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Brookfield voters to decide on Charter revisions in November

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved some proposed charter revisions be sent to the voters.  Brookfield residents will have a chance to weigh in on the recommended changes on the November ballot. The Board rejected a proposed amendment to increase the their group from three members to five. Three charter revision recommendations were forwarded by the Board. They include requiring town boards to wait at least 10 days before appointing replacement members, increasing the amount of money the Boards of Selectmen and Finance can reallocation without going to a town meeting and clarifying the authority of the Board of Ethics.

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Brookfield officials to look study senior tax credit program

Senior tax credits and deferrals will be examined in Brookfield.  The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved an Ad-Hoc Committee to study the current tax credits and deferrals available to senior citizens. The group was also tasked with recommending changes. The Commission on Aging requested the Ad-hoc committee. The Commission has received input that the tax credit program is not adequate and wants the policy compared to other towns in the area. They suggest that a small group of people, with some experience in finance review the tax credit programs.

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Stakeholders to gather for informational session on OTB in Danbury

A meeting is being held tonight about the proposed off track betting facility in Danbury.  CityCenter property owners, stakeholders and others are being called on to attend the informational session about the proposed OTB parlor at Two Steps. 

 

The meeting is aimed at clearing up what advocates say are misconceptions about the project.  The plan was approved by the Zoning Commission in May, but there was a technicality and the group has to revisit the approval. 

 

Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and proposed the facility. 

 

Tonight's informational gathering is at Two Steps at 6pm.

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Danbury officials discuss establishing 'E-Commerce Exchange Areas'

Danbury officials are considering setting up an E-Commerce Exchange Areas.  The spaces are meant to provide a known, well-lit and secure location at which to conduct their private business.  This is not in response to any particular incident, but rather as a proactive measure to provide citizens with a location where they can feel safe to conduct their private and legal business, as e-bay and Craigslist style transactions become more common. 

 

The Brookfield and Ridgefield Police Stations are considered E-Commerce Safe Zones. 

 

When conducting sales or purchases on Craigslist and other similar online sites, people can can request the buyer or seller to meet at the designated areas.  If the other person declines, Police say it may be a sign the transaction is questionable. 

 

Tonight's City Council ad hoc meeting is at 8:30pm on the 3rd floor of Danbury City Hall.

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Lease for the Danbury Library Cafe considered by City officials tonight

A meeting is being held about a proposal to locate a new business in the cafe at the Danbury Library.  A committee of the City Council is considering a lease with Kervin Francois, who worked for Sodexo for many years.  He is proposing $500 a month rent.  The cafe has been vacant for about a year and a half, when the previous operator left to pursue other opportunities.  The Council approved a lease for Bagelman, but the company opted not to go forward with the project.  The next proposal came from the owner's of Benny's, who also own Nardellis on Newtown Road, but that also fell through.  Tonight's ad hoc meeting is at 7pm on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

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Danbury Council members to consider tax break for developer

An ad-hoc committee of the Danbury City Council is meeting tonight about Dan Bertram seeking a tax deferral for his $13 million, 150-unit apartment complex proposal.  The high-end studios and apartments would replace the News-Times building on Main Street.  Bertram previously received a seven-year tax deferral for a Crosby Street development called Brookview Commons.  That approval though was fraught with controversy as the intent of that project changed.  Tonight's ad hoc meeting is at 6pm on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

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New Milford to dedicate new Vietnam War memorial

New Milford is holding a dedication ceremony this weekend for the new Vietnam War memorial.  The project was started after the positive impact of the "Wall that Heals" came to town in October 2016.  Mayor David Gronbach says it highlighted  that New Milford did not have its own Vietnam Memorial and that it was long overdue. Veteran Ray Crawford led the effort along with the New Milford Veterans Committee and other volunteers.  The dedication ceremony is Saturday at 10am.  Gronbach thanked Tony Haddad of Marble & Granite Creations for the donation of the Black Granite, the New Milford Garden Club for the flowers, and Jim Delancy and Jeff McBreairty of the New Milford Veterans Committee.

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Putnam County police warn businesses about NYSEG phone scam

The Putnam County Sheriff is warning area businesses of a telephone scam making it's way around the County.  Some local businesses, many of them restaurants, have received calls from someone claiming to be a representative from New York State Electric and Gas who is calling about billing matters. 

 

Some have been warned that their service would be shut off unless payment is made immediately.  The caller asks for payment via “Green Dot Money Pak”.  

 

The Sheriff's Office says the phone calls may come in during the busy hours, making it more urgent to comply with the caller's demands. 

 

NYSEG officials are aware of this scam.  The utility will never ask a customer to purchase a debit card to make a payment. 

 

Anyone believing that they have been victimized by this scam is asked to report it immediately to the the Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-4300.

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New Milford launches kayak, canoe rental program

New Milford has launched a kayak and canoe rental program.  The vessels are now available to rent for recreational use on the Housatonic River, Fridays through Mondays, through Labor Day weekend.  Rentals will launch shore side from Young’s Field Road. The rental operation is run by Clarke Outdoors.  The Cornwall-based company also runs rentals at the state park on Lake Waramaug.


Hours of operation:
Fridays & Mondays 10-4pm (last boat in by 5:00)
Saturday & Sunday 10-5pm (last boat in by 6:00)


Rates:
$10 per hour for single kayaks. $15 per hour for double kayaks and canoes.
SUP's are $10 1/2 hour or $15 per hour. Cash only (initially)

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Esty touts decision to hold off on coastal rail route

A local lawmaker is touting the the Federal Railroad Administration's decision to no longer consider a new high-speed rail route along Connecticut's coastline.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, the Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wants the proposed route moved inland. 

 

She says a 21st-century economy can't be powered on 20th-century infrastructure.  Esty called for a bold, bipartisan infrastructure plan to create jobs and a world-class transportation system. 

 

During a committee hearing last month, Esty pressed the Associate Administrator of the FRA to listen to abandon the coastal proposal.  She says an inland route would not have the same level of opposition and could get much higher rates of speed than possible along the coast.

