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Newtown-owned excavator destroyed by accidental fire

An accidental fire last Saturday at the New town landfill destroyed a town-owned excavator.  It was being used to move wood debris from last month's extreme storm. The Newtown Bee reports that the machine was driven off the flammable pile and extinguished by Botsford volunteer firefighters with water and foam. There were no injuries.  Newtown is temporarily renting an excavator for storm debris cleanup work.

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Area students get civics lesson from state lawmakers

Danbury State Representative Michael Ferguson went back to school recently, to explain the role of local representatives in state government.  The former Board of Ed member spoke to a Danbury High School civics class and answered questions on topics including current and proposed state law, the passing of a bi-partisan compromise state budget, education policies, and tolls.
 
Some Newtown students recently spent time at the state capitol.  St. Rose’s fourth-grade students were welcomed by Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  The students also met with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, learned about the Capitol's history, and visited the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. 
 
As New Milford High Schoolers head into their last few days of classes, State Representative Bill Buckbee spoke with two groups of students enrolled in civics courses.  Buckbee answered questions about the job of representing New Milford in Hartford, how state business is conducted, and was specific pieces of legislation he crafted.

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Danbury firefighters help couple fix flat tire

Danbury firefighters helped a couple with a flat tire earlier this week.  A crew was returning to the station when they came across a couple who got off the highway with a blown tire.  The couple tried to jack the car up, but the jack failed and broke and the car dropped.  A firefighter used their lift stabilizer, changed the tire and sent the couple on their way.

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Rollover accident sends one to hospital, closes road

A rollover accident in Danbury last night sent one person to the hospital.  Firefighters responded to Town Hill Avenue near Clark Street shortly after 11pm and found the vehicle had struck a pole and rolled onto its side.  The  pole was broken into three pieces, and contained a transformer, a street light, and multiple power and telecommunication lines.  The car was close to the wires and Eversource was called in.  Bethel firefighters helped stabilize the car, and helped to keep bystanders away from downed lines.  The driver had to be extricated from the vehicle.  Town Hill Avenue was closed for about 8 hours while Eversource restored service.
 
(Photo: DFD)

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Danbury officials adjust next year's school calendar to make up missed days

Changes have been made to the Danbury school calendar for next year to comply with a waiver from the State Board of Education. The first day of the upcoming school year in Danbury will be August 31st.  The Danbury Board of Ed approved the new calendar at its meeting this week. 
 
August 31st is an addition to the calendar to make up for the one day the schools fell short this year, and will be shortened as a weather/emergency dismissal.  The remainder of the day will be pre-opening for faculty and staff. 
 
Broadview Middle School and Pembroke and Hayestown Avenue elementary schools will go 182 days next year due to other closures due to a city water main break and an October power outage. The extra day for these three schools is October 8th, when schools are closed to students for staff professional development, and is scheduled as a weather/emergency dismissal.  The remainder of the day, faculty and staff will join planned professional development activities.

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Redding implements hiring freeze to cover unanticipated legal expenses

The town of Redding is facing higher legal bills than budget for.  The Board of Finance discussed the situation Wednesday.  Appeals for recent appraisals, along with attorney bills for an investigation into the Police Chief exceeded the $200,000 legal budget.  The Newstimes reports that the investigation has cost $150,000.  Chief Douglas Fuchs has been on administrative leave since last fall when the town was sued over the department's handling of a suicide case.  In order to make up the $116,000 difference, Redding will implement a hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year.  Roadwork that isn't bonded, highway department overtime and purchases will not go through until after June 30.

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Danbury Early College Opportunity program participants recognized

Students in the Danbury Early College Opportunity program at Danbury High School have participated in an Internship Exposition.  Students shared their internship projects while others received awards for their academic performance in the program, which gives students an opportunity to earn an Associate Degree simultaneously with their high school diploma. The degree program is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College.   Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. They can expect to complete the Associate Degree in four, five or six years. Some courses may take place at NVCC’s Danbury campus.

