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Round up of Greater Danbury area Memorial Day commemorations

A ceremony at Redding Elementary School auditorium begins at noon Saturday, with parade step-off at 12:15.

 

The Annual Strawberry Festival in Brookfield will take place Sunday between 12:30 and 3pm outside the Brookfield Museum.  The festival, located at the intersection of Routes 25 and 133 in Brookfield Center, follows the Town's Memorial Day parade.

 

The Monore Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday and will begin at 2pm. The parade will travel north on Monroe Turnpike up to the Town Green, where a Memorial Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony will take place. The roads surrounding the parade route will be closed at 1:45pm.  All side streets and shopping plazas will also be blocked preventing vehicles from entering onto the parade route.

 

The Danbury Council of Veterans is hosting today's Memorial Day Parade.  The morning started with a service at St. Joseph's Church.  Wreath layings followed the church service.  In Danbury, the parade steps off at 9:30.  The theme is “Remembering Our Deceased Veterans, Honoring the Men and Women who served Our Country and displaying the American Flag”.  Honoring the sacrifices of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of this nation, the Skydiving Demo Team of the Blue Sky Ranch will be parachuting into Rogers Park at the baseball field adjacent to the Junior High School and behind the Memorial Parade reviewing Stand at approximately 10:45am.

 

The Easton Memorial Day parade is at 9:30am.  Parade marchers assemble at the Easton Fire House.  The parade will proceed to Easton Town Hall, after which a ceremony will be held at town hall.  The Easton Exchange Club will be hosting its eighth annual Memorial Day Mile road race today. It will kick off from the Easton firehouse at 8:30 am. This will give runners ample time to regroup and be able to participate in the Memorial Day parade.

 

Weston will also celebrate Memorial Day with a fair at Hurlbutt Elementary School. The fair offers carnival rides and games for all ages as well as fair food, and live entertainment.  Fair hours today are noon to 4pm. The Weston Memorial Day parade is set for 10am.

 

New Milford will remember those who died serving in our country's armed forces with a Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade today.  The ceremony is slated for 10am in front of the Library. The parade will begin after the ceremony, heading south on Main St., turning right on Bridge St., down to Railroad St., right on Bennitt St. and right on Main St. to the War Memorial on the Green.  In the event of rain, the Parade will be cancelled and the Ceremony will be held at The VFW on Avery Road.  Drivers are cautioned to expect minor delays due to road closures for the parade route. 

 

Ridgefield's annual Memorial Day Parade is scheduled to start at 11:30 am from the Jesse Lee Memorial Church, marching down Main Street ending in Ballard Park where a closing ceremony will be held.  8 bands, some floats and about 2,000 participants are being featured.  Participants are urged to arrive at the Church between 10am and 11am.  King Lane will be a one-way street from 9:30 am until the end of the parade.

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Candlewood Lake Authority thanks volunteers for clean up effort

This past weekend, Candlewood Company of the Brookfield volunteer fire department participated in the 17th annual Candlewood Lake Clean Up, hosted by the Candlewood Lake Authority.  Volunteers have participated in this event several times in the past and encouraged the public to help keep the lake clean of debris and garbage when either boating or spending time at the local beaches and picnic areas.  In total, over 150 volunteers helped clean up the shores of Candlewood Lake.

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Student Boating Safety Ambassadors recognized by state DEEP

50 students who participated in this year's pilot Student Boating Safety Ambassador Program were recognized yesterday.  It was part of National Safe Boating Week.  Students are in grades 5 through 12 will receive credit for their project as either a community service project, senior project or extra credit.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded the students Certificates of Appreciation.

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New Milford lawmaker touts bill recognizing veterans

New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee voted in favor of legislation allowing veterans in Connecticut to obtain the designated veteran’s driver’s license, with the American Flag on it, at no additional fee prior to the renewal date.  The bill effectively erases the previously imposed $30 fee on the veteran indicator plate on duplicate identification card or driver’s license. 

 

The bill garnered unanimous support when it was considered in both committees of cognizance, Veterans’ Affairs and Finance. 

 

There are approximately 217,000 veterans across the state. 

 

While there is no additional cost for veterans to receive the veteran's driver's license when obtaining a license or renewing a license, Buckbee says this legislation will provide a mechanism for veterans who would like an updated license to indicate their veteran status if it is not yet due for renewal.  After being passed in the House of Representatives, with no dissenting votes, the legislation now awaits further action in the Senate.

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Candlewood Lake Authority dedicates new boat for Marine Patrol

The Candlewood Lake Authority dedicated a new Patrol Boat this morning for the CLA Marine Patrol.  The boat is replacing a 2002 vessel which had to be taken out of service due to hull issues.  60% of the cost of the boat was paid for through a Connecticut Intertown Grant Equipment grant. Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope helped secure the grant with the support of elected officials from New Milford, Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield.  The dedication ceremony was held at Sherman Town Park near the boat launch.

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Man charged with murdering New Fairfield woman earlier this month

State Police have formally charged a man with murder for the death of a New Fairfield woman earlier this month.  32-year old Steven Flood was also charged today with aggravated sexual assault of 55-year old Susan Guido. 

 

Flood was also charged with criminal trespass, larceny, murder of a victim of sexual assault and sexual assault in a cohabitation relationship.  He was held on $1 million bond. 

 

Flood was previously found in possession of the woman's car.  State Police say a Trooper and his K9 partner located Flood camping in the woods in the Town of Union May 4th.  He was identified as a person of interest during the investigation into Guido's death in her Candlewood Road home May 2nd. 

 

New Fairfield Resident Trooper constables had responded to conduct a well-being check, forced entry and found the woman dead.

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Danbury Police locate woman who abandoned baby behind super market

Shortly before 1am today, Danbury Police located the mother of the newborn baby who was found abandoned late Sunday.  Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the woman's name is not being released at this time.  She is being treated at the hospital.

 

Yesterday, Danbury Police released the 911 call from a man who found the newborn behind a grocery store on Main Street. 

 

In the call, the man tells dispatch that he’s found a little boy, someone dropped it off and it’s crying.  He pleads with dispatch to send someone to Patch and Main Streets.  The caller sounds more frantic as he tries to explain that the baby is close to the police station, behind La Polla.  The man expresses concern that if police don’t arrive, the newborn may die.  The caller tells a new dispatcher that they “just need to come, he’s crying.”

 

The newborn is still being evaluated at a local hospital.

 

Danbury Police also released photos of the clothing that the baby was found wrapped in at approximately 11:38pm Sunday.

 

 

Danbury Police were concerned that the mother may need medical attention or is a victim of a crime herself. 

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Bethel woman killed in head-on crash in Danbury

There was a fatal accident in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  Police responded to Shelter Rock Road around 12:45pm on a report of a speeding car, crossing the center line and crashing head-on into another vehicle.  Police determined that 44-year old Frankie Macnear of Brewster crashed into 85-year old Hannelore Hillebrand of Bethel.  Hillebrand later succumbed to her injuries at Danbury Hospital.  Macnear was also hospitalized.  This collision remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information is asked to call Danbury Police.

