Year in Review: Notable Stories from 2015

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Check out this week’s Canton Citizen for an in-depth look at the biggest news stories of 2015, including the Plymouth Rubber rezoning, the Metropolis Rink collapse, the Free the Rez movement, and much more.

Town endures historic winter of discontent

Samantha Sweenie, 7, scales a massive snow bank at the end of Tilden Road.

Samantha Sweenie, 7, scales a massive snow bank at the end of Tilden Road.

Between the ice dams and gas leaks, the school cancellations and travel disruptions, nothing consumed more of residents’ time and energy in the first quarter of 2015 than the historic snowfall totals. From the early part of January until well into April, the town was literally buried under several feet of snow and ice. And while Canton was hardly alone in this predicament, it certainly endured its share of impacts, most notably the collapse of the Metropolis Skating Rink in February and a tragic rooftop fall that claimed the life of a 42-year-old father of three.

During the course of the winter, Canton received a record 128 inches of snow, and the town’s snow removal budget was deep in the red by early February. Between January 1 and March 1, the Fire Department responded to 840 emergency calls, including several cases of roof and structural collapses. Both the DPW salt shed and the Canton High School field house also incurred damage, while the entire staff of the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office were forced to relocate after a fire and explosion at the Shawmut Street site in late February caused by falling snow and ice.

Town strikes back against addiction crisis

As the nation continued to come to terms with the growing opioid addiction epidemic and the staggering number of overdose deaths that have followed in its wake, officials and residents in Canton took steps to stem the crisis here at home. Led by a small but committed team of community stakeholders, the newly named Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse dramatically increased its visibility in 2015, issuing regular public service announcements and sponsoring a series of information sessions, including one geared toward parents and coaches of student-athletes. The police and fire chiefs also stepped up their efforts in the fight against substance abuse, releasing a joint commentary highlighting the depths of the problem and publicly warning the community via social media when a batch of bad heroin led to a rash of overdoses in June.

Meanwhile, the Canton Citizen continued to do its part to bring awareness to the epidemic, publishing weekly overdose statistics in collaboration with the Canton Fire Department while also producing several feature stories on the issue, including a powerful yet heartbreaking profile of a young woman who lost her brother to the disease of addiction.

Space and time: Schools address key budget priorities

Although they did not quite get everything on their wish list, the Canton Public Schools still had a very productive year thanks to a sizable commitment from the town’s taxpayers. Heading into a new budget season, School Committee members outlined three key priorities: later start times for secondary students, reduction of class sizes across the district, and an increase in instructional space. And thanks to a nearly 5 percent operating budget increase approved by town meeting voters and the School Committee’s own willingness to compromise, the schools were able to address both of the first two goals, implementing the new start times effective in September and adding the equivalent of nine new teaching positions.

As for the school space issue, residents also helped out in that regard by authorizing a $4.1 million addition at the Hansen School via a debt-exclusion override that was overwhelmingly approved in June. John Bonnanzio, who chaired the town-appointed School Building Study Committee, hailed it as an important first step, and he spent the remainder of the year chasing an even bigger prize — a new administration building at the former Plymouth Rubber site. That effort was still ongoing as the year came to a close; however, Bonnanzio recently reported progress on this front, with the latest plan involving the possible construction of a stand-alone building somewhere on the Revere Street property …

Read about more top stories from 2015 in this week’s issue of the Citizen. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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