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4 Conn. schools, including Danbury, in the 'national school funding hall of shame'

A new report has been released by The Education Law Center about the country's most fiscally disadvantaged schools, and Danbury is included on that list.  The report identifies school districts with higher than average student need and lower than average funding. 

 

The report says this is a national hall of shame of leaving behind thousands of vulnerable children.  Three other Connecticut cities are on the list: Bridgeport, New Britain and Waterbury. 

 

The Education Law Center concludes that governors and legislators in far too many states stubbornly resist investing in K – 12 education so all children have the resources needed to succeed in school.

 

The report is a companion to their "Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card".  The NRC evaluates and compares the extent to which state finance systems ensure equality of educational opportunity for all children, regardless of background, family income, place of residence, or school location.

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Danbury company touts proposal to expand fuel cell power plants

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is applauding a bill being considered by the state legislature will allow electric utilities to acquire fuel cell power plants to enhance system reliability.  The proposal also includes provisions that seek to make efficient use of existing infrastructure and sites, such as urban brownfields. FuelCell Energy applauded the proposal saying this will result in utilities avoiding or being able to defer expensive distribution system upgrades.

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Rotary Club awards funds to charities

The Rotary Club of Patterson has presented 20 Putnam County and area charities with cash donations totaling almost $17,000.  This was one of two semi-annual Community Awards Giveaways, held in February and June, by the Rotary Club of Patterson.  Different groups will be selected to receive donations in June.

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New Milford Mayor pulls plans for Pettibone

Plans to turn the former Pettibone School in New Milford into a community center have been withdrawn by Mayor David Gronbach.  The Zoning Commission was going to hear the plan Tuesday.  A lawsuit about funding for the project will be in court next month.  Opponents say the money was misappropriated.  The Board of Education last week reversed plans to move administrators to Pettibone after Gronbach changed the Memorandum of Understanding to have the Board pay for the renovations up front.

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Two cases of erratic behavior investigated in Putnam County

Putnam County Sheriff Deputies responded to two cases of erratic behavior this weekend. 

 

A Patterson woman was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation after she threatened to kill a neighbor on Saturday.  A person called 911 reporting that a friend was “out of control” at a Patterson residence.  When deputies responded, they saw the woman talking to herself and still making threats.  The woman's name was not released. 

 

On Sunday, the program director of a Carmel group home reported an emotionally disturbed person exhibiting violent behavior.  Deputies determined that the 27-year-old man potentially posed a threat to himself of others.  The man requested that he be taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

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Local Prevention Council raises awareness of substance abuse addiction

A local lawmaker recently learned what a volunteer group is doing to combat substance abuse and addiction.  State Representative Arthur O'Neill recently attended a meeting of the Prevention Council of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.  The group runs programs designed to educate the public about the epidemic and to create a drug-free environment for youths and families.  Their programs include Prom Buses, Opioid Forums and Positive Incentive Scholarships.

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Seized pot growing equipment repurposed for New Milford Youth Agency greenhouse

$10,000 worth of indoor agricultural growing equipment seized from a New Milford home during an investigation into an elaborate illegal indoor hydroponic Marijuana growing operation, has been repurposed and donated to the New Milford Youth Agency. 

 

That organization will use the equipment at the recently expanded Sullivan Farm greenhouse operation. 

 

 

The equipment was seized in January, 2015 from a Chapin Road home.  When the accused's case was disposed of by the Superior Court, the specialized equipment was requested by the lead investigating officer in lieu of destruction. 

 

New Milford Police Chief Boyne, with the judicial authority of the Litchfield Superior Court, members of the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force Northwest Office repurposed the equipment.

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Bethel Police Officer successfully revives suspected overdose victim

A Bethel Police Officer successfully revived an unconscious man Wednesday night who appeared to be suffering from an opiate overdose.  Officer McKinney recognized the symptoms and administered Narcan. All Bethel Police vehicles are equipped with Narcan and all Officers are trained in its use.  Officer McKinney is the first officer to use Narcan since its agency wide deployment.  Department officials say Officer McKinney's actions may well have saved the man's life.

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Brookfield makes sightline improvements on Route 133

The Brookfield Public Works Department is making sightline improvements on Route 133 at Obtuse Road South.  Crews are breaking up ledge along the south shoulder of Route 133 and regrading so motorists can see farther west when entering the intersection.  Travel along Route 133 were restricted at times for this work.  The state Department of Transportation will be making signage improvements in the near future.

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Bethel Police search for strong arm robbery suspect

Bethel Police are searching for a suspect wanted for a strong arm robbery.  Officers responded to the new Wheel’s Sunoco Station on Route 6, across from Big Y, late Wednesday night.  The white male lunged over the counter, forced the employee away and stole several hundred dollars from the cash register.  The suspect was wearing a blue PETRO Oil sweatshirt, black winter hat and boots. The suspect's left arm appeared to be recently injured and was wrapped in an ace bandage.  Anyone with information is requested to contact Bethel Police at 203 744-7900.

 

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Lawmakers back bill to improve Danbury Branch line

There's a public hearing at the state capital today about a bill that would move money around to provide for electrification and upgrades on the Danbury Branch line of Metro North.  Previous bills to accomplish that have failed, but Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle believes this measure has a chance.  She says it would reallocate already authorized bond money for transportation infrastructure projects.  Lawmakers from districts along the Danbury Branch are all backing the bill.  The Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee will hear testimony on the bill on Friday at 11am.

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Phone scam targeting nail salons in Danbury

The Danbury Police Department has received several reports of a person posing as a "health inspector" for the city of Danbury and charging business for inspections. The male caller has contacted unsuspecting businesses and demand credit card prepayments over the phone for an inspection that will be performed the following day.  The caller is targeting nail salons.

 

All City of Danbury Health Inspectors have official city of Danbury ID Badges. They will also provide official written documentation of all inspections.  Danbury Health Inspectors do not call ahead to schedule an inspection because they are all done unannounced.  City of Danbury Health Inspectors do not take cash or credit/debit cards.  The business owner would be contacted via certified mail of any fees assessed or due.  Letters for license renewal are always sent out only in the month of May.

 

If in doubt, Danbury Police say you can verify health inspector status by contacting the Danbury Health & Human Services Department at 203-797-4625.

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Danbury Mayor reacts to student protest over on-campus harassment incident

Some Danbury High School students staged a walk out Thursday morning.  It was done because of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds.  

 

An allegedly intoxicated man, who was a passenger in a car picking up a student after school on inauguration day, waved a Trump campaign sign and yelled at students about being kicked out of the country.  There was no arrest made after the courts rejected an arrest warrant application. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says students belong in class, but he understands and respects their passion for this issue.  The court decided that there wasn't enough evidence to issue a warrant to arrest the man.  He says it's time to accept the court decision and move on.  Boughton says some steps have been taken by the Danbury High School administration to make sure the campus is safe and secure. 

