By MELINDA KRICK

Progress Editor

What local stories captivated readers during 2018?

Listed below are the top 10 most-viewed stories read on the Progress website, www.progressnewspaper.org, during the past year.

The number of pageviews was calculated by Google Analytics and was current as of Dec. 31, 2018.

During the calendar year, readers visited our website 253,864 times – up nearly 15 percent from the previous year – and viewed 491,273 pages, an increase of 12 percent.

The peak number of visits on a single day was 10,658 on Sept. 21. That same day, our website had its biggest number of pageviews with 16,565.

Mobile access to the Progress website continues to outpace desktop usage. Those visiting our site through mobile devices and tablets account for an average of nearly 63 percent of visits, a slight decline from previous years.

However, the number of users has risen slightly.

Most of the top stories were breaking news, published prior to the regular Wednesday publication date of the Progress. Of the top 10, all but one were related to serious crimes or traffic crashes. The stories spanned the entire year, from January through December.

Please visit our website to view stories in their entirety.

We’ve posted a slideshow of the year’s events as reflected on Page One for the past 12 months. Look for “Slideshow – 2018: The Year in Progress Front Pages” under the News section.



10. 2018 Paulding County Fair Schedule

Pageviews: 3,438 Date Posted: June 7

PAULDING – The annual Paulding County Fair officially starts Monday, June 11, and continues through Saturday, June 16 at the fairgrounds in Paulding, with some events scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10.



Thanks to local sponsors, the gate entrance fee has been waived again this year. It is such a nice gesture of local businesses to support the youth in our community.



9. Woman injured in Payne hit and run

Pageviews: 3,535 Date Posted: Sept. 4

Writer: Jennifer Dempsey

PAYNE – The Van Wert Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol is investigating a hit-skip in Payne that seriously injured a woman.

Troopers said that on Saturday, Sept. 1, a 1992 Saturn SL 2, dark green in color, was headed westbound on West Street in Payne. The car veered off the left side of the street and into a bean field. The driver then hit a speed limit sign and proceeded to sideswipe a house. The car then struck a 63-year-old female. Reportedly, she was sitting on the porch of the house.

The driver of the car fled from the scene.

The female victim, whose name has not been released by authorities, was transported by air ambulance from the scene to Parkview Regional Hospital, where she was in critical but stable condition.



8. Deputies respond to crime scene

Pageviews 3,615 Date Posted: April 15

Writer: Melinda Krick

BRICETON – Paulding County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating a crime scene this afternoon in Briceton.

Several sheriff’s vehicles are at a one-story residence at the southeast corner of Main (Road 87) and Leslie streets. In addition, a Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime scene unit is on site. Reportedly, the county coroner also was inside the home.

Sheriff Jason Landers was among the sheriff’s personnel present.



7. Sheriff’s office responds to incident scene

Pageviews 4,428 Date Posted: Sept. 20

CECIL – On Thursday, Sept. 20, at 12:28 p.m., deputies were dispatched to 11342 Road 230, Cecil, for what appears to be some type of home invasion. Deputies located a deceased male inside the residence whose name is not being released at this time.

“This is an active investigation. We have a perimeter in place at this time with aviation patrol canvasing the woods around this address,” said Sheriff Jason K. Landers. “We do know two people fled the residence in a black 4-door Hyundai. We have reason to believe more suspects may have fled into a wooded area behind the residence. We do not know this for certain, but we are using the daylight we have and resources available to make sure no one is out there,” said Landers. “From the tips we are following, we believe this to be an isolated incident. We do not think this is a random home invasion.”



6. Two Paulding County residents injured in crash in Defiance County

Pageviews: 4,510 Date Posted: July 13

DEFIANCE – The Defiance Post of the State Highway Patrol is currently investigating a one-vehicle injury crash that occurred on Thursday, July 12 at approximately 10:43 p.m. on Powers Road, west of Canal Road, in Defiance County.

Troopers said a 2014 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, being operated by Shawn Theis, age 41, of Cecil, was traveling south on Canal Road and then traveled off the south side of Powers Road. Theis and his passenger, Thelma Bowers, age 39, of Paulding, were both ejected from the motorcycle. Both received serious injuries and were taken to the Defiance Regional Medical Center and later taken by Promedica Air Ambulance to Toledo.



