The Danbury City Council has approved new daycare inspection fees. Officials tabled the inspection issue last fall, but there was renewed urgency after the state Office of Early Childhood sent out a warning letter to Danbury's Health and Human Services department over a lack of local inspections. Local Director Michelle Morrisey says that could jeopardize the licensing status of otherwise compliant day cares. Council members said questioned remained about duplicating state inspections and charging another fee. A $75 inspection fee and a $125 one-time plan review fee for any new day care construction plans were adopted. According to state law, commercial day care facilities and home-based facilities must apply to the city and pass health department inspections at least once every two years.
The heavy and constant rain yesterday caused a number of problems during the evening commute. The Danbury Branch of Metro-North was suspended for several hours and then was running with delays because of weather-related high water issues. Metro North at one point told commuters to seek alternate transportation options. At least one car got stuck in the high water that flooded over Main Street in Danbury by Elmwood Park before that part of the roadway was closed. Flooded roadways were also reported in Bethel, Easton and in Ridgefield. Police from several towns cautioned motorists to never drive through water if you can't tell how deep it is. In Stamford, firefighters used a boat to rescue kids from a flooded school bus.
Bethel Police have arrested a Danbury man for a disturbance at Berry Elementary School. Police were told that 36-year old Richard Holock drove past buses while their red lights were flashing around 3:30pm. After being told to park, he drove on the grass. Police say Holock became verbally abusive when confronted by school officials. He was charged with breach of peace, criminal mischief, passing a school bus, and reckless driving. School dismissal was not impacted.
The Multi-Town Air Monitoring Task Force is hosting a public meeting at Kent Town Hall tonight about the Cricket Valley Energy Center. State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee will speak about Connecticut's role in monitoring the under-construction facility's impact on air quality in northwest Connecticut. The natural gas-fired electric generation plant is just over the state line in Dover Plains, New York and slated to come online in 2020. The task force wants to collect baseline data monitoring the air before it opens. The nearest DEEP air monitoring stations are 18 miles away in Cornwall and 26 miles away in Thomaston. The task force says neither monitors for the full range of emissions to come from Cricket Valley.
Danbury Public Schools and the Association of Religious Communities are partnering once again on the KIDS program. ARC is expanding the program from 80 students to serve 390. New volunteers are needed to be mentors for elementary school students and their teachers, usually in kindergarten classrooms. The KIDS schools are identified as Title 1, low-income schools. Volunteers help students build their reading and math skills through projects, educational games and small group activities as directed by the classroom teacher. An informational meeting for interested volunteers is being held today from 3 to 4pm at the ARC office on Delay Street. Reservations are required. Volunteers will be asked to donate a 2-hour block once a week from October thru the end of this academic year, June 2019.
A worker's arm got caught in a large machine at a Brewster business yesterday. Brewster fire and ambulance were dispatched to the commercial facility on Danbury Road and responders were able to free the man in about 30 minutes. Brewster ambulance transported the injured worker to an awaiting LifeNet helicopter for a flight to Westchester Medical Center. No other details were immediately available.
Bear sightings have become a more common occurrence. Danbury Library is hosting a program with a Connecticut Master Wildlife Conservationist about the Bear Reality and how to be Bear Aware. Felicia Ortner will be at Danbury Library on October 3rd from 5:30-6:30pm. Through her program, she hopes to dispel some of the myths associated with black bears using the knowledge she gained from studying bears for over 30 years. The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required and can be done online at danburylibrary.org.
A drive-thru at a Starbucks under construction in Newtown has been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The group unanimously approved the modified special zoning permit for the planned service window at 75 Church Hill Road. Eateries in Newtown aren't normally zoned for drive-thrus, though there is one pre-existing. Plans for signage included a drawing with outdoor seating in front of the store, but the proposal was not part of the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission. If outdoor seating is actually planned, Starbucks would have to go back to the Commission for approval.
The New Milford Town Council has authorized town officials to apply for a $20,000 state Historic Preservation Office grant to study uses for the Lillis Building. The East Street facility currently houses the school district’s central offices.
The New Milford Town Council also received a letter of intent from Dakota Partners to transform the building into affordable housing. The proposal is for a $1.6 million sale, with the company remediating asbestos and lead-based paint.
The plan calls for restoring the building's facade, creating 15 to 20 apartments, a gym and a leasing office. Two buildings would be constructed on the back of the property, another 55 to 60 units. The Town Council, the school and finance boards and residents would have to approve the sale after engineering and architectural reports are done.
New lawsuits have been filed by victims who claim they were sexually abused as children by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.
The Connecticut Post reports that the alleged abuse took place from the late 80s through the early 2000s by three priests in Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury and Ridgefield. The allegations were made against Reverends Walter Coleman, Robert Morrissey and Larry Jensen. Coleman and Morrissey have both since died.
In 2002, Connecticut extended the limit on filing lawsuits from a 5-year statute of limitations to the time that alleged victims reach the age of 48. One man claims he was sexually abused by Coleman at St. Joseph’s Parish in Brookfield in the 1980s, another plaintiff was allegedly sexually abused by Morrissey at St. Mary’s Parish in Ridgefield in the 1990s.
One alleged victim met Jensen in the early 2000s at an Emmaus retreat. Jensen, the spiritual director of the diocese’s Danbury program, is accused of abusing the plaintiff at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church, where the program was held.
The Newtown Board of Selectman has gone over the proposed Capital Improvement Plan for the next several years. It includes $2 million for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial next fiscal year, and another $2 million in the following fiscal year. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the entire allocation might not be used, but could be an accurate estimate of the project's cost.