 

He reiterated that he understands the frustration of some students, but at the end of the day the prosecutor declined to issue a warrant.

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Danbury school official weighs in on student protest

Some 300 Danbury High School students walked out of class Thursday morning in protest of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds on Inauguration Day.  Danbury Police were dispatched to the school shortly after 9:30am and say the walk-out and sit-in were non-eventful.  The protest was contained to the football field and bleachers.  After about 30 minutes, most of the crowd dispersed.  Patrol units remained at Danbury High School until about 11:45am when things had calmed down. 

 

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Glass says they heard rumblings Wednesday night that there might be a protest Thursday.  As a precaution, the district contacted the Danbury Police Department to have an extra presence on campus. 

 

Glass called it a peaceful, organized protest that moved from the front of the school to the football field.  Between 50 and 100 students sat on the bleachers while the rest returned to class.  The Principal and the rest of the administration listened to the concerns of a handful of students who spoke on behalf of the student body.  They met for almost an hour.  Glass says their voices were heard.  He says the administration handled the situation well, but noted that there are still some bad feelings among some students and their families over the January incident.

 

Glass says they were impressed with how respectful students were on Thursday.  He added that they would have rather had the students in class, but the protest happened in the best possible way.  There were no arrests and no injuries reported.

 

The only disciplinary action being taken by the school is to mark the students absent for classes they missed.

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New Milford woman, two NY men arrested for burglarizing a home

A New Milford woman and two New York men have been arrested for burglarizing a Dutchess County home.  On Monday, New York State Police arrested 25 year old Dwayne Robbins, 25 year old James Moore, and 23 year old Kelsey Vincent for their involvement in a Dover Burglary.

A resident reported seeing suspicious activity.  People entering a residence, two males removing items and placing them into a vehicle.

While enroute to the call, Troopers saw a vehicle matching the description. The three occupants were known to Police. The suspects had salvaged the proceeds from the burglary at Southeast Auto Recycling where they were all taken into custody. 

 

  

(Vincent, Robbins, Moore)

 

The vehicle, operated by Vincent, had a forged inspection sticker, the wrong license plates and no insurance.  Vincent was operating with a suspended New York State Driver’s license.

Moore, Robbins and Vincent were all charged with felony burglary and and felony criminal possession of stolen property.  Vincent was also charged with possession of a forged Instrument. 

The three are scheduled to appear in Court on March 13th.

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Public hearing held about repealing 'drive-only' license law

A public hearing was held by a state legislative committee yesterday on a proposal to repeal the 2013 law allowing undocumented Connecticut residents to get drive-only licenses.  The Department of Motor Vehicles has estimated that nearly 28,000 drive-only licenses have been issued, more than 1-percent of all registered Connecticut drivers.  The DMV says the law has made the roads safer.  Danbury organizers from Connecticut Students for a Dream say the law has allowed them to go to work to raise money for school tuition.

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Boughton: DPD works with ICE, will continue to work with ICE

In wake of President Trump's executive order on immigration, Governor Dannel Malloy has issued recommendations to Connecticut school superintendents and police chiefs about how they should deal with requests from Homeland Security and ICE.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was critical of that move.  He called the directives nothing more than political grandstanding, and fear mongering.

 

Boughton says the City already helps ICE and will continue to do so.  If further orders from the federal government, circumstances could change in Danbury.  He noted that federal law superceds state law.

 

Danbury Police officials say they will work with ICE if requested, but that they don't make the first call under a 2014 state law called the TRUST Act.

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DHS students stage walk out over Inauguration Day harassment incident

Some Danbury High School students have staged a walk out.  It's being done because of what they see as a weak response to harassment on school grounds.  Several students have posted video on social media of the activity, which now includes a protest outside the school. 

 

District officials say the Deputy Superintendent and others are responding to the high school. 

 

There were some 300 students participating.  They were protesting in front of the school, but were told to go inside.  They then moved to the football field instead.

 

(Hatters Herald, DHS student news paper, Twitter)

 

An allegedly intoxicated man, who was a passenger in a car picking up a student after school dismissal on inauguration day, waved a Trump campaign sign and yelled at students about being kicked out of the country. 

 

There was no arrest made after the courts rejected an arrest warrant application.  Three students were suspended at the time for allegedly fighting with the man.

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Immigration guidance provided to Connecticut police, schools

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other Connecticut officials are providing police chiefs and school superintendents with guidance on how to respond to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration matters and subsequent memos from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

Law enforcement officials are being told they should not take action solely to enforce federal immigration law, noting how the federal government cannot mandate states to investigate or enforce actions that have no connection to the enforcement of Connecticut laws.

For schools, officials are suggesting any requests from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer for student information or access to a student should be referred to the district's superintendent's office.

 

Connecticut Students for a Dream Campaign and Policy Manager Camila Bortolleto, of Danbury, says Governor Malloy's memo to Police Departments makes it clear - state and local law enforcement agencies are not required to enforce federal immigration law. If local law enforcement agencies choose to enforce federal immigration law, she says it will undermine community safety.

 

Bortolleto says the group will continue organizing to win sanctuary spaces and build deportation defense networks so people brought to this country as children can live a life without fear.

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National popular vote bill gets hearing in Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are throwing support to legislation that would require Connecticut to join a group of states wanting to pool their Electoral College votes for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote.

Both argue every American's vote should be counted equally.

Wednesday's announcement by Malloy and Wyman comes as lawmakers hear testimony on numerous bills that would have Connecticut join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which 11 states have signed onto since 2006. There's also a bill that would endorse the current Electoral College system.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan called it troubling and says the bill interferes with the constitution.  He said if advocates want to change how the Constitution operates, they should propose a constitutional amendment.

 

McLachlan introduced a bill to protect the sanctity of the electroal  college process as is.

Some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, have voiced frustration with seeing another candidate secure the presidency without winning the popular vote.  Wolcott Republican Representative Rob Sampson says he worries candidates would only focus on large population centers.

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Ridgefield residents approve Schlumberger leases

Two leases for portions of the former Schlumberger property in Ridgefield have been approved by Ridgefield residents.  A Special Town Meeting was held last night on the leases for the Philip Johnson Building and the structure known as the auditorium, and more than 100 people were in attendance. 

 

The lease for the Philip Johnson Building is with New Canaan-based design firm BassamFellows.  It's $1 a year for 13 years, with the tenant paying a $600 a month common area maintenance fee.  There are two renewal options, through 2046, with rent rising from $8,495 a month to $10,780 per month. 

 

The Schlumberger theater lease is also for $1 a year, and is with ACT of Connecticut.  The non-profit theater group was founded by four Ridgefield residents: Katie and Bill Diamond, Daniel Levine, and Bryan Perri.  The lease calls for a $400 a month common area maintenance fee.  ACT of Connecticut's lease is for five years, and renewable in five year increments for up to 20 years.  The rent would increase to $2,000 a month for the final five year renewal option.  The tenants would each be responsible for their own utility costs and liability insurance. 