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Southbury man killed in highway crash

A Southbury man was killed in a single car crash on I-84 last night.  48-year old Sevdi Coma was travelling westbound in the area of exit 17 around 9:30pm when he lost control around the curve in the road.  His car spun counterclockwise and continued off the road, striking a rock embankment.  The man's car rolled over and he was ejected from the vehicle.  Coma sustained fatal injuries.  The highway was closed for several hours.  The accident remains under investigation. 

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Ridgefield Fire Commission taps new Chief for Fire Department

Ridgefield's acting fire chief has been chosen to officially lead the department.  Jerry Myers was selected by the Fire Commission Wednesday night in a unanimous vote.  The Board of Selectmen is expected to approve the recommendation at their meeting on June 7th. 

 

Myers is a 36-year veteran of the Ridgefield Fire Department.  He stepped in to the acting role about six months ago when former Chief Kevin Tappe retired after town officials completed an investigation into unspecified “policy violations”.  

 

A document, released by the town in response to Freedom of Information requests, suggested that Tappe showed up to a fire scene intoxicated. 

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Man sentenced for distributing heroin that contributed to overdose death in Monroe

A Connecticut man has been sentenced for distributing heroin that contributed to the overdose death of a Monroe woman last year.  33-year old James Hayes of Waterbury was ordered to 6 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. 

 

Hayes has been detained since his arrest on August 22.  The Judge also ordered Hayes to forfeit $710 in cash seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of heroin in January. 

 

Monroe Police and emergency medical personnel responded to a report of a possible heroin overdose last June and found an unresponsive 32-year-old woman on the floor of her bedroom.  Investigators seized various items, including several empty wax folds and one wax fold that contained suspected heroin. 

 

The investigation revealed that Hayes distributed heroin that was consumed by the victim shortly before her death. 

 

There is an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.

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Land cleared to make way for new Bethel police station

Work is under way on the new Bethel police headquarters. Crews cleared the site to prepare for foundation excavation.  The driveway for the new facility would be on Judd Avenue with an emergency entrance on Route 302.  The project will more than double the size of the current police station, built in 1974.

 

(Photo: Town of Bethel)

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Senate votes to halt state's participation in mileage study

Connecticut lawmakers want to ensure the Department of Transportation does not decide on its own to contribute to a multi-state study into the possibility of taxing motorists based on the amount of miles they drive.

The Senate voted unanimously yesterday in favor of legislation requiring the agency to seek approval from the General Assembly before spending any state money on studies and other activities looking into a mileage-based user fee.

The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the legislation officially puts an end to this debate.  She said the state doesn’t need to study something that Connecticut taxpayers are against.

Connecticut was awarded a federal grant to launch a pilot mileage tax program so long as the state invested a matching $300,000.  Boucher called it disturbing that, as a co-chair the Transportation Committee, she learned about this grant from an article in the Washington Post and not from the DOT or the administration.

To add insult to injury, Boucher pointed out that it ignored the Transportation committee's rejection of the 2015 Governor’s Transportation Finance Task Force's mileage driven proposal.

 

Because such a tax would involve some way of monitoring driving activity, Boucher says it not only represented another tax on an already over-taxed public, it represented a government intrusion into their lives.

 

She called for House passage, saying that Connecticut can not become the first state in the nation to monitor taxpayers’ every move and tax them on every mile they drive.

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Gov. commends Llodra for leadership as she announces retirement

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra will not seek re-election in November after the 75-year-old Republican finishes her fourth term.

Governor Dannel Malloy says Llodra will be remembered as a remarkable leader who brought stability, peace and unity to her community in its darkest hours.  Llodra was a key figure in coordinating the town's response to the shooting at Sandy Hook School.

She later testified before the legislature about lessons learned in dealing with things such as the mental-health needs of the community, the massive influx of donations, and the overwhelming media coverage of the shooting.

 

Governor Malloy said, “Pat Llodra is a remarkable leader who puts the needs of her constituents and neighbors above everything else. During the town’s darkest hours, Pat worked day in and day out to bring stability, peace, and unity when her community needed it most. Having spent many hours with her in the weeks and months that followed, she became a true and trusted friend, and I thank her for her partnership during those trying times. There’s no doubt that her service to the Town of Newtown will forever be regarded as courageous, compassionate, and resilient.”

Lt. Governor Wyman said, “I want to thank Pat for her service to the people of Newtown, particularly her tirelessness and empathy when tragedy struck the community. She is a true public servant and excellent civic leader. I wish her only the best.”

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Danbury Police release 911 call about abandoned baby, photos

Danbury Police have released the 911 call from a man who found a newborn abandoned behind a grocery store on Main Street. 

 

In the call, the man tells dispatch that he’s found a little boy, someone dropped it off and it’s crying.  He pleads with dispatch to send someone to Patch and Main Streets.  The caller sounds more frantic as he tries to explain that the baby is close to the police station, behind La Polla.  The man expresses concern that if police don’t arrive, the newborn may die.  The caller tells a new dispatcher that they “just need to come, he’s crying.”

 

The newborn is still being evaluated at a local hospital.

 

The Special Victims Unit is still actively investigating the discovery of the boy.  Danbury Police continue to ask for the public’s assistance in identifying the mother.  They have released photos of the clothing that the baby was found wrapped in.  The child was born and shortly thereafter left behind 397 Main Street on Sunday at approximately 11:38pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danbury Police say their main concern at this time is for the mother, who may need medical attention or is a victim of a crime herself. Anyone who may have information is asked to call 203-797-4662 or the anonymous tips line at 203-790-8477.  All calls will remain confidential.

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Area police departments look to hire more officers

Several area police departments are looking to hire.  The application deadline for the Brookfield Police Department is June 5th.  The deadline for Ridgefield is July 25th.  Testing will begin in August 2017. The department is anticipating one opening and creating an eligibility list.  The Danbury Police Department is holding a Recruiting Campaign Kick-Off Event.  It will take place on the 30th at 2pm in the Danbury Police Department Community Room.

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New Census Bureau population estimates show gains in Danbury, Bethel

The U.S. Census Bureau is out with new population data.  Danbury was one of just 4 of the state's large cities to gain residents from 2015 to 2016.  Danbury added 756 residents, a .90-percent gain.  The Census defines large cities as having populations higher than 50,000. 

 

Of towns under that threshold, Bethel had the second largest increase in the state. 

 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's several factors for the growth which he called a slow, steady and manageable growth.  He first cited the school system, which is gaining in reputation as it's recognized regionally and nationally in several hours.  He called Bethel a close knit town with a lot of amenities that people are seeking.  The town is close to the highway, along the rail line, has a downtown shopping districts and a variety of restaurants. 

 

Knickerbocker noted that compared to other Fairfield County municipalities, Bethel is the most affordable small town on this side of the state.  While there's been a lot of new housing development in Bethel, Knickerbocker says it's also families turning over existing homes.  He says empty-nesters are selling their homes to new families, which makes for a vibrant community.

 

Nationally, Connecticut is third for population losses, and ranks 29th in the country for total population.  