Bethel has sent out an update to Water Department customers on consent order progress. The town agreed with the state Department of Public Health in July 2016 to address and correct water system deficiencies in the system. Quarterly updates have been made since that time.
Bethel installed a new booster pump station at Briar Cliff Manor and water main extension to increase the pressure in the distribution system to correct the deficiency. All customer service connections that did not meet the minimum psi operation pressure will be connected to the improved system by the end of this week and will be in compliance.
Bethel conducted its annual inspection of both clearwells and found no problems.
Quarterly samples have met regulatory requirements and have been below the Maximum Contaminent Level for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHM). Bethel made system modifications to reduce the use of surface water supplies and replace it with additional groundwater supplies. The lower total organic carbon level of the ground water supply, as compared to surface water supply, minimizes the formation of chlorination by-produicts such as TTHMs.
Some New Fairfield residents have raised concerns about solicitors selling products and services door-to-door. Town officials have posted the list of licensed vendors and solicitors on the town website to let residents know who has obtained a license from the town. The application process includes fingerprinting and a background check by State Police. Vendors and solicitors must carry their license with them while doing business in New Fairfield. Currently, there are three companies with a total of 9 licensed solicitors on the list:
Power Home Remodeling
The League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County is hosting an event at West Conn today called “The Suffrage Movement in Connecticut. There will be a discussion of the suffrage movement in Connecticut including its history, issues women fought for and the resistance they faced. The event is free and the public is invited. The League will also help attendees to register to vote at this National Get Out the Vote Day event. It takes place at Warner Hall on the midtown campus from 11am to 2pm. The League serves Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown and Sherman.
This is National Get Out the Vote Day. The League of Women Voters of Ridgefield has partnered with the Ridgefield Library for the nationwide, nonpartisan effort to register voters. The league will be at Ridgefield Library from 10am to 2pm to assist voters who want to register, or update their registration if they have moved.
Metro North is explaining to Danbury Branch commuters about why they've had so many buses running on the line, and why there have been so many delays. Metro-North has started a diesel locomotive overhaul program, with the first rolling out at the end of the year. It will take a few years for the full fleet to be in service. A brochure was left on train car seats telling commuters that this program will bring more reliability to the Danbury Branch. On time performance in the past year has been hovering between 85 and 90 percent, some being blamed on late connections from the New Haven line.
Wilton Police say there's been an increase in mail theft throughout the state, including in Wilton. Police say suspects are targeting both public and residential mailboxes. Police recommend bringing mail directly to the Post Office and using a mail slot inside the Post Office building to avoid being a victim.
New Milford has taken steps to solve a recreation challenge on the Housatonic River, where the town already invested a significant amount of money. Kayakers were reporting back to New Milford officials that as they launched from the Young’s Field site, and then returned, they would get stuck in the mud. Mayor Pete Bass says they have now put in a so-called Yak Port on the dock at the Riverfront on Young’s Field Road.
First Responders in Monroe are cautioning residents to a fundraising scam from a group that calls itself the Volunteer Firefighters Association. A a program of the Heroes United PAC has been calling and writing people in Monroe asking for donations to help firefighters. The three volunteer fire companies in Monroe do not call residents for donations, but rather hold annual fund drives, asking for donations to be mailed to their respective fire department. The Volunteer Firefighters Association is a political action committee based in Wisconsin and is not associated with any of the three local fire departments. The volunteer firefighters also say they do not benefit from donations sent to the PAC.
The Danbury High School Athletic Department will participate in the Women's Center annual SafeWalk next Sunday morning. Last year, more than 400 DHS students participated in the SafeWalk. The Hatters helps promote the Women's Center of Greater Danbury as a safe haven and sole provider for domestic abuse and sexual assault services in the Danbury area.
The Redding Health Director toured Joel Barlow High School last week to check for mold. There were no roof leaks and no mold found during the latest inspection. Previously, mold and mildew was found in some rooms--caused by the hot, damp summer. Dehumidifiers have been put in carpeted classrooms. Some pipes have been wrapped to prevent future leaking through the ceiling tiles as the air conditioner runs.
8 modular classrooms are being installed at Westside Middle School Academy in Danbury to increase capacity by 150 students. The structures are mostly pre-constructed, will sit on concrete foundations and form a new wing on the back of the school. The district must add a breezeway to the school. The nearly $1 million project is being paid for with 80-percent state funding.
The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded a $69,132 emergency shelter grant from the state Department of Housing. The funds will be used to offset costs associated with operating the shelter on New Street through June 30, 2019. According to a statement about the grant submitted to the City Council, the money will be used until Catholic Charities takes over operations.
The City partnered with the United Way in March to find a sub-contractor to manage the programs at the City Shelter. The Health Department, Finance, Corporation Counsel, and Mayor's office have been working with the United Way and Catholic Charities to solidify dates, performance measures, as well details of the contract. Health Director Lisa Morrissey says the process was very similar to the other grants that the United Way issues on behalf of the city, and proposals were reviewed by independent grant reviewers selected by United Way.
Mayor Mark Boughton noted that tentative negotiations are not yet complete. He says the City would not be locked in if another operator comes in that could provide services for less.
In December 2016, Boughton proposed merging the City run homeless shelter and the one at Dorothy Day Hospitality House. The food service would be operated by Dorothy Day volunteers, and the shelter would be managed by city staff. Each shelter currently has 20 beds. His proposal is for a 40 bed facility, with a commercial kitchen, cafeteria, and a counseling center. A new location for the merged shelter was not identified.
Dorothy Day operators are currently in a legal battle with the City. In 2015, officials discovered that a zoning permit expired in 1985 and was never renewed.
