As we ready ourselves for a new year in Foxborough, we look back at 2012 and highlight the top 10 stories in town over the past 12 months.
The year was certainly a busy one. It included contentious talks of a casino in town, a shocking sexual abuse scandal involving a former town educator, a hurricane and much more.
And while we understand there are many more important news stories that hit Foxborough this year, we're bringing you the headlines that had the most readership. Tell us in the comments section below what you think the year's biggest Foxborough news story was.
Here is Foxborough Patch's top 10 most read stories of 2012:
10. Over 100 People Arrested at Country Fest
Foxborough police reported over 500 incidents and 100 arrests at the two-day country music festival at Gillette Stadium in August. Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary said the majority of the arrests involved underage drinking. He added that there were some “traffic issues” during Friday’s show, which brought a crowd of 49,400 to Foxborough and yielded 61 arrests.
The Friday and Saturday concerts brought over 100,000 people to Foxborough and the police activity from the festival received national attention from the Associated Press.
9. Trader Joe's Opens at Patriot Place in Foxborough
The neighborhood grocery store was arguably the most anticipated business opening of 2012 in Foxborough.
Trader Joe's created plenty of positive buzz around town since the Board of Selectmen issued it a liquor license on April 24 and hundreds waited in line on Sept. 7 for its grand opening at Patriot Place. The business has been booming ever since.
In the wake of contentious casino discussions between the town and The Kraft Group, separate negotiations for expansion at Patriot Place struggled to gain traction in 2012.
The Kraft Group had been working on a comprehensive deal with the town to acquire additional liquor licenses needed to expand Patriot Place for the past three years but after two dissolved negotiating committees and the Dan Murphy, vice president of the Kraft Group’s Business Development and External Affairs, told the town it will no longer be pursuing negotiations with selectmen.
More recently, Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis said the town is interested in reopening talks with The Kraft Group and has reached out to the company.
We will see what 2013 brings to this developing story.
7. 3 American Legion Baseball Players Injured in Head-On Crash
It was a scary scene at the intersection of Main and Pierce streets on Route 140 on June 18th as a two-car motor vehicle accident resulted in four people sustaining injuries, three of which were Foxborough Post 93 American Legion baseball players headed to a game in Franklin.
Two of the four victims involved in the two-car crash were medflighted to Boston Medical. Foxborough Post 93 American Legion baseball manager Peter Guy said the three injured players from Monday's crash were "going to be OK."
"All the players seem to be doing OK," Guy said. "There seems to be some injuries involved, some pretty good injuries, but they are going to be OK."
6. Three Fatal Car Accidents in 2012
Tragically, three people lost their lives from car accidents in Foxborough in 2012.
- In February, a two-vehicle collision on Route 1 involving a cement truck and a car took the life of 34-year-old Matthew Gallagher of Walpole after Gallagher allegedly failed to stop for a red light.
- In April, 16-year-old Michaela Smith of Mansfield was killed after her vehicle flipped over on Commercial Street in Foxborough near the intersection of Walnut Street.
- In June,
5. Parking Ban Bylaw Takes Effect
The town's parking bylaw – which bans residents from parking vehicles on their property for a fee during Gillette Stadium events in which 15,000 or more tickets are available – was reviewed and approved by Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office in August, sparking debate in town on whether the bylaw was constitutional.
"The purpose of the bylaw was to reduce traffic congestion in parts of town during major stadium events," said Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary. "Over the past several years there’s been substantial growth and traffic flow created and is still created [in residential areas near Gillette Stadium during Patriots games], which becomes a public safety hazard at the end of the night.
"This increased traffic flow and parking is a result of numerous paid parking operations that have developed as a side industry along North Street and has migrated to other areas of the town near Route 1."
Residents found in violation of the town's parking bylaw will face a $100 fine for each parked vehicle in violation. But determining what is a violation of the bylaw as opposed to friends and family members coming over to a resident's house during events had some citizens in the North Street area skeptical and angry.
4. Charges Against Foxborough Explosives Suspect Reduced to Possession of Fireworks
In July, Stephen A. Mudge Jr., 41, of Easton and Taunton was arrested on warrants for daytime breaking and entering charges in Easton and Raynham and an additional breaking and entering charge in Norton by Foxborough police at America's Best Value Inn on Route 1 and faced additional charges for possession of explosives.
