MERCER COUNTY —
Tragedy, crime and political unrest grabbed local headlines in 2012.
The Herald stories that got the most hits online via the newspaper’s Facebook page since January indicate which topics intrigued readers.
1. The July drowning of 12-year-old Mark Goodrich Jr., Sharon, in the Shenango River tugged at readers’ heartstrings. Links to articles about the search for Mark, his family’s struggle to deal with his death and the police investigation garnered the most of any pieces shared by The Herald via the social networking site.
2. Thousands of Herald followers also checked out the August story about former Sharon Little League president Dion Dellibovi being charged with stealing more than $5,000 from the league’s bank account to pay off gambling debts. Dellibovi is awaiting trial.
3. The saga of a two men who’ve taken upon the establishment in South Pymatuning Township also drew readers.
Thomas Lyons filed a federal civil lawsuit against township police Sgt. Richard Christoff he said told him to stop recording township meetings in the aftermath of an encounter between Kurt D. Toth and patrolman Andreu Foriska at a June 12 supervisors meeting. The suit between Lyons and Christoff has been settled but details were not made public.
Toth also tried to get the Mercer County District Attorney to file criminal charges against Christoff for intimidating Lyons but last week was notified the county will not do so. Charges are pending against Toth, who is accused of failing to disperse and disrupting a meeting. He’s also filed a federal civil rights suit against Foriska for violating his right to free speech.
4. Herald Editor Jim Raykie’s September column about fond memories of running the brick streets of Farrell as a child in the wake of council members talking about replacing the historical road surface with asphalt also touched folks, many of whom likely share similar stories.
5. The tale of Thomas A. Pierce III being found burned and bound along a rural Indiana County road after a drug deal gone awry saw many readers as well. The 19-year-old Farrell man was stripped and bound with duct tape and then set on fire after one of his captors tried to shoot him and the gun jammed.
6. The highly-publicized search for Donald L. Mariacher, 80, who left his East Lackawannock Township home in July was widely read on the Internet. Authorities recently confirmed that remains found Dec. 1 by a hunter about three-quarters of a mile from Mariacher’s home were, in fact, Mariacher’s. He died from exposure sometime after going missing.
7. The local tie to the case of Pvt. Danny Chen, who committed suicide last year in Afghanistan after racially-motivated hazing prompted many Mercer Countians to read The Herald’s story. Spc. Ryan J. Offutt, Greenville, pleaded guilty in August to hazing and maltreatment in Chen’s death and was sentenced to 6 months in prison after a court-martial.
8. The battle over a billboard near the Stoneboro fairgrounds was another hot story in 2012. The Northeast Democrats of Mercer County paid to put up an advertisement touting Democratic congressional candidate Missa Eaton, Sharon, in her quest to unseat Rep. Mike Kelly, Butler, in the 3rd District, on a sign owned by the Great Stoneboro Fair Board
The billboard went up Aug. 31, was covered with burlap and then torn down the next day and the Democrats claimed it’s removal was politically motivated. The fair board said the company that rented out the advertising space was behind on rent to the fair board and the Democrats filed a lawsuit.
The suit was settled at the end of October with the fair board agreeing to pay the Democrats back the $500.
9. The vigilance of citizens who were nearby when two Columbus, Ohio, men stole $76,000 worth of jewelry from a Shenango Valley Mall store helped police catch the alleged crooks and caught the interest of readers. The men ran from the mall July 9 and one was arrested by a Dumpster behind Bob Evans Restaurant and the other ran and hid in a bathroom at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grille and Bar.
10. Tracey L. Goga, 42, was found stabbed more than 30 times June 9 in her Sharon apartment and later that evening at a Youngstown bus station Anthony S. Argenziano, 20, was arrested for her murder. Earlier this month, Argenziano waived his arraignment in Mercer County Common Pleas court in the case and is awaiting trial.
Other notable headlines from The Herald in 2012: We had fewer followers at the beginning of the year and I think these merited mention but they weren’t at the top of the list for hits.
ä Farrell teens Joshua L. Stewart and Devine A. Campbell were charged the first week of January in connection with the shooting death Dec. 30, 2011 of Farrell bar owner William Basilone Jr. The men, who are now 19 and 18, are still awaiting trial.
ä In January, former Lakeview High School principal Elizabeth A. Auer, Fairview Township, was accused of providing liquor to minors in her home. She was acquitted of the charges in October at trial.
ä Eight-year-old Aizeya Mattocks died two days after choking at lunch Feb. 13 in Mercer Elementary School. In the wake of her death, many local schools retrained staff in CPR and other life-saving techniques.
ä Combined Systems Inc., Greene Township, was the target of Internet hackers, protesters and had a fire at the complex that makes tear gas, smoke bombs and other crowd-controlling munitions.
ä Mercer County and Hermitage city and school district granted $7 million in tax incentives to the Akron-based developer to build a Kohl’s department store in Hermitage.
ä People worldwide read the story of 7-year-old Craig Allen Wolfe-Loughrey, Fredonia, who was accidentally shot and killed Dec. 8 by his father while he was putting a pistol away inside his pickup outside an East Lackawannock Township gun shop.
For more of 2012’s top headlines, check out Monday’s Herald.