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Newtown First Selectman opts not to seek reelection for fifth term

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra has announced that she will not be seeking reelection.  Llodra told the Newtown Bee that after her four terms, she is ready to end her career as her community's top elected official.  Llodra was first elected in a four-way race in 2009 and plans to spend more time with her family. 

 

She told the Bee about the progress that she's helped usher in over the last eight years.  Llodra talked about Hawleyville sewer installation, renovations at the Fairfield Hills campus and creation of a skate park.  She also presided over the demolition and rebuilding of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Llodra also discussed in the published report construction of the Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue substation, and the new Hook & Ladder headquarters, the new volunteer ambulance station, the dog park and animal control facility, Eichler’s Cove recreational area, and streetscape improvements. 

 

Llodra also talked about the lessons learned from devastating storms that have hit the region in recent years.  During her time leading the town, Newtown's bond rating was increased to AAA status.

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Danbury Detective's name added to Law Enforcement Memorial

State, local and federal law enforcement officers came together yesterday for the 29th annual Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held at the Connecticut Police Academy.  The names of two fallen officers are being added to the memorial, including Detective William E. Hull Sr. of the Danbury Police Department. 

 

(Danbury Police delegation)

 

Law enforcement officers from across the state honored the 140 Connecticut state, local and federal law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

 

(Photos: Conn. State Police)

 

Yesterday's ceremony also honored the family members of the fallen who were in attendance.

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Esty reacts to CBO report on new health care act

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has issued a statement about the Congressional Budget Office report on Affordable Care Act replacement passed with only GOP support.  Esty said she heard from constituents concerned that it would risk their loved ones’ health and ruin them financially. She says the CBO report confirms their worst fears.  Esty says it was completely irresponsible for the House to pass this bill without a full understanding of the effect it would have on American families.  She previously acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act has problems, but called on her colleagues to work together to fix that measure. 

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Woman plans guilty plea in Sandy Hook parent threat case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) An attorney for a Florida woman says she will plead guilty to threatening a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Connecticut.

The public defender for 57-year-old Lucy Richards said in court papers filed Wednesday the case will be resolved in a guilty plea. Richards failed to appear at a March plea hearing and was later arrested at her Tampa-area home.

Under the previous agreement, Richards was to plead guilty to a charge of interstate transmission of a threat to injure for threatening Lenny Pozner, the father of Noah Pozner, who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Prosecutors said Richards told them the shooting was a hoax.

Terms of a new plea agreement have not been made public.

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Police identify man killed in Brewster crash

The man killed in a head on collision in Brewster earlier this week has been identified. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says 59-year old Gelsomino Lombardo of Hopewell Junction was headed north on Route 22 near Milltown Road on Tuesday when he crossed over the center line.  His car struck a vehicle driven by 69-year old Josephine Cardone.  Her husband, 72-year old Peter Cardone was also in the vehicle. 

 

Deputies were patrolling nearby and arrived on the scene moments after the crash. 

 

The Queens couple sustained non-life threatening injuries and were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Josephine Cardone had injuries to her ankle, back and neck.  Peter Cardone had apparent injuries to his neck and back.  

 

Lombardo was unconscious and with no vital signs.  A passing federal Homeland Security Investigator helped extricate him from the vehicle and started CPR.  State Troopers, equipped with an automated external defibrillator, tried to revive Lombardo.  But he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Route 22 was closed for about four hours. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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State Senate approves changes to Safe Haven Law days after baby found abandoned in Danbury

Unaware that a newborn baby boy was found abandoned behind a Danbury grocery store, Connecticut state Senators approved changes to the state's Safe Haven Law.  The law allows parents of newborns to leave the baby at a hospital with no consequences. 

 

In the early hours Wednesday, Senator Mike McLachlan voted for a measure to speed up the process of matching a safe haven baby with a Department of Children and Families-approved caregiver. It also further protects the identity of the child’s birth parents. 

 

He says there is a need for more education about protections provided by the law, passed in 2000 to prevent the needless deaths of abandoned infants.  McLachlan says while the changes approved yesterday would not have made a difference in this most recent incident, more education about it may have. 

 

It’s been recommended that the teaching of the Safe Havens Law be required in high school health classes. 

 

It is likely that the mother of the baby found in Danbury does not know about the Safe Haven Law, or if she is undocumented, McLachlan says she may have feared detainment if she went to a hospital.

 

The baby found late Sunday night is in the NICU of Danbury Hospital.  Danbury Police are searching for the mother.

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100 foot flagpole installed on Main Street in Danbury

A new 100-foot flagpole has been raised in Danbury.  It stands on a large traffic island between Danbury Library and the new Naugatuck Valley Community College building.  The Civil War monument on the green was recently refurbished as well. 

 

 

Engineers lowered the new pole into a 12-foot hole with the help of a crane yesterday. 

 

(Photo: Mayor Boughton)

 

The old flagpole was rusted out and some of the bolts were also rusted.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says a large community event will be planned for the dedication, similar to what was done in 1937.  The dedication ceremony will be held on Flag Day.  The city plans to fly the flag until Memorial Day and then take it down until the June 14th ceremony.

 

Councilman Tom Saadi pointed out that 2017 will be the 80th anniversary of when the Grand Army of the Republic dedicated that flagpole. 

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Tribal casino bill faces challenges despite Senate passage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Senate passed a bill early Wednesday allowing a new satellite casino to be built by two Native American tribes in East Windsor, but it's doubtful it will clear the House.  Majority Leader Matt Ritter confirmed Wednesday that the bill cannot pass the House in its current form.


Some lawmakers want to create a competitive process for a potentially lucrative state casino license that would allow other entities to develop a casino. Others oppose expanded gambling in general. And there are legislators who want some assurances that off-track betting facilities in their districts will be protected with the prospect of increased competition.

MGM is suing Connecticut over the current process, claiming it's unfair to outside casino developers to grant exclusive casino rights to the two tribes.  The company has expressed interest in opening a casino in southwestern Connecticut to capture the New York City market.

On Wednesday, the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which wants to open its own casino, announced it "will have no alternative" but to sue the state if the legislation allowing the two federally recognized tribes to open the $200 million-to-$300 million East Windsor facility prevails.

Governor Dannel Malloy, who has not pushed for casino expansion, has said he's now inclined to support the tribal casino bill over an open bidding process.

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Brookfield applies for grant for elderly transportation program

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has signed off on an application for a state matching grant program for elderly and demand response transportation.  The yearly program provides funds for transportation of seniors and persons with disabilities to each municipality based on the land area and population of those over age 60.

 

Selectman Marty Flynn asked if the town is picking up part of the cost since the grant pays for half.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this is for programs already in place.  The town is not planning to expand the program at this time.

 

Dunn noted that Brookfield has the largest percentage of elderly people in the state by population.

 

He says sometimes municipalities will get an accessible van to help with transportation, but that it's not currently needed.  At some point Dunn says the town may need to get an accessible van, but noted that it would ramp up expenses because of drivers and other related costs.

