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Several local school districts to receive little or no state education funding

Education funding from the state to municipalities has been updated by Governor Malloy as he continues to run government by executive order due to a lack of a legislatively approved budget.  He is prioritizing allocations for Alliance Districts and students with the highest needs.  54 districts will see reduced funding, while the 85 that rely on state support the least for overall district funding will be zeroed out.


Malloy says municipal aid funding as part of the executive order reflects the nearly impossible decisions Connecticut is forced to make in the absence of a budget.  He acknowledged that this will force some municipalities, large and small, to make difficult decisions.  


The Chairman of the Bethel Board of Education wrote an open letter on Facebook to state lawmakers about his frustrations with the budget stalemate and proposed education funding cuts.  Larry Craybas said that schools will open in less than two weeks in total confusion with larger class sizes at every grade level.  He notes that DRG D Districts like Bethel and neighboring New Milford face monumental cuts. 


Craybas added that the problem Governor Malloy has created in his Executive Order on August 2nd affects all districts, including the Alliance Districts he anticipates helping.  Alliance Districts are the 30 lowest performing.  If the cuts do go through, Bethel anticipates needing to lay off upwards of a quarter of teaching and support staffs.  Craybas says the damage from cutting 119 people will last for generations of students.  He believes Bethel could possibly become an Alliance District.


He called the executive order an indefensible manipulation of ECS funds that will dramatically damage what Bethel has been able to achieve over many years.


In addition to larger class sizes, Craybas cautioned that intervention support for children that need this additional help to learn, grow in achievement, and eventually become productive members of society will be seriously reduced or eliminated entirely.

Man suspected of selling drugs at Danbury business caught with illegal gun

A Waterbury man suspected of selling drugs from his Danbury business was found in possession of a gun yesterday which had the serial number altered. 


Danbury Police had been conducting surveillance for weeks of 30-year old Omar Thomas based on neighbor complaints of drug sales.  The SWAT team carried out search warrants at Imperial Sound Studios on White Street yesterday. 


21-year old Tyreek Wallace, who was driving another vehicle, and a known drug abuser walking in the area were also stopped. The unnamed man had $40 in his hands, as he walked straight toward Thomas.  He wasn't charged.  Wallace was issued an infraction for possession of a small amount of marijuana. 


Thomas was in possession of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.  He was charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place, possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a prohibited place, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, altering/removing ID marks of a pistol, criminal possession of a pistol and operating with a suspended license.

United Illuminating cautioning of planned power outage in Easton

United Illuminating will be conducting system testing at an electrical substation in Fairfield tomorrow.  Between 3am and 5am, customers of Easton, Fairfield and Bridgeport may experience a brief power outage.  The utility says the outage is expected to last less than 5 minutes.  If anyone is dependent on life-saving medical equipment and not registered with United Illuminating as a life-support customer, they are urged to contact the utility. 

Danbury schools prepare for return of students

Danbury Public School staff are getting ready for the return of students.  School information including bus routes and policies will be available on the district website after August 29th.  The first day of school is Tuesday, September 5th.  The delay is to give some buffer time for renovations to finish at the High School.  Schools are preparing to send home packets to kindergarten families. For those receiving free or reduced lunch, a new form needs to be filled out each year.

Road closures announced in Ridgefield, Bridgewater

A portion of Lake Lillinonah Road South in Bridgewater will be temporarily closed through September 1st.  Emergency repairs are needed to the culvert under the road near the Bridgewater Town Park.  The closure is from the area of 9 Lake Lillinonah Road South to the intersection with Tappan Road.  Residents will still be able to access their properties from Henry Sanford Road.  The length of the closures is weather dependent.


The second in a series of weekend road closures for Route 7 in Ridgefield starts tonight.  The intersection of Route 102 to 35 will be closed and traffic detoured between 8 o'clock this evening to Monday at 6am.  Drivers are called on to take alternate routes.

