It was the third most visited page on the site this year. Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to do the same thing in 2018!

We began posting the China Police Log on townline.org back in 2016, but this past September’s police log was one of the first stories we posted to our new Facebook page, and it garnered so much interest it came in fourth in our list of 2017’s top pages, being viewed nearly 1,000 times. Big thanks to Tracey Frost, one of China’s part-time police officers who sends it to us every month!

The opioid crisis is often thought of as an epidemic of the big cities, but many rural areas of Central Maine have been affected deeply as well. My article exploring the issue and how it’s impacting our local communities, “Opiates in Central Maine: Not just a national issue,” was viewed close to 700 times. I write, “The solutions we need require not just a change in policy, but a shift in attitude as well.” This is the first article in a continuing series, so look for future installments from The Town Line in the months ahead.

Picking just five stories from 2017 is difficult in a year with so much great writing. Honorable mentions go to the multiple articles — primarily written by guest contributors from the local community — on the question of alewives in our local lakes and streams.

Emily Cates also has had a number of popular articles this year with highlights like: “Wrap your trees in tin foil – The Sure-fire way to protect your trees in wintertime…and puzzle your neighborhood!” Check out more of her great writing in “Garden Works” on townline.org.

The Town Line also launched its new Facebook page in 2017. As of today, more than 400 of you have followed us on Facebook! Like or follow us to see new local stories appear as updates in your Facebook feed. You can find us at facebook.com/townline.org.

This week on townline.org, we’ve set up a special page to highlight the best articles in The Town Line from the past year. Find easy links to the great stories mentioned above, as well as other popular stories from 2017. Look for the ‘Best of 2017’ graphic on the homepage at townline.org.

Eric Austin is a technical consultant and writer living in China, Maine.  He’s also the admin for townline.org.

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