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Bethel Social Services Dept. organizing help for fire victims

The Bethel Social Services Department will be supporting local church leaders as they gather and disseminate information as to how people can help Thursday's fire victims. Heather Knight McMillan at the 1st Congregational Church of Bethel is working with others to ensure people get what they need.  Social Services Director Jenn Lawlor says if anyone wants to make a monetary donation or supply a gift card for the families, that can be done do that by stopping by the Social Services Department or the Selectman’s office at the Municipal Center. 

 

Heather Knight McMillan can be reached at 203-743-1877 or by email at fccbsecretary@firstchurchbethel.org

 

Contributions can also be mailed to:
The Community Council of Bethel
PO BOX 667
Bethel CT 06801

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Route 133 in Bridgewater reopened

The state Department of Transportation has cut the ribbon and reopened Route 133 in Bridgewater.  The safety improvement project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule.

 

5,200 feet of roadway was resurfaced. 3,300 feet of roadway was realigned. A new 750 foot retaining wall was built on the west side of Route 133.  The wall was tinted grey and brown to look like native rock in the area. Over the next few months the extensive open slopes will be planted with native trees and shrubs.

 

Bridgewater officials say even though the character of the town's southern approach has radically changed, the DOT project was considered a necessary improvement.

 

DOT Commissioner James Redecker says they had to excavate more than they thought.  20,000 cubic yards of rock and 10,000 cubic yards of earth were removed.  Drainage and culverts had to be put in.  3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults along with the installation of 25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable was also completed.

 

The start date for the overall project was September 23, 2016.  Advance utility relocations were completed within the five weeks preceding the beginning of construction.  Project staff worked through the winter shutdown period to clear trees and excavate rock.

 

The project's construction cost was approximately $6.7 million of which 80 percent was funded by the Federal Highway Administration as part of an 80/20 cost share with the state.

 

The average daily traffic on this section of Route 133 is about 3,000 vehicles per day. 

 

The project is subject to an “incentive contract”. If they finish all work before August 1st, the contractor get a hefty bonus of $20,000 a day. If they were late, they would lose that amount each day.

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Danbury teen missing since June found safe

A Danbury teen reported missing at the end of June has been located.  The Silver Alert was cancelled yesterday for 17-year old Sidra Ramos.  She and a 15-year old girl had last been seen in Danbury June 27th.  Both girls were located safe, the other on July 3rd.

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Southbury police investigating shoplifting incident

Southbury Police are investigating a shoplifting that occurred Tuesday night at the CVS on Depot Hill Road. The suspect was seen leaving the scene in a red SUV around 7:30pm, with merchandise that he did not pay for.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police at 203-264-5912. All calls will be kept confidential.

 

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This is Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend

This is Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend. 

 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is holding events to educate boaters about clean and safe boating practices and conducting vessel inspections.  Because of their ability to grow quickly and outcompete other species, many aquatic invasive plants form dense mats just under the water surface, which can be hazardous to recreational boaters and swimmers. 

 

Zebra mussels have also colonized in several lakes and ponds in Western Connecticut. 

 

DEEP staff will be at several boat launches Saturday and Sunday 7am to 3pm.  They include Lake Zoar at Scout Road in Southbury and Lake Lillinonah at Hanover Road in Bridgewater.  Staff will also be at Lattins Cove off Forty Acre Mountain Road in Danbury and Squantz Pond Cove off Old Bogus Road in New Fairfield on Candlewood Lake.

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Danbury Music Centre Summer Bands concert tonight

The Summer Bands concert presented by the Danbury Music Centre is being held tonight. The concert will begin 7:30 pm, in the Ballroom at the Portuguese Cultural Center. The ensembles performing are under the direction of Albert Montecalvo and Anthony Nunes, with performances by student musicians of all ages and levels of experience.  The concert will feature performances by the Preparatory, Concert, Symphonic, and Jazz Bands.  Outside the ballroom there will be a display of handmade digeridoos, made by the students throughout the duration of the program as part of the STEAM-Class project.

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Firefighters, police being hailed as heroes in Bethel

Many in Bethel are hoping an historic building partially destroyed by fire yesterday can be rebuilt.  The apartment building on Greenwood Avenue was built more than 170 years ago. 

 

Police and fire fighters are being hailed as heroes.

 

A triage center was set up by Danbury Hospital across the street at Bethel Library, for both residents and firefighters.  About 100 firefighters responded and took 20 minutes breaks because the fire was so intense and it was a humid morning. 

 

Dozens of fire trucks responded from the Greater Danbury area. 

 

Police were the first on the scene and ran into the building to alert residents.  Cpl. Lynn Morris and officers Matthew DiRago and William Holland entered the building to help get people out.  The officers encountered the man, who was reportedly disabled, and crawled on the floor in clear air to rescue him.

 

Ten adults and five children have been displaced.  Some businesses on the ground floor also sustained smoke and water damage.

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Man sentenced for fraud scheme targeting people in foreclosure

A Maryland man has been sentenced for a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners throughout Connecticut.  51-year old Bradford Barneys was ordered to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. 

 

He was accused of conspiring with a former Easton man who told people he would purchase homes in foreclosure and pay off the mortgages.  But authorities say Timothy Burke actually rented out the properties on Craigslist, and falsified records.  Burke pocketed the money and didn't pay off the homeowner's mortgages or property taxes. 

 

Barneys was a Bridgeport attorney who was paid more than $72,000 in fees and other monies for his participation in the fraud.

Barneys knew that Burke had no intention of buying the properties and paying the outstanding mortgages, and assured homeowners them that their sales to Burke or one of his companies were progressing as Burke promised. Barneys also represented Burke and his companies in eviction proceedings against tenants.

The investigation further revealed that he engaged in separate fraud scheme similar to the scheme that Burke engineered in Maryland.  Barneys' law license was temporarily suspended by Connecticut authorities after he pleaded guilty, with additional proceedings scheduled to determine whether further discipline is warranted. Judge Shea ordered Barneys not to apply for reinstatement of his law license, and not to engage in any business related to real estate, while he is on supervised release.

