By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
I think it’s a little bit lame to write about the top news stories of the year after the year has ended and a new one has already begun.
But I’m going to do it anyhow.
I got busy the past several days and, I can’t bring myself to forego a look-back.
Once again, I can’t say for sure exactly what the most read news stories were on Lewis County Sirens, because if they are ranked somewhere in my web sites statistics, I still haven’t found that part.
But I can see the numbers for what people are searching for on the Internet when they end up on the news site.
Overwhelming, the October coroner’s inquest into former trooper Ronda Reynolds’ death in Toledo in 1998 comes out on top, with the startling outcome of her husband Ron Reynolds and his son, Jonathan Reynolds, being named responsible.
Search terms like “Ronda Reynolds”, “Ron Reynolds”, Barb Thompson” and “coroner’s inquest” number in the hundreds, and hundreds and hundreds.
Not too far behind is news about John Allen Booth Jr. and his triple murder trial last month, where prosecutors said he executed David West Sr. 52, 16-year-old David West Jr., 16, Tony E. Williams, 50, of Randle, and tried to do away with Denise Salts, then 51, at the West’s Salkum-area home.
Based on reader searches, the next most popular story was the missing Kayla Croft-Payne from Vader, who more than a year after she vanished at age 18 remained much on many people’s minds.
The fourth most sought out story was about Robert Maddaus who last February was found guilty of murder as he tried to recover cash and methamphetamine stolen from his Rochester trailer home. He was sentenced to life for the death of Shaun Peterson, who was found handcuffed and fatally shot on Capitol Way in Olympia in November 2009.
Next it’s kind of a tossup (based on reader searches) between three stories:
Kenneth Varner, arrested in April for allegedly helping his father – James E. Varner, 49, a former Washington state trooper – carry out a suicide plan in Packwood five years earlier and making it look like homicide so the family could collect insurance money. Charges were dismissed in October following a deal in which the now 35-year-old son pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in an unrelated case. He was sentenced to time served – about six months;
Laura L. Hickey, the the 25-year-old Centralia woman accused of decapitating her premature newborn in a trailer park in March. Her trial is currently scheduled for next month;
Ronald A. Brady who was convicted in July of manslaughter for fatally shooting suspected burglar Thomas McKenzie of Morton outside his Onalaska house.
So those are the top several stories readers were looking for when they came to Lewis County Sirens.
However, all that still doesn’t really tell me what people have read the most or enjoyed reading the best, because the majority of visitors have bookmarked Lewis County Sirens and presumably just look over whatever news appears on the homepage.
What I do know for sure, is the news site has grown so much richer with the increase of readers commenting and adding their opinions. A whole other set of dialogue – sometimes even more spirited – has swelled on Lewis County Sirens Facebook group page.
And traffic to Lewis County Sirens has grown tremendously.
A year ago at this time, Lewis County Sirens’ number of readers was approaching the circulation of the local daily newspaper here. The number of readers has more than doubled since then. I like that.
I’d sure appreciate hearing what readers liked, didn’t like or would hope to see written about in 2012. Myself, I’d like to see more guest columns in the coming year, because more voices are more interesting.
Feel free to send me a note or comment.
Your news reporter,
Sharyn L. Decker