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New Milford Zoners meet about changes to Pettibone community center plans

The New Milford Zoning Commission met Tuesday night to discuss changes to the former John Pettibone School as town officials look to convert the building into a community center.  Parks and Recreation, Social Services and the Youth Agency could be housed in the facility. 

 

The changes were to the parking area, raising the total number of spots to 120.  Sidewalks and landscaping were outlined. 

 

The next Zoning Commission meeting is set for June 13th. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the heads of the departments slated to move in spoke in favor of the idea at Tuesday's meeting.  They said that their current facilities are too small for staff and program participants, they lack technology and aren't air conditioned.

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Discussion tabled on proposed sewer rate increase in New Milford

The New Milford Sewer Commission has tabled a discussion on a proposed sewer rate increase. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the Water Pollution Control Authority Superintendent threatened to quit Monday night if the town doesn't cap the amount of waste taken into the treatment plant because it will violate state permits if the volume continues on the current pace. 

 

The cap was eventually approved Monday.  The published report says Superintendent Michael Finoia could lose his license and be criminally charged if he knowingly allows the facility to accept more septic waste than permitted. 

 

The Sewer Commission has a massive debt owed to the town from the 2012 plant upgrade.

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Public hearing in Newtown tonight on proposed animal sanctuary

The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation's proposal to build an animal sanctuary off Old Farm Road.  The foundation, named for a girl killed on 12-14, is looking to develop the 34 acre property at Fairfield Hills. 

 

Plans call for a water course crossing via a driveway, altering about 750-feet of wetlands.  Tonight's presentation and discussion is set for 7:30pm at the Newtown Municipal Center. 

 

An environmental review is being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

 

The sanctuary would includes a community garden, with a farm-to-table cafe.  Hiking and dog walking trails would also be included at the site.  Two barns, paddocks, an amphitheater and educational facilities have also been proposed.  The project also includes a veterinary center.

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Easton Library to open 'Innovation Space' tonight

Easton Library is holding a Grand Opening event for their new Innovation Space.  The center is being called Easton Library's new do-it-yourself space.  Demonstrations will be held tonight during the event of the craft space, the technology can be explored by patrons and residents can learn about all things STEM--science, technology, math and science.  Easton Library officials say they are starting on a small scale and hope the space becomes a destination for people to create, collaborate and share. The Innovation Space grand opening is set for 6:30 tonight.

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Conn. Congress members react to budget proposal

Members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation are reacting to President Trump's budget proposal. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is calling on her colleagues to start from scratch on a budget plan.  Esty says the goal should be to expand economic opportunity in Connecticut and across the country, protect air and water, supports children and seniors, and makes the country safer.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes chairs the New Democrat Coalition. 

 

He says the budget proposal should be a visionary document or how to create good paying jobs, promote opportunity for all, and keep America safe. He says the proposal spends billions on defense while ransacking investments in jobs, education, clean energy and lifesaving medical research.  Himes says New Democrats believe any budget document should put the country's finances on a sustainable trajectory.  He says the budget proposal is full of reckless and radical cuts that damage this country's ability to advance and protect America's interests in the world. 

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Early voting proposal clears Connecticut House

State lawmakers are moving closer toward changing Connecticut's constitution to allow people to cast their ballots before Election Day.  The House voted 78-70 in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment. It now awaits action in the Senate.

The bill needed 114 votes Tuesday for the question to automatically appear on the 2019 ballot.  Voters will be asked in 2020 to approve such a change if both chambers pass the bill again next year by a simple majority

 

New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee voiced concern that it could be confusing and lead to voting mistakes.  Some lawmakers said that added voting days would put financial strain on towns. 

While the bill allows the General Assembly to determine the details of early voting, it provides an overall framework, such as limits on when the voting can occur.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says Connecticut will join the majority of other states if it ultimately allows early voting.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission moves forward with design process

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is moving on to the next phases of planning now that a land deed has been signed and filed. 

 

According to minutes of their meeting earlier this month, the group is starting to talk about what needs to be included in a request for proposals.  First Selectman Pat Llodra brought three templates with her to the meeting for members to look at.  She suggested that outlining what the memorial is about is important because it will give designers background on what the Commission is looking for. 

 

Some money donated to Newtown after 12-14 was specifically earmarked for a memorial.  In order to pay for the balance of the project, there are some options.  The Commission discussed having it be either town funded or donor funded, with a third possibility of partnering with the town while also raising donations. 

 

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission will next meet on June 8th.

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Connecticut senators pass measure approving casino proposal

The state Senate took a big step in expanding gambling approving a new satellite casino to be built by the two federally recognized Native American tribes.

The measure passed 24 to 12 after debate, and still requires approval by the House.  Governor Dannel Malloy says this bill is the only casino measure he would consider signing.

Supporters of the bill say it would create more than 1,200 permanent jobs, while opponents say the state is risking a legal problem by granting a monopoly on gambling to Native American tribes on nontribal land.

Senators crossed party lines to vote for the measure, with both Democrats and Republicans voting in support of the bill.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan reluctantly voted in favor of the bill.  He said he would give it a chance' despite having reservations about the casino.  But he cautioned that his support was because of the location.  McLachlan noted that he does not want to be back in three or four years to find people saying a casino is needed in Danbury.  He also asked his colleagues when the state is going to stop chasing easy money like this. 

 

Among those voting against the bill were Wilton Senator Toni Boucher; Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford; Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown; and Eric Berthel, whose district includes Southbury.

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Stronger protections for pregnant women clear House

A bill that would expand protections for pregnant women in the workplace was approved by the state House yesterday. 

 

Under the bill, employers would be required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit while working or take more frequent breaks. The bill also prohibits employers from limiting or segregating a pregnant employee in a way that would deny her employment opportunities.

 

Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea opposed the bill.  He says the intent is laudable, but predicted it will lead to lawsuits.  O'Dea, a lawyer, says this will make it harder for small businesses to make money and survive.

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith, also a lawyer, says this bill is good for the lawyers but it's not good for small businesses.

 

The bill passed on a 130 to 20 vote.  It now moves to the Senate for further action.

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Danbury effort to buy street lights stalls

Danbury has been trying to buy street lights from Eversource Energy so they can be converted to LEDs. 

 

Currently, if bulbs are broken, the city still pays energy costs for them.  With the LED bulbs, the city would only pay for the energy it used. 

 

Eversource hasn't yet told the City how many street lights there are.  The utility wants to go out at night to count the ones that are lit.  City Finance Director David St. Hilaire says it could be late summer by the time the street lights are counted.  The current street light replacement program is budgeted at $200,000.

 

During the replacement, technology could be installed to create free WiFi zones for access by students at Naugatuck Valley Community College and WestConn, library patrons and downtown businesses.  The WiFi initiative, dubbed ConnectHatCity, was proposed by Mayor Mark Boughton during his state of the city address in December 2014. 

 

Boughton previously estimated it would cost $3 million to buy the light poles from Eversource.

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Newborn baby found behind grocery store in Danbury

A baby was found behind a grocery store on Main Street in Danbury. 

