2021 top NC stories: From illegal squats to spots to raise a family

North Carolina

(Ashley Turner, WNCT illustration)

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – There’s nothing new under the sun and for those living in North Carolina. We have almost seen it all this year.

2021 top sports stories: Pirates’ bowl game canceled, interest in Godwin, Houston

2021 top entertainment stories: Jeopardy, haunted houses and did you know that Hollywood star was from NC?

2021 top national stories: Gabby Petito’s cause of death, Virginia woman dropping off human remains in dumpster captivated readers

2021 top local stories: Year brings heartache, touching moments in ENC

From illegal squats to best spots to raise a family in North Carolina, here are the top 10 state-related stories that you found the most popular of 2021. If there are any more surprises, perhaps we can save them for 2022.

10. Best counties to raise a family in North Carolina

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to raise a family in North Carolina using data from Niche. Niche ranked counties based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, healthcare, recreation and weather.

9. Woman captured in South Carolina, charged with murder after body of missing Kings Mountain man discovered

A woman was captured in South Carolina and charged with murder after the body of a missing Kings Mountain man was discovered in November. Maybe it was the nature of the crime or other aspects of it. Whatever the case, readers were very intrigued by this story.

8. Haven’t received your second stimulus payment? Here’s how to trace it.

Stimulus checks and child tax credits were two very popular topics at WNCT.com. One of the pressing questions that caught people’s attention was what to do if they had not received their second stimulus check.

7. These are NC’s lowest-performing school districts

Education is a big deal to people in our state. When the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction published its list of the lowest-performing schools and districts it got a lot of people’s attention and gave them fuel for the fight to improve conditions, especially during the pandemic.

6. Pasquotank NAACP calls on sheriff to release body camera footage of deputy killing Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City

Protesters made demands for transparency after a man was fatally shot by a Pasquotank County deputy in Elizabeth City. Andrew Brown’s case became one of the hot-button issues in 2021 here and around the state.

5. NC-based Bojangles closing all company-owned locations for 2 days; no stores in ENC included

People sure do love their chicken and biscuits. There was an uproar of sorts in early August as word spread that many North Carolina-based Bojangles chain of restaurants would close all of its company-owned establishments on Aug. 30 and Sept. 13. It was chance to give workers a day off. However, the stores owned and run in Eastern North Carolina were not impacted.

4. Have you ever seen the ocean light up in neon colors? Well, expect to see it happen in North Carolina.

A natural incident caused a lot of buzz with regards to the waters of ENC. We discovered that a chemical reaction called bioluminescence happens amongst organisms that cause them to give off light. Colors like neon greens and blues can be seen near the shore especially after storms happen which cause more algal blooms and iron in the water which makes way for the light show.

3. Interactive map helps you find gas stations that still have gas

There was a period of time in May where we all seemed to freak out at once about getting gas, why is was running low and how to find it. GasBuddy has always had an interactive map to show you where you can get gas all across the country. The interest in finding gas made this story one of our most popular ones in 2021.

2. Charlotte restaurant closing doors Saturday after more than 50 years in business

Many small businesses were hit hard in 2021 and were ultimately forced to close their doors. This story of a beloved Charlotte restaurant, Oakhurst Grill formerly Mr. C’s, hit readers not only here but across the state pretty hard. The restaurant had been in the Polonyfis family since 1972 but closed its doors in May after more than 50 years in business.

1. ‘Carolina Squat’ the target of new NC bill

It’s the topic that literally drove people crazy in 2021. If you had an illegal squat, NC Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill that eliminated what would be known as the “Carolina Squat,” making it illegal. The “Squat” was an after-market modification when someone buys a lift kit for their truck and only installs about half of it.

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