 

Burke was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment in April.

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Danbury could retain General Assembly lobbyist for 2nd year

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says it’s possible some surplus money from this year could be used to pay for another year of lobbying services.  The City of Danbury and the Board of Ed spilt the approximate $50,000 for a full-time lobbyist.  Boughton called it a successful endeavor, including having the lobbyist arrange meetings with legislators that the City has had a hard time getting before.

 

But the lobbyist was not able to overcome the internet lobby.  Danbury officials sought to have state law changed to allow the City to offer $15 per month high-speed internet service. 

 

Boughton thinks this has been a worthwhile exercise and the Board has been happy with this process. 

 

Part of the reason for the decision was to try to boost education dollars coming back to the City through the Education Cost Sharing formula.  Danbury officials say the City has the 5th lowest per student spending in the state, with City taxpayers footing 70-cents on every dollar.  The City has claimed that Connecticut is underfunding education in Danbury by some $30 million.

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DNA evidence links teen to car stolen in Newtown nearly two years ago

DNA evidence has led to an arrest in the case of a stolen vehicle.  Newtown Police charged 19-year old Samuel Lopez today on an outstanding warrant.  Lopez and an accomplice were tied to the theft of the vehicle from a Swamp Road residence.  Shortly after the car was stolen in January 2016, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra was found abandoned in Waterbury.  DNA evidence collected from inside the vehicle identified Lopez as the suspect.  He was held on a larceny charge for arraignment.  He is currently serving a five year sentence for an unrelated robbery.

 

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Woman who abandoned baby in Danbury turns herself in

A 22-year old Danbury woman has turned herself in for abandoning her newborn in May.  Danbury Police say Anny Castillo was also charged today with risk of injury and cruelty to persons.  She was released on $1,500 bond for arraignment tomorrow.  Police received a 911 call late on May 21st from someone who found a baby boy near the Polla Supermarket on Main Street.  Danbury Police found the baby wrapped in several pieces of women’s clothing.  The boy was admitted to the neonatal care unit at Danbury Hospital.  There was no update today on the condition and custody status of the baby.

 

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Driver sideswiped a vehicle, rear ended cement truck in Newtown

A Watertown man switching lanes on the I-84 yesterday has been cited for unsafe lane change after causing a massive morning tie up in Newtown.  State Police say 53-year old Bradley Kinzly was in the right lane, sideswiped a car in the center lane and rear ended a fully loaded cement mixer truck. 

 

The accident happened just before exit 10 westbound, around 7:45am.  At least two lanes were closed for about  two hours.  Residual delays lasted until about 10am. 

 

The driver of the car that was sideswiped complained of back pain.  The 66-year old Manchester man declined medical attention at the scene. 

 

All three vehicles were towed.  The state Department of Transportation and Newtown Fire Department assisted with cleaning up anti-freeze and debris from the vehicles.  No other injuries were reported.

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Bicyclist critically injured in Seymour

A bicyclist was critically injured in Seymour yesterday morning.  Police say the accident happened around 11am on Route 188.  The man, about 40-years old, was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital with life-threatening injuries.  The bicyclist was struck by a car from behind.  The 20-year old Oxford woman was uninjured.

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New Milford applies for state grant to install sidewalks

The New Milford Town Council is applying for a state grant to add sidewalks along Route 7, to make the corridor more walkable.  The $400,000 Community Connectivity Grant could extend a sidewalk north and south from the area of the former John Pettibone School.  The Zoning Commission wants sidewalks there as part of a requirements of a special-use permit to turn the structure into a community center.

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New Milford Town Councilman announces Mayoral candidacy

New Milford Town Councilman Pete Bass is seeking the Republican nomination for Mayor.   The 55-year old has been on the Town Council since 2002.  State Rep Bill Buckbee, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope were on hand for the announcement.  The Republican and Democratic Town Committees plan to make nominations next week.

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Fire rips through building on Greenwood Ave in Bethel

There was an early morning fire in downtown Bethel.  The fire broke out around 1am in a building in the 100 block of Greenwood Avenue, across from Bethel Library.  Greenwood has reopened, but emergency responders are asking people to drive with caution through the area, and avoid it if possible.  Depot Place remains closed. 

 

(Photo: Stony Hill Fire)

 

At least one resident and two firefighters were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.  The resident is reportedly in the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital.  Eight families have been displaced.  The Red Cross is helping 10 adults and five children.

 

It took about three hours to knock down the fire.  Mutual aid was provided by Stony Hill, Hawleyville, West Redding, Candlewood Company, Danbury, New Milford and others.

The Bethel Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.

 

(Photo: Redding Fire & EMS)

 

Some of the businesses sustained water damage, several apartments were damaged by smoke. The retail on the ground floor include an antiques store and a dance studio. 

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Redding officials approve Giles Hill traffic pattern change

A proposal to alter the Giles Hill Road traffic pattern at Newtown Turnpike in Redding has been approved by the Board of Selectmen.  Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said all residents at a meeting in May were in support of the proposed change.  Giles Hill will be made one way off Newtown Turnpike headed toward Joel Barlow High School, while traffic headed south on Newtown Turnpike will have to take the T-intersection. 

 

Of the current two forks, the one southbound is not wide enough.  When drivers get to Newtown Turnpike, they can't see southbound traffic.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says the town has been lucky that there haven't been more accidents.

 

She noted that some business owners were concerned with changing the Route 58 side.  Pemberton says the only concept people seemed to be supportive of was widening the branch that heads toward Barlow, other than creating a T-intersection with Route 58.  She says that would have been a massive undertaking involving the state Department of Transportation.

 

It does take a while for drivers to get used to a new traffic pattern so Redding will over-sign the area.  Some of the signs will be removed after a while.

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Truck pulls down wires in Bethel

A tractor trailer took down some wires in a residential neighborhood in Bethel yesterday.  The accident happened on Wine Sap Run near Rockwell Road. 