5. Suspect identified in hit-run accident

Pageviews: 6,593 Date Posted: Sept. 5

PAYNE – The Van Wert post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol has released the name of the suspect in the hit and run accident in Payne on Sept. 1.

Officers are looking for Austin Keith Zuver, 22, of Paulding. Zuver has been charged with failing to stop after an accident resulting in serious physical harm, a felony of the fourth degree.

Zuver was headed westbound on West Street in Payne in Saturday, Sept. 1. The car veered off the left side of the street and into a bean field. The driver then crossed to the other side of the road and hit a speed limit sign and proceeded to sideswipe a house. The car went up on the porch and then struck Brenda Taylor, 63, of Payne.

Update – The suspect in this case was sentenced in Paulding County Common Pleas Court on Dec 21.



4. Homicide suspect sought in woman’s death in Briceton

Pageviews: 7,014 Date Posted: April 15

BRICETON – An arrest warrant for murder has been issued following the discovery of a woman’s body at her home in Briceton.

According to Sheriff Jason Landers, at 1:40 p.m. Sunday, April 15, deputies were asked to check the welfare of an adult female at 7546 Road 87, Paulding, in the community of Briceton. While searching the property, deputies found a female deceased inside a vehicle parked in the garage.

The deceased is 47-year-old Gina L. Mann, who resides at the above address. Investigators did not discover an obvious cause of death. The body will be transported to Lucas County for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Mann’s boyfriend, Matthew J. Dempsey, age 46, for one count of murder, an unclassified felony. Dempsey also lives at the address of the crime scene.

Update – Dempsey pleaded guilty to murder, and unclassified felony, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.



3. One dead, three hurt in crash

Pageviews: 8,057 Date Posted: Dec. 26

Writer: Melinda Krick

PAULDING - A Christmas evening crash claimed the life of one person and injured three west of Paulding.

Dead is Victor Alvarez Hernandez, age 20 of Paulding.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Van Wert Post is investigating the crash, which occurred at approximately 11:53 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25 on County Road 144 (Gasser Road) just east of Township Road 83 in Paulding Township.



2. Burns charged with vehicular assault and vehicular homicide

Pageviews: 8,260 Date Posted: Aug. 20

Zachary S. Burns, 27, of Antwerp, was arraigned on Wednesday, Aug. 15 on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second degree felony, and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, a second degree felony.

A lawyer was appointed and Burns pleaded not guilty to the charges. A pre-trial conference has been set for Sept. 24 and a jury trial has been scheduled for Nov. 13.

Burns is being held at the Paulding County Jail with bail set at $500,000 cash with 10% privilege.

These charges stem from a double-fatal car crash that happened on June 21 of this year.

Update – This case is pending in Paulding County Common Pleas Court.



1. Defiance man charged with murder of Cecil resident

Pageviews: 11,857 Date Posted: Sept. 21

CECIL – Deputies continue to investigate tips coming into the office regarding the death investigation that began about 12:28 p.m. Thursday, September 20. The crime scene is located at 11243 Road 230, Cecil.

The victim of this homicide was the home owner Philip V. Koenn, age 60. Koenn was found deceased inside the residence with apparent gunshot wounds. Koenn was the lone occupant at this address and was the only person found inside.

Investigators were able to follow leads and secure an arrest warrant for Michael Kent Loop, age 32, of Defiance. Law enforcement was able to utilize investigative technology and located Loop in Defiance County. He was taken into custody and booked in the Paulding County Jail on one count of murder, an unclassified felony.

“This was a violent crime. We are fortunate some early tips came in leading us to Mr. Loop. We are not done. We believe more people could be involved,” said Sheriff Jason K. Landers.

Update – Loop is awaiting trial for aggravated murder and aggravated burglary in Paulding County Common Pleas Court. In addition, a case is pending against Zane C. Bartley for complicity to aggravated murder and aggravated burglary.



Other top headlines in 2018:

11. Two dead in four-vehicle crash near Antwerp

Pageviews: 3,417 Date Posted: June 22

12. Crash in Defiance claims life of Paulding man

Pageviews: 3,342 Date Posted: March 23

13. Prosecution rests after opening day in infant homicide trial

Pageviews: 3,239 Date Posted: Dec. 19

14. Homicide suspect arrested in Nevada traffic stop

Pageviews: 3,018 Date Posted: April 17

15. Assault, pursuit end in injuries for suspect, deputy

Pageviews: 2,930 Date Posted: May 30