With 2016 coming to a close, the Country Gazette takes a look back at some of the highs and lows that took place over the course of the year.
A contentious presidential election had friends and family at odds with one another. Would Republican and self-proclaimed outsider Donald Trump win the race or would the country see its first female POTUS, Democrat Hillary Clinton?
No one seemed to like either candidate, but voters made it clear they wanted a change from politics as usual when they voted on Nov. 8 for the controversial billionaire and reality television star Trump, who promised to “make America great again.”
On the local scene, the King Philip Regional High School and Millis-Hopedale football teams made the news just this month, winning their respective Super Bowls on Dec. 3 at Gillette Stadium. KP took the MIAA Division 1A title for the first time in school history after defeating Reading and Millis-Hopedale won the Division 4A championship, defeating Maynard.
Elsewhere in the area, renovation and new construction projects were finished. The Millis Police Department opened the doors to its new police station in November, the Franklin Library got its renovations into high gear with a topping-off ceremony in October and the Bellingham Public Library hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new teen room.
Two longtime police chiefs retired. Foxborough’s Edward O’Leary hung up his hat after serving on the force for 31 years, and Franklin’s Stephen Semergian left his post after 39 years in law enforcement.
Here’s a glimpse back at some of the other stories that made our headlines in 2016.
The new year brought the restoration of the deputy town administrator position in Franklin when the town hired Jamie Hellen to fill the role.
Norfolk voters approved a $12.2 million Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion at a special election, allowing the town to build a new police headquarters and renovate the current public safety building for the fire department.
The Senior Center Building Committee opted to hire general contractor GTC Construction Management of Haverhill to renovate the Franklin Senior Center.
Franklin High School scored two new sports teams when the School Committee voted and approved the addition of gymnastics and freshmen lacrosse.
Concerned Norfolk residents started an online petition to address the historic low water levels at Kingsbury Pond.
Plainville appointed Paul Scott of Uxbridge as the town’s first director of public works.
The Franklin girls varsity basketball team pushed past the .500 mark for the 2015-2016 season with a 68-44 win over Milford.
Plainville swore in six new full-time firefighters and 12 new call firefighters.
The former Macy Elementary School was torn down in Bellingham.
State officials hosted a meeting in Norfolk for citizens to discuss changes to the MBTA Franklin Commuter Rail Line that included fare increases, winter preparedness and scheduling changes.
A tree nearly toppled on top of a police cruiser on Orchard Street in Millis, but there were no injuries and no significant damage done to the vehicle.
Eian Bain was named the new head coach for the Franklin High School varsity football team.
The “Live4Evan” organization brought ECG screenings to Millis High School to help detect undiagnosed heart defects in students.
The Medway School Committee voted 4-1 to name the (athletic) South Field at Medway High School after former student and three-sport athlete Maddie Lamson, who died in a car crash in October 2015, two months into her senior year.
Bellingham native Joel Plante won a Grammy for his work on the surround sound of Roger Waters’ 1992 solo album “Amused to Death.” Plante graduated from Bellingham High School in 1993.
The Wrentham School Committee unanimously voted to name the new Delaney Elementary School playground after longtime committee member Edward Goddard.
The Medway-Holliston-Millis gymnastics team finished second at the state championship meet held at Algonquin High School.
Voters hit the polls on Super Tuesday, March 1, with local voters casting Republican ballots overwhelmingly showing their support for Trump. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders was the local candidate of choice for president over Clinton, who won statewide.
Franklin’s Dean College was awarded NCAA Division III exploratory status.
Seven Franklin High School musicians attended the All-State Musical Festival hosted by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association: Ian Carle, Cameron Cawley, Matt Dao, Chris Chen, Katelyn Davenport, Abigail Gipson, and Dominic Narducci.
The Medway girls varsity basketball team fell to Medfield 61-42 in the Division 2 Central quarterfinals.
The Franklin boys varsity hockey team advanced in the Division 1 South tournament after knocking out Marshfield, 3-1 in the Division 1 South Sectional championship game. They then made school history, taking the Division 1 South state title during a double-overtime win over St.Mary’s of Lynn in the state finals at the Boston Garden. It was the first state championship since the program was started in 1983.
Foxborough was named in a lawsuit by an unnamed plaintiff who claimed the town did nothing to protect him in the late 1970s when he was sexually abused by then seventh-grade teacher William Sheehan.
The Franklin Federated Church reached its $500,000 restoration goal in donations and pledges to fund repairs and updates to its historic buildings and to support an area nonprofit dedicated to healing domestic violence.
After winning state titles in 2014 and 2015, the Millis High School girls varsity basketball team fell 45-41, to Cathedral in the Division 4 state finals.