 

Some neighbors reported being able to feel the electric currents in them or feeling a buzz.  Area residents had no power during the incident. 

 

The truck driver may have been taking a detour to avoid a road closure at Walnut Hill and Hoyt Road, which are being repaved as part of an intersection realignment project.

 

(Photo: Stony Hill Fire)

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Land Ridgefield wanted to purchase sold to another buyer

A public hearing which was scheduled for last night in Ridgefield was cancelled.  The hearing was about a proposal for the town to buy a parcel of land, but someone beat Ridgefield to the sale.  The Katz family was selling nine acres, and was considering a sale of three acres to the town.  But the other buyer decided to take the whole property.  The land off Ridgebury Road is next to the Ridgefield Golf Course.

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Ridgefield seeks to apply for Substance Abuse Awareness Grant

The Town of Ridgefield is looking to apply for a Substance Abuse Awareness Grant.  A report has been drafted about vaping which found that the practice has taken the place of marijuana in terms of popularity in Ridgefield 

 

Alcohol is the most frequently used substance. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has been denied this grant before, but nearby Darien was recently approved.  Ridgefield could piggy back off of Darien's application for the grant.

 

Selectman Barbara Manners noted that parental involvement is key in keeping youth drug-free. 

 

Marconi recently talked with his fellow Selectmen about new trends in drug use.  One is called “dripping” and causes blistering in the mouth, esophagus, and lungs.  Another is the use of an electronic cigarette known as “Jewels” and are being used for illicit substances.

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Monroe Police warning about 'Eversource' phone scam

The Monroe Police Department has received several complaints about phone calls from someone claiming to be from Eversource.  The recipient is told they are delinquent on paying their electricity bill and if they don't pay immediately their power will be shut off.  Monroe Police are reminding residents that Eversource representatives don't call for payment and don't require the use of pre-paid debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak, Vanilla or Reloadit.

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Brookfield officials studying proposal for Gurski Homestead

A concept plan has been drafted by a committee in Brookfield about what to do with the 18-acre Gurski Homestead.  The Board of Selectmen heard a presentation at their meeting this week.  The farm was built in 1890.  The town was required to create a master plan for the property in 2015 after razing some dilapidated structures without permission.  The State Historic Preservation Office required preservation of some buildings.  The Newstimes reports that the two phase master plan includes rehabilitating buildings, walking paths, farmhouse renovations, creating a community garden and renting one of the houses.  Parking and athletic fields could also be added.

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Sandy Hook man killed in Lake Zoar boating accident

A Sandy Hook man has died in a boating accident on Lake Zoar.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says 52-year old Randall Pineau was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital last night after his pontoon boat was struck by a ski boat.  EnCon Police says he was in the area of the Mohawk Trail in Sandy Hook around 9:30 last night.


Pineau's wife, Katherine, suffered minor injuries.  She was treated and released from the hospital.  One other person suffered minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene. 

There were a total of six people aboard the two vessels – four on the pontoon boat and two on the ski boat.

Newtown Police, the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Lake Zoar Marine Patrol, and Connecticut State Police assisted EnCon officers.  The EnCon Boating Accident Reconstruction Unit is continuing to investigate the accident.

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Danbury company touts completion of project for University of Bridgeport

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has completed a megawatt-class fuel cell micro-grid at the University of Bridgeport, after proving its grid-independent operation. The 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant supplies predictable, ultra-clean power to the electric grid under normal operation and then automatically switches to a grid-independent mode in the event of a disturbance.  The company says this equipment supplies critical University facilities with continuous power.  Funding was provided by a grant from the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Public hearing tonight in Ridgefield about proposed land purchase

A public hearing is being held in Ridgefield tonight about a land purchase.  The town is looking to buy 3 acres off Ridgebury Road.  The $250,000 proposal is to add the acreage next to the Ridgefield Golf Course clubhouse.  Officials say the land could be used for parking, a well and septic system, or a new clubhouse.  If a positive recommendation is made, a town meeting will be held about the sale.  Tonight's public hearing is at 7:30.

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Redding tutor falls victim to scam

Redding Police say a tutor was scammed into paying hundreds of dollars to a person she believed was her client.  The college student reported that she was asked to cash a $2,500 check, keeping her $600 tutor fee, and send the balance to the student so they could travel back to Redding.  The money was sent and then the original check bounced.   Redding Police say they don't believe the suspect lives in town.  The investigation is ongoing.

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Danbury High School expansion project on schedule

The Danbury Public Works Department is overseeing about $60 million worth of work done in 45 days for the High School expansion project.  Councilman Warren Levy touted the progress being made, noting that the contractors have been on site, making visible progress. 

 

Director Antonio Iadarola says the deadline is the opening of the new school year.  He compared it to the extremely slow state project on North Street, saying everyone should have a deadline like that.

 

An addition to Danbury High School, essentially giving the 9th grade their own building, includes a two story gym, an academic floor and a level for science and computer labs.  The DHS 2020 project includes construction of a theater, two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the existing cafeteria.

 

Due to construction, all Danbury Public Schools will start after Labor Day for the upcoming school year.  Tuesday September 5th will be a full school day.  The work is on schedule, but officials want an extra week to assure that the building is ready to accommodate students. 

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Dog Waste Initiative created in Ridgefield over pet waste left on ground

A Dog Waste Initiative has been created in Ridgefield to address the issue of people leaving their dog's waste on the ground.  A seven-member committee, two girl scouts and middle school students are part of the effort.

 

The youth volunteers are acquiring permits to install pooper scoopers around Ridgefield.  Girl Scouts are applying to the town engineer to put up about half a dozen dog waste receptacles along the rail trail as part of their Silver Award.  There are currently plastic bag dispensers with biodegradable bags available for use.

 

An incoming High School freshman wants to install pooper scoopers along Main Street.  The historic district will need to give approval on some locations, so the receptacles may be placed on side streets.

