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Danbury commemorates Vietnam Veterans at Ceremony Wedensday

 

The Danbury Council of Veterans Affairs will be hosting an annual memorial for those who sacrified their lives in Veitnam. The focus of the ceremony, being held at 10 am at Rogers Park, will be a rememberance of troops who served during the last period of the war in the 1970's. The ceremony is slated to begin at 10am. Expected are veterans representing all local organizations and of course public attendees. John Hill, a local member of the Marine detachment when questioned about the event, stated that it began after the war memorial was built back in 1988 and it was the idea of the local Veterans of Foreign War's to make sure the troops are remembered. Rogers Park is located by Main Street in City Center Danbury.

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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty Celebrates Black History Month

 

5th district Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was in Danbury Sunday hosting the third annual Black History Month celebration called Standing On The Shoulders of giants. It took place at New Hope Baptist Church. The church was quite full with attendees. Among the black leaders she lauded was Patrick Ridenhour; who recently became chief of the Danbury police. She cited his career journey as an African American leading to the important position he now holds. Esty also discussed how far people of color have come since opera singer Marian Anderson was banned from singing by the Daughters of The American Revolution in Constitution Hall back in 1939. The D.A.R. has made great amends to that over the following years.

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Brookfield leader says state proposals tie their hands when crafting local budgets

Not a lot municipal leaders are in favor of Governor Malloy's proposed changes to the school funding formula sending more money to poorer towns.  The idea of having municipalities pay a third of teacher pension costs is also opposed by some mayors and first selectmen. 

 

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says the plans, as currently proposed, are untenable for a town like Brookfield.  If the suggestions go through, it represents 5.6-percent of the overall budget.  The state has mandated that the budget can't be increased by more than 2.5-percent. 

 

Dunn says the increase, coupled with the cap is a big problem.  He hopes the legislature comes up with a reasonable plan at a level that makes sense. 

 

Dunn says to lay the cost on the towns at one swoop while still tying their hands behind their backs on managing the process is not a good plan.

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Bill advances to require recyclables bin at certain businesses

A bill requiring certain retail food establishments to provide containers, accessible to customers, for recyclable items is moving through the General Assembly.  The Environment Committee this month voted 22 to 7 to place the proposal on the House calendar for further consideration. The requirement applies to establishments that sell food for consumption both on and off their premises and beverages in recyclable bottles or aluminum cans.

 

Designated recyclable items include cardboard, boxboard, glass and metal food containers, containers of three gallons or less made of certain types of plastic, and other items.

 

By law, everyone who generates solid waste from a non-residential property must separate recyclable items from other solid waste.

 

Several Greater Danbury area lawmakers are members of the Environment Committee.  Committee Co-chair New Milford Senator Craig Miner voted against the bill.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding also opposed the legislation.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby and David Arconti of Danbury voted in favor of the proposal.

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Changes to the state pension system proposed by local lawmaker

Four bills introduced by Wilton Senator Toni Boucher were part of a public hearing on Friday. One would eliminate longevity payments and overtime compensation from state employee retirement income calculations.  She says this will help achieve long-term savings by lowering state pension obligations.

 

Another bill would increase contributions by state employees to the retirement system. Boucher says this will reduce the unfunded pension liability of the state.

 

The third bill increases co-pays under the state employee health care plan in order to provide tax relief to Connecticut residents. She says this would be achieved by decreasing the cost of state employee health insurance coverage.

 

The fourth bill introduced by Boucher that was considered Friday concerns retirement and health care benefits for certain state employees. She says the proposal would create state budget savings by placing non-union state employees in health and retirement plans that are similar to those in the private sector.

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Esty introduces bill to help veterans exposed to 'burn pits'

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced a bill to help veterans exposed to Burn Pits.  Those are areas on military bases where waste is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere.

 

The VA would have to work toward the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions related to exposure to burn pits.  Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity. 

 

Retired Lt. Col. Michael. J Zacchea, a Brookfield Marine Corps veteran and the Program Manager at the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans, says burn pits are the ticking time bomb in this generation of combat veterans.  He added that this is a major health issue which will plague more than 4 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades of war.

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Esty introduces bill to help veterans exposed to 'burn pits'

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced a bill to help veterans exposed to Burn Pits.  Those are areas on military bases where waste is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere.

 

The VA would have to work toward the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions related to exposure to burn pits.  Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity. 

 

Retired Lt. Col. Michael. J Zacchea, a Brookfield Marine Corps veteran and the Program Manager at the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans, says burn pits are the ticking time bomb in this generation of combat veterans.  He added that this is a major health issue which will plague more than 4 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades of war.

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New Milford Police officers take part in St. Baldrick's event

Some New Milford Police Officers took part in St Balrdick's Day events to raise money for childhood cancer research.  New Milford High School Resource Officer Joseph Locascio, Officer Brian Bollaro, Officer Nicholas Smith, and Schaghticoke Middle and Northville Elementary School Resource Officer Guy Scarcella participated in the ‘Green Wave Braves the Shave’ event.  Officer Locascio collected $1,045 in donations for this cause.

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New Milford bridge reconstruction project ready for bid

LOTCIP design approval has been given by the state Department of Transportation for New Milford's Wellsville Avenue Bridge Reconstruction project.  The $1.1 million project is expected to go out to bid this spring, for construction this year.

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Candlewood Corners Drainage Improvement project to go to bid this Spring

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments has announced LOTCIP design approval of New Fairfield’s Candlewood Corners Drainage Improvement project by the state Department of Transportation.  The $500,000 project will replace an existing culvert pipe with larger twin culverts.  The goal is to reduce the severity and frequency of flooding that damages Route 39 and Sawmill Road as well as adjacent private properties.  The project is expected to go out to bids this spring, for construction this year.

