Samantha (Fitzpatrick) Marco
Samantha (Fitzpatrick) Marco

1) Downtown turns around: Empty properties sell, while retail booms on Watson

   All year — On the face of it, the revitalization that Ripon experienced downtown in 2018 may seem like a non-story.

   Businesses come and go in downtowns across America. Buildings are bought and sold every day without it becoming a headline.

   But this is downtown Ripon, where working with slick-talking developers became a cautionary tale: one filled with intrigue, lawsuits, anger and broken dreams.

   When the mirage that Boca Grande created evaporated in the early 2010s, Ripon was left with empty and often unusable buildings up and down Watson Street. One wondered, who could possibly come up with the money to make downtown whole again? Would buildings fall down before they could be rehabilitated?

   This year, Ripon got its answer: Yes, its downtown could be saved, with a lot of help from the Rogers family of Ripon.

   Take, for example, what now is known as the Patina Vie building at 205 Watson St. Once a decrepit property with large holes in its facade, it now is a jewel of downtown Ripon ...

2) Teacher is found guilty: Admitted to having sexual relationship with student

   Nov. 6 — At first, Samantha Fitzpatrick quit her job as a Ripon High School English teacher after allegedly having too many absenses.

   But then, in 2017, the story came out: she was accused of having a sexual relationship with a then-16-year-old student.

   As court cases are wont to do, months passed without resolution. Motions were filed, hearings held without progress.

   Then news came that she would be accepting a plea agreement. So, on Nov. 6, the now-Samantha Marco stood, showing little emotion, and entered a guilty plea on the count of sexual assault to a student by school staff. Others were dismissed but read into the record. Her sentence? Still to be determined.

See the remaining top stories of 2018 in the Dec. 26, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.