 

Police and firefighters responded to 399 Main Street around 11:30pm Sunday after someone called 911 saying that they found a baby near the Polla Supermarket.  Officers were directed to the back of the Zaytuna Grocery Store next door.  The newborn baby was wrapped in several pieces of women’s clothing.  The infant boy was checked by medical personnel and admitted to the Neo Natal Care Unit at Danbury Hospital.

 

The Special Victims Unit is currently investigating the circumstances of this case.  SVU is attempting to locate the mother to determine if she is okay.  Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Joseph LeRose says they are concerned that the baby’s mother may need medical treatment or may require some other services.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call 203-797-4662 or 203-790-TIPS.  All calls will be kept confidential.

 

Connecticut's Safe Haven Act for Newborns indicates that a parent of an infant that is 30 days or younger can bring their baby to the nursing staff of an emergency room.  The parent will not be subject to arrest for abandonment. This act does not protect the parent from being arrested and criminally prosecuted if abuse or neglect has occurred.

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One person killed in head-on collision in Brewster

A fatal car accident in Brewster is under investigation.  The two car crash happened on Route 22 around 1:15pm today.  A northbound vehicle and a southbound vehicle collided head-on just north of the Milltown Road intersection.  The male driver of the northbound vehicle was killed in the crash. The female driver and the male passenger of the southbound car were transported by ambulances to Danbury Hospital with injuries of unknown severity. 

 

The identities of the crash victims were not immediately available. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office, with assistance from New York State Police, continues to investigate.  Route 22 remains closed between Route 312 and Milltown Road until further notice.

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New Milford officials get update on Century Brass site clean up

The New Milford Public Works Director gave an update to the Town Council last night about the clean up of the former Century Brass mill site.  Lead paint, PCBs and asbestos have been found at the site, which New Milford started cleaning up nearly two decades ago.  The town acquired the land off Housatonic Avenue in 1999. 

 

Town officials say they're optimistic that remediation will be completed by the 2020 deadline. 

 

The Newstimes reports that demolition began in October, but the town is waiting for approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to remove steel from the site. 

 

Michael Zarba told the Council that their biggest obstacle will be determining if contaminants are in the nearby river and how to address them.

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Siting Council holds hearing about cell tower proposal for Easton

A pre-hearing conference was held this morning by the Connecticut Siting Council about an application for a telecommunications facility on Morehouse Road in Easton.  Homeland Towers LLC and Verizon Wireless have filed for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need.  The 157-foot tower would be a faux branch top tower.  A public hearing will be held in Easton next month on the proposal.

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Danbury launches well water testing program for private wells

A program has been launched in Danbury that will allow 150 residents served by a private well system to have their drinking water analyzed free of charge.  In Connecticut, private well owners are responsible for testing the quality of their own drinking water and maintaining their own wells, but the City's Department of Health & Human Services is looking to give residents the best access to resources for their wellbeing. 

 

The well water analysis will be performed at a licensed State Certified Laboratory and will test for: total coliform, nitrate, nitrite, pH level, odor, chloride, hardness, apparent color, sulfate, turbidity, iron, and manganese.  Residents also have the option to add a test for lead for a fee from the laboratory. 

 

Residents can request this service by contacting the Department of Health & Human services at 203-797- 4625. 

 

Following this program, the City will begin subsidizing the cost of private well water analyses.

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Congressional Art Competition winners announced

The winners of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition for Connecticut's Fifth District have been selected.  A sophomore at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury took the top prize.  Shannon Rupar made a watercolor painting titled “Farmer’s Market.”

 

 

Rupar's piece will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the next year and she will have the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C., for the national reception in June honoring winners from districts across the country. 

 

Molly Humphreys, a senior at Nonnewaug, received Honorable Mention for her piece, “Stage-Lights in a New Light,” a charcoal piece on paper.  Her piece will remain on display at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.  Humphreys was the 2016 Fifth Congressional District Art Competition winner. 

 

 

A total of 115 pieces of artwork were submitted this year in the 5th District, with students' submissions coming from 13 different schools. Winners were chosen by a panel of local judges.  Since its inception in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students nationwide have participated in the annual Congressional Art Competition.

 

This is the fifth consecutive year in which Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has organized the local competition.

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137,000 pounds of food collected for local food banks

A record amount of donations came in during the Postal Service's annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive held last week.  Coordinator Dennis Sideropolous says   With 137,000 pounds of non-perishable items collected, Coordinator Dennis Sideropolous says local food banks will benefit greatly. 

 

The United Way and Salvation Army are processing the items for distribution.  Last year, approximately 121,000 pounds of food was collected in the Greater Danbury area. 

 

Sideropolous says the timing of the food drive is important because food banks are running low on items donated during Thanksgiving and Christmas, at the same time that schools are dismissing and children won't have access to free or reduced price meals.

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Esty calls for bipartisan support on infrastructure investments

In a speech on the House floor, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called on her colleagues to come together and pass a bipartisan plan to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure.  The Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said at the end of the day, infrastructure is about jobs.  But more importantly, she said infrastructure improvement is about getting people to work safely and on time.

 

Esty spoke about specific areas of improvement that need to be made, including to roads, bridges, rail, airports, clean water, wastewater, and internet connectivity.

 

Esty said looking into public and private partnerships could be a viable way to make improvements, but added that the job can't be outsourced to financiers.  If that were the case. Esty said the private sector would have already made the improvements.

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Danbury officials consider $1 land sale to Women's Center

Danbury could donate the Mallory Hat site to the Women's Center for a new transitional housing center.  A City Council Committee met Monday night to review the donation of city owned property at 89 Rose Hill Avenue. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the property does contain a level of environmental contamination, but wants the City to work with the Women's Center to seek grants and other funding opportunities to make the project happen. 

 

The Women's Center hired an environmental engineer to assess the property, and it was determined that the clean up will cost $700,00 to $800,000.  Boughton told them that the City doesn't have that kind of money on hand, and that it wouldn't be appropriate for the City to foot the bill for a non-profit.  He noted that if the City did that for one, they would have to do it for all.  But if the Women's Center can get the property cleaned up, Boughton says it would be appropriate for Danbury to sell the land to the Women's Center for $1.

 

The Women's Center hired a lobbyist who has spoken with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and others at the Office of Policy and Management, about a special grant fund they have to clean properties.  They don't have a final committment yet, but Boughton says if a grant can be secured Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola will oversee and manage the clean up.  Once it's certified for use, and the City Council gives the ok, they can transfer the property to the Women's Center.

 

Another challenge is that there is a viaduct under the property, which Boughton believes is near 100 years old.  He says no business is likely to be interested in the land because they wouldn't be able to build over that structure.  The viaduct limits the build-ability to about 2.5 acres.  Danbury issued several requests for proposals from businesses over the years, but there weren't any takers.  At one point, the owner of nearby Fairfield Processing asked the City to hold off on looking into bids because they were thinking about expanding.  Those plans have since changed because their business changed. 

 

The Women's Center raised $4 million in capital fund to build the transitional housing.

 

The Women's Center has provided a safe haven to victims of domestic and sexual violence since its founding in 1975.  The Center serves 20,000 people in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties each year.

