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18 of the biggest Greater Boston stories of 2018

From left to right, top to bottom: Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley, the grave of former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, a home destroyed by the Lawrence  gas explosion, a view of the Red Sox victory parade, Iraq Veteran Stephen Mandile.
From left to right, top to bottom: Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley, the grave of former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, a home destroyed by the Lawrence gas explosion, a view of the Red Sox victory parade, Iraq Veteran Stephen Mandile.

Tragedy and triumph, fresh faces, notable departures, and new challenges. As 2018 draws to a close, here is a look at some of the top Metro stories of the year.

Aftermath scene of Lawrence gas exposion where a home was destroyed at 60 Jefferson Street in Lawrence.
Aftermath scene of Lawrence gas exposion where a home was destroyed at 60 Jefferson Street in Lawrence.David L Ryan/Globe Staff/file/Globe Staff

Lives upended: As many as 80 natural gas explosions and fires rocked the Merrimack Valley on Sept. 13, killing one man and forcing thousands from their homes. As the recovery dragged on through the fall, many families went without heat and hot water, and Columbia Gas faced investigations into the disaster.

The freshly dug up dirt is pictured in front of a headstone where James "Whitey Bulger was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery.
The freshly dug up dirt is pictured in front of a headstone where James "Whitey Bulger was buried at St. Joseph's Cemetery.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/file

A brutal life, a brutal end: Gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed Oct. 30 by inmates in a West Virginia prison, just hours after arrival. He was buried alongside his parents in West Roxbury.

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Chuck Cole passed a makeshift memorial after attending a "celebration of life" ceremony at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet Arthur Gava Medici, who was killed in a shark attack.
Chuck Cole passed a makeshift memorial after attending a "celebration of life" ceremony at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet Arthur Gava Medici, who was killed in a shark attack.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

Terror in the water: Fears of a fatal shark attack on the Cape were realized Sept. 15. The victim: Arthur Medici, 26, of Revere, who was boogie-boarding in the waters off Wellfleet. It was the state’s first fatal shark attack in 80 years.

Iraq Veteran Stephen Mandile, of Uxbridge, handed his money to Cultivate President Sam Barber as he made the first purchase at the opening of Cultivate, one of the state's first two pot shops.
Iraq Veteran Stephen Mandile, of Uxbridge, handed his money to Cultivate President Sam Barber as he made the first purchase at the opening of Cultivate, one of the state's first two pot shops.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File

We have pot: The first recreational pot shops opened in Massachusetts on Nov. 20, in Leicester and Northampton, two years after the state legalized marijuana.

Ayanna Pressley addressed the crowd after becoming the Democratic candidate for the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District during the her campaign primary night celebration at IBEW Local 103, in Dorchester.
Ayanna Pressley addressed the crowd after becoming the Democratic candidate for the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District during the her campaign primary night celebration at IBEW Local 103, in Dorchester.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

Women win big: Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated longtime incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano. Also joining the Massachusetts delegation in Washington: Lori Trahan, who won a narrow election for the seat held by retiring Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. In Suffolk County, Rachael Rollins will be the new district attorney. In Maine, Governor-elect Janet Mills represents a dramatic pendulum swing away from the conservative politics and aggressive demeanor of outgoing Governor Paul LePage.

A funeral service was held at Saint Piux X Church for Yarmouth K-9 police officer Sean Gannon who was shot and killed while serving a warrant. Police from all over the country stood outside the church.
A funeral service was held at Saint Piux X Church for Yarmouth K-9 police officer Sean Gannon who was shot and killed while serving a warrant. Police from all over the country stood outside the church.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File

In the line of duty: Yarmouth police Sergeant Sean Gannon, 32, was shot and killed in April as he was heading into the attic of a Barnstable home to arrest career criminal Thomas M. Latanowich, who had more than 100 criminal cases to his name. Weymouth Officer Michael Chesna, 42, was shot with his own gun in July after pursuing a suspect. Worcester firefighter Christopher Roy died fighting a massive, five-alarm fire in a city apartment building.

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Forced out: State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg left Beacon Hill under a cloud of controversy. Boston School Superintendent Tommy Chang agreed to leave his post. And MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez was out after just 15 months on the job.

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito embraced during a Baker-Polito Campaign Election Night Rally at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito embraced during a Baker-Polito Campaign Election Night Rally at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File

Back in: Republican Governor Charlie Baker cruised to re-election in November, as did US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

US Senator Elizabeth Warren celebrated her November re-election win at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren celebrated her November re-election win at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File

Presidential fever: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren ended the year considering a run for president in 2020. So did Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick took himself out of the running.

#MeToo: At MIT, officials investigated allegations against writer Junot Diaz but ultimately cleared him to return to the classroom. Meanwhile, three Dartmouth College psychology professors left their jobs amid allegations of sexual misconduct, and the school was sued by students who said Dartmouth failed to protect them.

People rushed to the casino after MGM Springfield officially kicked off the grand opening day of with a procession of The Minuteman Marching Band, The Budweiser Clydesdales, and a parade of hundreds of the resort's employees and construction workers.
People rushed to the casino after MGM Springfield officially kicked off the grand opening day of with a procession of The Minuteman Marching Band, The Budweiser Clydesdales, and a parade of hundreds of the resort's employees and construction workers. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe/file

Casino arrives: Seven years after Massachusetts legalized casino gambling, MGM Springfield opened in August, marking the first time patrons could legally wager on table games such as blackjack and craps within the state.

Grim milestone: The number of reported hate crimes in Massachusetts rose to its highest level in more than a decade: 427 incidents, the most since 2003. African-Americans were the most frequent targets, followed by Jews and LGBTQ people.

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Lawrence S. Bacowl(eft) received a gift from former president Drew Gilpin Faust during Bacow's inauguration as Harvard's 29th president.
Lawrence S. Bacowl(eft) received a gift from former president Drew Gilpin Faust during Bacow's inauguration as Harvard's 29th president.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file

Big year for Harvard: Lawrence Bacow succeeded Drew Faust as president. A high-stakes lawsuit challenging the college’s admissions policy played out in federal court. And a group of fraternities and sororities sued over the college’s crackdown on single-sex organizations.

Tough year for small colleges: Mount Ida College in Newton shut down amid controversy. Newbury College in Brookline and the College of St. Joseph in Vermont announced they, too, would be closing. Industry watchers say the trend will continue.

Trooper scandal broadens: As of mid-December more than 40 State Police officers had been identified as possible targets of criminal charges for allegedly falsifying overtime records.

Red Sox World Series victory parade, seen from Tremont Street in Boston.
Red Sox World Series victory parade, seen from Tremont Street in Boston.David L Ryan/Globe Staff/File

“Alex Cora for President”: Tens of thousands flocked downtown Oct. 31 to toast the Red Sox World Series victory with a duck boat parade that has become a cherished tradition for a city of champions.

Nurse staffing: Following a bruising and costly campaign, voters on Nov. 6 rejected a ballot measure that would have set strict limits on the numbers of patients assigned to hospital nurses.

Advances on CTE: A Boston University study published Nov. 4 for the first time suggests that a common gene variant may explain why chronic traumatic encephalopathy hits some people harder than others. The debilitating brain disease has been liked to jolts to the head during contact sports.

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