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Regional planning group announced Route 202 improvement funding

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments has announced that Brookfield will receive $900,000 for preliminary engineering for improvements on Lower Federal Road.  The work is aimed at addressing existing safety and traffic flow concerns.  The design of improvements will build off of recommendations in the Transportation Plan for Lower Route 202 developed by WestCOG in 2015.  The project was discussed at the February Housatonic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.

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Three Danbury residents arrested for suspected illegal drug sales

Neighbor complaints about illegal drug sales form a Triangle Street apartment has led to the arrests of three city residents.  Danbury Police Special Investigations Division members carried out surveillance of 39-year old William Carrasquillo and 29-year old Ashleigh Studwell. 

 

A search and seizure warrant was then issued by the court.  After watching the two engage in a suspected drug transaction on Wednesday, both were taken into custody.  They were on the corner of Byron Street and White Street in the process of a drug transaction with 26-year old Chanmor Khuth. 

 

   

(Carrasquillo, Studwell, Khuth)

 

All three had a considerable quantity of illegal prescription drugs and powder cocaine in their possession.  Seized in the investigation was a substantial amount of currency and a vehicle used to facilitate illegal drug sales.  A search of the residence revealed no further drug evidence.

 

Carrasquillo was charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.  Khuth was charged with possession of narcotics and of a controlled substance, and possession with intent to sell.  Each was released on $10,000 bond.  Studwell was charged with narcotics possession and possession with intent to sell.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

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Two men charged for allegedly assaulting victim who owned them money

A man who owed two people money was allegedly assaulted by them in Danbury on Thursday night.  Danbury Police say the victim went to the police station to file a complaint about 22-year old Jin Lee of Ridgefield and 23-year old Terral Belin of Danbury.  The victim told police that the pair assaulted him on Liberty Street and took his money.

 

As police investigated, the victim's fiancee received several threatening messages because the victim went to the police.

 

Officers located the suspects later in the evening and they were placed under arrest.

 

 

(Belin, Lee)


Belin was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, threatening, conspiracy to commit threatening, intimidating a witness, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and breach of peace. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Danbury Superior Court on April 6th.

Lee was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, threatening, conspiracy to commit threatening, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and breach of peace. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Danbury Superior Court on April 6th.

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Esty reacts to GOP health care bill being pulled ahead of scheduled vote

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has issued a statement following the cancellation of a vote on the GOP health care repeal and replacement plan.  She says the Affordable Care Act has problems that need Congress to work together to fix.  But she cautioned that the American Health Care Act would solve none of those problems.  Esty called for a fresh start on a bipartisan plan that will improve access to quality health care, lower premiums, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and bring down drug costs.

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Danbury teen found with cocaine, Xanax charged for drugged driving

A Danbury teen has been arrested for drugged driving in New York.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office said in a release yesterday that a Deputy on patrol last Saturday saw a car dragging its muffler on the pavement.  The Deputy stopped the driver and determined that 19-year old Eric Henry had his ability impaired by drugs.  Henry was also in possession of cocaine and Xanax pills, without having a prescription for the pills.  He was charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and operating a motor vehicle while impaired.  Henry was arraigned and posted bail.

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Danbury students headed to regional invention convention

Some Westside Middle School Academy students are headed to a regional Invention Convention.  10 of the 100 sixth-grade students who displayed their inventions as part of the science curriculum will move on to the regional event next weekend. 

 

School officials say the invention convention is meant to foster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning for students from kindergarten through eighth grade.  The regional competition will be held at the O’Neill Center on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University, on April 1.

 

Winners will head to the 34th annual Connecticut Invention Convention on Saturday, April 29, at UConn.  More than 130 Connecticut schools participate every year.

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NYFS partners with Women's Center for Elder Abuse awareness training session

Newtown Youth & Family Services is teaming up with the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury to provide an Elder Abuse and Neglect Awareness Training session.  Those who work with clientele over the age of 60 are being encouraged to attend the informational workshop on Monday afternoon.  The training will cover the prevalence of domestic violence among elderly couples, types of abuse, warning signs, physical and behavioral indicators and information about local resources.  Information about what to do if you suspect a senior may be abused or neglected will also be discussed.  The case management program at NYFS provides advocacy, referrals and support to victims of elder abuse.

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Woman accused of shoplifting cosmetics from Kohl's

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office released details yesterday about the arrest of a woman charged with shoplifting $100 worth of items from Kohl's last week.  34-year old Laura Snyder of Southeast allegedly stole the items from the store on Independence Way in Southeast.  She was accused of putting 3 boxes of cosmetics in her purse and walking out without paying.  The items were recovered from her handbag.  Snyder was charged with petit larceny and issued a ticket to appear in court on April 4th.

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FOIA ruling upheld on New Milford teacher evaluation data

A court referee has upheld a Freedom of Information Commission ruling about teacher evaluation data in New Milford.  The Newstimes reports that it's a setback for the Connecticut Education Association, which sought to keep the information private.  The case started with former Board of Education member John Spatola requesting the data and then-Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote saying that it was not subject to FOIA laws.  The published report says Spatola asked for two years of aggregate data, not individual information, on the number of the teachers in each evaluation tier designated by the state: exemplary, proficient, developing or below-standard.

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Tuition hikes proposed for Western, other CSCU institutions

The president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities is recommending a tuition increase at all 17 schools in the system.  The four state universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College would see tuition hikes in fiscal year 2018 and 2019 under the recommendation. 

 

The Board of Regents Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday and the full Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on April 6th. 

 

Western, Southern, Central and Eastern students would face a $200 a semester hike.  Community college students would pay about $50 more per semester.  The increase for Charter Oak is $150 for the next two years.

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Bethel Board of Finance to meet about budget proposal

The Bethel Board of Finance will meet this afternoon to discuss the budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Board will consider community input from this week's public hearing and finalize the budget for the upcoming town meeting.  The Board is set to work starting at 4pm in meeting room A of the Municipal Center.  The previously posted Wednesday night and Saturday morning meeting times have been cancelled.