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Trinity College taps Danbury-based FuelCell Energy to help with energy saving measures

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is entering into a power purchase agreement with Trinity College in Hartford.  FuelCell will install a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant, projected to save the college approximately 30 percent in annual energy costs.

 

The combined heat and power fuel cell plant will be located adjacent to the school’s athletic center, and will generate a continuous supply of on-site electricity and steam for the campus.  This installation could lead to future implementation of a micro-grid for the campus.

 

Trinity College will pay for power as it is produced, avoiding a capital investment in power generation.  Minimizing use of boilers for steam reduces operating costs for the College as well as reducing associated emissions from the combustion-based heating process.

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Family-owned Danbury business featured as Murphy's Monday Manufacturer

A Danbury company was featured yesterday by Senator Chris Murphy for his so-called Monday Manufacturer.  RK Manufacturing is a family-owned company that was founded in 1978.  They design and manufacture machine tools and medical devices. 

 

The Danbury manufacturer provides custom tooling and fixtures, and works with established medical companies and life science startups to provide sterile and nonsterile sutures, bone anchors, spinal implants, and other innovative medical devices.  All of RK Manufacturing’s medical devices are produced in a specialized cleanroom with a controlled environment.

RK Manufacturing employs 120 Connecticut workers out of their 57,000 square foot facility. Over the last six years, they have experienced an average continued growth of 30 percent, and increased the capacity of their cleanroom by 35 percent.

Connecticut's 4,600 manufacturers account for 10% of the state’s jobs and 87% of the state’s total exports. In order to protect and grow manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, Murphy has introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to strengthen existing standards and prioritize the purchase of American-made goods, the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act.

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House approves bill setting standards for cell phone searches

A bill setting standards for school officials searching student cell phones and other electronic devices has been approved by the state House.  One opponent suggested that students not bring a phone to school or to leave it in a locker.  Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey told the Courant that the thinking is an outdated approach to technology.  He said smart phones, iPads and other devices are sometimes used for legitimate purposes during the day.  The bill prevents school officials from taking a personal electronic device unless they have reasonable suspicion the student violated school policy.  The bill also limits any subsequent search.  The measure now moves to the Senate.

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Lake Zoar Authority warns of blue-green algae blooms

Blue-green algae blooms are likely this summer.  That warning from the Lake Zoar Authority.  Exposure in high levels is a suspected cause of illness as severe as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The authority says the neurodegenerative disease can be fatal to pets and livestock.  Runoff from fertilizer, chemicals and waste elevates the blooms.  They float on the surface of the water and look like green paint.  A dry season intensifies the toxicity whereas a rainy climate dilutes the presence of the bacteria-like growth.  

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New Milford Sports Club members get another chance to reclaim property from lockers

Members of the now-closed New Milford Sports Club who didn't get a chance to remove personal items from the lockers earlier this month will have another opportunity tomorrow.  New Milford officials have worked out an agreement with the landlord to allow more time to reclaim property.  People must bring their membership cards to enter the building Tuesday between 4pm and 7pm.  State Police arrested business owner Dominick Donofrio Jr earlier this month on behalf of the Department of Labor, which received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid. 

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Rollover crash cleared from I-84 in Danbury

There was a rollover accident on I-84 Eastbound between Exits 4 and 5 in Danbury this morning. The right and center lanes were closed shortly before 11am.  Traffic was backed up beyond exit 2 because of the emergency response.  The accident was cleared around 11:45am.  

 

(I-84 E exit 4 on ramp)

 

Danbury Fire Department Deputy Chief Bernie Meehan found that a driver was trapped in his Oldsmobile. Danbury firefighters, utilizing the "Jaws of Life" tool, cut away the roof of the vehicle so the operator could be removed and taken care of by Danbury Paramedics. The sole occupant of the vehicle was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

 

(DFD)

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UPDATED: Motorcyclist killed after crash in the Town of Washington

One man injured in a motorcycle accident in the Town of Washington over the weekend has died.  State Police say 25-year old Thien Truong had been airlifted to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries. 

 

The East Hartford man lost control around a curve on Route 109 near Popple Swamp Road around 8pm Saturday.  He flipped his bike and hit a guardrail. 

 

A motorcyclist following him also lost control on the curve.   30-year old Michael Masser of Hartford was thrown from his bike and transported by ambulance to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.

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Brewster man due in court on DWI charge following hit and run accident

A Brewster man is due in court today on DWI charges stemming from a hit and run accident.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received calls of an erratic driver in Brewster May 7th.  The driver nearly hit a car in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts, almost hit the building and then almost caused an accident while pulling out onto Route 22. 

 

Deputies spotted the car hit another vehicle in traffic on Main Street and then drive off.  The driver, later determined to be 28-year old Obdulio Mendez-Perez, stopped for police. 

 

He was charged for driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and half-a-dozen other infractions for the alleged erratic driving. 

 

No injuries were reported in the crash.

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Newtown Police seek public's help in motorcycle crash investigation

Newtown Police are asking for the public's help in solving a January motorcycle accident.  Police continue to investigate the crash that killed 42-year old Michael Defusco of Southbury on January 19th.  The accident happened on Mount Pleasant Road near Reservoir Road.  The motorcycle was found down an embankment on the southbound shoulder of the roadway around 3pm.  While some witnesses have been interviewed, Newtown Police say more information is needed.  Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or arrived shortly after the accident is asked to call Newtown Police.

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Firefighters contain massive blaze along Appalachian Trail

About 200 acres of Schaghticoke Mountain burned in a brush fire last week before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.  17 departments helped keep the blaze contained in a remote area near the Appalachian Trail in Kent. 

 

The fire, which broke out Wednesday, disturbed the dens of the Timber rattlers, and well over a dozen snakes were spotted fleeing the heat, including one that slithered between the legs of a firefighter. 

 

 

Now that the fire is out, wildlife experts will go in looking to rescue any injured snakes.

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WCSU commencement ceremony held Sunday

Graduation ceremonies were this weekend for a number of higher education institutions in Connecticut, including for Western Connecticut State University students. 

 

The 119th Commencement was held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Sunday.  More than 1,200 undergraduates, 112 masters and 8 doctoral degrees were awarded.  This is the third consecutive year that the ceremony will take place at the Fairfield County venue.

Graduating senior Madiha Khan, of Danbury, delivered the Keynote Address.  During the ceremony, Khan received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Biochemistry option. She is one of two WCSU students to receive this year’s Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

 

Presidential Medals were awarded to WCSU alumnus Attorney Robert Yamin and Danbury Probate Judge Dianne Yamin.

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Danbury Police kick off 'Click It or Ticket' enforcement campaign

The Danbury Police Department will be conducting a Click It or Ticket Campaign heading into the summer driving season.  The increased enforcement will take place starting today and continuing through June 4th. 

 

The Danbury Police Department will ramp up patrolling and be on the lookout for seat belt violations.  With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the department intends to promote safe driving and increase protection for motorists. 

 

With more vehicles on the roadway, Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says this means more potential for more crashes and more fatalities.  He says wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to save your life while on the road.