An armed robbery that happened in Sherman this weekend is being investigated by State Police. Troop A is looking for an older model light blue Honda Accord with Connecticut license plates, and its front bumper completely missing. A handgun was displayed in the incident. The driver was described as a heavy set black male, 40s-50s, approximately 6-feet tall, light beard, wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans. The passenger is described as a white male, 40s-50s, bald, long grey beard, wearing a navy blue t-shirt and blue jeans.
The U.S Department of Justice Office of Inspector General has completed a review, prompted in part by members of Congress and public interest groups, of concerns about what they consider to be deficiencies in Bureau of Prisons's management of female inmates. Part of the review determined that BOP’s conversion of Federal Correctional Institution Danbury to house male inmates negatively affected certain female inmates who had been housed there.
As a case study, the OIG also examined BOP’s 2013 decision to convert FCI Danbury from a female institution to a male institution as part of a larger plan to increase bed space for low security female and male inmates throughout BOP institutions. Although concerns were raised that the conversion would cause female inmates to be incarcerated farther from home, OIG found that, while 19 percent of U.S. citizen inmates were transferred farther from their homes, the overwhelming majority were transferred closer to their homes. The conversion resulted in 366 low security sentenced female inmates serving a portion of their sentences in Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) Brooklyn, a detention center intended for short-term confinement.
The National Association of Women Judges found that the conditions of confinement at MDC Brooklyn amounted to a violation of the American Bar Association Standards on Treatment of Prisoners, as well as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. When OIG representatives visited MDC Brooklyn, they found that BOP offered female inmates no access to outdoor space, less natural light, and fewer programming opportunities than what would otherwise be available to female inmates at BOP facilities designed to house sentenced inmates in long-term confinement.
In addition, a separate OIG criminal investigation determined that, during the time that sentenced female inmates were assigned to MDC Brooklyn, multiple custody staff sexually assaulted female inmates, resulting in the convictions of two Lieutenants and a Correctional Officer. In December 2016, after reversing its decision not to house female inmates at FCI Danbury, BOP opened a new low security institution for female inmates at FCI Danbury. However, because FCI Danbury was constructed without a Special Housing Unit, they found that managing female inmates who needed to be placed in a SHU disrupted institution operations because BOP had to transfer these inmates to Federal Detention Center Philadelphia for SHU placement.
During a visit to MDC Brooklyn in August 2017, OIG representatives found that its female inmates had less access to fresh air and sunlight than what would have been available to them at FCI Danbury.
In response to congressional concerns that the conversion of FCI Danbury would cause female inmates to be housed farther from their homes, OIG analyzed the distances from home for female inmates transferred from FCI Danbury. The analysis found that 81 percent of Danbury’s U.S. citizen female inmates were transferred closer to or remained the same distance from home and 19 percent were transferred farther from home.
OIG found that of the 1,127 female inmates transferred or released from FCI Danbury, 497 were U.S. citizen female inmates who were transferred to other BOP institutions. Of those 497, they found that 401 were transferred to a BOP institution closer to their homes or were reassigned to a minimum security prison camp at FCI Danbury. Conversely, 96 were transferred to a BOP institution farther from home. Of those 96, 61 were from BOP’s Northeast Region. OIG did not consider the non-U.S.citizen inmates whom BOP transferred from FCI Danbury in this analysis because the BOP data analyzed did not always include a U.S. residence for these individuals.
Though female inmates compose a small percentage of the nationwide incarcerated population, correctional officials have recognized that in some areas female and male inmates have different needs and the BOP has adopted gender-responsive programs and policies that account for these needs. As a continuation of prior U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General reviews examining BOP’s management of certain subpopulations of inmates, including aging inmates and inmates with mental illness in restrictive housing, OIG initiated a review of BOP’s management of female inmates, specifically BOP’s efforts and capacity to ensure that BOP-wide policies, programs, and decisions adequately address the distinctive needs of women.
OIG concluded that BOP has not been strategic in its management of female inmates. OIG determined that BOP needs to take additional steps at the Central Office level to ensure that female inmate needs are met at the institution level. Our review identified instances in which BOP’s programming and policy has not fully considered the needs of female inmates, which has made it difficult for inmates to access certain key programs and supplies. Further, while BOP is adhering to federal regulations and BOP policies requiring that only female Correctional Officers conduct strip searches of female inmates, BOP’s method for ensuring compliance with these requirements assigns staff inefficiently.
The state Department of Transportation is handing out $12.4 million in grants for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects in 40 towns. Governor Malloy says the money also will be used to improve accessibility within community centers where people can meet for work, school, social and recreational activities.
The program seeks to make bicycling and walking conditions safer, encouraging more people to use healthy and environmentally sustainable modes of travel.
Danbury will use $400,000 for the Westside Community Connectivity Project. Sidewalks, lighting and bike lane markings will be installed from Saw Mill Road to Mill Plain Road to Farrington Park. Danbury was among 6 municipalities to get the maximum grant.
New Milford will use $210,000 to put in sidewalks near John Pettibone Community Center at Danbury Road and Pickett District Road. $370,000 will be used by Ridgefield for sidewalk construction on New Street and Pound Street.
The grants were awarded on a competitive basis.
A Danbury man facing charges of sexually assaulting a young child has been extradited from Pennsylvania. 38-year old Luis Vega is now being held on bond for illegal sexual contact with a child under the age of 13 and risk of injury to a minor. He is due in Court on the 10th. The child's parents called Danbury Police earlier this month after their daughter told them that Vega abused her on multiple occasions and told her to keep it a secret. According to the Newstimes, the girl's mother texted Vega, who admitted to the crime and said he wanted to kill himself. Police tried to take him into custody that day, but he fled and was committed to a mental health facility in Pennsylvania.