An Open Meeting Law complaint was made after a resident observed three Medway selectmen and the town administrator together in a local restaurant. The complaint was later retracted.
The two-year downtown streetscape project in Franklin was in full swing. Sidewalk upgrades and work on the traffic island between West Central and Main Streets were part of the project’s plan.
Schoolteacher Carrie McSweeney won the annual Dancing with the Wrentham Stars at Lake Pearl Luciano’s on Friday, April 1.
Bellingham native Ricky Santos was named the new quarterback coach at Columbia University.
The Plainville health board raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Wrentham citizens rallied around police Lt. George Labonte after he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, hosting a variety of fundraisers to support the Labonte family.
The MBTA announced changes to commuter rail schedules affecting the Franklin line, including an extra weekday outbound train running between 3:50 and 7 p.m.
Longtime Plainville Selectwoman Andrea Soucy was honored during a ceremony held at the senior center after serving 27 years on the board. Soucy lost her bid for re-election when she was defeated by challenger Matt Kavanah.
During the Millis town election, voters turned down a general Proposition 2 1/2 override aimed at collecting an additional $300,000 annually to pay for road repairs.
Following in the footsteps of Plainville, the Norfolk Board of Health raised the tobacco buying age to 21.
Millis Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall announced he would be leaving his post to take over the same position in Canton.
State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, submitted the required nomination signatures for re-election to the Massachusetts Senate.
The Bellingham School Committee and teachers union signed a new, three-year agreement. The deal called for a 1.5 percent raise in teacher’s salaries in 2016-2017, with accompanying 2 percent raises over the final two years of the contract.
Hundreds of people attended a dedication ceremony of Maddie Lamson Field in Medway. Lamson, a three-sport Medway High School athlete, was killed in a car accident in October 2015 during her senior year.
At the spring Town Meeting, Norfolk voters approved $61,500 from the community preservation fund to upgrade some of the town’s athletic fields. Voters also approved $277,000 to purchase 18 acres at 387 Main St. for recreation and open space.
After months of construction, the Bellingham Public Library opened the new teen room with a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 12.
The Franklin boys tennis team clinched their first Hockomock League Kelly-Rex Division title with a win over King Philip, 4-1.
Plainville voters agreed to spend $2 million at the June 6 Town Meeting to explore the possibility of building a new town hall and public safety building.
Wrentham firefighters saved seven dogs exposed to carbon monoxide during the Framingham District Kennel Club annual dog show.
Officials celebrated a project to expand the Franklin Public Library during a groundbreaking ceremony on June 3.
Bellingham High School senior Sarah Edwards won the state title in the 800-meter run with her time of 2 minutes, 11:55 seconds during the All-State meet held at Westfield State.
The Rev. Carol Rosine retired after 29 years of leading the congregation of the First Universalist Society of Franklin.
Franklin Police Chief Stephan Semerjian retired after 39 years of service on the force.
The Foxborough High School girls tennis team won the Division 2 state title after defeating Wayland 3-2.
Wrentham police officers grew out their facial hair in an effort to support fellow officer Lt. George Labonte in his battle with cancer.
The King Philip Regional High School softball team defeated Doherty 5-0 to claim the Massachusetts Division 1 state championship.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a grand jury had probable cause to indict Plainville’s Michelle Carter, then 17, in the 2014 death of Carter Roy III, 19. It was determined that Carter would be tried as an adult and would stand trial for involuntary manslaughter. Carter is accused of sending Roy dozens of text messages encouraging him to take his own life.
Tom Angelo was named the new athletic director at Franklin High School. Angelo replaced longtime AD and football coach Brad Sidwell, who left the post to become Taunton High School’s head football coach.
Hundreds of protestors planned a 43-mile march to demonstrate their opposition to the proposed 55-mile Spectra Energy natural gas pipeline proposed to run through Medway and Norfolk.
The largest outbreak of gypsy moths since 1981 invaded the area.
After 20 years with the Franklin Police Department, Thomas Lynch ascended to the position of police chief.
The popular cellphone app “Pokemon Go” hit the area, and police reminded players to be aware of their surroundings and to keep safe while playing and hunting down Pokemon characters.
Franklin police welcomed Axe, a K9 officer, to the department.
Two-way traffic flow began in downtown Franklin as part of the town’s streetscape project.
After 32 years in education, seven as Franklin’s school superintendent, Maureen Sabolinski announced her retirement.
The Franklin U11 Cal Ripken 50/70 team beat New Bedford 9-7 to win the EMASS Cal Ripken state tournament.
Franklin officials approved the site plan for a new Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School location on Financial Park.
Thousands of cyclists pedaled through the area making the 190-mile, two-day trip from Sturbridge to Provincetown for the 37th Pan-Mass Challenge.
