Looking at the most clicked stories of the 2010s on forestlaketimes.com is a study in the stories that made a lasting impact on the area and the stories that caught our attention just for a moment. While many of the hottest articles earned a place on one of The Times’ year-end top stories lists, many others were simply one-off public safety stories, interesting for a moment but forgotten in the years to come.

Looking at the list also tells the story of a newspaper and reader base that have increased their online interaction over the years. The Forest Lake Times wasn’t even using Google analytics software at the beginning of the decade, and the paper’s archives on clicks only date back to 2012. Even in that time, online engagement has dramatically increased, with most of the most-viewed stories being published in the last few years.

Below are the 20 most viewed stories originating from The Times from 2012 through 2019, based on archives compiled at the end of each year. Many of these posts likely received a few more views after the data for each year was compiled, so their overall view counts may be a bit higher than what was recorded at the time of the compiling of the archive. The descriptions of the top 10 most-viewed stories have been taken from the originally published lists of top stories in the year the story was written.

1. “Likely tornado hits Forest Lake area,” July 28, 2019 - 32,953 views

Residents tuned in to The Times’ very early coverage of a late July tornado as information was still breaking.

2. “Chipotle on its way to Forest Lake,” Nov. 25, 2019 - 25,133 views

Following years of demand, Mexican food chain Chipotle announced that it would open a Forest Lake location in the old Tim Horton’s spot in 2020.

3. “2018 Forest Lake Times election results,” Nov. 6, 2018 - 24,747 views

This story, tracking incoming area election results as they came in, was the most read story of November across all APG of East Central Minnesota newspaper websites.

4. “Fugitive at large after Walmart lockdown,” March 5, 2018 - 23,779 views

Readers kept up to date on the status of a fugitive who was the subject of two car chases in a single day in the Forest Lake area.

5. “One airlifted after morning crash,” Nov. 6, 2014 - 21,389 views

Dwarfing the views of all other stories this year was the breaking news of a crash on the 11th Avenue bridge that severely injured Forest Lake Area High School senior Jessica Erickson. Readers were shocked by photos of Erickson’s truck, which was torn in half during the accident.

6. “Meg Maurer: A short life, but one well lived,” March 13, 2019 - 16,830 views

Meg Maurer, a 21-year-old Forest Lake resident who died in a tragic accident, was remembered for her zest for life and kind spirit.

7. “Tim Horton’s to close,” May 2, 2019 - 15,759 views

The Forest Lake Tim Horton’s joined the rest of its Minnesota brethren in an abrupt closure in May. It had only been open for about a year.

8. “High school student killed in crash,” June 27, 2016 - 15,689 views

Catherine “Katya” Loahr, 18, died after being hit while walking on Goodview Avenue at the intersection with State Highway 97. She was returning home from summer school.

9. “Fourth of July parade photos,” July 4, 2018 - 13,190 views

Rain delayed the parade this year, but the show eventually went on, and readers checked the pictures for faces they knew in the crowd.

10. “Forest Lake expected to keep police department,” May 10, 2017 - 12,982 views

The Times broke down the news that the city of Forest Lake had reached a labor agreement with officers after the Washington County Sheriff’s Office pulled its contract law enforcement proposal from city consideration.

11. “Two charged with murder in Wyoming death,” Feb 17, 2017 - 12,486 views

12. “Fugitive caught after Walmart lockdown,” March 5, 2018 - 11,739 views

13. “Council accepts sheriff’s law enforcement proposal,” May 8, 2017 - 11,092 views

14. “Forest Lake school bus involved in crash,” Aug. 22, 2017 – 9,668 views

15. “Total loss” (Lakes Trading Company fire story), March 27, 2018 - 9,436 views

16. “K-9 police dog Ranger dies,” Feb. 8, 2017 - 9,198 views

17. “SWAT called to Janero standoff,” Sept. 15, 2017, 9,054 views

18. “Scandia husband and wife found dead in possible murder-suicide,” Nov. 20, 2017 – 9,026 views

19. “School board approves labor agreement, cuts sports programs, saves on bond sale,” April 8, 2016 - 8,973 views

20. “Three cars crash on Highway 61,” Nov. 29, 2016 - 8,929 views

21. “Two killed in 12th Street crash,” Nov, 6, 2012 - 8,866 views

22. “Stars, stripes, sun, sweets” (Fourth of July photos), July 11, 2019 - 8,564 views

23. “As one restaurant goes, another ascends,” Nov. 21, 2018 - 8,004 views

24. “Man found submerged in Southwest pool,” Oct. 4, 2016 - 7,785 views

25. “Massage parlor owner arrested for prostitution,” March 27, 2017 - 7,371 views

Ryan Howard was the news editor of The Forest Lake Times from August 2014 through January 2020. These days, he writes culture pieces for The Times and works as an editor for a Minnesota board game company.

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