A town meeting is being held in New Milford tonight about how to spend $1.5 million. The money was slated to close a budget gap created by cuts in state funding, but Mayor Pete Bass says they were able to fill in the hole through savings, layoffs and not filling vacancies. The New Milford Town Council and Board of Finance have been presented with nearly 20 proposals of what the money can now be used for. Among those to be considered by residents are a new fire truck, a pothole-fixing truck and a sidewalk along Patriot’s Way to connect the riverwalk to the downtown. Some personnel decisions will be considered including a new land surveyor and an engineer position. A vehicle and equipment for the surveyor was also proposed. The meeting is at 6:30pm.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue will host an Open House & Public Safety Day on Sunday from 11am to 2pm. Members will put on demonstrations, hold tours of the station, and host a Q-and-A about gear and apparatus among other activities like visits with Smokey Bear. The event is free of charge. The event will also celebrate Sandy Hook's 80th anniversary. The day is being called a community and education outreach opportunity.
The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is taking part in Children’s Expo & Public Safety Day on Saturday at 112 Old Route 6 in Carmel. The day's events take place from 11am to 3pm and are aimed at promoting police, firefighters, local government, social service agencies, volunteer organizations, and private partnerships that work together to keep Putnam County safe. Cutting-edge programs and services for children and families are held and demonstrated during the free event. The Children’s Expo & Public Safety Day is the most comprehensive injury prevention and safety education event in Putnam County.
Richter Arts is hosting a Memorial Art Show and Reception for lifetime member of Richter and served on the board of directors. For many years, artwork by Rick Villodas was displayed in numerous shows. He passed away in August. His art will be on display on Saturday from 2 to 5pm at Richter House. The show will continue on Sunday.
Richter Association for the Arts is hosting an afternoon of musical theater classics on Sunday. The presentation at Richter House is at 3pm and will feature collaborations of Lyricist/Composer Gershwin and Gershwin, Jerome Kerns and Dorothy Fields, Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Nearly $31 million in new federal funding is being sent to Connecticut to help combat the opioid epidemic. Danbury-based Connecticut Institute for Communities will receive $285,000 to help expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services. The state Department of Public Health received $3.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, including to support work by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Funding was also set aside to purchase 10,000 doses of naloxone, a medication to reverse opioid overdoses, for distribution throughout the state.
Connecticut gained 1,100 net jobs in August. The July originally-released job decline of 1,200 was revised up to a gain of 500 over the month. Connecticut’s August unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a point to 4.3-percent. Three of the six Labor Market Areas saw job increases, two had declines and the Danbury Labor Market Area was unchanged.
The government supersector, which includes all federal, state and local employment, including public higher education, continues to slip with a loss of 800 in August.
Labor Department researcher Andy Condon says after dips in Marchand April, Connecticut has now seen four straight months of employment gains. He notes that on an annual basis, the construction, manufacturing, education & health services and leisure & hospitality sectors are all showing good growth. However, financial activities, a traditional employment foundation in Connecticut, continues to show some weakness.
The Town of New Fairfield has contracted outside services to help homeowners in the inspection of properties damaged by the May severe storm. The purpose of the inspections is to determine if storm related damage has significantly impacted the property assessment. The scope of work includes physically inspecting each damaged property and reporting the findings to the assessor. Most of the inspections will not require interior viewings. Property owners who want an interior inspection are asked to contact the assessor's office to schedule an appointment. The assessor's office is not performing structural/safety assessments and cannot offer advice on repairs. Michael Cilfone will begin his contract soon and will have a town-issued identification badge with photo.
A 3-day charity bicycle tour is traveling through Bethel this weekend. Cycle for the Cause is a 275 mile fundraiser traveling from Framingham, Massachusetts to New York City, passing through Bethel. Riders will be coming from Newtown on Saturday via Castle Hill Road to Plumtrees Road, to Maple Avenue, turning west on to Greenwood and following Route 302 to Mansfield, where they will turn towards Danbury. Drivers can expect the cyclists will be passing through in the afternoon.
Today is National POW-MIA day. New Milford officials are hosting a service this evening to remember the sacrifices and service of those who were prisoners of war, as well as those who are missing in action, and their families. The outdoor candlelight Service is at 7:30pm in front of the St. Francis Xavier Parish Center on Elm Street. Glowsticks will be provided by POW-MIA CT Forget-Me-Nots.
A New Jersey man has been sentenced for his role in a drug trafficking organization in Fairfield County. The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that 30-year old David Monseratte Torres was ordered to serve little more than 14 years in prison for trafficking heroin.
A DEA investigation revealed that Torres was the main source of heroin for several years for a pair of brothers who allegedly led the Fairfield County trafficking ring. Nine individuals were charged as a result of the investigation. All pleaded guilty, and Torress was the last to be sentenced.
The organization was reportedly led by Wilfredo Gutierrez, also known as “Bean” and “Big Pun,” and his brother, Bobby Gutierrez, also known as “B.O.” They and others conspired to distribute at least 10 kilograms of heroin in Fairfield County between September 2015 and May 2016.
Wilfredo Gutierrez was sentenced to 180 months of imprisonment and Bobby Gutierrez was sentenced to 160 months of imprisonment. Bobby Gutierrez also was ordered to forfeit $171,462 in cash.
Concerns about management by the Bureau of Prisons of a multi-million dollar construction contract at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution have been identified in a new report from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Inspector General's office has reviewed the recent construction work that took place at FCI Danbury and found that the Bureau of Prisons paid for an unnecessary building.
