10 Most Popular Articles on Lowell’s First Look for 2022

2022 was quite a year. On the national front, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and midterm elections all dominated the headlines. But what about closer to home?

Here on Lowell’s First Look, our website logged more than 255,000 visits in the past 12 months, and we hit the publish button a record number of 629 times. Out of all that content, these were the top ten stories in 2022, according to website views.

10. School Board Candidate Profile: Jared Blough

In the spring, Gary Blough announced his retirement from the Lowell Area Schools Board of Education, and the November election saw the largest field of school board candidates in recent memory. Among them was Jared Blough, who is Gary’s cousin.

All our school board candidate profiles were well-read – the article about Jessica Curtis was just edged out of the top ten – but this one had the most views. During the election, Blough was one of three people to win a seat on the board, and he will begin his term in the new year.

9. One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

Cara Forward was a familiar face at Lowell’s Curiosity Corner Preschool for 15 years. The veteran teacher was beloved by students and parents alike, but all good things must come to an end. In 2022, she decided to step away from teaching to focus on other priorities. Our article about her retirement was the ninth most-read article on Lowell’s First Look in 2022.

8. Vergennes Twp Board Recap: Arrowhead Golf Expansion

We don’t often make it out to cover Vergennes Township Board meetings, but we received a call from someone asking us to make a point to be at this one. Arrowhead Golf was interested in adding hitting bays and a golf simulator to its property, but its current zoning made that a problem.

Supporters of the business showed up in force for this January meeting, during which the township board decided to consult with its attorney to determine how they could legally help the project proceed.

7. Lowell Student Named USA National Miss Michigan Teen

This article was published just 10 days ago, but it rocketed to the No. 7 spot on the list. While stories about student successes generally do well, this article outpaced similar stories by a wide margin. It highlights Abigail German who has found her passion in scholarship pageants and was recently named USA National Miss Michigan Teen. Next up for Abigail will be competing in the national competition in Florida next July.

6. Friends Rally Around Lowell Mom with Terminal Brain Cancer

Photo by Annie Blanding. Used with permission.

Some articles are a joy to write. This one was not. Kate Lax has been battling an aggressive and rare form of brain cancer. The prognosis is not good, but friends are working hard to make Kate’s remaining time as comfortable and meaningful as possible. While we were happy to be able to get the word out about how people can help, our hearts break for Kate and her family as they face an unfathomable future.

5. Letter to the Editor: Open Letter to the Lowell Community

It’s been a tough couple years for educators. First, they had to figure out on the fly how to teach students virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, they were in the crosshairs of unhappy parents who didn’t like various public health policies. Now, the have found themselves in the middle of culture wars about what should and should not be taught in the classroom.

Here in Lowell, the content of library books has been a central point of concern for some parents. In response, the LHS Principal and LHS Library Media Director penned a letter – co-signed by more than 300 people — describing how the district selects and manages its collection of books. Not only did this letter make the top ten list, but it also generated a discussion (flame war?) on Facebook unlike anything we’ve ever seen before – and we don’t mean that in a good way.

4. City of Lowell Considers Request for Name Change

Our annual April Fools’ Day article is a chance to stretch some creative muscles. We couldn’t decide on one thing to take aim at this year so we decided everything would be fair game. The result probably wasn’t our best April Fools’ Day story, but it was good enough to take the No. 4 spot for the year.

3. The Old Theater Has New Owners

One of Lowell’s landmarks is the theater that sits near the intersection of Main and Hudson Streets. Easily recognized by its lighted marquee, the theater originally showed movies. Then it turned into a furniture store, and later, it was the site of dinner theater and comedy shows.

Now, it has new owners who are hoping to renovate the interior and turn the building, which they have dubbed The Old Theater, into a venue that can accommodate events of all kinds. Our story about the new owners and their plans garnered the third highest number of views during 2022.

2. Larkin’s Restaurant Under New Management

Right next door to The Old Theater is – or was – Larkin’s Restaurant. The business was a mainstay in the community for decades and a favorite watering hole for many residents. But owner Mike Larkin was ready to hang up his hat, and the restaurant was sold. Today, it is known as Junction Bar and Grill, and this article about the change of ownership took the No. 2 spot among the most-read stories for 2022.

1. Changes Afoot at the Kent County Youth Fair

And taking the crown of most-read story in 2022 was this article about changes at the Kent County Youth Fair. The fair manager resigned, two longtime board members were not reelected and the usual carnival could not be secured. By fair week, though, a new carnival company had been found and everything seemed to fall into place. 2023 will bring additional changes to the fair as it will be held a week earlier than normal and moves to the new fairgrounds on Cascade Road.

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