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Public hearing to be held on bills introduced by local lawmaker

A public hearing is being held today on three bills introduced by Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan.

 

One is about removing pensions from collective bargaining agreements for state employees.  He says this would save the state money and reduce the state’s long-term liabilities.  McLachlan called it part of comprehensive pension reform proposed this session. 

 

Another bill would exclude overtime pay from the calculation of state employee pension benefits.  McLachlan says that measure is aimed at ending so-called "pension padding" by state employees.

 

The third bill being discussed today would prohibit a state employee from being able to receive a pension and a salary from the state at the same time.

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NY woman accused of shoplifting attempt at Walmart

A New York woman accused of shoplifting from the New Milford Walmart will be in Bantam Superior Court next week.  New Milford Police responded to the store last Thursday.  22-year old Samantha Bahler allegedly placed some items into her bag without paying while scanning in other items at the self-check out lane.  She was stopped by loss prevention personnel.  Bahler was charged with larceny and released on bond.  Her court appearance is set for Wednesday.

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Brookfield resident found asleep at the wheel gets DUI

A Brookfield resident is due in court on Monday on a DUI charge after being found asleep behind the wheel of a car in New Milford.  New Milford Police received a motor vehicle complaint last Friday night on Danbury Road and canvassed the area.  A running vehicle was found in the parking lot of Lore's Plaza, and 32-year old Tony Marrone asleep.  Officers located heroin on the driver's seat.  K9 Kira was called to the scene to search the vehicle.  Kira found more heroin and marijuana.  In addition to the DUI, Marrone was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance.

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Brookfield budget includes small increase in spending

The Brookfield budget is due to the Town Clerk today.  The Board of Selectmen made proposals to the Board of Finance, which deliberated this week.  An $18.2 million municipal budget and a $41.39 million school operation budget have been proposed. 

 

This is a 2.62 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year. 

 

The Selectmen included $200,000 in contingency funds that would partially support any changes in the state fund grants that typically come to Brookfield.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the state unknowns remain a very real concern for Brookfield because municipal aid and school grants represent a large part of the town's funding.  

 

The grand list declined by 1.57 percent as a result of the revaluation.  The town has to change the mill rate upwards to account for this change in values.  Dunn says that is why the mill rate change is higher than the actual proposed spending increase. 

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More grass carp than planned to be released in Candlewood Lake, Squantz Pond

Grass carp will once again be released into Candlewood Lake in an effort to prevent the spread of invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.  The fish will also be released into Squantz Pond for the first time.  

 

Milfoil can get tangled in boat motors and entangle swimmers. 

 

Candlewood Lake Authority Executive Director Larry Marsicano says more carp than planned will be released because the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was working with outdated statistics.  The projection about the spread of milfoil initially used by DEEP was based on an average of several years, but Marsicano says it fell short of actual acreage by one-third.  About 500 acres of milfoil have been mapped in Candlewood.  Some 39 acres were spotted in Squantz Pond. 

 

Instead of 3,000 sterile grass carp, 4,450 will be released into Candlewood.  Squantz Pond will be stocked with 585 fish instead of 421.  

 

The fish will be released into Squantz at one spot in New Fairfield and one in Sherman this summer.  They will be stocked at the same locations they've been used in Candlewood for the past two years.

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New Milford man gets 14 years in suspected dealer's death

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - A 24-year-old New Milford man has been sent to prison for 14 years in connection with the 2015 death of a suspected drug dealer after a prospective sale went wrong.

The Republican-American reports that Steven Vlash was sentenced Wednesday on a charge of first-degree manslaughter stemming from the death of 35-year-old Carl Brown Jr.

Police say Vlash and a co-defendant drove to a corner in Waterbury where Brown reportedly sold crack cocaine.

Witnesses testified that Brown said something about them taking "the crack" and was last seen holding onto the passenger-side window of Vlash's truck as it drove away.

Brown struck his back on a road sign and was later found in the middle of the street suffering from a head injury. He died at a hospital.

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Danbury man arrested for stabbing man in Bethel

A Danbury man has been arrested for attacking two people in Bethel last night.  Bethel Police responded to Elizabeth Street and found a man with a cut to the head, caused by a knife.  Another victim was then located who was also attacked by the suspect. 

 

23-year old Mitchell Gleason was found hiding nearby.  He ran from police, and was seen by officers discarding a small amount of marijuana.  Gleason was caught and taken into custody. 

 

He was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, interfering with police and possession of marijuana.  Gleason was held on $50,000 for arraignment today. 

 

One victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries.  The other did not need medical treatment.

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NY Chamber of Commerce leader charged with misappropriating funds

The head of the Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce has been charged with alleged misappropriation of funds from that organization.  26-year old Erin Meagher of Brewster was arrested Tuesday on a felony grand larceny charge. 

 

She was CEO and Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. 

 

Meagher was released for an April 11th court appearance.  No further details of the alleged misappropriation was provided by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

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Judge rules Brookfield must pay legal fees in party expulsion case

Brookfield will have to cover the legal fees of the former Republican Registrar of Voters who was sued for expelling a woman from the GOP party.  Town officials objected to Tom Dunkerton's request saying he was acting in his role as a party official, not in his town employee position when Jane Miller was removed from the voter rolls. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the Judge concluded Dunkerton was acting as Registrar, and therefore the town had to cover legal fees. 

 

Miller was booted from the GOP in 2015 under a little used state law allowing the removal of members for alleged lack of good-faith affiliation, citing her unsuccessful run for the Board of Finance on the Democratic ticket in 2013. 

 

The published report says Dunkerton requested more than $26,000 in legal fee reimbursement, but the amount could be higher since litigation continued after the request was submitted.  First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Newstimes that the Boards of Selectmen and Finance will decide whether to appeal.  But Dunn said that they may also negotiate the requested amount because Dunkerton's attorney charged $400 an hour. 