The audit found that the Bureau of Prisons did not anticipate significant problems with its plan to convert FCI Danbury to a facility with a higher security level. The additional time required to construct the "Programs Building" compromised the Bureau's ability to transfer female inmates to FCI Danbury as quickly as possible.
While the Bureau followed regulations in soliciting and entering into the $28 million contract with Sealaska Constructors, there were weaknesses in the pre-award planning, acquisition planning, contractor performance evaluation and contract pricing procedures. The bureau paid over $1.7 million dollars for an entry building, which wasn't needed.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the Bureau didn't consult with experts on the needs of the prison, such as programming, food services and health serves until after the contract was awarded. He noted that the failure extended the project's duration. Horowitz says there was a significant lack of coordination between various components involved in the project. He added that Bureau's top down effort didn't adequately involve all the different stakeholders, which caused the unnecessary building cost and delays. The audit identified issues with the acquisition plan, which didn't include a plan to address specific areas of concerns identified by the warden. Those concerns included a lack of indoor and outdoor recreation, lack of medical space for inmates, inadequate office, classroom and leisure space, and a lack of food service space.
The audit report contains eight recommendations to help the Bureau in improving contract administration and oversight of its construction contracts.
The New Milford High School roof sustained damage during the May storms and blue tarps were put up as the town waited for their insurance carrier and for a FEMA decision to see what size reimbursement could be counted on for repairs. The Board of Ed Facilities Department told Mayor Pete Bass that the repair has to be made as soon as possible because of the recent excessive rain, so that no further damage is done to the school. Under the town Charter, the Mayor has some emergency powers so Bass told the Town Council and the Board of Finance that he instructed the school board to begin the work as soon as possible. The roof is nearly 20 years old and town and school officials have been talking about what type of roof to put on and the costs associated with that.
The state Bond Commission has approved funding for the Connecticut Institute for Communities. The grant-in-aid will help with expansion of the Greater Danbury Community Health Center. The addition will expand the facility by approximately 8,400 square feet. The estimated cost is $4 million. $1 million in other funding will be contributed to the work. The Bond Commission approved the $3 million balance.
The Commission also approved $10 million for the School Security Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program. The initiative was started after the shootings at Sandy Hook School. Since that time, with matching local funds, it has invested $53 million for improvements at 1,200 schools.
Towns and schools may be reimbursed for development or improvement of the security infrastructure of schools, based on the results of school building security assessments required by the legislation. The improvements include the installation of surveillance cameras, penetration resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double door access, computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms or other systems, the training of school personnel in the operation and maintenance of the security infrastructure of school buildings or the purchase of portable entrance security devices, including metal detector wands and screening machines and related training.
The Annual Safety Day in Ridgefield will be held on Sunday in the parking lot of East Ridge Middle School. The event hosted by the Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department and the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Association is family oriented and admission is free. The day's events run from 10am to 2pm and includes a K9 demonstration by Officer Murray and K9 Loki, Eagle One Helicopter will be landing on the ball field for a demonstration and there will be crash simulators. A Child car seat inspection/installation station will be available, no appointment necessary.
A Regional Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day is being held on Saturday. The collection at the John Pettibone School in New Milford is open to Kent, New Milford and Brookfield residents. There is no charge for dropping off waste at the Pickett District Road facility. The collection is from 9am to 3pm.
The Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority is hosting a public information hearing on Saturday about the town's wastewater treatment plant upgrades. Planning for the facility upgrades and capital needs has been underway for several years. Ridgefield residents will get a chance to officially weigh in on the upgrades during a referendum vote scheduled for November. Authority members will provide information on Saturday about what is proposed, why the upgrades are necessary, the estimated cost, what funding assistance is being offered, project schedule, and other relevant details. The hearing is at Ridgefield Town Hall at 10am.
A member of the New Fairfield Board of Education has submitted his resignation and a search is now under way for a replacement. Doug DeRito said in his resignation letter that he is confident in the school district's new superintendent and that the board will continue to move in a positive direction. New Fairfield schools experienced several years of public criticism over transparency, among other issues. The November election saw a lot of new faces join the Board and the chair and vice chair had resigned last year over the discord. New Fairfield residents looking to fill the vacancy can send a letter of interest to the Democratic or Republican town committee by noon on the 28th. Candidates will have to attend an October 4th meeting to answer questions.
A local lamwaker is calling for state aduitors to investigate UConn.
Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan sent a letter to the auditors after learning that a professor and his administrative assistant violated travel and compensatory time policies that cost UConn more than $100,000. The pair approved each other's travel expenses to Dublin, LA, South Korea and India.
McLachlan said the lack of overnight is similar to problems discovered earlier this year at the UConn Health Center, where it came to light from a whistleblower complaint, not UConn's checks and balances. UConn Medical Center sent regular payments to a professor who had not reported to work in about eight months and was discovered to have been dead much of that time.
An Auditor’s report disclosed improper payment of compensatory time for staff and poor recordkeeping, as well as other irregularities.
A passenger rail forum is being held in New Milford tonight. Mayor Pete Bass and state Representative Bill Buckbee will host the discussion at New Milford Town Hall from 7pm to 8:30pm. The Train Campaign president Karen Christensen will also participate. The public is being asked to weigh in on the possibility of bringing passenger rail service to New Milford.
Yesterday was Connecticut Day at the Big E. There was a parade featuring Connecticut State Troopers, K9s, motorcycles and police cars.
One of those in attendance was K9 Texas, who is based in Troop A in Southbury and recently located a missing New Fairfield boy. The bloodhound also made headlines in December for going missing for days after his handler lost his footing and dropped the leash during a search for a missing man in Danbury.