The Medway baseball team won the first CMASS Senior Babe Ruth World Series title.
Franklin Town Council approved a new traffic bylaw that eliminated parking meters from downtown.
Bellingham Selectman Michael Connor resigned from the board after accepting the athletic director position in the Bellingham School District, creating a conflict of interest.
The Orpheum Theatre, a landmark in Foxborough’s center since the 1920s, went on the market.
Helen Huang of Franklin was named the Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts.
Longtime Foxborough police Chief Edward O’Leary retired after 31 years of service. The town hired William D. Baker, who previously served as police chief in Westbrook, Maine, to replace O’Leary.
Paul Peri began his first year as Franklin High School’s newest principal.
Franklin’s Nick Cleary, 3, served as Jimmy Fund Walk Hero during the Sept. 25 annual Jimmy Fun Walk. Cleary is a cancer survivor, having battled stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was just 22 months.
Medway firefighters tackled two fires in one weekend, a mulch fire on Winthrop Street and a barn fire on Clark Street.
Norfolk and state officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for Boyde’s Crossing, a new environmentally sensitive, pocket neighborhood community.
The Franklin girls field hockey team opened up its season with a 3-0 win over Hockomock League foe North Attleboro.
Local residents showed their appreciation for local law enforcement after police shootings in Dallas by bringing banners and baked goods to their respective police departments.
The Animal Control Officer Association honored state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, for his work on behalf of the animal community.
The final steel beam of the Franklin Public Library addition was installed during a “topping off” ceremony.
Franklin hired a school superintendent search firm to assist with hiring a new superintendent.
Demolition of Bellingham’s Old Mill Dam moved forward after selectmen awarded the contract for the project to the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, firm RC&D Inc for just more than $1 million.
The Bellingham Public Library briefly closed after a car was driven through one of its walls on Oct. 7. The car, driven by an 87-year-old Bellingham woman, went completely through the library’s exterior wall and struck an interior wall. No one was injured. Repairs are continuing into January.
Foxborough swore in new Police Chief William Baker during a ceremony held at the Renaissance Hotel at Patriot Place.
Early voting began for the first time in Massachusetts. The state adopted an early voting law in 2014 that allows registered voters to vote from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4.
The Medway girls soccer team remained unbeaten (12-0-1) with a 3-1 win over Medfield in a game played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The team went on to clinch its fourth straight Tri-Valley League Championship with a 9-1 over Bellingham.
Franklin residents expressed their concerns to Town Council and federal Environmental Protection Agency officials about the Superfund site located on Fisher Street.
Pending contract negotiations, Sgt. Christopher Soffayer was chosen to be the next police chief in Millis.
Local and state officials gathered for a playground dedication ceremony in Wrentham. The new Delaney Elementary School playground is named after longtime School Committee member Edward Goddard.
The doors of the new Millis police station officially opened on Nov. 5 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the Ledgeview project, bordering Wrentham and Plainville on Route 1, will receive a $2.2 million state grant. The money will cover the water infrastructure needed to support the 660,000-square-foot, mixed-use private development plan.
The Tri-County girls volleyball team won back-to-back Small School State Vocational championships.
Franklin’s Davis Thayer Elementary School students carried 294 pounds of donated food to the Franklin Food Pantry.
Exelon received permission from the state to construct a 200-megawatt expansion to its Medway power plant.
King Philip’s marching band, The Pride and Passion, brought home a first-place finish in their division after competing in the USBands National Championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Medway girls soccer team fell 1-0, to Millbury in the Division 3 state title game.
The King Philip varsity football team made school history by winning the Division 2 championship for the first time ever with a 21-18 win over Reading at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 3.
Millis-Hopedale sailed past Maynard with a 30-18 win in the Division 4A title game also at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 3. It was their first Super Bowl win as a combined Millis-Hopedale program and the first one in 17 years for Millis.
Dana Olson, head coach of the Millis-Hopedale Mohawk football team, was named the 2016 New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year.
Plainville added to its green space after voters approved borrowing $1.5 million to buy the so-called Bergh property, a mostly forested 103-parcel off Hawkins street along the town’s border with North Attleborough.
As part of an ongoing effort to make its website more convenient, Franklin announced plans to add e-permitting services that include items such as renewing dog licenses and seeking copies of birth, marriage, and death certificates.
Bellingham resident Bruce J. LeBlanc, 51, died from a fire at his Rawson Road home.
Christmas is for Kids delivered presents to more than 900 children in need during the 2016 holiday season. The organization serves families in Attleboro, North Attleboro, Norton, Seekonk, Rehoboth, and Plainville.
WHAT WE DOWe provide temporary housing for families of children with congenital heart disease who need to travel into the Boston area to get their child care. #EVANSWAY
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