 

Officials have suggested a clean-up campaign like Keep Ridgefield Beautiful to get pet owners to be accountable for properly disposing of pet waste.  An existing town ordinance makes leaving the waste behind comparable to littering.

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Ridgefield officials review contract for new Fire Chief

The contract for newly appointed Ridgefield Fire Chief has been reviewed by the Board of Selectmen.  The issue was raised regarding medical control, which is required to operate as a Paramedic, but not a requirement of the Fire Chief position.  In order for Chief Jerry Meyers to continue instructing classes he must continue to carry his paramedic licensure.  The town will begin  working to establish goals and objectives for Chief Meyers’ performance evaluation.  The evaluation will take place about six months from the date of his appointment.

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Gov. signs law to bolster fuel cell industry

Governor Malloy has signed a bill into law that allows electric distribution companies to add power from fuel cells to their sources of renewable energy. 

 

The measure was raised after the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection didn't award any bids for long term clean energy contracts to fuel cell companies.  New long-term utility contracts will be put out to bid under the new law, with different selection criteria.  It excludes solar projects, opening the door to fuel cell and other alternate energy projects.

 

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy officials say the new bidding process could revive a 63-megawatt fuel cell park proposed in Beacon Falls.  The company announced at the end of last year that it was laying off 17-percent of their workers because of lower demand for fuel cells.

 

The Hartford Business Journal reports that greater weight will be given to projects that improve distribution system reliability; fuel cells are considered a steadier source of power than many other renewables like wind, which depends on weather conditions to produce energy.

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Petition started in hopes of Monroe Police Officer getting job back after cancer

A petition on Change.org is seeking to convince the Monroe Police Department to take back an officer who beat brain cancer.  Monroe Officer Andrew Wall was diagnosed with terminal stage four Glioblastoma brain cancer in September of 2015, but through a clinical trial, is on the mend. 

 

He has medical clearance notes from the Clinical Director at Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

 

Wall has been an officer for over 20 years. 

 

The petition has been signed by nearly 6,000 people. 

 

Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski told organizers that he's been following the situation and reached out to Chief John Salvatore.  As a State Representative, Sredzinski does not have direct authority over the operation of the Town of Monroe or its police department, but told the family that he will do his best to find out what the status is on this situation.

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Three men charged for alleged assault in Norwalk

A Brookfield man and two others are facing charges for allegedly beating a man in Norwalk.  Police responded to a report of a brawl early Saturday morning outside a bar.  The Hour reports that the victim told police he followed a man outside to asked about being bumped into, and was then assaulted.  The three fled on foot but were tracked down.  20-year old Logan Ryan of brookfield and 21-year olds Charles Haley of Southport and Anthony Johnson of Fairfield were charged with assault and breach of peace.  Ryan was also charged with forgery for having a fake ID.  They are due in court on the 18th.

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Former custodian at an Easton school charged with child pornography possession

A longtime custodian at Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton has been arrested for illegal possession of child pornography.  49-year old David Habetz of Derby was charged by Derby Police in June.  The Easton school district sent a letter to parents on Friday alerting them to the arrest. 

 

Habetz was released on bond for an August 1st court appearance. 

 

School officials told the Easton Courier that the criminal activity took place on his own time, and appears to have been via the Internet.  The letter noted that the police and school investigations did not establish any concern about Easton children being involved. 

 

The school district learned about the investigation in March and said that Habetz hasn't been on school grounds since then.

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Water main replacements continue in Bethel

Water main replacements are continuing in the Beach Street area of Bethel.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the project is a more complicated and time consuming process than usual because the mains that run under the street also run under a creek.  There are environmental rules that have to be followed and inspections performed along the way.  The project is on schedule.  The road will be repaved and the sidewalks replaced.

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Seymour fire official warns against dressing up fire hydrants

Someone dressed up a fire hydrant in Seymour in  a jacket and ball cap.  Fire Chief Michael Lombardi said in a Facebook post that it's not a laughing matter, rather one of safety--and noted that it's illegal.  He said by messing around with a fire hydrant, it delays firefighters from putting water on the fire, puts firefighters at risks and also residents of the community.  Lombardi also suggested that whoever put the clothes on the Meadow Street hydrant, that they shouldn't have left clothes with their name on it. "Brian F" was written inside the ball cap.

 

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Brookfield officials to make special appropriation to cover legal bills

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen took up a motion last night to make a special appropriation to cover legal bills of the former Republican Registrar of Voters. The Board sent the $65,000 request to the Board of Finance for approval.

 

The money is to settle and pay indemnification obligation, per the judgment of the Superior Court, to Tom Dunkerton. The funds will come from cash surplus or contingency. The legal bills stem from a lawsuit filed against Dunkerton and others over the removal of a town woman from the GOP voter rolls. The move was done under a little used-state statute about "good faith party affiliation".

 

Dunkerton argued, and the court agreed, that he was acting in his town employee role and not as a party official. First Selectman Steve Dunn previously opposed having to make the payment for several reasons. He believed it to be a party matter. Dunn also said that town employees should get approval before hiring attorneys when it comes to town matters.

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Area lawmakers disappointed Gov. vetoes affordable housing law reforms

Brookfield recently went through a fight to prevent a developer from putting up 6-story apartment buildings in town, citing a stress on the town's all-volunteer fire department.  An effort was then launched to reform the state's 8-30g affordable housing law. 

 

An area legislator is disappointed that Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed that bipartisan bill.  Housing Committee co-chair Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the measure was aimed at allowing more local zoning and planning input in developing affordable and workforce housing projects that are compatible with community character. 

 

Hwang said the reform fight will continue.  Hwang says projects rejected by local planning and zoning boards often are approved on appeal to the Land Use Litigation Docket, a branch of the state Superior Court. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the bill aimed to restore local zoning and planning decisions.  She says the 8-30g law has become an emotional issue for many communities because of the broad latitude it gives developers to build under the auspices of increasing affordable housing inventory.  These sometimes-controversial development projects often change the town's character.