 

Ridgefield officials say the tenants could invest $1 million in renovations. 

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Danbury ranks high in new analysis of culturally diverse U.S. cities

WalletHub has conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Most & Least Culturally Diverse Cities.  Danbury ranks 39th overall and 10th among small cities in terms of cultural diversity.

 

The personal-finance website's data team took a snapshot of America's current cultural profile, comparing 501 of the largest U.S. cities across three key indicators of cultural diversity.  The data was used to determine the most multifaceted of the group.   Each city was examined based on ethnicity and race, language and birthplace.

 

Analyst Jill Gonzalez says the U.S. today is a melting pot of cultures, thanks to rapid ethnic and racial diversification of the past four decades.  If the trend continues, she says America will be more colorful than ever by 2044, at which point no single ethnic group will constitute the majority in the U.S. for the first time.

 

Danbury's cultural diversity was scored in three categories, where 1 is the most diverse and 250 is the average:

117th – Ethnoracial Diversity
15th – Linguistic Diversity
128th – Birthplace Diversity

 

Ethnoracial Diversity includes indicators from linguistics to ethnicity to where the population was born.

 

About 26-percent of Danbury's population is Spanish-speaking, 15-percent speak other indo-European languages and 4-percent are Asian or Pacific Islander language speakers.

 

20-percent of the population of Danbury was born in the Northeast and 3-percent born in the South.  Another 3-percent of the population was born outside the United States, but in a territory like Puerto Rico.  32-percent of the population was foreign-born.

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Man being held in New Milford jail cell charged for urinating on floor

A New Milford man arrested after a well-being check is facing new charges for urinating in his prison cell.  New Milford Police responded to Michael Bennett's home last Monday and tried to make contact with the 29-year old during the welfare check. 

 

Officers could see a bullet on the floor of the home, and because Bennett is a previously convicted felon, he is not allowed to have a gun.  He was charged with criminal possession of a firearm and held on bond. 

 

While being held at the New Milford Police Department, Bennett urinated on his cell floor and stuffed garbage into the toilet in an attempt to clog it.  Bennett was charged with criminal mischief.  He remains held on bond for court appearances on March 8th. 

 

Bennett was sentenced in November for evading responsibility and larceny, and ordered to three years probation for the April and July incidents.  Bennett was also arrested last month for operating with a suspended license.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court on March 15.

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Bethel schools put turf field project on hold

The state's financial woes are putting a project on hold in Bethel.  Plans to install a turf field at Bethel High School, the only high school in Fairfield County without access to a turf field, have stalled because school officials are unsure how much of a cut in funding the district faces. 

 

43,500 dollars has already been spend for designs and related work.  Bid specs were completed as the Governor announced his intention to restructure how the state allocates funding to schools across Connecticut.  While the preliminary work could be used in the future, the project might have to go out to bid again. 

 

Bethel planned this project, in part, because the district has had to rent facilities and buses for indoor practices.  Other games and practices have had to be cancelled because of weather.  Bethel also can not host state championship games on a grass field.

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Eversource to conduct aerial inspections of equipment

Beginning this week, Eversource will be conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights-of-way throughout Connecticut.  The work involves the use of a helicopter equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.  Spokesman Frank Poirot says this semi-annual inspection is part of how the utility tries to provide reliable electric service and reduce the frequency and duration of power outages.

 

Weather-permitting, the aerial inspections will continue through March 1st. They will take place from 8:30am until 4pm.  A blue and silver helicopter with tail # N1431W or a blue and white helicopter with tail # N411DD will be flying low over the region.

 

The inspections will cover 98 municipalities including Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, Monroe, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Salisbury, Washington, Watertown, Wilton and Woodbury.

 

Some of the transmission lines and equipment are located upwards of 100 feet in the air.  Poirot says aerial inspections help engineers detect potential problems in advance, allowing the company to schedule necessary maintenance and upgrades before reliability issues arise.

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Man admits role in defrauding homeowners facing foreclosure

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Maryland man has pleaded guilty in federal court to his role in a scheme to bilk Connecticut homeowners facing foreclosure out of thousands of dollars by falsely promising to buy their homes and pay off their mortgages.

Bradford Barneys, of Odenton, Maryland, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He faces up to two decades in prison when he's sentenced in June.

Federal prosecutors say Barneys and Timothy Burke, formerly of Easton, Connecticut gained control of the homes and rented them out to tenants. Many of the properties were ultimately foreclosed upon.

Prosecutors say Barneys participated in dozens of meetings with Burke and homeowners at Barney's law office in Bridgeport, Connecticut from about 2011 to 2014.

Burke pleaded guilty last month and awaits sentencing.

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Ridgefield residents to decide on Schlumberger leases tonight

Two leases for portions of the former Schlumberger property in Ridgefield will be voted on tonight by Ridgefield residents.  A Special Town Meeting is being held on the leases for the Philip Johnson Building and the structure known as the auditorium. 

 

The lease for the Philip Johnson Building is with New Canaan-based design firm BassamFellows.  It's $1 a year for 13 years, with the tenant paying a $600 a month common area maintenance fee.  There are two renewal options, through 2046, with rent rising from $8,495 a month to $10,780 per month. 

 

The Schlumberger theater lease is also for $1 a year, and is with ACT of Connecticut.  The non-profit theater group was founded by four Ridgefield residents: Katie and Bill Diamond, Daniel Levine, and Bryan Perri.  The lease calls for a $400 a month common area maintenance fee.  ACT of Connecticut's lease is for five years, and renewable in five year increments for up to 20 years.  The rent would increase to $2,000 a month for the final five year renewal option.  The tenants would each be responsible for their own utility costs and liability insurance. 

 

Ridgefield officials say the tenants could invest $1 million in renovations. 

 

The town bought the 45-acre property in 2012 for $7 million.

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Popeyes, Texas Roadhouse, medical office buildings under construction in Danbury

A Popeyes location is currently under construction in Danbury.  The restaurant will be going into one of three buildings going up on Newtown Road, next to Stop & Shop.  Restaurant Brands International says it's buying Popeyes for $1.8 billion, bringing the chicken chain under the same corporate umbrella as Burger King and Tim Hortons. 

 

The second building under construction on Newtown Road is for a Texas Roadhouse restaurant.  The last building will be home to a dental office and an urgent care facility.

 

Popeyes has more than 2,600 locations globally.

 

Restaurant Brands was created after Burger King, controlled by Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital, bought Tim Hortons in 2014. Since then, the company has been striking deals with local operators to open additional locations around the world. 

 

Restaurant Brands has more than 20,000 locations globally.

