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Ex-husband Jimmy Dean's defense of Paula Deen tops albanyherald.com's list of most-read stories in 2013

Online voting for high school football players was a popular item at albanyherald.com

Matt Lauer interviews Paula Deen on NBC News’ “Today.” Deen, who had admitted in a lawsuit that she had used a racial slur in the past, said that she was not a racist and would never intentionally hurt anyone. (REUTERS/Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire/Handout via Reuters)

Matt Lauer interviews Paula Deen on NBC News’ “Today.” Deen, who had admitted in a lawsuit that she had used a racial slur in the past, said that she was not a racist and would never intentionally hurt anyone. (REUTERS/Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire/Handout via Reuters)

ALBANY — 2013 was an interesting news year in southwest Georgia.

Among the most-read stories at www.albanyherald.com for the year was Paula Deen being splashed across websites, newspapers and television sets all over the country after admitting she had used a racial slur in the past, Darton College and Albany State University both lost their presidents in a two-week span, Bo Henry’s plan to open a new Arctic Bear restaurant ruffled some feathers, Albany icon Rheda Hall passed away, and the Sherwood Pictures braintrust of Alex and Stephen Kendrick decided to form their own independent production company.

Below are the 25 most-read stories at www.AlbanyHerald.com for 2013.

1. Paula Deen’s ex-husband: Former employee motivated by greed

ALBANY — As the national media circle the Paula Deen story like sharks who smell blood, Paula’s ex-husband Jimmy Deen has found himself caught up in the frenzy, beset by desperate “leeches” looking anywhere for some new tidbit to feed tabloid nation.

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2. Week 6 High School Football Player of the Week Poll

Week 6 voting for the Albany Herald’s Player of the Week.

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3. Week 7 High School Football Player of the Week Poll

Week 7 voting for the Albany Herald’s Player of the Week.

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4. Phillip Phillips’ mother charged

ALBANY — The mother of “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips has been charged with DUI, officials say. Sheryl Jean Phillips was booked at the Dougherty County Jail on charges of DUI less safe after a traffic stop around 1 p.m. Thursday on North Madison Street in Albany. (Editors Note: She pleaded guilty to the DUI charge in September in Dougherty County State Court and was sentenced to a $856 fine, 24 hours in jail, 40 hours of community service and DUI school.)

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While the New England Patriots organization distanced itself from embattled former tight end Aaron Hernandez, former teammate and Albany native Deion Branch isn’t bailing on his ex-teammate just yet. (AP File Photo)

5. Branch on ‘friend’ Hernandez: ‘It was shocking’

ALBANY — While the New England Patriots organization is distancing itself from embattled former tight end Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots receiver and Albany native Deion Branch isn’t bailing on his ex-teammate just yet.

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6. Shock follows Worth County schools’ rejection of Marines’ children

MCLB-ALBANY — The Worth County Board of Education’s decision Thursday to suspend a policy that allowed students whose parents are Marines living on the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany to attend Worth County schools stunned base officials and outraged many parents of the 57 children who, at least for now, have nowhere to go when school opens next month.

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The Arctic Bear neon sign is shown shining outside Mathews Funeral Home on Gillionville Road in memory of Norton Johnston, former owner of the iconic Albany restaurant, who died in Februrary. An attempt is being made to revive the name with a Dawson Road restaurant. (Albany Herald file photo)

7. New Arctic Bear restaurant to open in Albany

ALBANY — A new restaurant with a familiar name will soon be opening in Albany, when the Arctic Bear comes out of hibernation early next year.

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8. A.J.’s Seafood owner, staff arrested at restaurant

ALBANY — Alvin Adams, owner of A.J.’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, was arrested Thursday at his restaurant, along with the manager and a waitress, police officials say.

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9. Week 10 High School Football Player of the Week Poll

Week 10 voting for the Albany Herald’s Player of the Week.

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Former Darton State College President Peter Sireno. (File Photo)

10. Peter Sireno resigns as president of Darton State College

ALBANY — For the second time in just two days, an Albany institution of higher education has lost its president. In a stunning move early Friday afternoon, Peter Sireno resigned immediately as president of Darton State College.

