There’s been a lot to keep up with for readers over the past year. Here are some of the top stories read and requested by readers:

About 200 protesters gathered at Charleston City Hall in June to demand access to abortion care | Samantha Connors file photo

Abortion still legal as state’s high court considers ban. First came the overturning of the Roe v. Wade protection for abortion in June, which triggered a near total ban in South Carolina. Three white male GOP state senators poked the media bear by proposing an unconstitutional measure to make it a felony to knowingly and intentionally provide abortion information to a pregnant woman or anyone seeking information for a pregnant woman by telephone, internet or any form of communication. The City Paper was then the only newspaper in the state to exercise its right of free speech to publish an extensive story outlining just how abortion works now in South Carolina to document health care options for women. 

Republicans run up the count. While Democrats nationally didn’t face a reckoning predicted by pundits in the November elections, Republicans in South Carolina increased their power far and wide. Incumbent GOP Gov. Henry McMaster routed Democratic challenger Joe Cunningham of Charleston. In the S.C. House, Republicans won 88 seats as they tightened their grip on power by flipping five Democratic seats and winning three in heavily gerrymandered districts. And in Charleston County, Republicans flipped one county council seat to take control of that body for the first time in years.

Charleston Waterkeeper volunteers taking water samples in North Charleston | Rūta Smith file photo

Bacteria levels high at some Charleston creeks, data show. The City Paper reviewed years of water quality data by Charleston Waterkeeper that showed how some waterways in the county have abnormally high levels of dangerous bacteria, which can lead to lots of different kinds of sickness. Where not to swim or paddleboard from May to October? Filbin Creek in North Charleston, Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant and various creeks around James Island.

App’s data illustrate poor quality of Charleston’s roads. Everybody complains about the poor quality of local roads but the City Paper offered the compelling story of an MIT-developed app that offers data on how bad our roads really suck. Hundreds of readers responded with comments like this: “Choose any road. They all suck.” Another: “What’s not the bumpiest/worst route to drive in Charleston?”

Charleston supports Ukrainian freedom. Charleston-area donors quickly mobilized after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to generate everything from money and medical supplies to shoes and drones for the troops. Our March 2 issue featured a story of the fear, dread and anger about the invasion as well as how the war was inspiring unity and hope for the Ukrainian cause.

Summerville’s Music in Motion Family Fun Center closed its doors for the last time on Aug. 21 | Rūta Smith file photo

Last Charleston skating rink closes. Music in Motion Family Fun Center roller rink in Summerville shut its doors for good in August, ending an era of skating for countless kids and kids at heart. “I needed something that no one could take from me — and it was skating,” one skater said. “It’s been my outlet. I just kept going and just kept trying new tricks and it rolled me out of depression.”

More people turning to hemp products for relaxation, relief. One of the newspaper’s most popular stories of the year was a handy-dandy guide of hemp products and alternatives. According to the story, “While some of the CBD hype may be just a trend, other aspects of its use are promising, according to users, retailers and researchers. Clinical, peer-reviewed studies exhibit potential medical use for ailments including mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. It also is believed to provide relief for chronic pain, cancer and some neurological disorders such as ADHD.”

Great platform for profiles about interesting people. Some of the best stories of the year were personality profiles about interesting Lowcountry residents. Like the story about how the Recovery Room’s Chris DiMattia recovered after the pandemic or Edisto Island’s Greg Johnsman mills grain. Or how comedy at the Veterans Administration hospital gives purpose to retired Army Capt. Robin Phoenix. Readers also learned about the man behind Charlton Singleton’s trumpet and what’s driving North Charleston’s Patch Whisky to create more and more cool stuff.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.