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Himes hosts packed 'Coffee with Your Congressman' event in Ridgefield

4th District Congressman Jim Himes held a "Coffee with Your Congressman" event in Ridgefield yesterday afternoon.  There was a standing room only crowd at Founders Hall, and many in attendance urged Himes to bring their messages back to Washington. 

 

 

Himes then went on to hold a Town Hall style meeting in Norwalk. 

 

While acknowledging problems with the Affordable Care Act, Himes said it has brought insurance to 20 million Americans, including persons with pre-existing conditions.  He expressed his disappointment in the election result, but reiterated a willingness to work with President Trump on infrastructure improvement projects in Connecticut, including rebuilding bridges and enhancing rail service. 

 

Himes said he represents a "purple district" and hopes he represents his constituents in a fairly moderate way.  Some people expressed concerns over women's rights protections and issues around immigration.

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Eversource to invest $75 million in tree trimming operations this year

Working with community leaders and tree wardens throughout Connecticut, Eversource’s team of licensed arborists has developed a tree trimming plan for 2017.  Spokesman Mitch Gross says the plan carefully balances the need for electric reliability while maintaining community aesthetics.   It was created by community leaders, tree wardens and Eversource's licensed arborists. 

 

In an effort to reduce tree-related power outages, Gross says Eversource will invest $75 million this year pruning trees that threaten the electric system.

 

Identifying and removing drought-stressed trees remains a priority for Eversource arborists this year due to  the lasting effects of the recent drought continuing to plague the region.  Eversource will be trimming trees along more than 4,200 miles of overhead lines around the state.

 

Among the 131 communities where tree trimming will be performed this year, some of the most extensive work will be done in Wilton along 132 miles of electric lines.  Pruning will be completed in Ridgefield and four other municipalities.  Eversource notifies customers in advance if trimming is necessary on their property.

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New Milford man in court for shoplifting incident

A New Milford man is due in court today in connection to a shoplifting incident.  New Milford Police responded to Kohl's Department store on February 6th on a report of a larceny.  21-year old Brody Dalessio of New Milford was identified as the suspect.  He was also charged with having narcotics not in their prescription container, possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.  Dalessio was released on bond for today's appearance in Bantam Superior Court.

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Lost hiker rescued from Paugussett State Forest

A lost hiker was rescued from the Paugussett State Forest in Newtown this weekend.  The elderly male didn't know where he was and unable to provide rescuers with accurate information.  Officers Schoen and Harold started their search at the state boat launch.  They spent over two hours in the woods, in snowy and icy conditions, looking for the man before locating him.  Officer Lorancaitis went to the police station to disseminate GPS location data to help the officers on the scene.  Sandy Hook Fire, Newtown Hook and Ladder, and Newtown Ambulance also responded to the scene and assisted.

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Bethel firefighters free child stuck in shopping cart

The Bethel Fire Department responded to two calls in the past two days with an unusual response. 

 

On Sunday, a child needed to be extricated from a shopping cart.  A firefighter cut the child from the cart with a set of bolt cutters.  The child was unharmed. 

 

Yesterday afternoon, both Bethel and the Stony Hill fire departments responded to a report of a stove fire on Elizabeth Street.  The fire was extinguished using a water can.

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School district teams with Sandy Hook mom to teach empathy

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) -- Nelba Marquez-Greene believes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed her 6-year-old daughter, could have been avoided if more had been done years earlier to address the social isolation and mental health problems of the shooter, Adam Lanza.

To help other vulnerable youths, Marquez-Greene, a family therapist, is working with a Connecticut school system on a program to help students connect with one another.

"I want people to remember that Adam, the person who did this, was also once 6 and in a first-grade classroom, and that if we had reached out earlier then maybe this could have changed," Marquez-Greene said.

Marquez-Greene's Ana Grace Project foundation, named for her slain daughter, is working with four elementary schools in New Britain, a city just west of Hartford, to teach empathy, combat bullying and help socially isolated children. Her Love Wins campaign, created with a local teacher, builds on the existing curriculum and also brings therapists into the schools.

She is one of several people touched by the December 2012 shooting inside Sandy Hook who have become involved in the broader movement to incorporate social and emotional learning in American schools.

Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was among the 20 children killed, was involved in pushing for a 2015 law that allows federal funds to be used by schools for such things as recognizing the early signs of mental illness and crisis-intervention training. She has a foundation that has developed its own social-emotional learning curriculum and is being used on a pilot basis in four schools: Rippowam Middle School in Stamford; Ka'elepulu Elementary School in Kailua, Hawaii; Washington Elementary School in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Mission Achievement and Success Charter School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"I believe this is an urgent matter," Lewis said. "I believe it would have saved my son's life, as well as the lives of other victims across the United States and reduce bullying."

In the years before the 20-year-old Lanza carried out the massacre, he spent long stretches of time isolated in his mother's home and had psychiatric ailments that went without treatment, according to investigators, who never pinpointed a motive for the shooting.

Marquez-Greene connected with the New Britain school district after she received a letter of condolence from Craig Muzzy, a teacher at Chamberlain Elementary School in New Britain.

Marquez-Greene and Muzzy together developed the program for city schools. Muzzy already had been taking pointers from the Ana Grace Project's website, making a reading-comprehension assignment, for example, about a student who moves into the area from a different country, and leading discussions about how to make people feel welcome.

On Valentine's Day, Muzzy's students took part in "Friendship Day" activities, which included making bracelets and cards for exchange. Marquez-Greene attended and helped introduce a new student, Jaden Garcia, to Muzzy's class. She showed students how to get to know him better by asking about his favorite food (pizza), his pets (he has a cat) and his favorite sports (soccer).

Araceli Buchko, 10, made a bracelet for a friend by using similar conversation starters.

"I wanted to try it out and see if they would like me," she said. "I tried one person and it was good. We found out we had a lot in common, and she became my best friend."

A federal grant covers the $48,000 that New Britain schools spend annually on the Love Wins campaign in the four elementary schools.

The New Britain school district spends $48,000 per year to implement the Love Wins campaign in the four elementary schools. That money comes from a federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant. The Ana Grace Project and a private nonprofit agency provide another $40,000 per year.

School officials say they believe the Love Wins campaign is helping. They say there are fewer reports of bullying, and fewer office referrals for fights.

"But you really know it's working when you see the children interacting with one another, when they spontaneously go over to a classmate and say, 'How are you feeling? You look sad today,'" said Jane Perez, the Chamberlain principal. "You see it in how they work with each other now and collaborate with each other."

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Pedestrian struck by car in New Milford remains hospitalized

A pedestrian remains in critical condition after being struck by a car in New Milford this weekend.  New Milford Police say the man, 45-year old David Antonio Ramirez, was crossing Route 7 near the Big Y plaza around 8pm Sunday.  He was struck by a car in the southbound lane, driven by 23-year old Melanie Fay.  Ramirez was transported to Danbury Hospital.  The road was closed for several hours while police investigated.  Anyone who saw the accident is asked to call New Milford Police at 860-355-3133.