 

Malloy says the number of affordable housing units across the state has grown larger during the past several years than it has over the last several decades. He says state laws should encourage this continued growth, not move in the opposite direction. 

 

The bill would have made it easier for municipalities to qualify for moratoriums on appeals of local zoning denials under a statute that encourages cities and towns to make sure that a certain amount of their housing stock is considered affordable.

 

It had passed the Senate 30-6 and the House of Representatives 116-33.

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Himes discusses health care legislation at Fairfield County town hall meeting

Lawmakers are returning this week from their July Fourth recess with another vacation break just three weeks away.  Many spent time listening to constituents vent about health care, including 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  He says the Affordable Care Act did some good things including expanding coverage, and not turning people away if they have pre-existing conditions.

 

But Himes says it has issues.  He notes that any significant piece of legislation must be amended and changed to deal with problems that come up.

 

Himes says improvements that can and should be made, especially when it comes to private exchanges and individual markets.  He says the ACA became so hated by the opposition that the answer became repeal rather than repair.

 

Himes says the measure under consideration in the Senate is really a tax bill, not a health care bill.  Meanwhile, Senator John McCain said now may be the time for Republicans to come up with a new proposal with support from Democrats. 

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New Maurice Sendak book to be published next fall

Five years after his death, a new publication is coming from Maurice Sendak.  Publishers Weekly reports that the president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation was going through the late artist’s files at his Ridgefield home, and found a typewritten manuscript. 

 

"Presto and Zesto in Limboland" was co-authored by Sendak's frequent collaborator, Arthur Yorinks.  According to Publishers Weekly, the story will be available in the fall of 2018. 

 

Foundation President Lynn Caponera, who managed Sendak's household for decades, didn't remember the two friends working on a text with that title, so she scanned the manuscript and e-mailed it to Sendak's longtime editor and publisher.  The illustrations were created by Sendak in 1990 for a symphony about Czech nursery rhymes. 

 

The first part of the title, Presto and Zesto, is an homage to their friendship.  Yorinks told the publication that when he later moved to Connecticut, they thought he lived about a half hour drive away, but made it to Sendak's Ridgefield house in three minutes.  When he opened the door Sendak said, "Presto!" and that became Yorinks' nickname.  Sendak was then dubbed “Zesto.”

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Kent company considered Connecticut's first 'Farm Brewery'

Governor Malloy has signed a bill creating a “Farm Brewery” license.  Permit holders are allowed to make, store, bottle, distribute, and sell up to 75-thousand gallons of beer a year.  The product can be labeled as “Connecticut Craft Beer."  The Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent is considered the state’s first “Farm Brewery." 

 

The permit also allows permittees to offer tastings and free samples, and retail sales for both on- and off-premises consumption, though a municipality may prohibit the activity by local ordinance or regulation.

 

General Law Ranking Member Representative Richard Smith of New Fairfield helped move the bill through the legislature.

 

According to the Brewer’s Association, the craft brewery industry in the state has a $569 million economic impact every year.  Permits were first licensed in nearby New York in 2013, and since then more than 160 businesses have obtained farm brewery licenses.

 

The annual fee for a farm brewery manufacturer permit in Connecticut is $300.  The amount a farmers' market beer sales permittee may sell to a person per day at a farmers' market was also increased from five to seven liters.

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Man arrested for assault, robbery in Danbury, second suspect sought

A Connecticut man has been arrested for assaulting two people in Danbury and robbing them.  Police were called to Aaron Samuels Blvd around 4:30am on July 2nd for a street robbery complaint. 

 

Two adults sustained significant facial injuries and were transported to Danbury Hospital.  The victims told police that two males had assaulted them and taken their money and cell phones. 

 

An investigation led to 42-year old Harry Thompson of Waterbury.  Thompson was arrested Friday on charges of robbery, assault and larceny.  He was held on $100,000 bond. 

 

The case remains under investigation.

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Bethel man arrested for strong arm robbery caught with crack cocaine

A Bethel man has been arrested for assaulting someone and taking his money.  Danbury Police say the victim on Terrace Place sustained injuries to his head early in the morning of July 1st. 

 

The victim refused medical attention. 

 

Detectives determined that 20-year old Luiny Delacruz was the suspect.  He was arrested late Friday night walking on Division Street.  Delacruz was found in possession of Crack Cocaine and a Crack Pipe.  He was charged with possession of a controlled substance and of drug paraphernalia, robbery and larceny. 

 

Delacruz was held on a combined $125,000 bond. 

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Intersection realignment work closes two roads in Bethel

Starting today in Bethel, Walnut Hill Road and Hoyt Road are closed to all through traffic.  Road work is being done throughout the summer months as part of an intersection realignment project.  The construction is expected to end during the week of August 28th.  Access will be granted only to local residents and emergency vehicles, if needed.  Residents are advised to seek alternate routes during this phase of construction.

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New Fairfield lawmaker wants employee union contracts voted on by legislature

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith is sounding off about the lack of a state budget.  One of the hold ups is that state employee unions haven't voted on a concession deal.  Smith says the state can no longer afford the onerous benefits to public employee unions.  He wants their contracts, negotiated by the governor, to be voted on by the legislature.  The Office of Fiscal Analysis reported income tax revenue is down $1.1 billion and sales and corporate taxes are projected to fall by $450 million.  Smith says this comes at the same time pension contributions to state employees have doubled since 2010.

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NY man arrested for alleged shoplifting attempt

A New York man has been arrested in Wilton for attempted shoplifting.  Wilton Police say 46-year old Richard Sosa of the Bronx tried to take merchandise from the CVS in Wilton Center.  Sosa was also found in possession of a stolen credit card.  He was charged with attempted larceny and credit card theft. 

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New Fairfield Board of Ed chair to resign

The chairman of the New Fairfield Board of Education will be leaving his post early.  Steve Burfeind will resign as of November 7th.  In his letter, Burfeind said there was discord in the district and he hopes with the 7 seats up for election, a new board will be able to come together.  He also said his biggest regret was not doing more to defend Superintendent Alicia Roy and her character assassination.  About half of the Board said Roy's contract should not be renewed.  Before her evaluation could be completed, Roy announced that she would not see an extension.

