Dec. 29, 2014. For the most part, the High Country Press stories that went viral in 2014 were either strange or tragic, mainly the latter.
More than 100,000 people read about the disappearance of Appalachian State University student Anna Marie Smith, whose body was found nearly two weeks later in a wooded area about 100 feet from Poplar Grove Road.
Some other tragedies that attracted the reader’s attention:
A motorcycle riding couple from Virginia attended a motorcycle rally at High Country Fairgrounds earlier this summer. Mark Whitescarver and Dawn Dove, of Virginia, left for Boone on Thursday and got married at the rally on Friday. Whitescarver died on Saturday of a heart attack.
Jennifer Willis, 38, of Vilas, struck four motorcyclists, one of which died, while driving her 2003 Audi on the evening of May 20 near the Cove Creek Store on U.S. 321. Alfredo Madrid, 50, of Miami, was killed instantly. Willis was charged with driving impaired and felony death by vehicle. She was detained under $500,000 bond. Her next court date is Jan. 29.
As for those strange viral stories, High Country Press had a few penned in previous years dominate once again in 2014: the now-demolished black house atop Howard’s Knob; the abandoned, vandalized old hospital in Banner Elk; and Canton man turned into “Hillbilly Blood” reality-TV star.
Other stories that didn’t necessarily fall, depending on how you look at it, into the strange or tragic category but went viral included a release from an environmental group about a logging program in the Pisgah National Forest; the Boone Town Council approving a student housing complex in between Faculty Street and Blowing Rock Road; and a Boone man becoming the first person to be convicted of a felony in North Carolina for poaching ‘sang on private property.
But perhaps the oddest story to go viral in 2014 was a story about Mellow Mushroom rolling back prices to 1974 on its 40th anniversary on August 20. Well, perhaps it isn’t so odd. People love a good deal and people love pizza.