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This week we’re re­flect­ing on the year that was 2016 and what went down over the last 12 months. In this spe­cial fea­ture, The Com­pass takes a look at our on­line traf­fic to iden­tify the sto­ries that truly touched read­ers in some fash­ion. These sto­ries are built on emo­tions felt over events both past and present. We hope you’ll take the time to visit your web browser and give these a full read if you missed them the first time around.

Sto­ries can af­fect the emo­tions of read­ers for any num­ber of rea­sons. They can trig­ger mem­o­ries, in­spire, or anger, de­pend­ing on the type of story in ques­tion.

At The Com­pass, we do our best to share a wide va­ri­ety of sto­ries and lend a voice to peo­ple who might not oth­er­wise at­tract the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion.

Over the course of 52 issues and hun­dreds of on­line ar­ti­cles, we’ve told many tales in 2016. Based on web traf­fic, we present here the top-10 sto­ries that af­fected read­ers in some fash­ion.

1. For­mer stu­dents mourn the loss of pop­u­lar teacher, coach (April): The sud­den death of Ran­dolph “Randy” Ralph in a fa­tal ac­ci­dent last spring caught a lot of peo­ple off guard, in­clud­ing his for­mer stu­dents. He was well re­garded as a teacher and coach in nu­mer­ous sports — most promi­nently wrest­ing — and had mem­o­rable stints at Holy Trin­ity Re­gional High in Heart’s Con­tent and Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate. News of his death spread quickly on so­cial me­dia, with many ex­press­ing grat­i­tude for hav­ing Ralph in their lives.

2. Celebrity ma­gi­cian Penn Jil­lette learns grand­fa­ther is from Car­bon­ear (Fe­bru­ary): A photo posted to Twit­ter by Shaun Ma­jumder of the New­found­land ac­tor and co­me­dian pos­ing with Penn Jil­lette served as the spark that helped the celebrity ma­gi­cian learn more about his New­found­land roots. Jil­lette knew his grand­fa­ther was a New­found­lan­der, but didn’t know where ex­actly he was from. A con­ver­sa­tion on Twit­ter led to the dis­cov­ery Sa­muel Edgar Gilett was born in Car­bon­ear and even­tu­ally im­mi­grated to the States.

3. Bay Roberts par­ents take a walk to school in the rain (Septem­ber): The dra­matic photo of par­ents and stu­dents walk­ing to school in the rain along the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way prob­a­bly didn’t hurt in­ter­est in this ar­ti­cle about the bus­ing sit­u­a­tion at Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary. New­found­land and Labrador English School Dis­trict’s de­ci­sion to strictly en­force a pol­icy al­ready in place for years to keep kids liv­ing within a 1.6-kilo­me­tre buf­fer zone off buses didn’t sit well with a lot of par­ents in Bay Roberts and else­where in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia area.

4. Con­cus­sion scare sparks call for change at Har­bour Grace rink (Jan­uary): Af­ter their son lost his foot­ing on the ice and flew head­long into the boards with­out a hel­met, Chris and Kim Janes got in touch with The Com­pass. The 16-year-old sus­tained a con­cus­sion, and the in­ci­dent left Chris and Kim firmly be­liev­ing hel­mets at the rink should be manda­tory. As it stands, the town rec­om­mends that rink users wear hel­mets for gen­eral skates, but it is not manda­tory.

5. As­cen­sion Col­le­giate 1974 fire sto­ries (Au­gust & Septem­ber): Last sum­mer, Geral­dine Cur­ran con­tacted The Com­pass about her quest to track down the man who helped her and a dozen other women es­cape a 1974 fire at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate. Shortly af­ter the ini­tial story was pub­lished, we took a call from the wife of the man Geral­dine was look­ing for. This re­sulted in a sec­ond story, with a third com­ing shortly there­after about two other men who helped with the res­cue.

6. ‘Run for the Boys’ aids chil­dren of cou­ple killed in high­way crash (July): Rose and Ger­ard French of Bay Roberts did a good deed in help­ing set up a spe­cial fundraiser for the three sons of a cou­ple killed in an ac­ci­dent on Veteran’s Me­mo­rial High­way last May. The ‘Run for the Boys’ fea­tured an all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle run and a few other events. There was talk last sum­mer of making it an an­nual event.

7. Car­bon­ear welder re­counts fiery ride to Fort McMur­ray air­port (May): There were many sto­ries for New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans to share about the mas­sive fire that gut­ted Fort McMur­ray last spring. Mark Ware- ham, a welder from Car­bon­ear, had to drive di­rectly past flames to make it to the air­port and find his way home to fam­ily. It was an in­tense ex­pe­ri­ence to say the least. “It was like the apoc­a­lypse, driv­ing through all the flames,” he told The Com­pass.

8. U.K. politi­cian’s mur­der shocks Green’s Har­bour res­i­dents (June): The tragic mur­der of Bri­tish politi­cian Jo Cox made head­lines all over the world. Sor­row over the par­lia­men­tar­ian’s death was even felt in the Trin­ity Bay com­mu­nity of Green’s Har­bour, where Cox’s par­ents-in-law lived for a num­ber of years in the 1970s while teach­ing at lo­cal schools. Cox and her young fam­ily vis­ited the com­mu­nity in re­cent years. The Com­pass spoke with two Green’s Har­bour men who knew Gor­don and Sheila Cox and met Jo and her fam­ily.

9. Sur­viv­ing a still­birth takes time (Oc­to­ber): Dawn Hur­dle bravely told The Com­pass about her ex­pe­ri­ence com­ing to grips with the loss of her baby girl in a still­birth de­liv­ery. Dawn was 39 weeks preg­nant at the time. “It was like a hor­ri­ble dream,” the River­head, Har­bour Grace na­tive told The Com­pass. “It takes a long while to res­onate that some­thing has hap­pened to you.” She was en­cour­ag­ing mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils to rec­og­nize Preg­nancy and In­fant Loss Re­mem­brance Day, ob­served an­nu­ally around the world Oct. 15.

10 . Shai­lynn Snow ready for a big­ger stage (Novem­ber): A nice story about a young girl’s ded­i­ca­tion to the sport she loves re­ceived some good no­tice from Com­pass read­ers. Shai­lynn Snow of Clarke’s Beach moved to St. Cather­ine’s, Ont. last fall to at­tend Ri­d­ley Col­lege as a stu­dent-ath­lete. While she may miss home, Shai­lynn has en­joys get­ting to com­pete at a higher level, and she dreams of one day rep­re­sent­ing Canada at the Olympics.


Celebrity ma­gi­cian Penn Jil­lette with New­found­land ac­tor Shaun Ma­jumder.


Ran­dolph “Randy” Ralph taught at Holy Trin­ity High in Heart’s Con­tent and Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate.


Frazer Smith, left, and Derek and Donna Drover.


Rose and Ger­ard French were among the or­ga­niz­ers for the “Run For The Boys” fundrais­ing event.


Par­ents and stu­dents cross the in­ter­sec­tion of Water Street and the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way in Bay Roberts.


Chris and Kim Janes.


Car­bon­ear’s Mark Ware­ham with his in­fant daugh­ter Rylee and wife Sherri.

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