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First Selectman Messages

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

10/7/2020 - 10/07/2020

Dear Residents,

Here's the latest:

Where is Town Bridge?

More than a year ago, the historic bridge over the Farmington River was lifted off its piers and transported to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for repair and resurfacing. Ever since, many have been wondering if the bridge will reappear before Christmas. The answer is probably not. We are much more confident about the spring. So what's taking so long?

The historic bridge is a restoration project. Once transported to Bethlehem, the bridge metal was tested for structural flaws and repaired where necessary. The next step was galvanizing. Test pieces were dipped into the galvanize solution and found to be unsatisfactory. Contractors hired for the job and personnel at the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) spent several months deciding on a remedy that would withstand our New England weather. The next steps include
Touch up faulty galvanize areas
Transport the bridge back to Canton
Reassemble bridge on-shore
Paint the galvanized bridge 
Hoist the painted and galvanized bridge into place
Pave over the bridge decking 

Once ConnDOT approves the cost, the Town will apply to the Inland Wetlands Commission for a permit to paint the bridge. This will most likely push the final painting and installation of the finished bridge to next spring.

Few of us imagined that this project would take this long. But the condition of the metal and the desire to preserve as much of the historic material as possible are driving the schedule. The bottom line: Town Bridge will return!  

Police Practices

Since the death of George Floyd in May, Canton has joined the nation in questioning police practices. In that vein, I have received several calls and emails requesting information about police practices. Canton has been doing a lot – so much, in fact, that the Board of Selectmen have scheduled a presentation for Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 pm, the night of our next meeting. 

The presentation will cover how Canton’s Police Department enforces the law. Chief Christopher Arciero will describe accreditation – Canton achieved Tier 1 accreditation through the Connecticut Law Enforcement Accreditation in March. It would be helpful if everyone knew what police accreditation means and how it can help. 

Following this presentation, Chief Arciero, CAO Bob Skinner and I will answer your questions. Ahead of this presentation, we encourage you to send your questions to or We will do our best to answer clearly and to accept suggestions for improving our police service. 


Few events stir as much emotion as an election. This year's contest for president proves that point every day. Canton residents are passionate about their candidates and the issues they raise. But there is a limit to passion – especially when it runs roughshod over people whose opinions differ from our own. 

Before this year's election, we were friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues. Throughout this election, we should continue to be just that - friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues. Issues and candidates will come and go. But the person who disagrees with you is human with feelings and fears. Respect has not gone out of fashion.

That said, we have a right to express ourselves civilly. We should be able to display a political sign without fear that it will be defaced or stolen. Unfortunately, several signs have suffered this fate this year. Likewise, if you display a homemade sign, think of how a 10 year old would react to it. If the 10 year old would be uncomfortable, chances are your neighbors will be, too. You probably won’t win votes for your candidate either. 

Long term, we need to remain friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues – just as we were before this election began. Remember: the presidential candidates don't live here. We do. 

Short Stuff

Level 2 Drought
Rain has begun to find Canton again, so we can relax a bit from our fears of drought. Still, residents of Hartford, Tolland, Windham and New London counties are being asked to limit water use to essential needs. Canton’s location at the western edge of Hartford County may blunt some of these precautions, but it’s not time to stop conserving water or to stop doing the rain dance.

Farmer's Market
Through Sunday, November 1, the Canton Main Street Farmers Market offers a wide variety of locally grown and produced foods. It’s a great way to eat healthy and support local agriculture. The market is open from 10 am – 1 pm, rain or shine, in the Town Hall parking lot in Collinsville. 

With school back in session and pedestrians of all ages using our sidewalks, drivers need to watch out. It’s tough to do when we drive above the speed limit! Try to stay at or below the limit. The vehicle behind you may get annoyed, but that’s far more tolerable than an accident and a tragedy. 

Canton COVID Update
The 10 towns covered by the Farmington Valley Health District are showing an average of 2.5 new cases per 100,000 residents. This is considered to be low risk. In Canton, the overall infection rate is 5.4%. Please note, however, that the number of confirmed cases in the Farmington Valley is not a precise indication of the actual number of cases of COVID – 19 due to the lack of testing.

Plan Your Vote
Should you vote in person or by absentee? Now’s the time to decide. Our Town Clerk and Registrars of Voters are hard at work to ensure that this year’s voting is safe and that your vote is counted. I have never seen such dedicated public servants! 

If you are concerned about the postal service delivering your absentee ballot, you can always drop your ballot into the special marked box outside of town hall – near the Board of Education office and the handicapped entrance.

Stay well,
Bob Bessel




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

Office Hours:
-Thursdays 10am-12pm  
-If I am not in the office, click here to make an appointment

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