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Danbury official raises concern about drones near airport

There was a scare at Danbury Municipal Airport recently with a drone being flown in the landing path.  City Councilman Fred Visconti thanked the Airport Administrator and Danbury Police for taking care of what he called a dangerous situation.

 

They found the drone in a tree in Tarrywile Park.

 

Drone operators are required to notify the airport or air traffic control tower prior to using the unmanned craft. Danbury Municipal Airport is within five miles of most of Danbury and parts of many surrounding towns.

 

All drones weighing more than about a half-pound need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, even if only used a toy.  Drones over 55 pounds need to be registered as a different class of aircraft.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton offered an apology in jest, saying he got the great little gift on Amazon for Christmas.

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Lake preservation bill gets mixed reviews during public hearing

A lake preservation bill got mixed reviews public hearing at the state capitol.  The bill, proposed by Brookfield state Representative Stephen Harding and Danbury Representative David Arconti, asks that Connecticut lake authorities receive financial assistance to fund efforts for combatting invasive plant and animal species.  Harding says this bill could benefit both Candlewood and Lillinonah.  The bill would distribute the funds from the Community Investment Account.  That account already funds grants to lake authorities to maintain water quality and native species of aquatic flora and fauna.

 

Connecticut Land Conservation Council Executive Director Amy Blaymore Patterson opposed taking money from that Account, calling it an already strained funding stream.  She says invasive species proliferation is a very serious problem, but urged lawmakers find other money for the cause.

 

She called stewardship and management is a critical element of land conservation, and a priority for CLCC.

 

Patterson said they are concerned about the slippery slope of adding a new program to the Community Investment Account.  She says the effectiveness of the Account would be diluted the point where it won't work any more.

 

One option Patterson suggested is allowing municipalities to institute a program, using a conveyance fee on buyers, to be used for stewardship.  There was an appropriation created by former state Senator Clark Chapin to battle invasives that could be used as a model, but recognizing the significant budget issues facing the state Patterson says it might not be feasible this year.

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Brookfield Police warn of impersonation phone scam

Brookfield Police are warning of a telephone scam.  Some residents have received phone solicitations from people claiming to be affiliated with the Brookfield Police Department, asking for donations. 

 

Brookfield Police never make phone calls asking for money. 

 

If someone has questions about those representing themselves as Brookfield Officers on the phone, hang up and call the non-emergency number (203-775-2575) for verification. 

 

Some residents have also reported receiving calls from people purporting to be from the Danbury Police Department and Bethel Fire Department.  Police say the sam advice applies, call non-emergency numbers of those agencies to verify.

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Bethel designated as 'Heart Safe Community'

Bethel has once again been designated as a "Heart Safe Community".  The Office of Emergency Management thanked various organizations for their work to provide improved cardiac response and care to the residents and visitors.  Many town and School employees are trained in CPR, and  most town buildings and schools have automatic defibrillators available in the event of an emergency.  The Office thanked Bethel Fire & EMS , Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Bethel Police Department Bethel Parks and Recreation, WCHN/Bethel Paramedics, Bethel Public Schools and private agencies.

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AAA reminds drivers to move over for emergency vehicles

Since early January, there have been at least a half dozen near-hits or actual collisions with emergency vehicles on Connecticut’s interstates, including on Route 7 in Brookfield.  The latest coming last night.  In the wake of these incidents, AAA Northeast is urging motorists to be aware of Connecticut’s Slow Down, Move Over law, that requires drivers to slow down and, if possible, move over, when they see emergency vehicles parked on the road’s shoulder. 

 

Fines range up to $2,500 if injuries are caused; up to $10,000 if deaths result. 

 

A public hearing before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee is scheduled Wednesday to hear three bills calling for the strengthening and expanding of the state’s existing Slow Down, Move Over law.

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Bethel woman arrested for alleged shoplifting from Target

A Bethel woman has been arrested for shoplifting from Target and fighting with security personnel.  Bethel Police responded to the Stony Hill Road store Friday afternoon by security who was attempting to detain a female shoplifter. 

 

The woman, later identified as Rocchina Pasqualone, left the scene in a car that was traced to a home in the neighborhood.  Police stopped the vehicle and tried to speak with the 60-year old, but she was uncooperative. 

 

She attempted to drive away from the officers who had to break the vehicle's window to stop her.  The stolen items were located in the car. 

 

Pasqualone was charged with larceny, disorderly conduct and interfering with police.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 28th.

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Danbury Police warning of IRS phone scam

The Danbury Police Department has seen an increase of victims reporting phone calls from the “IRS”. The callers are informing victims that the “IRS” has a warrant for their arrest and that if the victim pays the “IRS” that it will remove the warrant. 

 

But Danbury Police are reminding residents that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment and never call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.  The IRS will never demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. 

 

The IRS will also never require a specific payment such as a prepaid debit card or I-Tunes Gift Cards. 

 

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS--do not give out any personal information.

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Area legislator wants to change retirement, health care benefits for state employees

A local lawmaker has proposed budgetary changes that start with the General Assembly.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher has introduced a bill about retirement and health care benefits for certain state employees, including the Governor and all state legislators. 

 

The bill realigns non-union state employee benefits to private sector levels. 

 

Boucher says employee compensation makes up almost 40 percent of state spending.  Under the existing defined benefit plans and retiree health care plans, the state faces more than $50 billion in future unfunded liabilities because taxpayers must assume the risks of actuarial underperformance.  If the General Assembly is serious about solving the state’s fiscal crisis, she says her colleagues must recognize that the state can no longer afford these generous benefit packages. 

 

The bill would require non-union state employees to convert to 401K style pension plans and participate in a high-deductible health care plan.  Unionized state employees and retirees would continue receiving the benefits spelled out in their pre-existing union contracts.

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Route 133 in Bridgewater to be closed again for road work

A detour is being put in place for work on the Route 133 DOT project in Bridgewater.  Route 133 will be closed from Route 67 in New Milford to Route 25 in Brookfield starting March 13th.  The detour will be in place for about four months. 

 

Route 133 will reopen at the end of July. 

 

The detour will follow Route 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield.  Northrup Street is closed to all truck traffic except local delivery. 

 

5,200 feet of roadway will be resurfaced.  3,300 feet of roadway will be realigned, along with other safety improvements. A new 750 foot retaining wall will be built on the west side of Route 133.  Richards Corporation was awarded the project last August, at a cost of $5,681,777.  It's scheduled to be completed in August 2017.

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Newtown-based NSSF speaks out against proposed pistol permit fee hike

The Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation is meeting with the Connecticut Citizens Defense League this afternoon to speak out against Governor Malloy's proposal to quadruple the pistol permit renewal fee.  The groups say this would hurt Connecticut's 250,000 gun owners.  They claim this is an imposition on law abiding citizens trying to exercise their constitutional rights. 

