Mainstreet’s top 2021 feature stories

With 2021 winding to a close, the Mainstreet Daily News staff selected what we consider the top feature stories of the year.

Covering nine counties, there’s a plethora of interesting people and events that color life and can easily get lost amid the daily news cycle, where political issues often take center stage. 

One of our goals at Mainstreet is to take readers to places they may not have been and to introduce them to people they may not have met. We hope the following stories accomplish that goal.  

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Gainesville’s new interim city manager takes reigns

North Florida native Cynthia Curry officially started her interim city manager position on Nov. 15 following Lee Feldman’s resignation. Curry’s background includes administrative stints with Miami-Dade County, Florida International University and Florida Memorial University.

Hawthorne Creek Creamery supplies Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille, hits Publix shelves

Armed with a dairy background, Kevin Lussier and his family expanded into the cheese-making businesses in January 2020 and now sells their product to Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille and, starting this past August, at Publix. 

Newberry student donates $14,000 auction prize to friend

FFA member Bethany Keller auctioned off her 1,220-pound main cross steer she named “Hokey” and donated the funds to help her friend, Nathan Blair, a graduate of Santa Fe High School who has been battling osteosarcoma, a rare, aggressive bone cancer.

Perry throws cold water on Springs County

State Sen. Keith Perry doused the idea that communities in western Alachua County could break off and form their own county, noting it would take millions of dollars in startup costs to create its own sheriff’s department, public school district and courthouse. 

Mariano Rivera Foundation finds early success in Gainesville

New York Yankees legend and MLB Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, with ties to a Gainesville pastor, launched a pilot program in June for a mentorship program at a local church.

Annual Friends of the Library book sales returns following COVID-19 hiatus

The incredibly popular biannual book sale, a fall and spring ritual in Gainesville that helps support the Alachua County Library District, returned following a pandemic-induced hiatus. 

Golf course research program keeps eyes on the bee

An urban landscape entomologist with UF/IFAS has been planting wildflowers on golf courses for several years to attract pollinators, like native bee species, to help reduce the numbers of harmful insects on the fairways, roughs and greens.

Gainesville’s interim fire chief retires

After spending 30 with the Gainesville Fire Rescue—including a stint as the interim fire chief— JoAnne Rice retired in February. But it didn’t last long: She accepted a new role with the Florida State Fire Marshal’s office as an assistant director in August.

Snake expert helps when neighbors come calling

Armed with a degree in zoology and a background handling venomous snakes, a resident near Tioga Town Center tells his neighbors, “If you ever have a snake you would otherwise kill, please call me.”

GPD co-responder teams spearhead mental health response

Started in 2018, the Gainesville Police Department’s Co-Responders Teams program consists of four teams of two—one police officer and one clinician from Meridian Behavioral Healthcare—who patrol the often convoluted intersection of law enforcement and mental health.

County grant propels growth at local ranch

A $10,000 grant—aimed at helping small farms—assisted a fledgling High Springs ranch to add much-needed equipment and set the table for future growth. 

Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille preps for gameday

The Head Ball Coach builds a restaurant that doubles as a museum for Gator fans—complete with original art, game-worn visors and game-winning plays drawn on the bathroom walls. The restaurant opened in August

This is the third in a week-long series on top stories of 2021. We’ve previously published top local news stories and sports stories of the year. 

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