If you’ve paid attention only to the unprecedented dramatics swirling around the White House this past year, you have missed a lot of local news. To be sure, national politics did have an impact south of Boston. But the business of living has mostly continued to hum along in our cities and towns independent of what’s churning through Washington and the news outlets, real or otherwise. There were some noteworthy developments and achievements. Here is a sampling.
New schools: This was a big year for them, as several opened in our towns, including Abington, Holbrook, Plymouth, and Scituate. The price tags: Abington school for pre-kindergarten, middle, and high school, $96.4 million; Holbrook school for all grades, $102.9 million; Plymouth South High School, $110 million; Lester J. Gates Middle School in Scituate, $69 million.
Road work: The upper end of Route 3 is an evolving work zone as the state replaces four old bridges along the highway in Hanover and Norwell, and realigns portions of the heavily traveled road. The $30 million project began in May and is scheduled for completion in October 2020.
In Pembroke, a state project to reconstruct Route 14 is slated for completion in early fall of 2018. Improvements will involve road widening, drainage, and sidewalk repairs along the 3.3-mile stretch from the Hanson town line to Washington Street. The state-funded $7.6 million project began more than a year ago and is nearly halfway complete.
Waste transfer station: The proposed solid waste transfer station proposed in Holbrook won key approvals from the town and state, but galvanized opposition from many area residents. No date has been set for groundbreaking.
Pot businesses: A number of towns banned recreational marijuana businesses, including Abington, Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, Foxborough, Hanover, Milton, Norwell, Norwood, Pembroke, Randolph, Raynham, Scituate, Stoughton, Walpole, and Westwood. Other cities and towns are expected to tackle this issue in 2018.
Medical marijuana dispensaries, meanwhile, are already operating in several communities, including Stoughton, Quincy, Hanover, Brockton, and Bridgewater.
Comings: Former Milton police chief Richard Wells Jr. won an open Board of Selectmen seat in the town, deciding to run after the board refused to renew his contract as chief.
In Plympton, Elizabeth Dennehy became the municipality’s first-ever town administrator. The growing town of 2,800 had been run by a town coordinator.
Neil Rhein won the Mansfield Board of Selectmen seat in November that had been held by George Dentino, a longtime town leader, until Dentino’s death in the summer.
Goings: Norwood’s longtime general manager, John Carroll, retired after 39 years in the post, one of the longest such tenures in state history. Other notable executive departures include David Colton from Easton, Troy Clarkson from Hanover, Ted Alexiades from Hingham, William R. Ross from Mansfield, Rocco Longo from Marshfield, and Jack Healey from Freetown.
In Stoughton, voters recalled three selectmen — David J. “Spanky” Sousa, Robert M. Cohn, and Peter J. Brown — in December after they ousted town manager Michael J. Hartman months earlier.
Former state senator Brian Joyce, a Milton Democrat, did not seek reelection amid corruption allegations. He was indicted in December on federal charges of using his office for personal profit by collecting about $1 million in bribes and kickbacks.
New bridge: The permanent Fore River Bridge hit its latest milestone in mid-September, when all four travel lanes were opened to traffic. But work on the span between Quincy and Weymouth will continue into the new year.
New town halls: Concerns over handicap accessibility, structural integrity, and aging have prompted several municipalities to renovate or build new town halls, including Foxborough, Hanover, and Plymouth. The price tags: Foxborough, $7.4 million; Hanover, $1 million; and Plymouth, $40 million.
Voters in Dedham, Norton, and Sharon have approved new town halls at estimated costs of $45 million, $12 million, and $13.5 million, respectively.
New libraries: Scituate opened its new, $12 million library this summer, while Stoughton’s library is slated to open in late summer 2018 and cost $14 million.
Meanwhile, voters in Norwell and Weymouth approved new libraries at costs of $15.2 million and $33 million, respectively. In Kingston, a plan for a new town library was rejected by voters.
Red Line: Every Red Line MBTA station in Quincy and Braintree is undergoing some form of reconstruction. Wollaston Station will close for 20 months in early January for a rebuild. At Braintree and Quincy Adams, repairs to the garages are expected to cost a total of about $73 million and take 23 months and 39 months, respectively, to complete.
The North Quincy MBTA parking lot will be closed in 2018 as developers begin construction of a mixed-use development on the land. And the demolition of the top three levels of the Quincy Center MBTA station garage will begin in mid-January and be completed by December 2018. The Quincy City Council has also greenlighted the T’s agreement with two development firms to lease the air rights above the station; the development will include residential and commercial spaces.
New housing: A reimagined Quincy begins to take shape as residential developments continue to change the city’s landscape, with encouragement from City Hall. Among the new housing complexes, some already occupied, some still under construction: Elevation, 492 units; Nova Residences, 171 units; Chestnut Place, 124 units; Meriel Marina Bay, 352 units.
There is also a housing building boom in the Hingham Shipyard and Union Point in Weymouth.
Supermarkets: Riddle’s Supermart, the only supermarket in the town of Hull, emptied its shelves through the year and was eventually sold to Scituate-based Village Market.
The seaside village of Manomet in Plymouth lost its Stop & Shop, the only supermarket for miles around, in early December.
Plymouth 400: Preparations for celebrating the town’s 400th birthday in 2020 were swimming along nicely until Town Meeting twice refused to pay for the final stage of revamping the waterfront. At this point, it looks like there will be no new Water Streetpromenade for America’s Hometown when the festivities begin. Too much spending too soon, when other needs are more important, opponents say.
Sports: Brockton High School won the state Division 1 soccer tournament for the first time in the program’s history.
Norwell resident Kenzie Kent was named The Boston Globe’s “Female Athlete of the Year” and “Best College Athlete” at The Globes. Kent plays hockey and lacrosse for Boston College and has led her team to the national semifinals in both sports.
Kacie Smith, of Norwood, who plays field hockey for Stonehill College, broke the NCAA Division 2 record for most goals scored in a single season.