 

Miller's appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed because by that time, the new Republican Registrar added her back to the voter rolls.

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Easton lawmaker proposes fine for frivolous FOIC complaints

A bill proposed by a freshman lawmaker is advancing through the committee process. There was a vote to draft this month on a bill aiming to reduce frivolous complaints to the state Freedom of Information Commission.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby has proposed a $125 fee for filing two or more complaints with the commission each year.  He says someone filing 10s or 100s of requests are not interested in records, but rather in harassing public officials. 

 

Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, says there should be a complaint process that doesn't discourage people who have conviction that they have a legal issue.  Dunsby says one person has filed 135 complaints, not requests for information, over the last two years. 

 

The President of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information agrees there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but believes the fine is too harsh.  He says the proposal would undermine free citizen access to the FOIC.

 

State FOIC executive Director Colleen Murphy opposes the proposal, saying it will discourage people who are filing legitimate complaints.  Murphy says there may be a more narrow approach that can be taken.

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Officials: Worker fell to death after excavator tipped over

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Department of Transportation says a construction worker fell to his death from an excavator that tipped over on state Route 2.

Spokesman Kevin Nursick says 60-year-old John Dubray, of Bethlehem, fell about 20 feet to the ground on the shoulder of Interstate 84 on Wednesday.

Officials say Dubray had been operating the excavator for Southington-based contractor Brunalli Construction. Dubray was taken to Hartford Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Nursick says the excavator was using hydraulics to break and deconstruct portions of a ramp. The digger tipped over the edge of the bridge and the operator fell from the cab.

State police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the incident.

 

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Danbury man charged with DUI after striking pedestrian

A Danbury man has been charged with driving under the influence after he hit a pedestrian.  Danbury Police responded to Stadley Rough Road last Thursday night on a report of an accident with serious injury.  Police determined that 66-year old Michael Zeerip was headed southbound in a pickup truck with a plow attached. 

 

His plow struck 56-year old Joseph Connell Jr of Danbury, who was walking in the shoulder of the road.  Connell was transported to Danbury Hospital with a head injury. 

 

Zeerip failed field sobriety tests.  He was also charged with failure to drive right.  Zeerip was released on bond for a court appearance next week.

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Danbury appoints new Director of Health

The new Director of Health for the City of Danbury is being touted by Mayor Mark Boughton as a highly qualified candidate, with both theoretical and practical experience.  Lisa-Michelle Morrissey was confirmed by the City Council at their meeting this month.  She served as Director of Health for the Town of Sharon, is an adjunct Public Health Professor at Western Connecticut State University and has been acting Danbury Director of Health since January.  She previously served the City as a Public Health Inspector/Epidemiologist.  Morrissey is working toward a Doctor of Science Degree in Emergency Management Disaster Epidemiology.

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Esty supports bill on equitable care from women veterans at VA facilities

A bill to ensure equitable care at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for women veterans is being backed by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  She says the legislation will also address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment, and go without needed health care.  The Deborah Sampson Act aims to address gender disparities to improve services and access. 

 

Esty says supporting those who put their lives on the line to defend freedom is not a partisan issue.  Esty, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, added that more than two million women have worn the uniform in service to this nation, and they face unique obstacles to care when they return home. 

 

Members of Congress say the bill will empower women veterans by expanding peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and call centers for women veterans.  It would also improve the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide and authorizing medically-necessary transportation for newborns. 

 

Esty’s bill is endorsed by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

 

The Deborah Sampson Act gets its name from Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She was wounded in 1782 and spent half of her life fighting to be recognized for her service.

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Report: Brookfield schools overspent budget due to accounting error

The Brookfield School district overspent the current fiscal year's budget because of an accounting error.  The Newstimes reports that there wasn't any illegal activity.  The $34,000 difference allegedly stemmed from teachers being paid for work from last fiscal year with money from the current budget.  An audit also showed that some preschool tuition was going into a miscellaneous revenue account instead of the General Fund.  The Board of Finance voted Monday to reallocate about $47,000 in unspent revenue from the pre-kindergarten program to the general fund.

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Easton resident, planning commission discuss cease and desist order

A resolution is in the works about a cease and desist order issued by the Easton Planning and Zoning Commission to a Norton Road resident.  The Easton Courier reports that the Commission has been in touch with the attorney for Nathan Brito over allegations the man was doing commercial-type log processing on his residential property.  Brito denies violating zoning regulations and said the firewood is being split and stored for personal use.  The Easton Courier reports that the Planning and Zoning Commission want to limit commercial vehicle use and hours on the property.

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Woman arrested for alleged home robberies in lower Fairfield County

Monroe police have arrested a second person connected to a number of home burglaries.  35-year old Natasha Pennywell of Bridgeport was charged yesterday with burglary, larceny and criminal mischief.  An investigation started in October when an elderly Monroe resident called police to say that there was a U-Haul rental van in her driveway, and that someone forced entry into her house.  Monroe, Fairfield, Norwalk and Westport Police worked together on the investigation.  Ernest Bailey was charged last month.  Pennywell is being held by the Department of Corrections on unrelated charges.

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Eversource warns of low-flying helicopters during utility line inspections

Eversource is conducting aerial inspections of vegetation growing near its high-voltage electric lines. This semiannual inspection is being done from Thursday through the end of next week.  Utility officials say this is important for service reliability.  The inspections will be from 7am to 4pm, weather permitting.  A blue and grey helicopter, Tail # N1431W, and a blue and white chopper, Tail #N411DD, will be used.  The aerial inspections are being done in Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Weston, Wilton, Woodbury, and 73 other municipalities.

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Danbury officials waiting to hear back from Historic Trust on Octagon House renovation plans

Danbury officials have identified funding to begin the renovation work needed to turn the Octagon House into a police substation.  Plans, which also call for housing the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team on site, were submitted to the Historic Trust last month.  The City is now waiting to hear back from the on the plans that have been drawn up so far.  The review process could take up to 90 days and the panel will send comments back to the City.  Mayor Mark Boughton says if they have to make adjustments, they will do so.  He hopes restorative work can start in the fall. 

