Year In Review: Our Most Popular Stories Of 2019

Fireworks burst over downtown Cleveland, Ohio
Fireworks burst over Downtown Cleveland. [Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock]
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As we close out 2019 at ideastream, we've been looking back at a year's worth of stories from around Northeast Ohio. Digging into the data for the most popular stories on our website took us back to a wide variety of Cleveland stories, from feats of athleticism with the Cleveland Ballet, to an East Cleveland dump with a backstory that has as much deception as it did debris, and a string of Sunoco stations for the best hummus around.

Here’s our countdown:

10: Local Foodies Have Found the Next Big Thing: Gas Station Hummus

Muntaha Dari's 'Momma Mary's Hummus.'  Top row, from left: Roasted Red Pepper; Spicy; Pickle; Pomegranate.  Bottom row, from left: Beef Bacon; Cranberry; Jalapeno; Original. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]

"Hummus in a gas station? Yes. They want the healthy stuff," said hummus maker Nazek Allan.

Some chickpeas with your fill up? Yes, please! Morning Edition Host Amy Eddings and producer Mary Fecteau took us on a tour of best gas station hummus in February, getting everyone up to speed on Cleveland’s most delicious trend.


9: A Place Called Home: The Past And The Future Of Woodhill Homes

Cleveland's Woodhill Homes tells the story of public housing. It began in the 1930s with promise and enthusiasm but since has suffered funding shortfalls and stigma. But there are plans for a brighter future.

Woodhill Homes is one of the oldest public housing developments in Cleveland and the nation. It’s a place that tells the story of public housing in the United States, beginning in the 1930s with promise and enthusiasm but eventually suffering funding shortfalls and stigma. As part of a two-year reporting project that runs through 2020, ideastream’s Justin Glanville tells the story of the neighborhood and its residents.


8: Eddie Murphy Celebrates Cleveland Entertainer Rudy Ray Moore In 'Dolemite'

Rudy Ray Moore built a show-business career based on sticking it to the man, fighting the system. In 1975, he made a triumphant return home to Cleveland, to one of his old boyhood haunts, to premiere “Dolemite,” the feature film starring Moore’s alter-ego, a fearless, streetwise hustler who didn’t take "no" for an answer and fought against oppression with his fists.

This year, Eddie Murphy brought Dolomite, and the story of Moore’s life, back to the big screen in ‘Dolomite Is My Name.' ideastream’s David C. Barnett takes a look at Moore’s influence on comedy and Clevelanders.


7: Hospital Employees Seek Change In Culture As Workplace Violence Increases

Cleveland Clinic Chief of Police David Easthon stands at the main campus ER entrance. [Marlene Harris-Taylor / ideastream]

The Cleveland Clinic and other Northeast Ohio hospital systems were beefing up security in 2019, in response to what they say is an escalation of violence against healthcare workers.

The Clinic even has its own police force and an officer inspects all bags and backpacks and then instructs you to walk through the metal detector. Officers confiscate anything they consider a weapon – and have taken anything from a pack of matches to pepper spray or handguns.


6: FBI Raids Cuyahoga County Headquarters

On the afternoon of Feb. 14, state and federal law enforcement raided Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish’s office. About nine agents from the FBI and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrived before noon and spent several hours in the county headquarters building, leaving just before 4 p.m., taking with them five boxes, an envelope of equipment and two hard drives.

One week prior, a county grand jury issued a subpoena for all phone records from former jail administrator Ken Mills and emails from five county employees, including Budish. The ongoing has so far resulted in a string of indictments for several county employees, including former jail director Ken Mills, who pleaded not guilty.


5: The Million-Dollar Dump

Officials examine the Arco Recycling site in 2017. The debris heap caught fire that fall and burned for days. [Cuyahoga County Board of Health]

ideastream's Nick Castele took us deep into the contracts, court filings and financial crimes of Arco Recycling in East Cleveland, where George Michael Riley Sr. spent years piling up demolition debris at a dump that was directly behind people’s homes. His mess ended up costing taxpayers $9.1 million to clean up.


4: Racial Slurs Influence Shaker Heights Move To New Athletic League

When Shaker Heights joined the suburban Greater Cleveland Conference in 2012, it was clear the change meant playing a lot of bigger schools in four different counties. It also meant playing in a lot of predominantly white schools. But it was a surprise when Shaker players began hearing racial slurs – mostly from adults in the stands.

Shaker Heights athletic teams are going back to the Lake Erie League starting in the fall of 2020.


3: Olympian Dominique Moceanu Models A Fresh Start For American Gymnasts

Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu now at Gymnastics World in Broadview Heights. [Mary Fecteau / ideastream]

In an extended interview with ideastream’s Stephanie Jarvis, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu discusses life as a world-class gymnast and the physical and emotional toll she endured -- and eventually helped expose. Moceanu also shared her thoughts on the current state of gymnastics, and how she’s using her experience to make a difference in the lives of local gymnasts.


2: Two Sting Operations Led To Arrest Of 50 Men During All-Star Weekend

Over four days during the week Cleveland hosted the MLB All Star Game, fifty men were arrested in two sting operations – Operation Home Run and Operation Triple Play – for soliciting women and children, not knowing if they are victims of human trafficking.


1: Is Ballet A Sport? Doctors And Dancers Think So

The story that captured the most attention this year hands down is a multi-media look at the idea that ballet dancers are as much athletes as they are artists. For the first time this season, the Cleveland Ballet is partnering with the same University Hospital doctors who work with the Cleveland Browns.

Dr. James Voos, chair of UH's orthopedics department, said treating dancers as athletes can help prevent injuries and lengthen dancers' careers.

"Contact athletes such as football players and our performing artists such as ballet dancers put an incredible force on their body, day in and day out," Voos said. "While you may be moving more gracefully in ballet, those stresses on the body are very significant, so the ability to maintain flexibility, to put together a preventative program, is just as important in both sports."

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