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11. Brothers behind Sherwood films forming independent company

ALBANY — Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the men whose film-making dream helped boost Sherwood Baptist Church and its movie arm, Sherwood Pictures, into theaters and homes around the world, are forming their own independent film studio.

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Cynthia Tucker

12. Voting Rights Act still necessary

Cynthia Tucker opinion column: If you want to stare into the ugly face of racial resentment, take a good look at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. His frank, if stunningly injudicious, remarks about a key portion of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) laid bare the bitterness that so many hyper-conservatives still harbor toward black progress.

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13. Another Albany Winn-Dixie closing

ALBANY — A second Winn Dixie store is closing here, corporate officials announced Tuesday, leaving only one of the grocery stores in the city.

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14. Deceased bank robbery suspect was DCSS sub

ALBANY — A woman who was suspected in a string of armed robberies on Friday, including a stickup of the Bank of Pavo, has been identified as Mary Louise Daniels, a longtime substitute teacher for the Dougherty County School System.

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15. Tebow’s personal QB coach rips Broncos, Jets, Sanchez

NEW YORK — The Tim Tebow saga with the New York Jets continues to get stranger. On Wednesday, several media outlets, including ESPNNewYork.com and Newsday, reported that Tebow’s private coach, Steve Clarkson, criticized the Jets and quarterback Mark Sanchez, one week after Sanchez’s new coach, former NFL QB Jeff Garcia, blasted Tebow.

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16. Week 11 High School Football Player of the Week Poll

Week 11 voting for the Albany Herald’s Player of the Week.

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Rheda Hall

17. Rheda Hall, the first lady of the All American Fun Park, has died

ALBANY — Rheda Hall, half of the fun-filled duo that has run Albany’s All American Fun Park for decades, has died. She was 79. Hall succumbed to health problems Tuesday at her home, funeral officials confirmed.

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18. People’s Choice Football Player of the Year Poll

Fourth Annual Albany Herald People’s Choice Player of the Year nominees.

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19. Man killed in motel stabbing

ALBANY — Two suspects have been arrested in the Wednesday night stabbing death of a man at the Dollar Inn, 2706 N. Slappey Blvd.

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Dr. Chuck Mendenhall, the director of radiation oncology at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, was recognized by the local medical community recently for 30 years of service. (Special Photo)

20. Radiation Oncologist Chuck Mendenhall: Georgia governor out of touch

ALBANY — Dr. Chuck Mendenhall’s not one to pull punches. At 30 years and counting, he’s been in the radiation oncology business long enough not to have to. So when Mendenhall offers a direct challenge to the governor of the state of Georgia, folks under the Golden Dome in Atlanta would be wise to take note.

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21. AR-15, high-capacity magazine, ammo sales spike locally

ALBANY — Area gun sellers say the uncertainly surrounding future gun control legislation has caused a spike in the sale of AR-15 rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition.

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22. Official: Murfree ordered overpayment of $250,000

ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County School Board members learned Wednesday that the School System has overpaid the private administrative firm for its Drop Back In Academy by $250,000 after incorrectly labeling students in the program.

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Dougherty County Sheriff's Office

Eddie Lee Ballard

23. Digging for artifacts lands man in jail

ALBANY — One man’s efforts to excavate arrowheads and other Native American artifacts for what investigators claim was commercial gain has landed him in the Dougherty County Jail. Eddie Lee Ballard, 37, was picked up by Dougherty County sheriff's deputies Wednesday on warrants filed by Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

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24. DCSS suspends Westover teacher for seven days without pay

ALBANY — Westover High School science teacher and assistant soccer coach Bryan Haas has been suspended without pay for seven days. Haas is the third Dougherty County School System employee to have been suspended over the past four weeks.

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25. Herald changing online commenting system

Beginning Wednesday, readers at www.albanyherald.com who post comments will begin using their Facebook accounts to access the online commenting system.

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