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First Selectman Messages

Town of Canton >> Boards and Commissions >> Board of Selectmen >> First Selectman >> First Selectman Messages

7/17/2020 - 07/15/2020


Dear Residents,

Here's the latest...

Town Bridge
Back in April, the Board of Selectmen approved “zombie gray” as the final color for the town bridge. Little did we know that it would take three more months for all parties to agree on the final finish (spoiler alert: it’s not going to be zombie gray!). 

In July, ConnDOT, the engineering firm, the contractor and the metal finisher all signed off on galvanizing the metal bridge. You may recall that galvanizing was the original spec for the bridge color, but you’re forgiven if that got lost in the shuffle. Our goal is to have the metal finished by summer’s end and the bridge back in place before winter.
So, no permanent cul-de-sac at the end of Town Bridge Road, regardless of Facebook posts. The bridge will return!
Hydro Project
 (the new concrete enclosure around the new hydro electric turbine)

Anyone driving or hiking through the intersection of Bridge Street and Torrington Avenue can’t help but notice machinery, new concrete structures and a lot of heavy equipment moving turbines and steel rod. A huge turbine wheel sits near the construction entrance awaiting the next chapter of its next life.  

While the pandemic raged all around us, construction workers kept moving forward on the $6.5 million project to create a Class 1 renewable energy source plus a fish and eel passage. By year’s end, the facility will have a 1000 KW capacity, enough to supply electricity to 485 Connecticut homes. Annual production of 4.35 GWh should offset 3.2 metric tons of CO2.
Beyond the local construction jobs, we will also gain a long-term hydro plant operator’s job plus another reason for visitors to explore our community. Clean energy, a job and a new attraction. That’s great for Canton!

River Tubing in the Days of COVID
For years, Canton and Connecticut have promoted the Farmington River as an extraordinary resource for recreation. It really is the first place where the people traveling from I-84 can experience the river.  As you might expect, the public has responded, filling the river with kayaks and inner tubes. 

COVID has not changed in the days of COVID-19. If anything, use of the Farmington River has increased since social distancing has forced people out of restaurants and shopping malls. Unfortunately, social distancing caused the Farmington River Tubing concession to fold its tent this year, creating pressure elsewhere. 

DEEP and the towns of Canton and New Hartford are working hard to fill in the safety gap left by the tubing concession. Their life-guards responded to river incidents large and small. That duty now falls to our EMS teams. We also have issues with pickup and drop off of tubers on Route 44. Without a bus to collect tubers after their river runs, we’re seeing more traffic near Sterling Drive.

We ask that everyone exercise caution getting to the river, using the river and getting out of the river. Safety is everyone’s concern, from crowding to swimming to traffic accidents. 

Tony H.
As you might imagine, I receive a wide variety of letters, emails and phone calls. I welcome them all and do my best to respond. Each communication presents an opportunity to learn what matters to Canton and to discuss possible solutions. 

Last month, I received a letter from Tony H. There was no return address or phone number on the letter, not even a last name to locate the author. This is unfortunate, because clearly the author had concerns about taxes, town services and deteriorating buildings in some sections of Route 44. Tony H. suggested that the Board of Selectmen “do some radical listening and looking at this town!”

It is unfortunate that Tony H. did not identify himself so that the “listening” he desired could lead to a productive discussion. Every member of the Board of Selectmen is keenly interested in resident and business views. In meeting after meeting, this Board shows its respect and trust for every constructive point of view. 

In that spirit, let me ask Tony H. to give me a call so we can discuss his concerns in depth and begin to explore solutions. We are Canton. We do our best when we speak our mind and stick around for the response and discussion that follows.  Let’s talk.

Farmers Market
We were heartened this past weekend to see the farmer’s market open for business in the Town Hall Parking Lot. It looked a bit different – lots of space between vendors, arrows directing traffic and masks on everyone. But the vendors were largely the same and the quality of produce and soaps and syrup were on par with previous years.

The new farmers market is an effort by Canton Main Street to fill the gap when CARE, originator of the Collinsville Farmers Market, decided to postpone the opening of their in-person market due to concerns about the state’s pandemic guidelines. CARE has continued to promote a virtual market via their website –

The Canton Main Street Market will be open each Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm until November 1. If you decide to shop in person, please wear a mask - you will not be admitted to the market without one! If in-person doesn’t work for you, the CARE market provides another option. 

Stay well!
Bob Bessel




Kevin Witkos
First Selectman
Phone: (860) 693-7847

Office Hours:
 click here to make an appointment

Canton Town Hall
P.O. Box 168
4 Market Street
Collinsville, CT 06022