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Brookfield residents called on to decide on streetscape Phase II funding

There is a special town meeting in Brookfield tonight about the next phase of the streetscape project.  Residents will be asked to approve or reject appropriating $1.34 million to the sidewalks, lighting, and parking in the Town Center.  Brookfield is paying $475,000 for phase two, with a grant covering $865,000.  Tonight's special town meeting is at 6:30 in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

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Park closes after "suspicious device" found

KENT, Conn. (AP) Connecticut state police say a ``suspicious device'' forced the closure of the Kent Falls State Park.

An employee spotted the device in between a parking lot and the front entrance of the park around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Park visitors were asked to leave, and the state police bomb squad responded along with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Police say the device turned out to be a camping grill with wires used as an igniter.

DEEP says from a distance, the grill looked as if it could be ``some type of Improvised Explosive Device.''

The park reopened to visitors around 12:45 p.m.

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Bill to beef up protections for animals in shelters signed by Gov. Malloy

A bill has been signed into law by Governor Malloy, aimed at improving conditions at brick and mortar private nonprofit animal shelters.  They would be required to register with the Department of Agriculture and to comply with local zoning requirements.  The bill was introduced by Monroe Representative J.P. Sredzinski, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and Representatives Brenda Kupchick and Nicole Klarides-Ditria.

 

Kupchick brought this legislation forward in 2012 after a number of animals died at a private animal facility, which was run by Fred Acker.  Last year, the Klarides sisters went to adopt a cat from a Monroe-based animal shelter run by Acker. They found the animals sick due to deplorable conditions.

 

Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture must issue a registration to an applicant upon application and payment of a $50 fee if the applicant complies with applicable state regulations and, for an initial registration, municipal zoning requirements. A registration is effective until the second December 31 following issuance, may be renewed biennially by December 31, and may be transferred to another premise with the commissioner’s approval.

 

The bill authorizes the commissioner, or his agent, to inspect an animal shelter at any time. If, in his judgement, the shelter is not being maintained in a sanitary and humane manner that protects public safety, or if he finds that contagious, infectious, or communicable disease or other unsatisfactory conditions exist, he may fine the shelter up to $500 for each affected animal, issue orders necessary to correct the conditions, and quarantine the premises and animals.

 

In addition, if a shelter fails to comply with the commissioner’s regulations or orders or any state law relating to animals, the commissioner may revoke or suspend its registration.  The order may appeal to Superior Court.

 

Anyone operating a shelter without a valid registration is subject to a fine of up to $200.

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Danbury officials sound off about DOT North Street project

The state Department of Transportation is drawing heat from some Danbury officials over the pace of the North Street expansion project. 

 

City Councilman Warren Levy was frustrated with the state's performance.  He contacted the traffic control engineer and questioned whether the public is willing to go along with the inconvenience of construction for the result of an expanded corridor.  Levy noted that the contractor is only on site intermittently, with a skeleton crew.  He says the public is unnecessarily inconvenienced by the performance.

 

Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says his department gets a lot of calls from drivers complaining about the project, thinking it's a City street, and is eager for the work to wrap up.

 

But the project is not schedule for completion until next summer. 

 

Iadarola met recently with DOT leaders and asked if they could expedite paving to open the bottlenecks.  He was critical of work on the retaining wall coming to a stop.  The steel work is standing, but they haven't poured the concrete. 

 

Levy raised the problem with the DOT, and two days later some work was done.  But they soon went back to skeleton crews and non-performing days.

 

Iadarola was critical of crews working on sidewalks and ignoring road work.

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Candlewood Corners project progresses

Progress is being made on the drainage project happing in New Fairfield.  The Candlewood Corners project work is being done along Saw Mill Road and aimed at preventing flooding during heavy rain events.  Officials say pipes are being laid and work is moving along at a good pace.

 

(Photo: New Fairfield First Selectman, Facebook)

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Easton K9 gets acquainted to new job

Easton's new K9 TJ is getting the grand tour of his new patrol car and the town.  Officer French is partnered with the 16-month-old German shepherd.  A $40,000 grant from the estate of a Kenneth and Ann Gleszer, of Danbury, enabled the department to restart the K9 program. 

 

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Car goes over guard rail along curve on Monroe road

The Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company responded to a single car crash around 6:30 last night.  The vehicle went over the guardrail at the intersection of Hammertown Rd and Wildhorse Court.  The accident happened on the "S" Curve just before the intersection. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle without assistance and was checked by Monroe EMS.  Stevenson crews addressed hazards on the scene.

 

(Photo: Stevenson VFD)

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New Milford Police investigating package thefts

Some New Milford residents have reported packages stolen from their mailboxes after the items were delivered.  Police are looking for information about the thefts from around New Milford, particularly the Pumpkin Hill area.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000

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No parking allowed on some Danbury streets during construction

The Danbury Public Works Department is doing road construction on Heritage Drive, Centennial Drive, Richter Drive, Linda Drive, and Jarrod Drive.  While construction is taking place, there will be NO on-street parking.  While the roads will not be close, there may be some travel restrictions during the work. Construction started yesterday and will last about 5 to 6 weeks.

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Bethel school officials to hold update on planned school construction

The Bethel Public Schools will be holding an informational session on the renovations of Johnson and Rockwell schools.  The gathering will take place next Monday, July 17.  It will be at 7pm in the Bethel Middle School Library.  Presentation topics will include an overview of options considered and final option, along with cost estimates.  Presentations will be made by the Superintendent, architects, and independent construction manager.

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Squantz Pond swim area closed due to elevated bacteria levels

The swim area at Squantz Pond State Park is closed effective immediately due to elevated bacteria levels in the water.  It exceeds the limit that has been established for safe swimming and the area will be closed through the weekend.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection tests designated state park swim areas weekly.  The swim area will remain closed until DEEP tests again and they get results that show it is safe.  The next test is scheduled for Thursday, with results coming on Friday the 14th.