 

Plans also call for creating storage space on the 2nd and 3rd floors, because those stories are not accessible via elevator for public use.  The building is one of only a handful of eight-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Some trees were recently removed from the Spring Street property so officials could get a better idea of the scope of restoration work needed.  The dilapidated building was in foreclosure and purchased by the City as a community improvement project.  The house was built in 1852 and eventually converted to apartments, but abandoned by its owner in 2008.  The blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years. 

 

A Danbury firm, Seventy2 Architects, was awarded the bid to conduct an analysis of the historic home.

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Vehicle allegedly stolen from Danbury, pursued by Monroe Police, crashes in Newtown

A vehicle reportedly stolen from Danbury on Monday was involved in a serious accident in Newtown last night.  Monroe Police officers were trying to make a traffic stop of the car which fled shortly after 9pm.  The driver, later determined to be 31-year old Rasheim Lewis of Danbury, headed northbound on Route 25 in Newtown and lost control around a curve. 

 

State Police say Lewis crossed the double yellow line, striking a Mercedes headed southbound head on. 

 

(Photos; Botsford Fire Rescue)

 

Lewis, who was not wearing a seatbelt, sustained serious injury and was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation and treatment.  The other driver, a 46-year old Sandy Hook woman, sustained minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital. 

 

 

The crash happened in front of Sand Hill Plaza and closed Route 25 for at least eight hours.  The Danbury State's Attorney's Office was notified of the incident.  Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call State Police Sgt Trooper Mark DiCocco at 203-630-8079.

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Danbury Democrat announces candidacy for Mayor

During the Danbury Democratic Town Committee headquarters last night, a resident threw his hat in the mayoral ring.  Al Almeida is currently an investigator in the Danbury Judicial District Office of the Public Defender and a Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserves.  He served two tours of duty in Iraq, earning three Bronze Stars among other commendations. 

 

Almeida and his family moved to Danbury from Portugal when he was 11-years old.  He attended Henry Abbott Technical for high school and holds a Master’s degree from UConn in Homeland Security Leadership.  He earned his BA from WCSU in Justice and Law Administration.

 

His priorities include more government accessibility, creating a better quality of life, equal and stronger education for all children, enhanced public safety and a freeze on property taxes and fees at affordable rates. One of his priorities would be an in-depth traffic plan that addresses innovative ways to ease the burden of traffic, and its economic impact. He also called for City government to go back to a 5-day a week operation with City Hall open to the public on Fridays.   

 

For the past few years, Almeida said there have been too many areas requiring undivided attention that have been neglected by the current administration.  Longtime incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Boughton is running for reelection, but also exploring a run for statewide office.  He said Danbury should not play second fiddle to a Mayor that has other aspirations as he takes a bite at the gubernatorial apple for the third time.

 

Almeida wrapped up his candidacy announcement by saying that it’s time for fresh and vibrant leadership.

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Education Committee debates mandate relief

There was a public hearing this week on a bill introduced by the legislature’s Education Committee to provide mandate relief by having a uniform regional school calendar option.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher co-chairs the committee.

 

Backers of the bill say it would also eliminate the requirement that an alternative educational opportunity for expelled students be 900 hours, eliminate the superintendent requirement for certain boards of education and require only certain school employees who have direct contact with students complete training in the restraint and seclusion of students.

 

Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson, Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, Gail Lavielle of Wilton and Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown will also consider the measure.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed considers school schedule changes

The Ridgefield Board of Education has been presented with recommendations on changes to some school schedules.  The Newstimes reports that the recommendations were made to better integrate targeted instruction into everyday teaching at the elementary and middle school levels.  One proposal is to have 45 minutes in the elementary schools for targeted intervention in reading, writing and math.  The reports says another recommendation is to increase the middle school time for core classes to an hour--by reducing transition time between classes.

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WCSU hosts 'Coffee with a Cop' event Wednesday

The Western Connecticut State University Police Department is hosting “Coffee with a Cop” tomorrow morning.  The event in the Danbury Room of the Midtown Campus Student Center is from 9 am to noon tomorrow.  A Connecticut State Police Trooper and a K-9 Trooper with their dog will join WCSU police officers.  The conversation is open to the general public.

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Eversource continues maintenance work on transmission lines

Eversource Energy will be working on transmission lines in Monroe and Newtown over the next 3 weeks. The maintenance work does not include tree trimming.  The work will take place in the area of the Stevenson Dam, including Jordan Hill Road and Bradley Lane. 

 

Crews will be using ATV’s or pickup trucks to access the transmission lines through the right of way. 

 

Newtown officials say Eversource will also be conducting aerial patrols of vegetation on or near transmission lines throughout the state Thursday and Friday, and then all of next week. Both a blue and gray and a blue and white helicopter will be used.

 

The aerial patrols will be occurring between 7am and 5pm, weather permitting.

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New Milford Town Council addresses budget miscalculation

The New Milford Town Council has passed a Revenue adjustment in the budget.  The mill rate for the upcoming fiscal year's proposal had been miscalculated by the Comptroller, by double counting $1.55 million in revenue.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach said in a Facebook post that the mill rate proposal will stay at a 1.8 percent increase. 

 

Additional revenue estimates from the sale of surplus property and Sewer Commission revenue that would make up for the $1.55 million. 

 

Gronbach says he and others have been working to identify town-owned properties that aren't producing tax revenue.  He noted that the Still Meadow property, almost 20 acres on Fort Hill and Peagler Hill Road, is one of those properties.  New Milford bought the land in 1998 for $2.1 million with bonds that have been paid off over the year.  An appraisal in 2014 pegged the value of the property at $2.5 million. 

 

Gronbach also says 25 Church Street is a Town owned building that is underutilized. 