Governor Wilbur Cross placed the cornerstone of the Connecticut Building in 1938, just as a Hurricane hit the fairgrounds. The building was officially opened and dedicated the following year. At a cost of $85,000, the fifth addition to the Avenue was modeled after the Old Statehouse in Hartford. Inside, visitors will learn about the history, agriculture, commerce, natural resources and industries of the Nutmeg State. The Connecticut building also features exhibits on popular tourist attractions and a wide variety of native produce.
The old Redding Elementary School 3rd and 4th grade playground has been torn down to make way for new structures. The Redding Highway Department removed the 30-year-old equipment. The PTA is now looking for volunteers to help next week to build the new playground, under the supervision of Ultiplay specialists. West Redding Fire Department has volunteered 10 of their company, but more people are needed. Funding for the community build project has been saved up since the early 2000s from private donations, local grants, PTA grants, and PTA student choice votes earmarking money for the playground. No Board of Education budget money or Redding taxpayer dollars have been allocated for this project.
The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission opened a public hearing last night on a proposed age-restricted affordable housing development off Danbury Road. Charter Group Partners has proposed apartment-style one-and-two bedroom condominiums for people 55 and older. 9 of the 30 units would be considered affordable under the state's 8-30g law, allowing some zoning rules to be bypassed. The proposed site is next to Ridgefield's senior center, but also near wetlands.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal appeals court says an insurance company must reimburse the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford nearly $1 million for payments the archdiocese made to settle sexual misconduct cases involving priests and minors.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling in the archdiocese's favor.
Chicago-based Interstate Fire & Casualty refused to reimburse the archdiocese, citing an assault and battery exemption in the insurance policy. Many policies don't cover intentional acts, but church officials argued they did not know about the alleged assaults and sued the insurer in 2012.
The settlements, one of many paid by the archdiocese in priest abuse cases, involved four claims of sexual misconduct by priests against minors in the 1970s and 1980s.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge in Connecticut has dismissed a lawsuit by 60 former professional wrestlers who claimed World Wrestling Entertainment failed to protect them from repeated head trauma including concussions that led to brain damage.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa Bryant in Hartford threw out the lawsuit Monday at the request of the Stamford-based WWE, saying many of the claims were frivolous or filed too late, after the statute of limitations expired.
Bryant also criticized the wrestlers' lawyer, Konstantine Kyros, of Hingham, Massachusetts, and ordered him to pay WWE's legal fees.
Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis and Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff were among the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit. Snuka died last year, and Kyros said he showed signs of brain damage.
Kyros said he will appeal Bryant's decision.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Lawmakers from New York and Connecticut have joined environmental groups in ramping up efforts to block the federal government from selling a mysterious piece of land in Long Island Sound that for years housed an animal disease research facility.
The lawmakers penned a letter this week asking Congress not to provide funding for the marketing or sale of Plum Island. The island is also home to endangered birds, turtles and other animals.
The federal General Service Administration is charged with selling the island to help fund a new bio-research center in Kansas. It's agreed to postpone the sale until it conducts a second environmental impact study.
The Preserve Plum Island Coalition, which includes more than 100 groups, says it will bring stakeholders together later this year to come up with an alternative conservation plan.
The Department of Labor will provide employment and job training guidance to veterans at an upcoming event to help Connecticut's 200,000 veterans.
Stand Down 2018 will take place from 8am to 2pm on Friday at the Department of Veterans' Affairs main campus in Rocky Hill.
More than 70 government agencies and social services organizations are expected to take part in the program, which is organized by the Connecticut Department of Veterans' Affairs. Besides employment and education services, there will be information about state and Veterans Administration benefits, legal and motor vehicle matters and housing matters.
There will also be medical, dental and mental health screenings, as well as free clothing.
The Department of Transportation will provide free bus service from a number of locations around the state. A bus will be leaving from the Danbury War Memorial at 7am. Return transportation will also be provided.
Pre-registration is no longer required. Veterans will have to show proof of service such as VA card.
All of the Still River Greenway in Brookfield is now reopened. The town has cleared storm debris from the southern portion of the Greenway, announcing this week that it's been reopened. While the path was walkable after a first round of clearing along the southern end, there were trees off of the path that were dangerous and had to be cleared. Depending upon the weather, crews will be blowing leaves and minor debris from the Greenway over the next few days. The northern end of the two mile path reopened about two months after being closed by the May macroburst.
A Third Party Code reviewer has been hired in Bethel for the Rockwell and Johnson schools renovation projects to make sure the construction drawings show that the facilities will be in compliance with town, state and federal building codes. Superintendent of Schools Dr Christine Carver said in a district newsletter that they've reviewed those drawings and provided feedback back to the architect who is revising the documents for code compliance. An Owner's Representative, who will represent the town in the oversight of the project, has been selected by the Building and Site Committee. They are in the process of negotiating a contract. The construction manager has identified a few options for obtaining portable classrooms for the swing space at Rockwell School.
Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has reached a clean power generation milestone with a total of more than 8 million megawatt hours having been generated by SureSource fuel cell power plants globally since the first commercial installation. The plants are operating on three continents. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 8 million megawatt hours of clean energy production is enough to offset about 13 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The EPA says it's also adequate to power over 725,000 average size U-S homes for one year, 1.8 million German homes for one year or 2.235 million South Korean homes for one year.
A Newtown resident has been tapped to serve as a federal judge for the District of Connecticut. Judge Kari Dooley has served as a judge in state court for the last 14 years. She was nominated by President Trump in December and confirmed by the U-S Senate Judiciary Committee this month. The vacancy was created when a judge assumed senior status. Dooley will be based in Bridgeport and serve as one of eight authorized judges in the District of Connecticut. She graduated from UConn School of Law in 1988, became an associated for a Greenwich law firm and in 1992, joined the U.S. Attorney’s office, where she prosecuted criminal cases.