 

State Senator Cathy Osten, a co-chair of the Appropriations Committee believes that targeting one fee over another is inappropriate.  She says there are other ways to derive revenue that doesn't target one fee over another.

 

The proposed $300 renewal fee for a five year permit would make Connecticut the second most expensive in the nation, only behind New York City.

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Planning started for Gurski Homestead master plan

The Brookfield Conservation Commission has received a grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, a private non-profit group, to develop a master plan for the Gurski Homestead.  An Ad-Hoc Committee has been formed and  Fitzgerald & Halliday has been retained to assist in creating a plan. There will be an opportunity for the public to get involved in the planning process towards the end of April.

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Esty introduces bill to aid Gold Star Families

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced the Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act to honor service members who lose their lives serving in uniform and to provide assistance to their families. 

 

In 2014, Esty met with families who lost loved ones where she spoke with Joe Nolan, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who lost his son in Iraq in 2004.  Nolan, who also initiated the Gold Star Family License Plate in Connecticut, suggested creating a postal stamp in honor of the families of the fallen.  

 

Esty has introduced legislation to do so during each of her three terms in Congress. 

 

Nolan said the stamp would not only keep their memories alive, but it would also spread awareness to those who may not be familiar with the Gold Star symbol. 

 

The proceeds from sales of the stamp would go to the Families of the Fallen Support program, which supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones.  It also includes peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss. 

 

Esty previously introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act, which extends formal hiring preference for federal jobs to fathers of disabled and deceased veterans.  The bill was signed into law in October 2015.

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No asbestos, lead paint found in work area at Pettibone

A final report on asbestos testing at the former John Pettibone School in New Milford has come back.  No asbestos was detected in the walls or drop ceilings where renovation was being done.  The report also found that there was no toxic levels in lead paint that was tested. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach says they knew already that floor tiles and some insulation contained asbestos, but noted that it's common in buildings constructed around the same time.  He says the contractor will either avoid disturbing such areas or will rely on certified contractors to address any issues.  While some low lead levels were identified, Gronbach says the work will not create any airborne concentrations over the acceptable level.

 

Documents and updates about the work being done to turn Pettibone into a community center will be posted on a new page of the New Milford town website.

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Easton Police report uptick in car break-ins

Easton Police are investigating car break ins.  Police say there's been an uptick of cars being entered, late at night, and items being stolen from them.  Easton Police are reminding drivers to lock their vehicles at all times and take their belongings with them when they leave their cars.  Anyone seeing suspicious activity is asked to call Easton Police at 203-268-4111.

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New Milford Board of Ed rejects changes to MOU on moving to Pettibone

The New Milford Board of Education has voted no to changes in a memorandum of Understanding about moving administrative offices from the East Street building to the former Pettibone School.  The Board voted unanimously this week to not fund the renovation costs from Board's reserve account.  Mayor David Gronbach said in a statement that he was disappointed with the decision.  He said the 250-thousand dollars would be reimbursed when the East Street building was sold.  The sale is estimated are more than $1.5 million.

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PeaceJam event being held at WCSU

A PeaceJam event is being held at West Conn next Friday night.  A Novel Peace Laureate who is a Liberian peace activist and trained social worker will be the featured speaker.  The event at Ives Concert Hall on the the midtown campus is at 6:30pm next Friday. 

 

Women’s rights advocate Leymah Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to lead a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. She is founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, a nonprofit organization that provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa. Gbowee also is the co-founder of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, which promotes cross-national peace-building efforts and transforms women from victims in the crucible of war to mobilized armies for peace. 

 

Gbowee has been a member of PeaceJam since 2012.

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Businesses close, people rally in Danbury for 'Day without Immigrants'

Nearly 60 businesses in Danbury were closed yesterday as part of a nationwide protest being called "A Day without Immigrants.  Some 500 people rallied at City Hall last night, with police closing down part of Deer Hill Avenue for the event.  Organizers thanked the police department for their help. 

 

The day was intended to demonstrate the importance of immigrants to the U-S economy.  The Latino owned businesses closed their doors in solidarity with immigrants--documented and undocumented. 

 

While there were supporters of the protest and rally, others said legal immigrant should be supported.  Critics also said they didn't think children should skip school. 

 

There doesn't seem to be a single organizer of the nationwide strike, but rather coming from a social media movement.

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Conn. man sentenced in connection to Newtown heroin overdose death

A Connecticut man has been sentenced in connection to the heroin overdose death of a Newtown woman.  38-year old Ronald Weaver was ordered to 52 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release. As part of his sentenced, Weaver was ordered to forfeit two vehicles and more than $1,900 in cash seized from him at the time of his arrest.  Newtown police had responded to a home last March on a report of a 30-year old in cardiac arrest.  The woman later died at the hospital.  Her family turned over several wax folds of heroin, several empty folds and other drug paraphernalia.  An investigation revealed that she bought heroin from a man who worked as a runner conducting drug sales for Weaver.

 

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WCSU students call on state lawmakers not to cut funding

Students and administrators from colleges in Connecticut have testified before the legislature's Appropriations Committee about the effect of proposed state budget cuts. 

 

In total, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system President Mark Ojakian said he is preparing for a single-year cut of as much as $81 million.  He told lawmakers that the system might even consider declaring financial exigency, which would allow it to circumvent union contracts, spend reserve funds and sell off some assets.  All options would be considered, including campus consolidations and additional tuition increases. 

 

Tuition has increased by 17.8 percent at the four regional state universities over the past five years. 

 

Western Connecticut State University graduate Allison Vas knew she was paying for college on her own, and WestConn offered an equally competitive program to private universities at a fraction of the cost.  She is in consideration as a Fulbright semifinalist.  Vas said without WestConn she wouldn't be a competitor in that program. 

 

WCSU student Zach Rubin told lawmakers he's was underprepared socially, academically, and personally for college and failed out of school.  He later chose WestConn for its affordability and it's business school reputation.  He says the system isn't design just for high overachievers, but for kids who slacked in high school and now want to make something of themselves.

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Danbury Police to host 'Coffee with a Cop' event Friday

The Danbury Police Department is hosting a "Coffee with a Cop" event on Friday. The community event is designed to have the patrol cop who responds to calls for service to interact with the public they serve in order to break down barriers. Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says they hope residents will see that they are regular people, just like the community they serve. Danbury Police hopes this event will remove agendas and give residents an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the Officers. The Coffee with a Cop event is from 7:30am to 10:30am at Mothership Bakery on Main Street.

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Newtown liquor store owner charged with arson for Jan. fire, spray-painted swastika

The owner of the Newtown liquor store allegedly robbed, set on fire and found with anti-Semitic graffiti has been arrested.  Newtown Police charged 39-year old Scott Young Thursday for the January 21st incident at Rooster Wine and Liquor Store.   

