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Forsyth County News' most-read stories of 2016: 6-10
Chestatee Wildlife 21
C.W. Wathen holds a hedgehog at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega for a story in The Life-400 North magazine, an FCN publication. - photo by Micah Green

FORSYTH COUNTY -- What was 2016? It was a year filled with changes, endings and beginnings. It was a year that saw a new president win in an historic upset. A year that took from us too many celebrities, musicians and role models. A year of the iPhone 7, the exploding Samsung, cyber hackers and Pokémon Go.

The year saw LeBron James bring a championship to Cleveland. It saw the Cubs win the World Series. In real life, not in Back to the Future.

The last VCR was made this year. The Olympics shined a light on Brazil, polluted water and zika. Gas prices were low, droughts desecrated lakes, fires raged in Gatlinburg and floods and hurricanes struck the east coast.

Cuba opened its doors to the United States. Sanders Road opened to Forsyth County drivers. GA 400 got a new lane.

From the grand scale to the streets of downtown Cumming, 2016 was a year to remember. With so much happening, it may be hard to think of all that 2016 was here in Forsyth County. So we’re going to relive it for you.

Today and Friday, we will continue to re-run stories you clicked on the most at ForsythNews.com, along with some photos of significant events.

Our photographers also picked their favorites. For previous top stories and for more photos, go to ForsythNews.com.

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10. MAN KILLED IN GO-KART WRECK NEAR CUMMING FAIRGROUNDS

Feb. 19

A Roswell man driving a racing go-kart on Castleberry Industrial Drive near the Cumming Fairgrounds died after it struck another vehicle head on about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The crash occurred as the go-kart was coming out of a sharp curve in the road.

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9. GIRL, 14, DIES, 3 TEENS INJURED IN WRECK NEAR CUMMING

June 16

A 14-year-old girl was killed and three other teens – one who is pregnant – were injured in a car crash near the Buford Dam Thursday evening.

The single-vehicle wreck occurred at 6 p.m. Thursday on Buford Dam Road at the entrance to Lower Pool, when the car partially overturned and came back onto all four wheels before crashing, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Cpl. Robin Regan said.

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8. THE BUSINESS OF BUYING OUR CHILDREN: CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING NORTH OF THE ATLANTA PERIMETER

Nov. 6

The offer came through via text at 5 p.m.: $120 for 15 minutes of sex with the barely legal girl from the online ad. After 15 minutes without a response, he texted again. $150.

That’s way more than what you normally get for 15 minutes, said the women behind the computer. Normal, she said, is $50, though she has seen it as high as $250.

The ad was for a fake girl. It was created by the woman behind the computer, Whitney Bexley, for an undercover research and outreach operation called Transaction Intercept. The goal: to deter men from buying sex with young women who, sometimes to the men’s knowledge and sometimes not, are often children.

The ad offered sex with a girl in Forsyth County, and while there was no girl being sold this time, the caller was real.

He was one of 67 men who called or texted during a 15-hour period, inquiring about one of two ads posted by Bexley, director of strategic initiatives for Street Grace, a faith-based nonprofit committed to ending the demand for child sex trafficking.

(This story was a three-page spread in the paper and the result of months of examining child sex trafficking in north Atlanta. It ran in time for residents to read about a Georgia law that they ended up voting in favor of to help protect victims. The online version ran with an in-depth video to accompnay the investigation.)

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7. SOUTH FORSYTH WOMAN CHARGED WITH CHILD MOLESTATION, RAPE

May 19

Kathy Tompa, 48, who has an Alpharetta mailing address within Forsyth County, has been charged with enticing a child for indecent purposes, aggravated child molestation and statutory rape, according to Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Tompa is being held at the jail in downtown Cumming without bond until she appears before a magistrate judge, Rodriguez said.

Tompa has no prior history with the sheriff’s office.

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6. OFFICIALS: SMOKE FROM NORTH GEORGIA FIRES LIKELY TO LAST FOR DAYS

Nov. 9

The smell of smoke in Forsyth County hung heavy in the air beginning Wednesday morning as fires in north Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina continued to rage.

The air was thick throughout metro Atlanta and the city proper, largely due to fires in Fannin County, according to Shawn Alexander, district ranger for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Though no large brush fires have been reported in Forsyth County, Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers said the department has received numerous calls about the smoke and haze.

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Follow ForsythNews.com on Friday to see stories 1-5.