Mainstreet’s most-viewed stories of 2023 

A few of our most-viewed stories online included (clockwise from top left) Emery Gainey was appointed interim Alachua County Sheriff, Publix will build a Newberry location, Barnes & Noble announced it would return to Gainesville and Levy County issued evacuation notices prior to Hurricane Idalia hitting the gulf coast.
A few of our most-viewed stories online included (clockwise from top left) Emery Gainey was appointed interim Alachua County Sheriff, Publix will build a Newberry location, Barnes & Noble announced it would return to Gainesville and Levy County issued evacuation notices prior to Hurricane Idalia hitting the gulf coast.

Editor’s Note: Mainstreet’s 2023 year-end recap includes the area’s top news stories, top feature stories, top high school sports events, our most-viewed website stories and our Community Impact Report.

Following our theme of top 2023 stories, today’s list features Mainstreet’s most-viewed stories, as recorded by Google Analytics. 

These stories differ from our top local news stories that we selected for their community impact. These individual articles received high readership over a short period of time and were either breaking news and/or were stories that went viral on social media. 
This is the fifth in our year-in-review articles, which include Mainstreet’s top feature stories, our Community Impact Report and top sports stories of 2023

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Most-read stories of 2023 

1. Florida goes from biggest decrease to largest increase at gas pump (Dec. 21)  
One week after Florida tied for the largest price decrease in the nation on Dec. 14, the pendulum swung the other direction as the state had the biggest one-week price increase on Dec. 21. 

This came one week after the Sunshine State tied with Michigan for the largest decrease at 17 cents.  

2. Christmas crash kills 23-year-old on I-75 (Dec. 25) 
A 23-year-old Tennessee man died Christmas morning in a two-vehicle crash in Columbia County. He was driving a sedan northbound on I-75 when the accident occurred at 4:45 a.m.  

Ginnie Springs sign
File photo by Suzette Cook

3.  Woman dies in Ginnie Springs accident (May 27) 
Memorial Day weekend got off to a tragic start after a woman died in an accident at Ginnie Springs on May 26. 

The incident occurred at 6:30 p.m. A 45-year-old woman from Holiday, Florida, was standing in the bed of a moving Jeep when she lost her balance and fell out.  

4. DeSantis appoints new sheriff of Alachua County (Sept. 7) 
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Emery Gainey as the new Alachua County Sheriff to take the place of the outgoing Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. 

On June 21, Watson had announced he would not seek re-election in 2024, then later announced he would step on Oct. 1 due to health reasons.   

5. 6 best date night restaurants in Gainesville (Aug. 12) 
You are not alone if you ever get stumped on where to take your date. This list compiles the best places to take your date and combines both delicious food and unforgettable experiences that Gainesville offers.  
6. It’s official: Publix coming to Newberry (Aug. 7) 

The city of Newberry’s new Publix is officially on the way, and it will be the largest in Alachua County.  

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said Publix is planning the new store to be over 50,000 square feet, which is larger than other local stores.  

7. Branford girl, Fort White man die in crash (Aug. 4) 
A 15-year-old Branford girl and a 66-year-old Fort White man died in a two-vehicle crash on US Highway 441 in Columbia County on Aug. 4. 
The teen was driving a sedan west on Country Road 240 (SE Myrtis Road) at 11:20 a.m. when she failed to yield the right of way to a pickup traveling south on US 441. 

Circle K gas station.
Courtesy Circle K

8. Circle K offers discounts on fill ups (Sept. 6) 
Circle K announced in September that it was launching its Inner Circle program that would offer customers savings of 25 cents off per gallon. 

The brand’s first free membership program was good for customers on their first five fill ups via the Circle K mobile app.  

9. DeSantis signs Rex and Brody Act into law (May 12) 
The Rex and Brody Act officially became law in Florida, following efforts spanning two legislative sessions and the governor’s signature on May 11.  

The bill prevents access to autopsy photos and reports of minors killed through domestic violence, access previously allowed under Florida’s public records law.  