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Local legislators participate in 'Manufacturing & Technology Day'

Manufacturing & Technology Day was held at the State Capitol this week. 

 

Bethel state Representative Will Duff met with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.  BI has three business areas; human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing.  Duff called Boehringer Ingelheim an essential economic engine in the Greater Danbury region, providing over 2000 jobs and indirect employment to thousands more. 

 

New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee met with several businesses and organizations related to state manufacturing.  He discussed the industry and its role in the state's economy.  Buckbee said manufacturers face a unique set of issues, stifling regulation and off-shore competition.  He wants to offer more incentives for locally manufactured products to be used in state projects relating to aerospace, defense, and infrastructure.

 

More than forty Connecticut manufacturers exhibited their products and services at the State Capitol as part of a Manufacturing & Technology Day celebration.  According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, more than one-half of the top 100 companies headquartered in Connecticut are manufacturing firms.  

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Newtown state lawmaker tours newly renovated NYFS facility

Newtown Youth and Family Services held an open house event this week showcasing recent renovations to the facility.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky visited and noted that the community depends on the services and programs offered at NYFS. 

 

He touted the organization for coordinating with other community resources and outside-the-box therapy disciplines, in addition to their regularly-scheduled preventative interpersonal and safety programs. 

 

(Photo: Bolinsky speaks with Matt Ariniello, NYFS Operations and Development)

 

The recent renovations will provide more space for NYFS to administer the programs and services.  NYFS is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families by providing programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

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Danbury Day held at State Capitol

Danbury Day was held at the state Capitol this week.  Legislators set up a reincarnation of the Danbury State Fair to celebrate the Hat City's history.  Freshman lawmaker Michael Ferguson volunteered to organize the annual event that in addition to featuring fair food, honored four community members and the principals of Danbury's schools of distinction. 

 

 

Representative Bob Godfrey presented General Assembly citations to Danbury NAACP President Glenda Armstrong and Danbury Nurses Union President Mary Consoli for their lifelong dedication to the improvement of Danbury.  Senator Mike McLachlan presented General Assembly citations to CityCenter Danbury founder Frank Capiello and Rizzo Companies founder and CEO Anthony Rizzo Sr. for their years of service to the city and its residents. 

 

Representative David Arconti said he hopes those who attended the event will be motivated to visit and learn more about Danbury.  Attending his first Danbury Day at the Capitol, Representative Will Duff said the event was an opportunity to showcase the positive aspects Connecticut’s seventh largest city and celebrate its diverse culture  Representative Stephen Harding touted Danbury for its rich history, culture, and economy. 

 

Representative Richard Smith said he hopes that having six city schools named as Schools of Distinction will show businesses that Danbury is committed to education and can provide the workforce they need.  The schools and principals honored are Ellsworth Avenue School with Dr. Anna Rocco, Hayestown Avenue School with Stephanie Furman, Mill Ridge Primary School with Dr. Mary Cronin, Morris Street School with Bill Santarsiero, and South Street School with Heather Pellicone. A sixth school, Park Avenue School with principal David Krafick was not present to accept a citation.

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Danbury student receives '8th Grade Excellence in Citizenship Award'

A Danbury student has been selected to receive the 8th Grade Excellence in Citizenship Award from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  Broadview Middle Schooler Charlie Wimer was chosen for his  volunteer service to the community, involvement in citizenship or character building organizations, good scholastic record, and leadership ability to motivate others to act to benefit the community. 

 

One eighth-grade student from each participating school is selected who demonstrates the qualities of active participation in civic or community activities, good scholarship and school involvement. 

 

School officials say Wimer has been a leader the Unified Sports program where he exemplifies the qualities of acceptance, kindness and inclusion. He has prepared and presented schoolwide events and grade-level assemblies for the programs of the Sandy Hook Promise.  He was a key organizer for the Danbury Middle School Leadership Conference. He is also a straight-A student.

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Minor Metro North derailment prompts renewed calls for Positive Train Control technology

Following a minor Metro North train derailment on the New Haven line yesterday, officials are renewing their calls for implementation of Positive Train Control. 

 

A dozen people were injured when 5 of the train cars left the tracks around 5:15pm in Rye, New York as the passengers traveled to Connecticut.  Four people were hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.  Eight others refused medical attention. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says it's been nearly a full decade since Congress first mandated the basic technology.  He called on Metro North to investigate if PTC could have prevented or mitigated this latest incident.  Blumenthal also wants Metro North to explain how a train in a low-speed area jumped the tracks, injured passengers, and triggered delays throughout the system.  The railroad is facing a December 2018 deadline to install the technology. 

 

PTC was first urged by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1970 after a train collision in Darien. It's a GPS-based system designed to prevent certain types of train accidents caused by human factors.  In 2008, Congress mandated railroads install PTC by the end of 2015; however, Congress extended the deadline to 2020 last year.

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Stranger Danger classes to be held in Monroe elementary schools next week

A Stranger Danger class is being held in Monroe elementary schools following an incident earlier this week in which a Stepney School student just getting off the bus was approached by a couple in a minivan.  Monroe Police say a Stranger Danger class was held this past fall.  The next round will begin next week.  The Detective Division continues to investigate leads in the case while the patrol division remains on the lookout for the couple.  Monroe Police are reminding residents to talk with their child about strangers.

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Police Officers recognized by MADD

The 2017 Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards have been presented.  This is the 2nd year in a row that Monroe Officer Michael Johnson has been a recipient for his efforts to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the roads.  Redding Officer Michael Livingston was honored for his DWI enforcement activities during the midnight shift.

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Drop in homelessness reported in Danbury

Homelessness in Danbury has dropped 12-percent over the past year.  The result was part of a report by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness on their annual Point in Time Count.  110 people were determined to be homeless in January during the the count.  This is the third year in a row that homelessness has gone down in Danbury. 

 

Coalition Executive Director Lisa Tepper-Bates says a separate count of homeless youth in Connecticut was also conducted.  4,396 people under the age of 25 are homeless, or facing severe housing instability.  She noted that the practice of couch surfing is very dangerous, and this is an issue they hope to address soon.

 

Tepper-Bates says coordinating resources and ending duplicated efforts by municipalities and non-profits has led to the overall decline.

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New Fairfield to hold meeting about petition to stop herbicides being added to Candlewood

New Fairfield officials have scheduled a special town meeting to decided on a proposed ordinance aimed at stopping a plan to use herbicides in Candlewood Lake.  The meeting is set for 7pm on May 30th. 

 

The group Candlewood Voices filed two petitions calling for a townwide vote whenever chemicals were proposed to go into the lake.  The Board of Selectmen met yesterday on the revised petition, after calling the first one unlawful and not subject to an ordinance that would have triggered a special town meeting. 

 

New Fairfield scaled back its plans to only add a milfoil-killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove, down from a proposed 60 acres. 

 

Candlewood Voices co-founder Carolyn Rowan says even that plan sets a bad precedent for use of chemicals in the lake.

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Brush fire continues to burn in Kent

A brush fire is still burning in Kent.  The blaze broke out Wednesday in a remote location near the Appalachian Trail on Schaghticoke Mountain.  The fire consumed more than 60 acres by yesterday afternoon. 

