By Emily Bialkowski
The Caledonia Argus website – www.hometownargus.con – garners nearly 20,000 visits and over 70,000 pageviews in any given month. It has become a powerful tool to not only share news of and about Houston County, but to help businesses reach customers they never have before.
The website continues to attract a robust percentage of new visitors each month, which means there’s a constant stream of new eyes looking at hometownargus.com. In the month of September 2012, for example, 29 percent of the traffic was from new visitors; 32 percent in October; and 33 percent in November. The numbers are staggering, almost unbelievable, but technology allows us to track in detail where, when and how often people look at our website.
It is in this vein that I present the top 10 visited stories in 2012. Traditionally newspaper staffs across the country pick the stories they think were the most meaningful or sought after. With online tracking technology, I am able to share with you, based on documented numbers, what you thought were the most important stories of 2012.
Number 1: Semi accident shuts down Hwy. 76. Posted March 22, 2012.
Highway 76 between Caledonia and Houston was closed for nearly eight hours Thursday afternoon when a northbound Caledonia Haulers semi tractor filled with milk, failed to negotiate one of the sharp curves on Badger Hill, flipped on its side and came to rest on the guardrail in the southbound lane shortly before noon. Units from the Minnesota State Patrol, Mn/DOT, the Houston County Sheriff’s Department, Caledonia Fire & Rescue, Caledonia Area Ambulance Service and Medlink from La Crosse were all called to the scene. The driver of the semi, Ronald Meyer, 70 of Sumner, Iowa, was conscious and communicating with rescue workers, but was pinned inside what was left of the cab. Several tow trucks were called in to help stabilize the semi before the jaws of life could be used to extradite the driver. He was transported to a La Crosse hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Number 2: Man found deceased in car. Posted Nov. 29, 2012.
Number 3: Light shed on law enforcement issue. Posted Sept. 12, 2012.
Allegations of misconduct, employee reprimands and an overall sense of disappointment in Houston County law enforcement were aired at the Sept. 11 Houston County Board meeting.
Kevin Kelleher, resident, came forward to implore the board to take action on what he described as a general culture of “what can we get away with.”
“The mission of the sheriff’s department is to enforce law in Houston County, obey the law and be a role model. As long as we have a situation where no one is held accountable it goes on,” Kelleher said.
He specifically brought up a DVD copying case that first surfaced in 2009 and a more recent drag racing incident at the county airport that involved a sheriff’s deputy and City of Caledonia police officer.
Number 4: Major League baseball players now using helmets made by Miken Sports. Posted April 10, 2012.
While much has been written about the increased number of head injuries resulting in concussions to pro athletes, Miken Sports, Inc. of Caledonia might be having the biggest impact (no pun intended) in helping to alleviate this serious sports issue on the baseball diamond.
Beginning next season all 30 Major League Baseball teams will be exclusively using a batting helmet that is being produced right here in Caledonia.
Miken Sports produces a number of products for Rawlings Sports. According to Mike Thompson, senior vice president of marketing for Rawlings, all of the helmets worn by both major and minor league players are Rawlings helmets.
Number 5: Kevin Kelleher requests county take dvd scandal to grand jury. Posted March 7, 2012.
“There is a difficult and troubling issue that has not been resolved here in Houston County. It has to do with local law enforcement officers copying DVDs. I’m not talking about one or two copies, but hundreds of copies on a monthly basis.
“I realize the county did conduct an investigation, but it appears as if no one that was really involved in this was named or received the consequences.
“I have concerns when county employees, who wish to bring this out in the open, won’t because they are afraid of reprisals from our law enforcement officials. People should not live under this type of fear.”
That was the opening statement made by former county commissioner Kevin Kelleher, who addressed the Houston County Board during last week’s meeting.
Number 6: Three persons arrested in two drug busts conducted last week. Posted. Posted March 28, 2012.
The Houston County Sheriff’s Office, Southeast Drug Task Force and several local law enforcement agencies conducted two drug raids last week that landed three persons in jail.
A Caledonia man, Gary Anthony Klug, 52, was charged with five counts by the Houston County Attorney’s Office in connection with a drug raid at his residence at 423 North Pine Street around 3 p.m. March 22.
While clearing the residence, law enforcement also located Colleen Jane Wicks, who was found sleeping in the bed in the master bedroom.
The previous day Officer Coogan obtained a search warrant for the home of Tifiny Ann Willis, 27, of 700 S. 11th St., Apt 3, La Crescent.
Number 7: County terminates employee. Posted Aug. 28, 2012.
The Houston County Board unanimously voted at their Aug. 21 meeting to terminate the employment of Lindsay Pierce as an IT network manager and digital evidence technician.
The item first came before the board Aug. 7 when Human Resources Director Tess Arrick-Kruger said, on multiple occasions, including May 16 and 22, June 7 and July 16 and 27, Pierce demonstrated an “almost verbally abusive” demeanor at meetings and “refused to work with certain people.”
Pierce was put on paid administrative leave July 31, and Arrick-Kruger proceeded with executing the county’s termination steps.
Number 8: Rochester man faces multiple charges following April 18 shotgun incident. Posted April 20, 2012.
Keith Alan Bolduan, 29, of 703 First Street SW, Rochester was charged with three felony counts and four gross misdemeanor counts for an incident that occurred around 4:30 p.m. on April 18.
According to charges filed with the Third Judicial District Court Bolduan admitted to a Houston County Deputy that he broke into Mark Hiser’s house, stole a shotgun and fired it.
The complaint stated that at 4:33 p.m. Ryan Rohrer called 911 to report a male wearing a yellow hat and bib overalls had just shot a shotgun in the 100 block of North Marshall Street in Caledonia. Rohrer also reported that the male dropped the shotgun and was walking south towards the Houston County Courthouse.
Caledonia Police officers Chad Heuser and Allan Johnson responded to the call and located Rohrer and found the shotgun lying on the sidewalk.
Number 9: Houston County race results. Posted Nov. 7, 2012.
The Nov. 6 General Election drew 89.06 percent voter turnout for Houston County. Below are the local results as compiled by the Houston County auditor.
Number 10: Council looking to ban any new pitbulls within the city limits. Posted June 6, 2012.
Spurred on by an attack of a pit bull that resulted in the death of another dog and injuries to its owner, the Caledonia City Council spent considerable time discussing the creation of a dangerous and vicious animal ordinance last week.
According to Caledonia Police Chief Kurt Zehnder, Helen Olson was walking her miniature pinscher along the 800 block of East Grove Street on May 8 around 1 p.m. when a pit bull attacked the small dog, mauled it and ultimately killed it. Olson sustained injuries to her hand as she attempted to pull the pit bull from her dog. Her injuries required medical attention.
The pit bull was taken into custody by City Animal Control Officer Mike Gavin and observed for 10 days. The dog had all its shots. But it was discovered the dog had a micro chip identifying the animal as a potentially dangerous dog. The micro chip was placed in the dog, per state statute, following an attack that occurred when the dog was not living in Caledonia.
The dog has been put down.
Of note: It is interesting to note that hometownargus.com analytics indicate that obituaries and letters to the editor are also of great interest to readers, and some made the top 25 most read stories.