UPDATED: 16-year old boy charged with murder in death of 18-year old

A 16-year old boy has been charged in the death of an 18-year-old who was found with fatal injuries next to his vehicle earlier this month.

Danbury police say Lorenzo Santana of Danbury was arrested Thursday on charges of felony murder and other offenses. He was already in custody and detained at a Juvenile Detention Center on unrelated charges.

Officers responded to a report of suspicious activity on August 5th on Abbott Avenue. Gabriel Bara-Bardo was unconscious in the road next to his vehicle.

The state medical examiner's office ruled that Bara-Bardo's cause of death was complications following blunt impact to the head and neck. His death was ruled a homicide.


The investigation is ongoing.  Police say more arrests are expected. 


15-year old Ronald Massagli of Danbury was also charged this week.  Both teens also were arrested for robbery, criminal mischief, larceny, and four counts of conspiracy to commit the listed charges.


UPDATED: Temporary stay of deportation granted for New Fairfield man

A temporary stay of deportation has been granted for a New Fairfield man who was about to board a plane for his native Guatemala.  Joel Colindres was less than an hour away from self-deporting Thursday afternoon, when word came of the stay issued by the U.S. Second District Circuit Court of Appeals.  The 33-year old had been told 28 days ago that he had to leave the country by August 17.


(Colindres family Facebook,)


Colindres married Connecticut native Samantha a decade ago and they've been fighting with paperwork errors since then.  Joel missed a court date in 2004 in Texas because he never received the notice.  ICE had his address wrong and both his first and last names were spelled wrong.  The couple has two young children.



5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called Colindres a hardworking father who pays his taxes, contributes to his community, and has no criminal record.  He will now have the opportunity to make his case in court, and can remain with his wife and children while he does so.


Esty says while this reprieve is a step toward justice for the Colindres family, their experience is a perfect illustration of how broken the immigration system is.


Senator Chris Murphy says he is relieved for the Colindres family and that his office will continue to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that Joel can stay in Connecticut with his family.  He added that targeting families like this one is an abomination.


Senator Richard Blumenthal says reason and justice have prevailed, at least temporarily so that Colindres can pursue a fair hearing.

Boughton, surgeon talk about brain tumor

Mayor Mark Boughton has returned to Danbury following brain surgery to remove a lemon sized benign cyst.  The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center published a video featuring Boughton and his surgeon, Dr. Robert Friedlander talking about the operation.


When he started suffering from exhaustion in the afternoons, Boughton sought answers.  He was given variety of diagnoses ranging from needing exercise to have Lyme Disease.  After he lost his vision one day for about 25 minutes, Boughton went to the Danbury Hospital Emergency Room and got an MRI, which revealed the tumor.  He got four opinions and three of the four recommended Dr. Friedlander.


Friedlander says image guidance and high definition fiber tractography to target the general area.  He says that demonstrated the relationship between the tumor and the important structures and the function of the brain. 



Within 48 hours of surgery, Boughton was out and walking around Pittsburgh.


Boughton thanked people for their well wishes as he recovers and says he is excited to return stronger than ever.  He also noted that he's still moving full steam ahead in his bid for higher office.  Boughton is already planning fundraising events around the state, as early as this coming Tuesday.  He plans to work a few hours a day next week before being in city hall full time after Labor Day.  Boughton has two fundraisers planned during each of the next two weeks as he explores a run for statewide office.

Parents of Newtown victims want to know if teachers had keys

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Lawyers for the parents of two children killed in the Newtown school shooting are demanding to see evidence that two teachers fatally shot in the massacre had access to keys that could have been used to lock the doors of their classrooms.


The attorneys filed motions in Danbury Superior Court this week asking a judge to allow them to examine two red emergency folders, now in state police custody, that were kept in the two classrooms to see if they contain door keys, as lawyers for Newtown say they do.


The request comes as part of a wrongful death lawsuit by the parents of victims Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner against Newtown on allegations that security measures at Sandy Hook Elementary School were not adequate.


