These were the most viewed stories on mypanhandle.com in 2022.
1. Spring Break 2022
Panama City Beach was once the Spring Break capital of the world. The city cultivated a party culture and invited thousands of rowdy kids to town every March. But that ended in 2016 after a crackdown by law enforcement and city leaders who said they were done with the party and the bad reputation. But for a few days this year the old times were back when a massive group of Spring Breakers once again caused trouble and allegedly disrupted businesses and traffic in what police described as a riot.
Many of them ended up in jail, and local officials say they will once again do everything they can to keep March family-friendly next year.
After years of warnings, the wildfires Bay County residents feared finally struck. A massive amount of timber remained on the ground after Hurricane Michael in 2018. Then a dry March led to huge wildfires. State and local firefighters battled the blazes for days.
3. WestRock Mill closes
The mill that provided high-paying jobs to generations of workers in Panama City closed this year. About 450 people lost their jobs in the closure. Several entities, including Bay County and Eastern Shipbuilding have expressed interest in buying the property but so far a deal has not been announced.
4. Extreme heat closes Panama City bridge
Extreme weather remained a hot topic in 2022. And a brief closure of a local bridge had everyone talking.
5. Walton private beach landowners lose in court
A Walton County circuit judge rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of “customary use,” a concept that has long allowed the public to use parts of beaches that are privately owned.
6. Youtuber files lawsuit notice with Bay County Sheriff
Jason Gutterman was arrested on November 9, 2021, while filming outside a business on Minnesota Avenue and near two schools, Mosley High School and New Horizons Learning Center.
Gutterman’s attorney said he was arrested based on an unconstitutional statute. However, in a news release, after Gutterman was arrested, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford defended his deputies and said they arrested Gutterman under a law that was still valid and was designed to protect schoolchildren.
7. Kid Rock announces Panama City Beach concert
His name is still Kid Rock and the announcement that he was coming to play in Panama City Beach had a lot of viewers shaking their heads.
8. Panama City woman resentenced to life in prison
A woman convicted of the 1997 murder of 25-year-old taxi driver Richard Phillips when she was 15 years old, will remain in prison after an appeals court decided to uphold her life sentence.
In 2020, Rebecca Falcon received a new sentencing, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that it’s unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life without the possibility of parole.
Falcon is now 40 years old and she wouldn’t be eligible for parole until she’s 53 years old.
9. Poison Control warns of COVID-19 tests contain toxic chemical
People were mistaking these tests for eye drops after storing them in their homes. The ingredient in the test caused eyes to burn. Experts said if that happened it was, “definitely uncomfortable.”
10. Five arrested in drug house bust
Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith has repeatedly said he arrest anyone using or dealing meth in his county. And in January he and his deputies arrested five people from what he called a known drug house in Eastpoint.
Inside the home deputies said they found, meth, hypodermic needles, and stolen property from a burglary that took place in Apalachicola.