In what might be Hometown Weekly's most extreme understatement of the still-young 21st century, we at the paper are confident in saying the last 365 days won't soon be forgotten.
With a world-stopping pandemic, contentious US presidential election, and demonstrations for racial equality dominating headlines around the globe, it won't be surprising if 2020 joins the likes of 1968, 1917, 1848 and 1789 as years historians consider especially momentous in the course of human history.
It's also no surprise that these big-picture stories reverberated at the local level as well, with even the most global of issues taking on the unique characters of these small towns we call home.
While we couldn't possibly fit everything we'd like, the following are some of the stories that made headlines in 2020.
Hometown communities wrangle with coronavirus
“Earlier this year,” reported Amelia Tarallo, “officials in the United States became aware of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus in China. Knowing that it was inevitable that the virus would reach the United States, officials began creating plans and preparing for various scenarios to handle the illness. In the past few weeks, Hometown Weekly communities have found themselves preparing for the worst, with town officials trying to find the best possible ways to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Dover and Sherborn’s boards of health have been working together since January to handle the situation and attempt to ensure the safety of residents. As in many communities, the boards of health have been promoting social distancing. ‘There is a reason that dramatic measures, such as closing schools, canceling/postponing events, and discontinuing non-essential Town services, have been instituted,’ wrote representatives of Sherborn’s Board of Health. ‘Whether or not there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sherborn and Dover, we must behave as if the virus is already in the community (which is most likely the status since symptoms do not always present). To slow and limit the spread of the virus, we must all adhere to social distancing guidelines for the next several weeks.’”
Students, seniors meet for Tech Day
“On Tuesday, January 28, students from Dover-Sherborn High School’s Service Club visited with seniors at the Dover Council on Aging to provide answers to some of their technological inquiries,” reported Amelia Tarallo.
“Council on Aging Administrative Assistant Sue Sheridan came to work on Tuesday with her iPad and questions about why one of her games no longer loaded correctly on the device. Ava Beninati, one of the visiting students, took over in trying to find a solution. Rather than continuing operating the game in the app, Beninati showed Sheridan how to load the game on the Safari app, after briefly explaining how to use the web browser. ‘Do you want to try to do it this time?’ Beninati asked before handing the device back to Sheridan, who quickly picked up the new method of getting to her game.
“‘Kids, they know everything,’ said Sue Sheridan. While Sheridan’s statement was obviously exaggerated, the fact remained: the kids’ help was greatly appreciated. Tech Day at the Council on Aging was the perfect way for these seniors to have all of their technological questions answered without being rushed, and without a limit. The visiting students didn’t just solve problems for the seniors - they allowed them to explore new things like Facebook and apps without worrying that they would mess up their computers or phones.”
Mardi Gras comes to the DTL
“Each year, the streets of New Orleans are decorated in green, purple, and gold. Parade floats drive, with riding revelers throwing beads at an awaiting crowd. The sounds of trumpets, saxophones, accordions, and other instruments are strung together to make up the lively music of one of the most popular annual parties in America. On Tuesday, March 3, visitors to the Dover Town Library were rewarded with a Mardi Gras celebration of their own, spearheaded by the Squeezebox Stompers, a Cajun and zydeco band from Boston,” reported Amelia Tarallo.
“Set up in front of some of the shelves, what was once a primary library sitting area soon turned into the perfect spot to enjoy some fantastic Louisiana music.”
COA workers combat coronavirus crisis
“With the senior citizens of America in the most in danger due to the risk of the COVID-19 virus, those who know them best are being asked to help out in myriad ways. Other than friends, family and neighbors, in Dover, the people who know the town’s seniors best are the senior center workers, who have stepped up in this time of crisis,” reported James Kinneen.
“While the center is closed to the public, that doesn’t mean the workers are idle. Instead, with limited numbers inside the office and other employees working remotely, they’re fielding questions and dealing with people’s issues over the phone, going through census information to make sure the seniors they don’t know are okay, trying to help people with anything they need, and doing whatever else they can to deal with the crisis.
“’The town has closed the town buildings to the public because of the Governor’s stay-at-home order, but we are here and working remotely to serve the senior community,’ explained Director Janet Claypoole.”
Hometown Weekly voters head to polls
“While record numbers of Bay Staters voted in the November 3 election by mail due to COVID-19, scores of voters still headed to the polls on Tuesday to vote in person at a wide variety of locations,” reported James Kinneen. “But while every ballot had the same options printed on them, every town’s voting locales were a little bit different, whether due to the location itself or the people professing their beliefs outside.
“Sherborn didn’t have anyone outside holding signs at around noon. But what they did have were gifts for the kids who got dragged along to stand around while their parents voted. A coloring book called ‘Be a Good Citizen: Vote!’ with patriotic pages to color, word searches, and a prescient page where one could count the tallies to determine who won the ‘favorite pet’ vote, was laid out on tables at the Sherborn Town Hall. There was also a table to donate gift cards, checks, nonperishables and toiletries to feed the hungry - which was coordinated by the student directors of the Sherborn Community Center and the Sherborn Town Clerk.
“Town Clerk Jackie Morris felt good about how the big day went, noting that it was kind of quiet with so many people having voted early.
“Dover had less going on at the Town House, although there were people holding signs outside, including one group who had their dog with them, and had clothed the pooch in a graphic tee shirt emblazoned with a message to vote. Whether the dog wanted to be inside, didn’t want to wear the tee shirt, or really wanted to run around the lawn instead, unlike his owners, he didn’t seem too enthusiastic about standing on the corner and waving at cars.”
Town salutes Hughes for firefighting service
“Craig Hughes has been a firefighter for as long as he’s been an adult,” reported James Kinneen, “having started his career on his eighteenth birthday: July 4, 1975. With 45 years worth of service to the town, to say nothing of his work with the Highway Department, Hughes deserved a proper send-off as he opted for retirement this month. Unfortunately, in the era of COVID-19 and the ensuing social distancing rules, the typical large functions that would normally be put on for someone who dedicated so much of their time to the community are not possible.
“But if you were driving through Dover on Tuesday afternoon and had to pull over for a parade of fire trucks from a huge swath of towns, don’t worry. They weren’t heading to a fire; they were honoring Chief Hughes with a drive-by fire truck parade.”
“With trucks representing a wide variety of communities, Chief Hughes didn’t know what was going on when he realized the streets leading to the fire station had been blocked off. But when he was finally told what was happening, he stood and saluted his firefighter brothers as the drove by, honked, gave thumbs up, and thanked him for his over four decades of service.”