Among the numerous allegations in the lawsuit is that school officials failed to provide keys to either teacher Victoria Soto or substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau so they could follow school lockdown procedures and lock their doors. A lockdown, however, wasn't ordered at any time during the shooting, Newtown's lawyers say in court documents.


The lawsuit also says Newtown should be held liable for the fact that the classroom doors could only be locked from the outside in the hallway, which would have made it impossible for Soto and Rousseau to safely lock their doors as Lanza approached their rooms after shooting his way through the locked front glass entryway.

Fifteen students and Rousseau were killed in Room 8, and five students and Soto were slain in Room 10.


The motions to review the emergency folders were filed Tuesday, nearly two months after Newtown lawyers disclosed in court documents that the folders in every classroom contained keys. Newtown lawyers previously have said the teachers had keys, but they were not more specific.


"They're saying the keys were kept in the red folders," said Donald Papcsy, a lawyer for the parents suing the town. "We're saying, OK, let's go look."


Papcsy added that even if Soto and Rousseau did not have time to lock their doors before Lanza entered their classrooms, school officials set them up to fail to be able to follow lockdown procedures. He said the aim of the lawsuit is to make sure schools have adequate emergency plans.


John Cannavino Jr., an attorney representing the town, said he does not comment on pending litigation.


In court documents, lawyers for Newtown said there is no evidence security was inadequate, Lanza's actions caused the deaths and municipalities are immune from the liability of others. School officials had put new security measures in place at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, including locking doors during school hours.


Even if Rousseau and Soto had keys and the doors could be locked from the inside, it's not clear whether the teachers could have locked the doors in time or prevented any deaths, said Phil Santore, senior principal of the Hamden, Connecticut-based security consulting firm DVS.


"Anyone can argue if I had a key I could have locked the door. Maybe you could, maybe you couldn't," said Santore, whose firm consulted on the new World Trade Center buildings in New York and the new Sandy Hook Elementary School that was built after the old one was torn down. "I don't know that there's anything definitive you could say about it."

Cafe no longer being probed in death of Chris Berman's wife

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials say they have closed an investigation of a restaurant after finding no violations in connection with a car crash that killed the wife of longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman.

The state Liquor Control Division investigated whether 67-year-old Katherine Berman was served alcohol at the Good News Cafe in Woodbury before the May 9 crash. Officials announced Thursday that no violations were found.

Restaurant owner Carole Peck said the cafe was closed on the day of the accident.

State police and liquor control officials are still investigating the crash.

Katherine Berman, of Cheshire, was killed when her vehicle hit the rear of an SUV and flipped over in Woodbury. The 87-year-old SUV driver also died.

The results of toxicology tests on Katherine Berman have not been released.

Brookfield officials warn residents of telemarketing scam

Brookfield officials are warning residents about a telemaketing scam with a caller ID displayed as "Town of Brookfield".  Several residents alerted town hall to the calls, which ended up being someone trying to sell credit cards.  Residents were encouraged to not give out personal information to suspicious callers and to verify the authenticity of such a request directly with the company or government agency seeking the data.

Danbury man killed in Wilton car crash

Police are investigating a fatal car crash in Wilton.  The collision happened last night on Route 7 at Old Mill Road.  The area was closed for several hours last night as police investigated.  Wilton Police say one driver was killed and the other was transported to the hospital.  Police say 68-year old George Najam of Danbury was headed northbound when he crossed the center line and hit another car head on.  The other driver, a Stamford woman, sustained non-life threatening injuries.  She was treated and released from Danbury Hospital.

15-year old boy charged with murder in death of 18-year old

A 15-year-old boy has been charged in the death of an 18-year-old who was found with fatal injuries next to his vehicle earlier this month.

Danbury police say Ronald Massagli of Danbury was arrested yesterday on charges of felony murder and other offenses. He was taken to Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

Officers responded to a report of suspicious activity on August 5th on Abbott Avenue. Gabriel Bara-Bardo was unconscious in the road next to his vehicle.