 

He noted that a Town Council member suggested that the Sewer Commission not be asked to pay more of its debt, but that would mean the mill rate would have to go up to 2.29% as a result.  Two other Town Council members made a motion to spread the $1.55 million among all departments by having a uniform percentage change.  Gronbach called it an interesting proposal, but the motion was withdrawn before a vote could be held.

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Public hearing held in Bethel on proposed municipal budget

A $72.9 million municipal budget was discussed in Bethel last night.  A public hearing was held at the Middle School to get resident input on the proposal, which includes a 2.3 percent increase. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says potential substantial school funding cuts from the state have put municipalities in a tough spot.  Knickerbocker says the state not being able to tell towns what to expect has only been a problem in the last four years, and he notes that it gets worse each year.  Town charter requires the town to have a budget meeting in the first week of April, but the state won't release their budget until at least June.

 

Knickerbocker is also concerned about the state forcing municipalities to cover a state run program. He says that may violate the state constitution and prompt legal action.

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Local lawmaker backs bell about voluntary admission to DCF

The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis will meet today about a bill co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  The measure would study the voluntary admission program operated by the Department of Children and Families.

 

The bill would prohibit the agency’s Commissioner from requesting or requiring that parents of children admitted to the department on a voluntary basis terminate their parental rights or transfer legal custody to the department.

 

State Child Advocate Sarah Egan testified in support of the bill. She said it addresses petitions filed in juvenile court proceedings that may lead to a child being removed from a guardian solely due to the child’s specialized mental health or disability support needs.

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Danbury man arrested for February shooting

A Danbury man has been arrested for a shooting that happened in the City last month.  Danbury Police say 19-year old Christopher Watson was arrested at his home on Monday for assault and carrying a pistol without a permit. 

 

This followed an investigation that started February 24th.  The Danbury Hospital Emergency Room reported a gunshot victim suffered a non-life threatening injury to his leg that morning on Chestnut Street. 

 

Watson was held on $75,000 bond.

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Trump keeping tabs on Russia hearing, tweeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is keeping tabs on the congressional hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He's tweeting that the FBI and National Security Agency are telling Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes asked FBI Director James Comey, in an unusual situation, to respond to presidential tweets in the middle of his testimony.

 

Himes read the President’s tweet to Comey, because it seemed to differ with what the FBI Director said.  Comey told members of the House intelligence committee that the FBI has offered no opinion, and has no view and no information, on the potential impact on the election because that's not something the FBI looked at.

 

Comey did say earlier in the hearing, however, that there is no evidence that Russian meddling resulted in changes of any vote tallies.

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Danbury company opens fuel cell park in South Korea

A Danbury-based company has announced the dedication of a new 20 megawatt fuel cell park in South Korea.  Fuel Cell Energy says the park supplies ultra-clean power to the electric grid and heat to a district heating system in Seoul, South Korea. Company President Chip Bottone joined Government officials and others to celebrate the operation of this fuel cell park, which was constructed in 10 months.

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$1.5 million budget miscalculation to be addressed in New Milford

A $1.5 million miscalculation will be addressed in a special New Milford Town Council meeting tonight.  The Newstimes reports that the Finance Department inadvertently counted some revenue twice when calculating the proposed tax rate for the coming fiscal year.  The Town Council will have to figure out how to rework the budget proposal so that taxes do go up beyond the planned 1-point-8 percent increase.  The proposed New Milford budget doesn't include any potential state funding cuts.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm at New Milford Town Hall.

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Postal employee accused of stealing laptop from NY office lobby

A part time postal service employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop from a Southeast business office. 

 

New York State Police Troopers were dispatched earlier this month to investigate the larceny.  32-year old Joshua Hoffman of Brewster was arrested on Thursday on a felony grand larceny charge. 

 

He has since arraigned and was ordered held on bond.

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Dog found wandering in Bethel adopted by Animal Control to new family

A dog turned over to Danbury Animal Control with invalid contact information for the owner has now been adopted and on her way to a new home.  Animal Control officials say the husky, Neekah, went through turmoil after being given up to a rescue organization by a man whose wife died, and adopted out, but then abandoned.

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Supreme Court rejects appeal of former Connecticut governor

WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court has declined to disturb the conviction of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland on public corruption charges.

The justices on Monday rejected Rowland's appeal of his 2014 conviction for conspiring to hide his work on political campaigns for two Republican 5th congressional district candidates.

Rowland argued that contracts he prepared that sought to disguise the nature of his work were not falsified records.

A federal appeals court rejected that argument, ruling last year that Rowland was properly convicted of creating documents that falsified his relationships with congressional candidates Lisa Wilson-Foley and Mark Greenberg.

Rowland served as governor from 1995 to 2004, when he resigned and was sentenced to prison in a different corruption scandal. He is currently serving a 2 .5 -year sentence for the latest conviction.

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Lawmakers won't get final say on rail, bus fare hikes

There was a Friday deadline for the legislature’s Transportation Committee to vote on bills, advancing some and killing others. Committee co-chair, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher said she was disappointed that bill requiring legislative approval for the Department of Transportation to raise railroad or bus fares was defeated. Boucher says since the bill did come up for a public hearing, it is possible to add the language to another bill during the remaining legislative process.

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Legislative panel advances bills on tolls

The legislature’s Transportation Committee had a Friday deadline to either advance measures or vote against them from moving on for further consideration.

 

The panel decided that electronic tolling on Connecticut roadways should be discussed further.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a committee co-chair, says a bill that would create a transportation funding lock-box made it out of committee. She says the bill puts the state on a path toward creating something that will make sure money in the Special Transportation Fund can only be spent on transportation projects.

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Bill to kill mileage tax study makes it out of committee

A bill to stop money from being spent a mileage tax study was advanced by the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Friday. The bill would prohibit the Commissioner of Transportation from using state funds for the federal study of an idea, which nearly every elected official has said will not be implemented. Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, co-chair of the Committee, said it makes no sense to waste money on an idea that no one says they want to pursue.

