By Bill Volovski
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays this past week a lot of folks probably missed the passing of Raynald Bergeron. This may not be a familiar name to newer or younger residents of Canton, but you probably experience or benefit from something that Ray did for Canton every day. Ray served on the Board of Selectmen beginning in the late 1960’s and was First Selectman for ten years during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Ray may very well have been the most influential First Selectman in the town’s history.
Raised in Collinsville, Ray served our country proudly during World War Two. Like many of his peers, he came home and worked at the Collins Company until it closed in 1966. When the Company closed and no longer provided fire protection to the town Ray became a founding member of the new Collinsville Volunteer Fire Department, later serving as Captain of the Canton Memorial Ambulance division.
Just some of the accomplishments during Ray’s terms of office:
- Construction of the Collinsville Fire Station
- Construction of Mills Pond Recreation Area
- Purchase of the Kozlak Building on Main St. and its addition to the Town Hall
- Establishment of the Housing Authority and construction of 21 Dowd Ave., the town’s first elderly housing
- Establishment of a full time Canton Police Dept.
- Hiring a town engineer and full time treasurer to professionally manage the town’s affairs.
- Establishing the town’s first recycling efforts.
- Obtained several critical grants to rebuild infrastructure in downtown Collinsville. The decline of the area following the Collins Company’s closing were turned around due to Ray’s efforts.
- Establishment of a Senior Center in the Town Hall.
Ray was a modest man and probably wouldn’t want to take credit for many of these projects, but he left a legacy which still benefits Canton to this day. Few public servants have worked as hard for Canton or accomplished so much.