A New Milford man who allegedly broke into his neighbor's home last June and attacked the occupants has accepted a plea deal. The Newstimes reports that Michael Saunders pleaded guilty this week under the Alford Doctrine to burglary and assault of a person over age 60. Under the plea, he disputed some facts but admitted the state had enough evidence for a conviction. The 34-year old would serve 5 years in prison followed by 5 years of supervised release. Authorities have said Michael Saunders was likely hallucinating when he broke into his neighbors’ house, armed with a wooden two-by-four, and yelling about being pursued. A woman sustained a concussion and a man had cuts on his arms and hands. Sentencing has been set for December 14th.
The Candlewood Lake Authority has partnered with representatives from a group in New Jersey on a collaboration aimed at helping both bodies of water. The CLA recently made a trip to meet with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, and learned about some of their environmental challenges and proposed solutions.
The lakes have officially been proclaimed sister lakes. The proclamation will lead to a commitment to long-term information sharing partnership.
Members of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation visited Candlewood a few months ago. The New Jersey group expressed an interest in the sterile grass carp stocking initiative helping to combat milfoil growth in Candlewood. The CLA wants to gain insight how the Hopatcong group has successfully prevented the spread of water chestnut and other invasive species in their waters.
Hopatcong experiences other similar environmental stressors that Candlewood Lake does, including blue-green algae bloom. The 4 square mile New Jersey lake, like the 8.5 square mile Candlewood Lake, has a shoreline with many coves, split among several municipalities.
The Brookfield Police Department is looking the public’s help in identifying a man wanted as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. Police created a bulletin with images from surveillance cameras of the man. Anyone recognizing him is asked to contact Cpl. Fiege by phone 203-740-4144.
If you see a lot of kids in Bethel tomorrow wearing orange, it's to mark No Kid Hungry Month. All Bethel Public Schools will be holding a food drive tomorrow and encourage students to donate a kid-friendly food item; something that can be opened and consumed without adult assistance. These items will be distributed by school social workers and other agencies in Bethel. Popular items at the food drive last year were macaroni & cheese, pre-packed snacks like pudding, and pop-top soups.
The Monroe Police Department has received several complaints from people saying that someone claiming to be from the IRS has contacted them. The caller says a sum of money must be paid urgently or the recipient will be arrested. Police are reminding residents that the IRS does not call people, nor do they threaten to arrest. Immediate payment will not be demanded, the IRS will first send a bill in the mail if you owe money and will not require you to pay in a certain way--such as with a prepaid debit card.
New York State Police Troopers have released details about a routine traffic stop that led to a number of charges to be filed against a Connecticut man who was allegedly driving while intoxicated, with a child in the vehicle.
25-year old Joseph Brown was pulled over on I-84 in Southeast on Friday for a traffic law violation. A search of the car turned up a loaded handgun and approximately 7.5 grams of marijuana. The West Haven man was charged for Aggravated DWI with a child in the vehicle, Possession of a Weapon and Unlawful Possession of Marihuana.
State Police in the Putnam County area removed a total of 25 impaired drivers from the roadway last weekend. Among them was also 29-year old Matthew Rooney of Brewster. He was pulled over on Saturday on I-84 in Southeast for a vehicle and traffic law violation. An investigation determined that he was in possession of a small quantity of cocaine. Rooney was charged for DWI with a Prior Conviction within ten years and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.
Two men were charged after Troopers responded to separate accidents over the weekend. 41-year old Marco Gonzalez-Borja, of Brewster, was involved in a two-car motor vehicle crash in the parking lot of Xtra Mart in Brewster on Friday. 54-year old Stephen Parrett, of Norwalk,tried to make a u-turn on Smith Ridge Road in Lewisboro on Saturday when his car got stuck in someone's front yard.
The Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation has made a $40,000 donation to the Danbury Hospital Foundation. This is the third contribution from the Ridgefield-based pharmaceutical company's charitable foundation to support the outreach efforts of the Greater Danbury Community Care Team's peer engagement specialist.
The community-based outreach initiative was started in 2015 and is a partnership with nearly 30 community and municipal agencies.
The navigators work to improve access to care for at-risk residents, many of whom suffer from substance abuse, chronic medical or mental health conditions, are homeless, or frequent the emergency department. To date, more than 170 community residents ages 23 to 83 have benefited from Greater Danbury Community Care Team services. Emergency Room utilization by high-risk frequent users has decreased approximately 30 percent, according to the Danbury Hospital Foundation.
The Danbury School District and the Association of Religious Communities is looking for volunteers to help with their KIDS program. The collaborative matches mentors with elementary school classes in Title 1 schools. There are some large class sizes in the elementary schools and an information session next Wednesday will explain to volunteers how they could spend two hours a week from October through June helping in Kindergarten classes. The info session on the 26th is from 3:30 to 4:30pm at ARC's new office at 24 Delay Street. Volunteers do not need a background in education.
The New Milford Board of Education has decided to add another 2nd grade class at Northville Elementary School, to lower class sizes. The Newstimes reports that the maximum salary for the teacher is $60,000 and the other teachers will work with the students on the transition. There are 6 second grade classes at Northville, with about half a dozen more students each than at New Milford's other elementary school. While there was some hesitation among Board of Ed members and parents, they say the post-start hire will help students.
The Connecticut NAACP is honoring Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour this weekend. He has been named one of the most influential African American leaders in Connecticut. Prior to becoming Danbury's Chief, Ridenhour served in the same role in Stratford, having worked in Waterbury for nearly 20 years. The event is on Saturday at Foxwoods.