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Danbury Mayor praises Police, Fire Chiefs for recent work

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is praising some city officials for the work they've done over the last couple of months. 

 

At the City Council meeting, Boughton noted that the Fire Department has had significant fire activity to deal with in the last few weeks.  He said they did a great job in particular with a house fire on Stevens Street at the beginning of the month.  It was believed that improperly disposed of fireplace ashes caused the blaze. 

 

Boughton also asked the Council to keep Deputy Chief Charles Slagel in their prayers.  His New Milford home was destroyed by a fire which appeared to have started in the chimney, which was connected to a wood-burning stove.  The family wasn't home at the time. 

 

Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour was also praised.  Without mentioning any specific incidents, Boughton says Ridenhour has had to manage the department through some challenging personnel issues.  Soon after Ridenhour became Chief, an officer was ambushed and brutally assaulted.  A 15-year veteran of the department was charged with breach of peace for allegedly using unnecessary force on the suspect. 

 

Both Officer David Williams and the suspect accused of beating Officer Pooler are due in court next week.

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Volunteer firefighter, teen arrested for breaking into Newtown home, assaulting occupant

A Monroe volunteer firefighter and a teenager have been arrested in Newtown on burglary and assault charges.  Newtown Police responded to a home on Elizabeth Street shortly before 3:30 Saturday morning on a report of a dispute. 

 

The resident reported that two people broke into the house and physically assaulted her companion, punching the victim in the face.  The pair, 18-year old Brian Carriero and a 17-year old, were known to the victim. 

 

Carriero wouldn’t turn himself in, but Police later learned he was attending a firefighter training course in Trumbull. Newtown Police went to that location, removed him from the class and placed him under arrest. 

 

Newtown Police say officers responded promptly, aided the assault victim, and tracked down the offenders.  This was an isolated incident and police don’t expect additional arrests. 

 

Carriero is due in court on Monday.

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Former state Sen. forms education funding reform group

A new campaign has been launched by former Newtown state Senator John McKinney to address how the state funds education.  The movement called Fix the Formula CT has a goal of ensuring every child in the state, regardless of where they live, has access to quality education.  They favor of a single, inclusive funding formula that provides state funding based on precise student need.

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Congresswoman backs bill to help veteran caregivers

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has cosponsored legislation to expand a program that helps those who care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would open the program to veterans of all eras.  Esty says caregivers, like their loved ones who wore the uniform, make huge sacrifices in service to this nation.  She says the bill will help caregivers receive financial support, but also important mental health services and childcare assistance.

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C.H. Booth Library Director introduced to Newtown community

C.H. Booth Library in Newtown is inviting residents to meet the new Library Director tomorrow afternoon.  Refreshments will be served in the cafe area on the second floor during the meet and greet event with the library's new director tomorrow between 2 and 4 pm.

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Danbury Music Centre hosts spring preview event

A concert is being performed tonight Marion Anderson Recital Hall on Main Street at the Danbury Music Centre.  The concert is a spring preview event for the Danbury Chamber Music Intensive and Artist Concert Series, which will take place this coming August.  The program brings recent graduates of Juilliard and other major music conservatories to Danbury for a week to serve as Artist-faculty who teach and perform with local aspiring musicians.  The performance is at 7:30 tonight.

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6 Hells Angels members arrested on drug, gang charges

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) Federal authorities say six members and associates of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in the Hudson Valley have been arrested on drug and racketeering charges.

The Journal News reports that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York says five of the suspects were arrested locally Thursday morning and the sixth was arrested near Los Angeles.

All six are members of the New Roc Hells Angels, which authorities say primarily operates in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.

Prosecutors say the charges include narcotics trafficking, extortion, money laundering and prostitution.

Officials say members of the New Roc Hells Angels beat a rival motorcycle gang member over the head with a hammer in a Poughkeepsie restaurant in December 2012 in retaliation for encroaching on their territory.

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Kent firefighters receive donation of chest compression device

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department recently received a donation to help patients in sudden cardiac arrest.  The LUCAS Chest Compression System delivers uninterrupted automated chest compressions. 

 

The device was purchased with proceeds from New Milford Hospital's Dave's Day Golf Classic, which took place at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in October. The tournament was established by friends of Dave Flatau, a Sherman resident who died in 2013 at age 56 of sudden cardiac arrest. 

 

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department is equipped with automated external defibrillators, but until recently was the only department in the greater New Milford area that did not have its own LUCAS device.  Ambulance Chief Mike Petrone said during a presentation ceremony at the department that this new equipment will go a long way in helping the community and saving lives.

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Carmel woman charged with forgery for stealing from relative's 401K

A Carmel woman has been arrested on a grand larceny charge.  New York State Police Troopers were contacted earlier this month by a Queens’ man who reported that someone had withdrawn over $2,000 from his 401K account. The deduction, including taxes, totaled over $3,000. 

 

An investigation revealed that a family member, 55 year old Bonnie Garvey, had applied for a hardship loan from the victim’s account and forged his name on the loan documentation. 

 

Garvey was also charged Wednesday with felony Forgery.  She was arraigned yesterday and remanded to the Putnam County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.

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Danbury woman hits police cruiser, truck in Newtown highway crash

What started as Southbury officers freeing a car from a snowbank last night, ended with a Danbury woman hitting a police cruiser, speeding away and rear ending a tractor trailer.  State Police say the incident started shortly after 9pm on Southford Road. 

 

42-year old Yavonda Bradley sped away southbound on Route 67 but the pursuit was called off because the officer saw a child in the car.  A few minutes later, officers saw Bradley headed north on Route 67 and trying to get on Interstate 84 from an exit ramp. 

 

The woman came back down the ramp and entered I-84 westbound at exit 15 the correct way.  Three Southbury Officers followed Bradley onto I-84, and were joined by one state police cruiser, but were not pursuing the vehicle.