 

The fire had spread to some rattlesnake habitats and officials say the displaced snakes made for a challenge to an already difficult response.  Firefighters have to carry in water to try to contain the flames.  The timber rattlesnakes are venomous, but there have not been any reports of bites.  

 

Four firefighters have been injured while fighting the blaze. 

 

The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.

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More victims come forward in alleged sex trafficking ring

New lawsuits have been filed by alleged victims of a Danbury-based human trafficking ring.  7 victims have come forward since the arrest of alleged ring leader Robert King.  Two men have also been arrested for patronizing a trafficked person.

 

The Newstimes reports that the latest filings including a man purportedly abused when he was around 15.  Another man, who authorities claim killed himself during a police pursuit nearly a decade ago, is the other victim.  The published reports say King had a shrine to the victim in his mobile home, which included a hand-written note from that victim.

 

The state legislature is considering a bill this session about human trafficking.  The House approved the bill unanimously Wednesday.

 

The bill would do three things, including to increase the penalty to a Class A felony.  It creates a new crime of commercial sex abuse of minors, which would be the equivalent of patronizing a prostitute under the age of 18.  The bill also adds members, including a victim of human trafficking, to the state's Trafficking in Persons Council.

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DEEP honors Environmental Conservation police at awards ceremony

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has recognized several Environmental Conservation Police Officers and others for their work in protecting residents and the environment. 

 

A Unit Citation was awarded in recognition of the collective effort by members of a district.  EnCon Officers Edward Yescott, Erin Flockhart, K9 Ellie, and Sergeant Tate Begley received the recognition for the response to an incident in Kent.  The Western District EnCon officers apprehended a convicted felon in possession of a firearm as part of a long term investigation into illegal poaching activity occurring on National Parks Service property.

 

A medal for outstanding service was presented to Sergeant Tate Begley for his response to a report of a possible missing female hiker on the Appalachian Trail in Kent.  The response turned into a drug bust of a disheveled male hiker.  

 

When Begley approached, the man dropped his gear and jumped off a cliff into the Housatonic River.  Begley apprehended him on the opposite side of the river.  During the foot pursuit the man dumped a container believed to contain heroin in the river.  The suspect, Justin Kyle Hoffman, was subsequently arrested for an incident involving unwanted sexual advances of teenage girls at a private school not far from his camp.

 

Among the awards was the Boating Officer of the Year. 

 

Officer Joseph Ruggiero, a 22-year veteran of the Environmental Conservation Police force, was this year's recipient.  Officer Ruggiero has conducted patrols on Connecticut’s busiest waters during that time, including the Housatonic Rivers, and many lakes, ponds and most of Long Island Sound. He was originally assigned in his earlier years to the Western Marine sector.  DEEP officials say his dedication to conservation law enforcement and the public’s boating safety continues to be outstanding.

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Connecticut Senate scuttles proposed bear-hunting season

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Legislation that could have led to bear hunting in one Connecticut county has been snuffed out.

Senate Democrats on Thursday successfully scuttled the bill by replacing it with other legislation that makes it illegal to bring certain big game specimens into Connecticut.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman broke a tie vote in the Senate. The bill was ultimately referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Litchfield Sen. Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford, originally proposed requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with bear-hunting season regulations.

Recognizing he faced opposition, Miner amended the bill, allowing DEEP to decide whether to seek such regulations. Also, his revised bill limited potential bear hunting to Litchfield County.

However, all of that language was stripped and replaced with the ban on big-game trophies.

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Ridgefield man arrested after struggle with Fairfield Police

Loud music that led to a scuffle with police, ended with a Ridgefield man under arrest in Fairfield.  A complaint was called in about someone blasting music Monday night and officers could hear it as they approached.  The Fairfield Citizen reports that 53-year old Anthony Guillaro told police he was the property owner and cited town ordinance time frames. 

 

Despite it not yet being 10pm, police said the music was unreasonably loud and creating a disturbance.  Guillaro reportedly turned the music up and told the offier he was going to make a scene. 

 

The published report says Guillaro put his hand on the officer’s chest, the officer pushed it away and tried to handcuff the man.  Guillaro allegedly began flailing his arms, there was a brief struggle and the two fell.  The pair reportedly hit a table and broke some drinking glasses. 

 

Guillaro was charged with interfering with an officer and disorderly conduct. He was released on bond and is due in Court May 30th.  The home is owned by company of which Guillaro is the president.

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NY man arrested for fight at Southeast pub

A Carmel man is facing charges stemming from a bar fight.  New York State Police arrested 21-year old Justin Velez for assault, harassment and disorderly conduct over the weekend.  Troopers were dispatched to a fight at O’Connor’s Pub on Route 22 in the Town of Southeast.  An investigation revealed that Velez stuck a man in the face during the altercation.  Velez was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Jail on bond.

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Couple tried to lure Monroe child into their minivan

Monroe Police are alerting residents that a child was approached by a couple in an older red minivan who tried to lure her into their vehicle.  Police say a Stepney Elementary School child was dropped off at her normal bus stop Tuesday afternoon. 

 

The child ignored the woman with bright red hair and the man with bright green hair and ran to her home.  Police responded to the area and searched for the minivan, but were unable to locate it. 

 

The driver of the older red minivan was described as a 45-50 year old woman, slender built, short bright red hair, with hair ends dyed green. The male passenger was described 45-50 year old male, overweight, with bright green hair. 

 

All officers remain on the look out for the vehicle and the suspects.  The Monroe Police Department asks that parents remind their children to not get into any vehicles occupied by any people they do not know. 

 

Anyone with information about this vehicle or the couple is asked to contact the Monroe Police Department at (203) 261-3622.

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Congress members react to appointment of Special Counsel in Russian investigation

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has released a statement about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the investigation into possible Russian interference in the election. 

 

Esty says the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller is an immensely positive step toward determining the facts and preventing future attacks on our democratic institutions.  She added that the American people deserve to know the full scope of Russia’s activities, including who within the United States may have participated.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also released a statement. 

 

Himes said Mueller brings with him two vital factors: a reputation as a man of the highest integrity, honesty and fairness and the widespread respect of the entire FBI.  Himes said he's optimistic that under this new leadership the FBI will be able to carry on its vital work. 

 

Himes added that during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible links to the Trump campaign, the concurrent FBI investigation brought needed manpower and resources. 

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Danbury City Hall to host light bulb swap

A light bulb swap is being held at Danbury City Hall on Saturday.  Residents can bring incandescent light bulbs and exchange them for new, LED  bulbs, free of charge.  Proof of city residency will be required. 

 

Residents can bring up to five incandescent light bulbs in any condition and exchange them for the energy-efficient bulbs, while supplies last.  Energy experts from Eversource will be on-hand to answer questions and provide information on how to save energy at home. 

 

The light bulb swap Saturday is from 10am to 2pm. 

 

Danbury has been a Clean Energy Community through Energize Connecticut since 2014.  Eversource is working with Danbury to help the City reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018.

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