Population growth can lead to tough decisions, as Delaware County residents learned again this year.

Here's a look back at some of the top stories from 2017 in and around Delaware, Galena and Sunbury.

Ready to grow -- Big Walnut schools squeaked out a win in November at the ballot box; fewer than 200 votes determined the fate of a 6.6-mill bond issue and 1.25-mill permanent-improvement levy.

The district now has the funds to move forward with plans to construct a new high school and an additional elementary school as the area's population continues to increase.

Emergency averted -- Delaware City School District voters in November overwhelmingly passed a five-year, 8.35-mill emergency levy.

Superintendent Paul Craft said the election victory helped the district avoid "drastic cuts," adding officials in 2018 will continue to seek relief from state-imposed funding caps on wealthy, growing districts.

Get to the Point -- While Delaware voters rejected an income-tax increase to fund infrastructure improvements in 2016, city leaders decided in 2017 they would still push ahead with a $25 million project to fix the intersection known as the Point.

By the end of the year, the city had secured grant funding to cover about 75 percent of the cost to widen the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37 on the city's east side. City officials plan to seek more funds from federal and state sources, as well as Delaware County, as initial engineering work continues.

Spreading fire department -- Delaware officials last fall approved plans for the city's fourth fire station to fulfill a promise made to voters years ago.

Residents in 2010 approved a income-tax increase to fund the construction of new fire stations, as well as equipment upgrades and staffing increases.

The city used funding from the increase to build Fire Station 303 on West Central Avenue in 2012. Delaware will use the same funding source next year to construct Fire Station 304 at Cheshire Road and Glenn Parkway to serve the city's growing southeast side.

Growing solution -- Workers last summer wrapped up a multiyear effort to expand and improve the Delaware City School District's aging buildings.

Highlights of the $50 million project included the construction of a new math and science wing at Hayes High School and an expanded cafeteria at Dempsey Middle School. A 2013 bond issue paid for the upgrades.