 

(Photos: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Facebook)

 

Bradley struck Southbury Officer John Joseph Jaskolka's cruiser on the passenger side by exit 11. Officer Jaskolka was not injured. Bradley then lost control and struck the rear of a tractor trailer. 

 

 

Bradley and the 4-year old were transported to the hospital for evaluation. This incident remains under investigation and charges are pending.

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Defense: Man's murder trial should exclude death of daughter

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) An attorney for an Ohio man accused of killing his wife more than 20 years ago is seeking to exclude any reference to his client's slain daughter from his trial in Massachusetts.

Robert Honsch is charged with killing 53-year-old Marcia Honsch, whose body was found in October 1995 in western Massachusetts. He also faces a murder charge in Connecticut in the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, whose body was found in September 1995. The family lived in Brewster, New York at the time.

The Republican reports a Springfield judge on Wednesday heard a defense motion to exclude any evidence about Elizabeth Honsch's death. The defense argued it could prejudice the jury against the 73-year-old Honsch.

Prosecutors say excluding evidence about the daughter would impair their case.

The judge took the matter under advisement.

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Redding firefighters put out house fire Thursday

There was a fire at a Redding home early yesterday morning.  Firefighters were able to put out the blaze on Wayside Lane within half an hour, but the damage was reportedly extensive.  Georgetown and West Redding firefighters were aided by companies from surrounding towns.  There was no immediate report of injury.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton said in a Facebook post that two cats were on the loose after the fire.  A small dog which ran from the home has been found.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Trial continues in Mambo Cafe murder case

The murder trial of a Bridgeport man charged with shooting another man outside Mambo Cafe in Danbury in 2014 continued Thursday.  The Newstimes reports that a prosecutor showed the jury a gun allegedly used by Garfield Sanderson to kill Jeiel Kingston. 

 

Without the jury present, it was reportedly disclosed that DNA on the gun matched Sanderson's and that a bullet removed from the victim's body matched one fire from the gun.  The published report says that the defense attorney questioned whether other bullet casings were found at the scene or if any witness said if there could have been a second gun involved that night. 

 

The trial continues today.

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Lawmakers consider legalizing recreational marijuana use

Connecticut lawmakers have heard public feedback on the first of several bills filed this session that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  The Public Health Committee discussed legislation that would require the Department of Consumer Protection to create and administer a program that allows people 21 years and older to legally purchase and cultivate marijuana.  The bill also requires the Department of Revenue Services to create and administer a system for taxing the drug.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony opposing this legislation saying it directly violates Federal Law.  Former United States Attorney for Connecticut David Fein told him that unless it is a federally authorized research program, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is a direct violation of federal law.

 

McLachlan also said the bill would pit state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies against one another.  He also noted that President Trump does not support the use of recreational marijuana use and has signaled law enforcement to strictly follow federal law regarding marijuana usage.

 

Supporters of the proposal cited the impacts in Colorado, including a surge in new jobs to support the industry which brings in taxes and fees annually.  Some say Colorado has been able invest in greater efforts for educating youth and boosting law enforcement. 

 

A 2015 poll by Quinnipiac found that 63-percent of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adult use.  Eight states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Vermont and Rhode Island are also considering legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

 

Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

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Esty opposes bill making it easier for veterans in crisis to get access to firearms

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called on Congress to reject a bill called “Veterans 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act”.  Esty says the bill would severely undercut the current process the Veterans Administration uses to identify veterans who are prohibited from gun ownership because of mental health concerns. 

 

Esty was backed in her effort by Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy combat veteran, who co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

 

Esty noted that the decision to end a life is often spontaneous, that's why she wants limited access to firearms to those in crisis, like veterans suffering from PTSD.

 

Esty is concerned that the bill would upend the bipartisan compromise agreed to in the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed three months ago. The Act created a system to ensure due process for veterans, allowing beneficiaries to present evidence from a mental health professional and be represented by counsel at incompetency hearings. 

 

Esty said 20 veterans die by suicide per day, the vast majority by firearm.

 

Former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus also opposed the bill, saying it would make it easier, not harder, for veterans in crisis to get access to a firearm.   

 

The bill was approved on a vote of 240 to 175.

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Some bills on marijuana use in Connecticut advance

A bill that would create a tax system for and legalize recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut was referred Thursday to a joint judiciary committee meeting.  A bill imposing a tax on medical marijuana up for a hearing today.  Lawmakers this week also advanced a bill to waive fees for veterans who are qualifying medical marijuana patients.  The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis received the referral Wednesday and are slated to act on the 20th. 

 

The joint Committee on Transportation was forwarded a bill yesterday that would have notice sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles of juvenile matters involving marijuana-related infractions and driving under the influence offenses. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says there was a big spike in usage when possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized.  She says it's a false narrative to look at how much revenue is coming into Colorado because of legalized recreational use.  She said it would be more accurate to look at what's being spent in response.  Boucher cited an increase in car accidents, people in drug treatment and health care costs.

 

Boucher says it's a sad indictment of the state of things that the state is considering using something she views as a health risk to make money.  She also called it a hollow idea.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony opposing this legislation saying it directly violates Federal Law.  Former United States Attorney for Connecticut David Fein told him that unless it is a federally authorized research program, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is a direct violation of federal law.

 

McLachlan also said the bill would pit state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies against one another.  He also noted that President Trump does not support the use of recreational marijuana use and has signaled law enforcement to strictly follow federal law regarding marijuana usage.

 

Supporters of the proposal cited the impacts in Colorado, including a surge in new jobs to support the industry which brings in taxes and fees annually.  Some say Colorado has been able invest in greater efforts for educating youth and boosting law enforcement. 

 

A 2015 poll by Quinnipiac found that 63-percent of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adult use.  Eight states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Vermont and Rhode Island are also considering legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

 

Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

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