Danvers: Looking Back at 2013

Here's a look back at the year that was.

At left: Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer. At right: Danvers resident Mike Chase and Lynn Firefighter Mike Patterson at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
At left: Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer. At right: Danvers resident Mike Chase and Lynn Firefighter Mike Patterson at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
As 2013 draws to a close, here's a look back at some of the biggest stories and highlights from this past year in Danvers.

1. Undoubtedly, the biggest story in town this year was one that quickly became international news once initial details were released by authorities. Twenty-four-year-old Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer was allegedly murdered at the school by one of her students, 14-year-old Philip Chism, on the afternoon of Oct. 22. Chism now faces murder, rape and armed robbery charges in the case. In the wake of the tragic events, however, both Danvers and Ritzer's hometown community of Andover strongly pulled together to honor Ritzer in numerous ways, be that with vigils, scholarship funds, tying pink bows to mailboxes, bracelets or hanging a handmade pink star on the town's Christmas tree in Danvers.

2. Another story that ended tragically and put the Danvers Police Department under the spotlight was in August when Danvers resident Scott Kehoe was fatally shot by officers in an armed confrontation outside his apartment building. The District Attorney's office investigated the incident and ruled the officers were justified in opening fire as they were in imminent danger.

3. The two makeshift bombs that exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day changed the lives of countless runners, onlookers and many more. The impact was immediately felt by two Danvers men -- Mike Chase and Dan Marshall -- who were right near the finish line during the explosion and rushed into the carnage to help.

4. Danvers joined a slew of other cities and towns in the Bay State this year in temporarily halting or outright banning medical marijuana facilities from setting up shop after medical pot became legal after the November 2011 election. The town moratorium was instituted until local guidelines were established for dispensaries and that's slated for approval at a Special Town Meeting.

5. Town residents received a big surprise last January when it became known that a Maryland-based casino company was eyeing Danvers as a possible location for a large slot parlor in its bid for one of the state's new gaming licenses. The plans did eventually fizzle, receiving a largely negative response from the town and residents.

6. The newly renovated Danvers High welcomed students into the new sections of the building for the first time this September after three years of construction and shuffling students and staff around.

7. The Danvers Falcons repeated as Division 3 boy's basketball state champs in March with a big win over Smith Academy at the DCU Center in Worcester. 

8. After a decade of toil by hundreds of volunteers, the finishing touches were made to the SwampWalk and the grand opening celebration was held in May. The boardwalk is an off-shoot of the rail-trail and loops for a third of a mile through the Great Wenham Swamp.

9. In like news, the final layer to the rail trail -- compacted stone dust -- was rolled out over the summer, capping off another project that's spanned several years.

10. Amidst allegations of illegal gaming, the Attorney General's office ordered the proprietors of the Lucky 7 Arcade with locations in Danvers and Gloucester to close their doors this summer pending a full investigation. The case hinges on whether the gaming machines truly require skill to win or just chance.

11. The Danvers man accused of slashing officer John Melto in a bloody scuffle outside the man's residence on Popes Lane two years ago was finally convicted on all charges against him, including attempted murder, this past May. Roy Limbaugh, a Level 3 Sex Offender, is serving out 24-26 years in state prison.

Were there other big stories this year in Danvers that got your attention? Let us know in the comments section below.


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