 

Young was charged with arson, insurance fraud, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer, and three counts of providing a false statement. 

 

Newtown Police said in a statement the fact that Young used racial epithets and symbolism to cover up a crime was extremely disturbing to not only the community, but all of the agencies involved.   Police continued by saying that such an incident unnerves the community and they are thankful they could bring the incident to a successful resolution to put everyone’s concern at ease. 

 

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero commended the officers and agencies involved for a thorough and quick conclusion to such a disturbing crime.  State Police, including the Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit, and the Newtown Fire Marshal’s Office assisted in the investigation.

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Tinted windows lead to traffic stop, drug discovery

A routine traffic stop turned up drugs.  Danbury Police Traffic Enforcement Officers saw a vehicle on Maple Avenue Wednesday afternoon with extremely dark tinted windows, which prevent them from seeing the driver.  The car was pulled over on North Street and officers could smell burnt marijuana coming from inside.  Danbury Police K9 Zeke alerted on the vehicle, where officers then found heroin, pills and marijuana.  The driver, 25-year old Rafael Veras-molina was charged with possession of narcotics, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  He was released for a court appearance next month.

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Agreement approved to advance solar panel installation in New Milford

The New Milford Town Council has approved an agreement that moves plans forward for Ameresco Solar to install a development on Candlewood Mountain.  The Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement is for 20 megawatts of solar panels on 80 acres of land leased from Commercial Services Realty.  Ameresco will pay New Milford a total of $2.7 million over 20 years.  The location, about 600 feet up on Candlewood Mountain, has been criticized by a number of people.  It requires tree removal.  The project does require approval of the Connecticut Siting Council.  A local zoning change was made, which officials say reduces the scale of residential building--eliminating the possibility of a condo project.

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Monroe Police K9 outfitted with bullet protective vest

Monroe's Police K9 has been outfitted with a bullet and stab protective vest.  For every 15 vests purchased through the non-profit organization "Vested Interest in K9s", one free vest is awarded.  K9 Murphy's new vest has a five-year warranty, and weighs 4 to 5 pounds.  The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers.  "Vested Interest in K9s" has provided over 2,300 protective vests, in 50 states at a cost of over $1.9 million.  All vests are custom made in Michigan.

 

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New Milford man sentenced for federal firearms offense

A New Milford man has been sentenced on a firearms related charge. 61-year old Leonard Sikorski transported three rifles, two shotguns and 1,561 live rounds of ammunition to a pair of storage lockers he rented in Danbury in September 2015. That October, Sikorski admitted to federal agents that one of the shotguns had an obliterated serial number.

 

He was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison followed by a year of supervised release for possessing that shotgun.

 

Sikorski agreed to forfeit the firearms and ammunition seized from the storage lockers based on federal laws barring unlawful users of controlled substances from possessing firearms. He also agreed to forfeit five handguns and two rifles seized by New Milford and Naugatuck police during separate motor vehicle stops.

 

Sikorski is currently in state custody for an unrelated charge of illegal possession of explosives. His federal sentenced will run concurrently with the state sentence.

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New Fairfield official critical of proposal to push full Resident State Trooper costs onto municipalities

Some small towns in the Greater Danbury area are concerned about a part of Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed budget that would end state contribution for Resident State Troopers.  Connecticut currently pays 15-percent for the first two resident troopers in each town.  Town leaders say they'll be faced with a choice of having to increase taxes or cut services in order to pick up that part of the tab. 

 

Kent, New Fairfield, Sherman, Southbury, Bridgewater, Roxbury, and Washington employ residents state troopers. 

 

New Fairfield employs 7 resident state troopers and 6 police officers.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says the state is unfairly pushing its fiscal woes onto small towns.  It's a $66,000 hit to the municipal budget. 

 

She noted that the state already cut it's contribution in half two years ago. 

 

Chapman says this is an excellent program that's served small towns well over the years.  She added that the difference in cost between a state trooper and a police officer is not significant, but it's the benefit from having troopers in town that is the real difference in this program.

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Gov. budget chief questioned by local lawmakers

Concerned members of the General Assembly's Finance Committee are grilling Governor Malloy's budget chief. 

 

Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding, whose district also includes the Stony Hill section of Bethel, says his towns will lose out.  While he appreciates that the state is trying to mitigate a large deficit and rightly restructure the Education Cost Sharing formula, doing it on the back of children is wrong. 

 

Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle says municipalities will raise local taxes to make up for proposed state cuts.  She says many community leaders are reeling from the sheer amount of state aid cuts being proposed.

 

Moving some teacher pension costs off onto municipalities was a concern Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman said one-third is an arbitrary number and questioned why it's not 25 percent.  He wanted to know if the municipal contribution would stay at one-third, or go up to 50 percent.  Budget chief Benjamin Barnes said the number was what the administration thought was a tolerable amount for municipalities, given their significant involvement in setting teacher salaries and hiring teachers.

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Man assaulted 3 Danbury Police officers, threatened to 'shoot up police station'

A Danbury man who police were investigating for a noise complaint, threatened to "get an assault rifle and shoot up the Danbury Police Department". 

 

Officers were dispatched to Samuels Court on Scuppo Road early Wednesday morning on a report than an intoxicated man was pounding on an apartment floor.  Responding officers were told that the man, 51-year old Gary Mayone, was issued an infraction Tuesday for creating a public disturbance.  While speaking with the neighbor, officers heard several loud bangs. 

 

Mayone was taken into custody and as he was being walked to the police cruiser, he attempted to headbutt an officer.  A struggle ensued.  While being processed at the police station, Mayone kicked an officer in the leg.  He then made the threatening statement. 

 

Mayone kicked another officer while being evaluated at Danbury Hospital. 

 

He was charged with breach of peace, attempted assault on an officer, failure to be fingerprinted, two counts of interfering with an officer, two counts of assault on an officer and one act of terrorism.  He was held on $50,000 bond. 

 

Two of the three officers sustained injuries.

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Weston firefighters calling on residents to clear driveways, sidewalks of snow and ice

Weston residents are being reminded to shovel their driveways and make sure private roads are properly cleared of snow.  The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is also asking that residents put down ice melter on sidewalks because some members have slipped on icy driveways and sidewalks. 

 

Fortunately, they say say no one has been injured. 

 

The Department is pointing to an incident in nearby New Canaan where a fire department vehicle became stuck in a long, shared driveway and blocked all other vehicles from being able to access a house fire Monday.  Weston fire officials are reminding residents that fire trucks and ambulances need more room than personal vehicles. 

 

The fire, just over the Wilton town line, was small and firefighters were able to hand carry the appropriate gear to the house.  The fire was caused by embers falling down a crack between the hearth and an extension of the fireplace, reaching a wood structure below.  Mutual aid responded from Wilton, Norwalk, Stamford, Pound Ridge and Vista, New York.

