December draws to a close, ending another bizarre year in New Bedford history. It was a time of political and social struggle, a time of tragedy and possibility, of ends and new beginnings. It was the second year of the COVID pandemic which still has the world in its grip, casting a specter on all aspects of life in the city. And yet, there have also been positive developments.
We looked at the last 12 months of Normal hours stories and made a list of 10 of the most important issues and stories that affect us all. Let’s take a quick look at them all – and we’d love you to choose which are the three best stories of 2021. Vote using our form at the bottom of the story.
Cisco Brewers Entertainment Complex opens
After construction and delays due to the COVID pandemic, the Cisco Brewers complex on Rodney French Boulevard has finally opened. The three-acre entertainment center features a brewery, distillery, cellar, 300-seat restaurant, outdoor barbecue, raw bar, clam shack, outdoor children’s area, fire pit, five harbor-side bars, moorings, a quay for guests arriving by boat and an outdoor stage with live music. And despite the challenges, including the pandemic, the owners say it’s a success.
“He met all of our wildest imaginations”:New Bedford restaurant mogul reflects on 2021 successes
Lieutenant Governor Polito buys beach house for $ 1.8 million – CommonWealth Magazine
The real estate boom is coming to Greater New Bedford
The past year has been marked by big changes in the real estate world, with a vibrant seller’s market driving prices higher. Everything from historic homes and country estates to condos costs a lot of money. Among Southcoast’s buyers and new neighbors: Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who paid $ 1.8 million for a large house near a private beach in the Padanaram neighborhood of Dartmouth.
Ownership transfers:Historic New Bedford Home (and Carriage House) on Hawthorn St. Sold
COVID vaccines arrive in the New Bedford area
The biggest weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic emerged last year, as not one but three vaccines were developed. The New Bedford area was one of the first locations statewide to have mass vaccination clinics, stepping up efforts to deliver vaccines in line with the state’s phased vaccine rollout plan. Today, mass immunization clinics have closed while public and private clinics still offer vaccines, but there is still a lot of work to be done before people achieve herd immunity: only 54% of the population. New Bedford population has been fully vaccinated.
Preparation of the shot:‘Not enough to put the brakes on the challenge’ as New Bedford vaccination site ready
Big changes in transportation are underway
Two major projects on the horizon promise to change the transportation scene in the New Bedford area for years to come. A plan by MassDOT showed an almost unrecognizable Route 18 from Coggeshall Streets to Elm Streets, transformed from a three-lane highway to a boulevard. And the South Coast Rail project, connecting New Bedford to Boston via a commuter train, has remained on track with rail improvements and station construction underway, which are expected to be completed by 2023.
The new face of New Bedford? Major changes are planned for Route 18 in New Bedford. Here’s what it might look like.
Closure of two Catholic churches in New Bedford
Two churches in the city’s North End officially closed in October, and Catholic parishioners now worship at St. Mary’s Church on Tarkiln Hill Road. The parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima and of St. Joseph-St. The churches in Therese have been attending services at St. Mary’s since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when church officials linked the three parishes.
Times are changing for Catholics:Fall River Diocese is closing two churches in New Bedford. Here is what will change.
“Codfather” gets out of prison and returns to the business world
Carlos Rafael, who led much of the New Bedford fishing fleet and went to federal prison in November 2017 after pleading guilty to more than 20 offenses, including conspiracy, false labeling of fish, smuggling money, tax evasion and falsification of federal records, became a free man in early 2021. The man known as “Codfather” quickly returned to the business world, his company doing proposals for a housing complex in Dartmouth and purchasing the former Merchants National Bank property.
On the market:Codfather Carlos Rafael purchased this New Bedford property. Here’s what he can do with it.
Two from New Bedfords go viral stars on TikTok
The past year has been an important year for local celebrities on social media. Hailing from Freetown and the New Bedford area, Mikayla Nogueira shares her in-depth makeup knowledge with her 5.7 million followers on TikTok. Meanwhile, New Bedford’s Zachariah Porter entertains over 3.1 million people on the app with her sketches and comedic characters.
To log in:How this TikTok star with 3 million followers is drawing attention to the New Bedford area
Former Mayor Kalisz dies of COVID at 63
Hundreds of people locally have died in the COVID pandemic, perhaps none more important than Fred Kalisz, the longtime former mayor of New Bedford. During his tenure from 1998 to 2006, Kalisz helped establish the New Bedford Economic Development Council, saw the construction of three colleges and the renovation of the Buttonwood Park Zoo, and created a permanent home for SeaLab.
“The real son of New Bedford”:Former mayor Fred Kalisz dies of COVID at 63
Fairhaven elects first openly transgender public agent
Transgender visibility was taken to a new level at the local level when Ronnie Manzone made history in the Fairhaven municipal election by becoming the city’s first openly transgender elected official. She has served for decades in varying degrees in law enforcement, most notably with the Fairhaven Police Department since 1983 and the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office since 2008. She has also served as a Call Firefighter for the Department of Fairhaven Fire for five years.
“All we want is to be accepted”:Fairhaven elects first openly transgender public servant
Councilor Hugh Dunn in OUI crash, investigators punished
Ward 3 Councilor Hugh Dunn landed in hot water this year when on May 1 he was apparently involved in an early morning incident that allegedly saw him crash his car into several vehicles and leave the premises. Dunn was later charged with operating under the influence, and the officers who initially dealt with the complaint were punished for failing to follow basic procedure. Dunn, who ran unopposed, was re-elected in November and is awaiting his court appearance.
Costs incurred:New Bedford City Councilor Hugh Dunn has been arraigned on charges related to the May crash
What is the biggest story of the year?
Use this form below to vote for first, second and third place.
Dan Medeiros can be contacted at [email protected] Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.