TOP 20: Looking back at the most-read stories of 2019 on FingerLakes1.com

For the third year in a row, FingerLakes1.com broke annual traffic records. In 2019, the region’s leading digital news website was visited more than 27 million times. Among the biggest stories covered in the newsroom, a manhunt that gripped the region for days, the end of white deer tours at the former Seneca Army Depot, local water tests that caused major concern, and one story that remains unsolved as 2019 comes to a close. Check out the full-list below, read those stories again, and see how many times each was visited this year.



#1: Manhunt for Lyons man in Ontario, Wayne, and Seneca counties

Read Count: 244,112  |  Full-Story Here

A days-long manhunt that started with the armed robbery of a convenience store near Exit 42 of the New York State Thruway in Phelps – ended in Seneca Falls near Cayuga Lake with his capture. The region was gripped by this story, as law enforcement agencies in Ontario, Wayne, and Seneca counties worked together to bring the suspect into custody.


#2: Package tossed like frisbee in Wayne County

Read Count: 76,548  |  Full-Story Here

When this story was posted, it wasn’t anticipated that it would become one of the biggest of the year. It did, though. Partly due to the fact that so many people have had a range of experiences with delivery services. After the story went live dozens of comments poured in, offering their own, unique experiences with mail and package delivery.


#3: Winter storm blasts Finger Lakes over Thanksgiving weekend

Read Count: 68,107  |  Full-Story Here

So far, the fall felt more like winter than actual winter has in the Finger Lakes. That was ever-apparent after Thanksgiving – as the region saw its first major winter storm of the season. Travel was made difficult by heavy snow, freezing rain, and windy conditions.


#4: Helming pushes to end income taxes for volunteer firefighters in NYS

Read Count: 39,344  |  Full-Story Here

Should volunteer first responders pay income tax? That was the fundamental question posed, and answered, through legislation proposed by Sen. Pam Helming (R-Canandaigua). While the legislation was not acted on, it remains at the center of a dialogue about agencies that are struggling to find volunteers.


#5: Seneca White Deer forced to end tours

Read Count: 38,333  |  Full-Story Here

In a stunning turn of events, Seneca White Deer, Inc. the 501(c)3 that runs tour operations at the former Seneca Army Depot announced that they would end in December. The move was born out of financial hardship, due to an ‘unfair’ rent agreement between the organization, and property owner Earl Martin. Martin says he will continue operations through new management at some point in the future.


#6: Homicide in Auburn rocks community

Read Count: 36,503  |  Full-Story Here

It’s not often that homicide happens in the Finger Lakes. Auburn saw its first confirmed homicide in years, which culminated with the arrest of several people, as investigators worked for days in an otherwise quiet Auburn neighborhood.


#7: Meteorologist fired from WHEC-TV

Read Count: 35,241  |  Full-Story Here

Jeremy Kappell was fired from WHEC-TV in Rochester this year after being heard speaking a racial slur on-air. There is open litigation over his firing, and Kappell has since undertaken a successful digital venture – providing forecasts online and on social media.


#8: Community grieves loss of Pal-Mac student, grandmother

Read Count: 32,311  |  Full-Story Here

Mary and Conrad Button both died in a devastating fire on Ellsworth Road in the town of Farmington. Conrad died attempting to save his grandmother, who family says was his best friend. Both were remembered in an inspiring vigil held at the Palmyra Community Center on what would have been his 13th birthday.


#9: Body discovered along SR 96 after murder

Read Count: 31,903  |  Full-Story Here

It was late-summer when a passerby discovered a body along State Route 96 in Phelps. That body was ultimately at the center of a homicide investigation, which resulted in a pair of arrests. It’s a court case that is still playing out at the end of 2019.


#10: Four-year-old boy dies in Lyons house fire

Read Count: 31,223  |  Full-Story Here

The community of Lyons came together for one family after a devastating fire. A four-year-old boy died in the blaze, according to the Sheriff’s Office, who said after that the structure was a ‘total loss’. It’s unclear what precisely started the fire, but the family was supported by community – who donated thousands of dollars, and gave them physical items to help get by.


#11: Attempted murder in Seneca Falls

Read Count: 30,222  |  Full-Story Here

First responders described a dramatic incident, which unfolded in early-August as a domestic incident. A young woman was stabbed several times and spent months in the hospital. This case remains open as Seneca County enters 2020 with new leadership in the District Attorney’s Office.


#12: Local water test positive for dangerous chemicals

Read Count: 27,628  |  Full-Story Here

Few stories moved the needle in 2019 like those about the environment. In fact, 2019 in many ways could be viewed as the year of the environmental headline. That said, when Peter Mantius reported on dangerous positive tests in local water supplies, readers demanded to know more.


#13: Wayne County woman reported missing, last seen last year in Clyde

Read Count 25,072  |  Full-Story Here

In a story that we recently asked for a follow-up on from law enforcement in Clyde – it appears a woman who went missing in 2018 remains missing to this day. It’s unclear where the investigation stands. An update to this story will be posted as soon as it becomes available.


#14: Election Night Live & Election Results 2019

View/Read Count: 25,068  |  Full-Story Here

Election Night 2019 was an important one for local officeholders. Seats on city council in Canandaigua, Geneva, and Auburn were all up for grabs. There were consequential mayoral races, as well as a District Attorney’s race in Seneca County that was of intense local interest. All of those and more were covered as part of FingerLakes1.com’s Election Night Live coverage.


#15: Hillside to close in Seneca County, taking with it 235 jobs

Read Count: 21,549  |  Full-Story Here

In what could be one of the biggest economic development stories of the year – Hillside announced that they would shutter their Seneca County operation. The property will continue to be owned by the Industrial Development Agency, who will have to find new purpose for the property that once housed more than 230 employees.


#16: Plastic bags banned across New York State

Read Count: 19,697  |  Full-Story Here

Plastic bags are done. In just a couple months, the state will no longer be eligible to use those single-use plastic bags many have grown accustomed to. This, as well as being one of the biggest stories in 2019 – will be one of the most-interesting to watch take effect in 2020.


#17: Dateline goes inside 2018 Sodus double-murder

Read Count: 19,725  |  Full-Story Here

Dateline took their crew inside the vicious double-murder, which was planned and executed by a trio of suspects, who are all behind bars. Two of them were former cops. The third was a woman who sought revenge after a custody battle.


#18: Romulus native dies in California festival shooting

Read Count: 18,222  |  Full-Story Here

In one of the saddest stories of the year, Romulus-native Trevor Irby, a 25-year-old, died in a mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Friends, family, and community members remembered him at a gathering in Ovid.


#19: Woodstock 50 officially over after site pulls license

Read Count: 16,703  |  Full-Story Here

The festival that was supposed to bring new music acts, thousands of people, and much more to the middle of the Finger Lakes – went up in smoke in the weeks, and even days, leading up to the event scheduled for late-August. Contract issues, site problems, and so much more loomed throughout the planning process at what could have been Woodstock 50.


#20: Primary Day results throughout the Finger Lakes

Read Count: 16,211  |  Full-Story Here

The primary races that set the stage for a dramatic Election Day proved crucial in the Finger Lakes. Had some turned out differently, big races would have looked significantly different in November.


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