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Year in Review: Top Government & Education Stories

The Top Bethel Stories involving Government & Education in 2012.

New Superintendent and High School Principal 

In January, Dr. Gary Chesley retired after 13 years as superintendent of Bethel's schools. Former Bethel Middle School principal Dr. Kevin Smith took his place, officially starting the job on February 2. At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Christopher Troetti also stepped into the role of Bethel High School's new principal. Troetti had been an Assistant Principal and teacher at the high school before accepting the job. 22 candidates interviewed for the position, with Troetti chosen out of eight who made it to the final round.

Goodbye to Old Town Hall

In May, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to raze Old Town Hall to make room for additional library town parking. The board sent a letter to Newtown residents explaining their rationale: the move would help Bethel's retail district and boost tax revenue, they said. According to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, “In order to complete the renovation of the upstairs of the library, we have to find 60 more parking spaces."  voting in July to take down the building by a margin of about three-to-one.

Sewer Allocation: 'You Can Only Flush a Toilet So Many Times A Day'

Bethel Planning and Zoning commission member John Lennon described the lack of sewage capacity as a major culprit in slowing economic development in May.  a proposed new program met opposition, including from property owners on Route 6 who said it would require them to pay thousands more to be covered. Studies and discussion on how best to allocate sewage coverage have continued throughout the year, including at a December 3 public hearing. The most recent sewer allocation program is available on the town's web site.

Budget Passes

The town budget for 2012-2013 passed in May, drawing  The education and capital budgets, listed individually, also passed.  allowed schools to avoid cutting teacher jobs or increasing class sizes, said Superintendent Kevin Smith. 

Newtown Shooting 'Redefines Normal' at Bethel Schools

Following the 12/14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, superintendent Kevin Smith told Patch Bethel's public schools would be receiving extra security in the future, including requiring visitors to show ID at the door. Security professionals visited the school to look at additional ways to provide security, Smith said. The Newtown incident delayed the scheduled December 20 special Board of Education meeting, which would cover the 2013-2014 budget. The new meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10.

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