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Stony Hill firefighters dig out fire hydrants from snow

Stony Hill Volunteer firefighters spent most of Monday afternoon shoveling out fire hydrants.  While some were worse than others, members of the fire company say they were were pleasantly surprised to see how many had been shoveled out already by the community.  They thanked the public for their help.

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No arrests in DHS incident involving man with Trump sign verbally harassing students

There will be no arrests in the Inauguration Day incident at the Danbury High School parking lot involving an allegedly intoxicated man waving a Trump campaign sign yelling at students.  Danbury Police say the investigating officer applied for a warrant for the man’s arrest but was unable to get it approved by the court.  The man declined to press charges against any of the youths involved in a physical altercation with him. 

 

Police say the investigation is now closed.

 

 

Witness statements and video evidence showed the man as a passenger in a car that pulled into the school parking lot January 20th.  The man came to pick up a student, exited the vehicle and several youths, believed to be students, took exception to the sign.  The man made reference to “(expletive) illegals” being kicked out of the country.  Police say as the man went to get back into the car, youths approached him and there was a physical altercation. 

 

Danbury police officers at the scene did not have access to the video evidence at the time of the incident, but later reviewed the footage posted on social media.

 

Danbury school officials worked cooperatively with Danbury Police in this investigation.

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Connecticut: Tribe can't sue state for $600M for land grab

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State officials are claiming government immunity in response to a lawsuit by a Native American tribe seeking more than $600 million for land it says the state seized from 1801 to 1918.

The state attorney general's office asked a state judge in Hartford on Tuesday to dismiss the lawsuit filed in October by the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. The motion includes the state's first public response to the lawsuit.

The tribe alleges the state took 2,000 of the 2,400 acres in the tribe's reservation in western Connecticut and sold the land, but never compensated the tribe.

The state says it's immune from the lawsuit. It also questions the Tribal Nation's standing to file the lawsuit because at least two other factions of the tribe claim leadership authority.

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Brookfield awarded brownfield remediation assessment grant

Brookfield has been awarded a $145,000 state grant to investigate chemical contamination at a former dry cleaner property.   The grant for 20 Station Road will allow Brookfield to assess the property and determine what needs to be done to get it in saleable or useable condition. 

 

When applying for the grant, First Selectman Steve Dunn said there is a bloom going out under Station Road.  The assessment will determine what exactly is there, the level of contamination and the extent of the contamination.  Dunn noted that the town is not doing remediation, just an assessment.  He says that will help the property owner, the town and future development. 

 

The grant is one of 14 awarded by the state Tuesday.  The grants will help put 424 acres of blighted land back into productive use.  Governor Malloy says that will ultimately become an economic win for Connecticut.

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New Milford lawmaker backs rail expansion bill

A bill about expanding train service north to New Milford has been discussed by the legislature's Transportation Committee.  The bill was introduced by freshman Republican Representative Bill Buckbee.

 

The infrastructure is there, because of freight rail service.

 

He notes that many residents hold jobs in Fairfield County and already use trains to get to those jobs, but have to drive to get to the train station.  Buckbee says expanding rail service to New Milford will benefit the health of the environment, the economy and personal health of would-be drivers.

 

Buckbee also said this could increase tourism to people looking to get away to the Litchfield Hills.

 

He talked with Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty about the possibility of finding federal funds to help with the expansion project.

 

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Brookfield library committee meets about new facility

The Brookfield Library Location Ad Hoc Committee met last night. 

 

The Board of Selectmen last month approved $61,000 from the current year's budget to hire the architectural firm Doyle Coffin for pre-referendum services. 

 

Selectman Marty Flynn oppose spending the money saying he would like to see an infrastructure priority list first.  He noted that residents recently approved spending money for the streetscape projects and there are more big projects on the horizon that will need funding.  He pointed to recently possible underground electricity at the Four Corners, a possible new police station and whether to renovate or knock down Huckleberry Hill School. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says they can't get people to get behind something without a clear plan and an estimate.  This expenditure is to plan for a new library, regardless of when the project is actually done.

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Juvenile arrested for assaulting woman at Danbury hotel

A woman was assaulted in Danbury, and a minor is now under arrest.  Danbury Police were called to the Maron Hotel on Lake Avenue early Friday morning on a report of a robbery in progress.  The youth fled the scene, but there was fresh snow on the ground and tracked by officers.  The juvenile was charged with assault and ordered to appear in court on the 27th.  The name of the minor was not released because of his age.

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Metro North being called on for improvements on Danbury branch line

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is calling on Metro North to provide better service on the branch lines.  Esty, along with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, sent a letter to the railroad’s leadership in response to a report that ridership on the branch lines has declined.  The Congressional delegation cited examples of when service improvements along the Danbury branch line led to increased ridership, and when lapses in service have led to decreased ridership.  They emphasized the importance of reliable train service to Connecticut residents and argued that upgraded train service along the three branch lines will increase ridership.

 

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New Milford Mayor makes budget presentation to Town Council

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach has presented his municipal budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The $102.5 million  plan is an increase of $2.67 million over last year's budget. 

 

Like other municipalities in the state, New Milford will have to pick up the slack from potential state aid cuts, including in the Education Cost Sharing formula.  Gronbach says the lost of some ECS funding and the new teacher pension contributions will mean a total loss of $6 million in revenue.  He says this is part of the reason why he's been pushing the Board of Education for the sale of the East Street building.

 

Gronbach has worked in some savings, including by not hiring an Executive Secretary, not seeking mileage reimbursement and identifying general insurance savings of more than $109,000.  He says locked in utility costs and consolidating past debt could also result in a savings. 

 

Contractual obligations remain a large piece of the budget.  Gronbach says the increase in salaries remains a reasonable rate.  But he notes that health insurance for town employees continues to put pressure on the budget.  The increase is pegged at about $929,000.  He was criticized in the past for removing Children's Center employees from town insurance, but says restricting insurance to town employees will ease some budgetary pressures.

 

Gronbach says he looks forward to discussing budget revisions with town officials to present to the town for a vote.

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Windshield damaged by ice flying off car in Newtown

Snow and ice flying off a car in Newtown has damaged the windshield of another vehicle.  Newtown Police say the incident happened on Toddy Hill Road yesterday.  A chunk of ice and snow flew off a southbound car and struck the windshield of a northbound car.  The other driver did not stop.  Newtown Police say they have ticketed drivers in the past for not clearing snow off their cars.

 

(Photo: Newtown Police)

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National Shooting Sports Foundation opposes gun permit fee hike

There's more criticism being voiced about Governor Malloy's budget proposal to significantly hike pistol permit fees.  Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation says many permit holders don't have the economic means to afford a quadrupled fee.  The organization says such a large increase will serve as a de facto limitation of law-abiding citizens’ ability to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.

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