A unit of Connecticut National Guard soldiers are continuing to assist with Hurricane Florence relief efforts throughout the North Carolina area. To date, the 11 guardsmen have performed multiple search and rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation measure for those in communities completely cut off by the rising waters. A Bethel woman is among the 3-thousand Red Cross volunteers helping in the Carolinas. Joyce Burns, a retired social worker at the Park Avenue School in Danbury, is providing mental health care to people evacuated to shelters in South Carolina.
Newtown officials have questioned the cost of maintenance for the design selected by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission. The design features a large tree in the center of a reflection pool. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the group tried to give thought to maintenance, but their charge was to select a design. There was no budgetary restriction given to the Commission by the previous Board of Selectmen. The task now is to have them work with the Public Building and Sites Committee, designer SWA and others on a workable budget for the project. The cost of ongoing maintenance will have to be factored in to material decisions. Some value engineering may be needed so the Memorial Commission will be kept as active. As other municipal officials seek to keep the project on a reasonable financial path, they could ask the Commission advice on those material changes.
A community relief effort, not just for people impacted by Hurricane Florence, is set to get underway in Bridgewater. Bridgewater Congregational Church will be assembling Clean-up Buckets and Hygiene Kits on the 29th. They will be distributed by Church World Service. The organization is positioned around the world with relief supplies and aid and are among the first responders in a disaster. The clean up bucket list items include sponges, trash bags and other cleaning supplies.
The proposed expansion project at Easton Library has been changed, meaning the the community room and historical society entrance doors will not be relocated. Aspetuck News reports that the historical society is located in an adjacent room built on to the back of the library, but is separate from the rest of the library. The change will lower the cost of the project by eliminating new sidewalks and regrade an area near the wetlands. An interior hallway for access will be created while increasing space of the library’s children’s area. The proposal goes before the Easton Conservation Commission on September 25th.
Monroe residents can obtain, at no cost, a discount prescription card program through the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. This program is provided at no cost to the Town, and can be used by any resident to obtain discounts and savings on any prescriptions not covered by insurance, including certain vision and hearing services, frames and lenses, and hearing aids. Pet medications that can be filled a local retail pharmacy are also covered. Cards are available at the Monroe Library, Senior Center, the First Selectman's Office.
Ridgefield officials are considering having town meetings quarterly for residents to weigh in on various issues, rather than schedule a town meeting when individual action is needed. The Ridgefield Press reports that under the current form of government, town meetings are held frequently and have low attendance. The goal is to have more residents weigh in on issues outside their immediate interest, though there was some concern about the length of the meetings. Quarterly town meetings could be worked into the 2019 meeting schedule.
There were a few of areas of agreement in an otherwise tense Connecticut gubernatorial debate, where the audience booed a couple of times. Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski agreed that there should be a better school-to-job pipeline to prepare students for job openings that currently exist. They also agreed that pre-existing conditions should continue to be covered in health care plans, no matter what happens in Washington. While they agreed that the state should not be bribing companies to stay, they differed on what to do to keep companies in Connecticut.
The debate opened with a question about bipartisanship. Stefanowski said that he knows how to deliver results and has common sense. Lamont says he will be different from Stefanowski and Malloy, will have an open door. Stefanowski said leadership is about consistency. The candidates then accused each other of pandering to polls.
When it comes to funding for UConn, Lamont said he is committed to education, but that schools are not teaching to the job openings. He wants to streamline operations. Stefanowski said he wants to make college more affordable, but that not every child is meant to go to college. He wants to look at a holistic approach to education. An audience member asked about stopping funding cuts to the Connecticut State University System in order to stop tuition hikes. Stefanowski said everyone has to be held accountable, shared services could be looked at, there will have to be belt-tightening an suggested pay-for-performance for teachers. Lamont said he would bring business in to help with curriculum to make sure students get jobs after school. In order to take on the Education Cost Sharing system, Lamont said it should be more needs-based. He also suggested forgiving student loans for teachers that go to work in the most distressed districts. Stefanowski says there needs to be more accountability, noting that Connecticut spends twice as much educating students but test scores are even with other states.
As for mandating towns to have more affordable housing stock, Stefanowski said the decision should be up to the municipalities. Lamont said a property tax deduction is needed.
While Malloy was brought up frequently, President Trump wasn't mentioned until more than half way through the debate. It came from Lamont after Stefanowski said he would be ok with the real estate conveyance tax being nixed. Lamont said the GOP used to be the part of fiscal conservatism.
The candidates were asked about implementing paid family and medical leave. Lamont said he would work with the CBIA and other business organizations to make Connecticut a place where young families can thrive. Stefanowski said Lamont will crush mid-sized businesses. He suggested encouraging people to voluntarily put away money, have an option for employer-matched giving and lowering taxes so people have more money in their paychecks.
There were a few questions about the Affordable Care Act and the cost of prescription drugs. Stefanowski said there needs to be more competition and people should be able to buy insurance plans across state lines. He added that the answer is the free market, not another government program. Lamont countered that the free market isn't and won't hold down prices. He wants the state to use purchasing power, especially when it comes to state employee plans. Lamont said he would protect contraception coverage. Stefanowski gave no answer on contraceptive coverage protections.
A man was pinned under a lawn tractor in Brookfield yesterday afternoon. Emergency responders were called to Pocono Road, at the same time Past Chief Joseph Frengs came upon the scene. He and some bystanders were able to get the machine off of the injured person. Brookfield Police then removed the tractor from the road. There was no immediate word on how serious the man's injuries were.