The state medical examiner's office ruled that Bara-Bardo's cause of death was complications following blunt impact to the head and neck. His death was ruled a homicide.

Police say more arrests are expected.


Massagli was also charged with robbery, criminal mischief, larceny, and four counts of conspiracy to commit the listed charges.

Murphy makes Newtown stop during 'Walk Across Connecticut'

A standing ovation from a standing room only crowd when Senator Chris Murphy walked into his town hall meeting in Newtown Wednesday night after a 25 mile leg of his Walk Across Connecticut.  Murphy called it an enormous crowd.



Murphy said he's making this now second annual trek because people are maxed out in life and don't always have time to call or write. He noted that this gives him an organic sense of what's important to his constituents. What surprised him this year was that people were waiting on the side of the road for him for hours to tell him their stories.


Murphy turned into a bit of a senatorial Forrest Gump. People spontaneously joined him from the Housatonic all the way into Newtown.


When asked about Trump, and generally what is going on in D.C., Murphy called him "a president who makes an exceptional amount of news".


Murphy is hearing most about worry over having good schools, lack of state budget and small business owners being squeezed.  People talked most though about health care.  Murphy stated that he frequently asks himself 'what if we came together in health care?' and then told himself there would be plenty else to fight over.


Questions were raised about the violence and protests in Charlottesville.  Murphy told the crowd that it's easy to fester hate when you don't live among diversity.  He condemned the actions.



When it comes to DACA and protecting the so-called Dreamers, the children brought to this country and are undocumented, Murphy said sending them back to a country they don't know may be following the letter of law, but not conscious of the nation.

Emergency stay denied, New Fairfield man to be deported to Guatemala

The Board of Immigration Appeal has denied an emergency stay on a deportation order for a New Fairfield man.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also denied a stay for Joel Colindres and he must leave the country for Guatemala today. 


His wife Samantha, a Connecticut native, said in a written statement that she is devastated, broken, and angry.  The couple has two young children. 


Colindres still has a pending motion, that if approved it could bring him back.  At the minimum he will be away from his family for 8 months.  That is why the family says they are not seeking sanctuary in a church. Disobeying this order could make him a criminal fugitive and impair his path to citizenship down the road.


Colindres came to the U.S. illegally from Guatemala 13 years ago.  He married New Fairfield native Samantha a decade ago and they've been fighting with paperwork errors since then.  Joel  missed a court date in 2004 in Texas because he never received the notice.  ICE had his address wrong and both his first and last names were spelled wrong.

Brewster man charged with sexually assaulting a minor

A Brewster man has been arrested for sexually assaulting a minor.  New York State Police arrested 22-year old Gildardo Perez Tuesday for felony Criminal Sex Act. 


Troopers responded to a 911 call about a sexual offense in the Town of Southeast last Friday.  An investigation revealed that Perez had sexual contact with girl under the age of 15 whom he met through Facebook.  Perez was arraigned and ordered held on $20,000 bond.  He was ordered to appear in Southeast Justice Court on September 19th.  


State Police were assisted by the Putnam County Child Advocacy Center. 

Former attorney indicted for defrauding clients, family and friends

A Newtown man has been indicted for defrauding his law practice clients, family and friends out of nearly $2 million.  61-year old Thomas Murtha was indicted on four counts of wire fraud yesterday.  He allegedly told clients that he safeguarded and disbursed proceeds from legal representations, but he used the money for his own benefit. 


Murtha allegedly used forged documents, including at least one mortgage and a trust document to keep the fraud going.  He allegedly used the money to buy a house in Michigan, a more than two carat diamond engagement ring and other items. 


If convicted, Murtha faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.  The indictment seeks the forfeiture of the Michigan house and the engagement ring, as well as a money judgment of at least $1,991,628, which constitutes proceeds of the alleged fraud scheme.

Murtha was arrested on a criminal complaint on April 5, and released on a $10,000 bond. His arraignment is not yet scheduled.

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