The bill remembers Rex and Brody Reinhart, former Alachua County residents known well in the baseball community.  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Courtesy of Florida Governor's Office Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

10. Florida to crack down on certain driver’s licenses (July 5) 
On July 5, Gov. Ron DeSantis published a list of licenses from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont that are no longer valid in Florida following Senate Bill 1718.  
The bill—which the governor’s office called the “strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country”— deals with several immigration topics, including healthcare, employment, identification and transportation. SB 1718 also prevents local governments from supporting community ID programs.  

11. Multi-vehicle I-75 Columbia County crash kills 2, injures 3 (July 23) 
Two Lake City residents died and three others were injured on July 22 when wet road conditions caused a sedan to cross from southbound Interstate 75 and crash into an SUV in the northbound lane. 

12. 1 dead, 1 injured in Levy County crash on CR 337 (Dec. 9) 
A Michigan woman died after a head-on collision on Dec. 8 on County Road 337 in Levy County. 

A 62-year-old Bronson woman was driving a pickup truck northbound on County Road 337 when the accident occurred. For unknown reasons, her vehicle veered into the northbound lane, striking a southbound pickup truck. 

13. Barnes & Noble to open in Gainesville (Sept. 25) 
Butler Enterprises announced that Barnes & Noble would be coming to Gainesville in early 2024.   

The popular retail bookstore plans to open its new location at 3728 SW Archer Road.   

The previous Barnes & Noble location in Gainesville closed in December 2013 when the chain decided not to renew its lease at Butler Plaza.   

Courtesy of Alachua County Sheriff's Office FHP troopers and ACSO deputies ended a multi-county I-75 chase that started in Columbia County and ended off the Newberry Road exit on April 4.

14. Multi-county I-75 pursuit ends in Gainesville (April 4) 
A high-speed pursuit on Interstate 75 ended in Gainesville at the Newberry Road exit on April 4. 
The chase started in Columbia County when Florida Highway Patrol troopers spotted a driver going 110 mph southbound on I-75. The pursuit ended when law enforcement stopped the vehicle off the Newberry Road exit and took the driver into custody. 

15. Levy County issues mandatory evacuations (Aug. 28) 
In preparation for Hurricane Idalia making landfall, Levy County issued a mandatory evacuation notice for all people along coastal areas prior to 4 p.m. on Aug. 28. 

At the time, Idalia was projected to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane. The storm would eventually increase to a Category 3 and hit the Gulf coast but the Gainesville area escaped with little damage.   

16. Lake City homicide victim identified (Sept. 5) 
Female remains found in Lake City near SW Haltiwanger Road on Sept. 3 were identified as 18-year-old Coyoete Turner. 
John Bowen, 47, a registered sex offender, was charged with the murder after investigators named a person of interest on Sept. 18.  

Dave's Hot Chicken plans on adding five locations in North Florida.
Courtesy of Dave's Hot Chicken Dave’s Hot Chicken plans on adding five locations in North Florida.

17. Dave’s Hot Chicken coming to Gainesville (Nov. 7) 
Dave’s Hot Chicken, a fast-food chicken restaurant, announced it would open five locations throughout the cities of Jacksonville and Gainesville in November.   
The locations will be owned and operated by local entrepreneurs Tim Jensen, Jesse Allen, Andrew Hamerling and Tom Devine. The group owns and operates several Jersey Mike’s locations in the region.   

18. Virginia woman dies in I-75 Alachua County crash (Aug. 16) 
A 58-year-old Huntly, Virginia woman died on Aug. 15 when her pickup left the road at the Interstate 75 Archer Road exit, overturned, and ejected her from the vehicle. 

19. Pickup hits, kills Lake City bicyclist (Sept. 25) 
A Lake City bicyclist was hit and killed riding along State Road 47 on Sept. 24 in Columbia County. 
The cyclist, a 26-year-old man, was crossing the intersection at State Road 47 when the pickup, attempting to turn left, struck him. 

20. UF readies for 580-acre expansion in Jonesville, Alachua County to evaluate proposal (Oct. 31) 
The 4,000-acre Hickory Sink, or Lee, property could have followed two different development paths after the Nov. 7 special meeting of the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)—one with 85% conservation, and one with less than 50%.  

The BOCC unanimously approved the special area study presented at the meeting, allowing the property owner to move forward with a special area plan for proposed future development, but with 13 conditions.  

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