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Danbury nanny pleads guilty as trial was about to start

A Danbury nanny accused of burning and beating a three year old girl has pleaded guilty.  The trial of 32-year old Lidia Quilligana was expected to start yesterday.  She was also charged with about  two dozen counts of risk of injury to a minor.  She pleaded to a reduced assault charge and pleaded under the Alford Doctrine to other counts, refuting some facts but admitting there is enough evidence to convict her.

 

Sentencing is set for August 22nd.

 

Police reviewed nanny cam footage showing Quilligana allegedly force-feeding the girl, slapping her, knocking her to the ground and jumping on her.  The child's mother installed the nanny cam in December 2014 and the alleged incident happened the following March.  One-year old twins were also reportedly seen being abused on the footage. 

 

Quilligana gave birth to her third child while being held on a million dollars bond.  

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Two men arrested for robbery, stabbing in Brewster

Two Brewster men have been arrested for a robbery and stabbing that happened Wednesday.  New York State Police responded to a call from the victim who said he was walking down Marvin Avenue, when two young men approached him.  He tried to flee, but was attacked. 

 

Police say 20-year old Michael Villegas and 16-year old Daniel Rahn stole 3-dollars and stabbed the victim with a knife.  The pair fled into the woods, but were tracked down. 

 

  

(Rahn, Villegas)

 

The victim was treated at Danbury Hospital for a on-life threatening cut to his arm. 

 

Rahn was charged with robbery and assault.  Villegas was charged with robbery.  Both were arraigned and ordered held on bond for court appearances Monday.

 

Anyone who may have information in connection with this robbery or any similar incident is asked to contact the State Police at (845) 677-7300.  All calls can remain confidential.

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Danbury lawmaker touts expansion of 'angel investor' program

Governor Malloy signed a bill into law that supports small business growth in Connecticut by allowing investments in additional types of businesses to qualify for the state’s angel investor tax credit program.  The new law opens up the program beyond specified technology industries, making it easier for small businesses to attract investments.

 

Danbury state Representative David Arconti says it basically incentivizes accredited investors to consult and mentor prospective small business owners.  The investors contribute to a fund meant to establish support toward the growth of small businesses.

 

Arconti says getting the capital to start a small business is often difficult, because banks are still not lending at levels they did before the recession.  He says the angel investment tax credit program bolsters other initiatives, like the Small Business Express Program.

 

In Connecticut, angel investors who invest at least $25,000 in approved businesses are eligible for a personal income tax credit equal to 25 percent of their investment, up to $250,000.  A business must apply to Connecticut Innovations for approval to receive credit-eligible investments.

 

The new law does not have a fiscal impact because it does not increase the cap on the total amount of credits available under the current program.

 

Startups funded by angel investors are nearly 25 percent more likely to survive, and on average grow employment by 40 percent over non-angel funded startups, according to a study from Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School and Antoinette Schoar of the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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New Fairfield lawmakers hold constituent town hall meeting

State Senator Michael McLachlan and Representative Richard Smith met recently with New Fairfield residents to discuss the newly adjourned General Assembly session.  Most of the conversation centered on the lack of a state budget.

McLachlan says Connecticut needs to get its fiscal house in order and it needs to start by controlling spending and making some necessary cuts.

Smith was critical of Republican budget proposals being ignored.  He called them sensible, viable solutions to the state’s budget crisis.

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Former Easton police commissioner sentenced in steroids case

A former Easton Police Commissioner has been sentenced for his role in a steroid distribution ring.  50-year old Raymond Martin was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. 

 

A former Newtown Police sergeant and others received shipments of steroid ingredients from China and manufactured and distributed wholesale quantities of steroids.  Certain members of the conspiracy also distributed prescription pills, including oxycodone, as well as cocaine.

 

During the investigation, dubbed Operation Juice Box, Martin was intercepted on a court-authorized wiretap.  He was caught ordering anabolic steroids and offering to sell oxycodone pills.

 

Martin pleaded guilty in March to one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.  Martin took a leave of absence from the police commission and his term expired last July.

 

The ring leader, former Sgt. Steven Santucci was sentenced last August to 16 months in prison, six months of home confinement, 120 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.

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Kent opens new Welcome Center

The Town of Kent will cut the ribbon tonight on a new Welcome Center.  The facility is located behind the Kent Station Pharmacy.

 

(Photos: Kent Chamber of Commerce)

 

It features public restrooms, an open porch with kiosk area and parking.  The Welcome Center includes a directory and map highlighting Chamber members and visitor attractions.  Trash and recycling bins are also on site.

 

 

 

The Welcome Center will be open 8am to 8pm.

 

The Welcome Center also includes a water bottle filler, electrical outlets for charging devices and an area with a coin-operated shower behind the building.  Kent is along the Appalachian Trail and officials see a need for this for hikers making a stop in the town.  The shower costs $2 for four minutes.

 

The grand opening is set for 5:30pm.

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Metro North track works prompts bussing, Redding road closure

Long Ridge Road will be closed at the West Redding Center railroad crossing this weekend. The rail work on the Danbury line of Metro North includes replacing the existing crossing surface of the "at-grade" crossing.  Long Ridge Road will be closed from 10am Friday through 4pm Wednesday.   The work will be done during both day and night time hours.  Detour signs will be put in place.  There will be substitute bussing on the Danbury Line this weekend.

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Monroe Police K9 is top dog

The newest member of the Monroe Police Department is K9 Riggs. Riggs just finished two months of training and finished top of his class. Riggs is partnered with Officer Jeff Loomis. 

 

The teams conduct a minimum of 16 hours of in service training per month with their training region and an additional hour per day with their handlers. 

 

K9 Gunner, an 8-year old German Shepard, retired in February.  Gunner was diagnosed with Bloat, a disease in which the stomach of an animal becomes enlarged and begins to twist.  He underwent a successful surgery, but it took a toll on his body.  That led to his retirement.

 

(Photo: Monroe PD)

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