In August, those charges were reduced to possession of fireworks by a Wrentham District Court judge, despite Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary's strong belief that the charges appropriately fit the incident that occurred at America's Best Value Inn.
The initial scene was intense, calling upon the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad to properly remove and detonate the fireworks.
3. Hurricane Sandy Forces Mass Power Outages in Foxborough
Hurricane Sandy, the third significant storm to hit the region in one calendar year left over 75 percent of Foxborough without power ... the third mass power outage caused by a storm in town in one year. It took days for the town to be fully restored of its power despite around-the-clock efforts by National Grid. In the aftermath of the latest power outage, Foxborough officials once again expressed frustration toward to National Grid before meeting privately with the company's president, Marcy Reed, to address the ongoing issues Foxborough faces with the union loop.
2. Alleged Sexual Abuse Case Against Former Foxborough Educator Shocks Town
The courageous efforts of three men who in July told Foxborough police they were sexually abused by a former Foxborough teacher over 30 years ago enabled police to open an investigation against former resident and youth leader William E. Sheehan Jr. The investigation led to Foxborough police obtaining a warrant from Wrentham District Court for Sheehan's arrest on multiple sexual assault charges on children under the age of 15. However, Sheehan, who now resides in Florida, was not arrested because of his poor health.
“I think the real [point] of this is the courageousness of people to step up and share with us this horrific thing that happened to them,” Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary said, adding that speaking about being a victim of a sexual crime is not an easy thing to do.
“Imagine a young person, a person of authority, a person respected amongst others, takes you aside and treats you nicely and then violates your privacy,” O’Leary said. “To some people it has a shattering impact. It’s suppressed. You don’t want to tell mom and dad. You’re embarrassed, you feel guilt that somehow you’ve done something wrong and you carry that with you. I think that over time changes behavior and choices you make in life.”
Since the three men came forward to Foxborough police, at least an additional 20 men have done the same.
While the investigation against Sheehan remains open, some victims have become skeptical that they will see justice for Sheehan's alleged actions due to the former Foxborough educator's poor health.
However, Foxborough officials have vowed to the victims that the town will do everything in its power to bring to light the truth and find the answers for how these horrific actions were able to take place in town for nearly two decades.
For complete coverage of this developing story, click the following links:
- UPDATE: Former Foxborough Teacher Accused of Sex Abuse Reportedly Suffering from Alzheimer's (Foxborough Patch)
- Former Foxborough Teacher Accused of Sexual Assault on Multiple Children (Foxborough Patch)
- New abuse allegation surfaces for former Lee County teacher (The News-Press of Fort Myers)
- Man too sick to arrest (The News-Press of Fort Myers)
- Longtime Foxborough teacher and Scout leader left legacy of lives broken by sex abuse (The Boston Globe)
- Nearly five decades later, an alleged victim speaks out against Sheehan (The Boston Globe)
- Tracking William Sheehan through the years (The Boston Globe)
- Another Sheehan Victim Courageously Comes Forward; Asks Town for Thorough Investigation (Foxborough Patch)
1. Foxborough Says 'No' to Casino
Clearly, the biggest - and most contentious - issue of 2012 in Foxborough was talks of a casino on Route 1.
Lines were almost instantly drawn between residents and officials in town who were in favor of a casino and town and those who strongly opposed it. The town held countless meetings to debate - often heatedly - the casino issue.
It all came to an end in May when voters elected Virginia Coppola and Lorraine Brue to Foxborough's Board of Selectmen at the Annual Town Election. The election effectively ended any chance of a casino being built in Foxborough as both candidates ran strongly on anti-casino platforms. Coppola led all selectmen candidates with 3,608 votes. Brue was second with 3,500 while former BOS chair Larry Harrington finished third (2,610) and School Committee member Martha Slattery finished fourth with 2,469. Both Harrington and Slattery were in favor of listening to a casino proposal in Foxborough.
Following those election results, The Kraft Group and The Wynn Group each issued statements announcing neither will continue to pursue plans for a casino in town.