The towns in the Greater New Milford area — New Milford, Washington, Sherman, Kent, Bridgewater and Roxbury — faced challenges and celebrated successes throughout 2018.

Several big projects finally moved forward in a big way — from the approval of funding for the expansion and revitalization of New Milford Public Library to the start of construction of the Agriscience school in Washington.

Other projects faced controversy in 2018 — like the planned demolition of the Bridgewater Grange and the sale of the New Preston pavilion.

There were also several big changes in top leadership in the towns, from superintendent departures to the appointment of a new police chief in New Milford.

Here is a list of top 10 stories of the year.

LIBRARY MODERNIZATION

Residents voted in November to approve $6.5 million to modernize the library — making the third time the charm for recent efforts to renovate the building.

Weeks later, it was announced that a crucial piece of funding for the project was secured with the awarding of a $1 million state grant.

This will be the first time the building has been renovated since the late 1970s. The library Board of Trustees also committed $1 million for the work. The entire project is expected to cost $8.5 million.

SCHOOLS

Both public and private schools in the region saw changes this year, including the start of construction of a new agriscience academy, two new superintendents, and renovations and expansions.

In June, The Gunnery in Washington broke ground for the school’s new 32,000-square-foot arts and community center, which will be named for Tony-nominated producer Thomas S. Perakos, who graduated from the school in 1969 and made a multimillion-dollar gift for the center to be built.

Also over the summer, the Marvelwood School in Kent completed its $2 million renovation of its dorms, several common rooms and science lab. The buildings at the top of Skiff Mountain had largely been untouched for 50 years, even after the school moved in about 20 years ago.

Then, in the fall, construction of the long-awaited agriscience academy in Washington began. It is expected to open next fall to teach area students about agriculture with a STEM focus, which includes science, technology, engineering and math.

The project — expected to include 35,750 square feet of new construction at Shepaug Valley School while also using unused space within the school — has been controversial, with some residents questioning if the costs were too high for the towns to absorb. Proponents tout the program though as a way to bolster declining enrollment.

Also, this year both New Milford and Region 12 school districts saw their superintendents leave.

In New Milford, Joshua Smith left to take a position in Region 15 and was replaced by interim superintendent Stephen Tracy, who previously served as superintendent in New Milford. Southington principal Megan Bennett replaced Region 12 Superintendent Patricia Cosentino, who left to become the superintendent in New Fairfield.

TRAFFIC

After months of planning and construction, in August, motorists began using a new roundabout at the intersection of Still River Drive and Lanesville and Pickett District roads meant to ease congestion at the former four-way stop.

Prior to the roundabout opening, concerned residents took to Facebook, pressing fears about how the new traffic pattern would roll out.

ICE DAM

An ice dam that formed in the Housatonic River in early January, flooding Route 7 and forcing evacuation of four homes and endangering more than 20 others, drew attention from residents near and far who wanted to catch a glimpse of the natural formation.

The dam, which grew over weeks and reached two miles at one point, not only impacted residences, but also the private Kent School, whose campus runs along the river. The school sent students home after water flooded several buildings.

Town and state leaders quickly responded to the emergency, readying resources such as boats and vehicles, aware the dam had the potential to cause damage along the river in neighboring towns as it broke apart.

Finally, by the first week of February and after nearly four miles of Route 7 had been closed for days, authorities reported the dam had thawed significantly and running water was visible.

HEALTH CARE

The Western Connecticut Health Network, which operates New Milford, Danbury and Norwalk hospitals, announced its plans to merge with a hospital group in New York to form a $2.4 billion medical system stretching from the Hudson River to the shores of Long Island Sound.

The merger of WCHN and Health Quest Systems, which is subject to approval by the states of Connecticut and New York and the Federal Trade Commission, would create a network serving 1.5 million people.

In other news, a new partnership announced in January brought new and specialized pediatric health care from the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to hospitals in New Milford, Danbury and Norwalk.

WCHN and the Hartford-based children’s medical center - the only hospital in the state dedicated solely to children’s care - announced the program that gives the three hospitals round-the-clock access to CCMC’s specialized and subspecialized pediatric services, along with more pediatric consultations in the Danbury and Norwalk emergency departments.

POLICE CHIEF

After serving as New Milford police chief for eight years, Shawn Boyne’s contract was not renewed by the town.

He was replaced by Spencer Cerruto, who comes to New Milford after 31 years with the Watertown Police Department, where he served in a variety of posts.

BUDGET

It took New Milford three tries this year to pass a final 2018-19 budget. It included $39 million for the town and $63 million for the schools, $200,000 more than the previous level. The previous two attempts were rejected because the school budgets failed.

NEW PRESTON PAVILION

Washington residents this year approved the sale of the historic Harry O. Erickson Pavilion Hall in New Preston to Plain Goods, a local business adjacent to the building, for $140,000.

The owners, Andrew Fry and Michael DePerno, plan to restore it and house their retail operation there, which has outgrown its existing space. They plan to set aside a portion of the building to be used as a visitors center, promoting the recreational, natural and historical features of the town and offering information on other local businesses. They also plan to engage the community with workshops and work with nonprofits by hosting events.

Some residents and business owners opposed the sale, saying the building should remain with the town and be used as a community space.

CUB SCOUTS

New Milford Cub Scout Pack 467 made history in January when it welcomed its first girl to the pack. Lilah Reguin, 8, was the first female Cub Scout in the Northwest Hills District, the Connecticut Rivers Council and in the state, according to Robin L. Toni, director of marketing for the Boy Scouts of America Connecticut Rivers Council.

The Boy Scouts - for the first time in its more than 100-year history - announced in 2017 it would welcome girls to its Cub Scouting Program. Since Lilah joined, several other girls joined the local pack and formed their own dens.

BRIDGEWATER GRANGE

Demolition of the historic Grange was stalled this fall as the state looked into whether it’s feasible to restore the 1850s-era building instead of replacing it with a new structure.

In 2016, the Board of Selectmen presented a plan to demolish the building, which was condemned a few years ago, and build a new one.

But after a group of residents discovered that it was in a historic district and on the National Register of Historic Places, the state decided to examine whether the Grange could be replaced.