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Putnam County gets grant for drainage work at Airport Park

Putnam County has received a $100,000 state grant for drainage improvements to Airport Park in Mahopac.  The county-owned property was leased to the Town of Carmel in 2005 for 99-years. The drainage improvements will improve water quality to downstream wetlands and surrounding water bodies, address a water runoff issue and phosphorous reduction at Lake McGregor that abuts Airport Park.

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Potable water issue at Redding school discussed by town officials

There's a potable water issue at John Read Middle School in Redding. During Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, it was mentioned that comments on social media have linked the lack of potable water to inadequate funding, but that's been rebuked.  According to meeting minutes, funding has not been sought as solutions are explored.  Three wells have been dug over the years due to longstanding issues with the water.  The current well in use at John Read has sodium levels that are too high for drinking water. 

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Redding budget referendum to be held June 26

The Redding Boards of Finance and Education have approved revised budgets for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Selectmen set the date of the referendum as Tuesday, June 26th at the Redding Community Center. 
 
Residents are being asked to sign off on a $49.2 million budget, which includes Redding's share of the Region 9 budget.  Redding's share is $13.4 million.  The amount was unchanged because voters in Redding and Easton approved the plan on the second ballot. 
 
The overall budget includes $14.7 for the town, $21.1 million for the schools.  Absentee Balloting is currently available.

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Newtown officials sign off on money transfers for storm clean up costs

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has signed off on using $300,000 from various line items in the current year budget to pay for immediate storm-related clean up bills.  The municipal damage assessment is about $1 million, and residential is about $1.7 million.  Some money is coming from the fund balance, other dollars taken from various accounts.  The Legislative Council approved $425,000.
 
Extensive clean up is currently going on.  Rosenthal says 80-percent of the damage was sustained by 20-percent of the town.  Newtown had to bring in specialized equipment for the clean up, which officials are hoping to have completed by the end of the month.  
 
In response to concern from Council members about Eversource being slow to respond and about the ration of linesman to tree crews being askew, Rosenthal said Eversource may not have known the gravity of the situation.  He agreed that the utility could have sent more line crews sooner.

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Brookfield Board of Finance revises capital budget proposal

When Brookfield residents approved a municipal and school budget for the coming fiscal year, they did not vote on capital items.  The Board of Finance on Wednesday decided to send a $2.2 million plan to a special town meeting next week. 
 
Residents will be asked to set a referendum date on the 21st.  That meeting is at 7pm in Town Hall.  
 
Brookfield residents last week decided not to send a larger plan to a vote because of confusion over a school project.  The $300,000, which some thought was for school upgrade designs and others believed to be for emergency improvements to schools, was removed. 
 
$110,000 for incident command vehicles for the volunteer fire companies was also eliminated.

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Woman denied early release in kidnapping, death of teen

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) One of eight people sent to prison in the 1997 rape and murder of a 13-year-old Connecticut girl has been denied early release.

The Republican-American reports that the state parole board denied Maggie Mae Bennett's request Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the group attacked Maryann Measles, of New Milford, in a revenge killing and dumped her body in the Housatonic River.

Bennett was sentenced to 19 years in prison for her role in the killing. She is scheduled for release in December 2019.

Bennett said she was sorry for her actions and she wants to continue her education.

The board, in its decision, cited a recommendation by Litchfield County prosecutor who said Bennett had already benefited from a reduced term.

Measles' mother and sisters objected to Bennett's bid for an early release. 

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Two injured when bus rear ended on I-84

There was a car versus bus accident on I-84 in Bethel yesterday evening.  State Police say the crash happened eastbound by exit 9, around 5:30pm when a car rear ended the bus, carrying 26 people.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says two patients from the bus were transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries sustained in the accident.

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One injured in head-on collision in New Milford

One person was injured in a head on crash in New Milford yesterday morning that closed Route 7 for more than an hour.  New Milford Police received 911 calls shortly before 10am about the collision in the area of Cedar Hill Road.  A Jetta crossed the center line and collided with a tow truck, owned by a Massachusetts-based company.  Both vehicles sustained heavy damage.  The Jetta driver was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries sustain in the crash.  The driver's name was not released by police.

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Newtown Police investigating reports of stolen vehicles

Two cars were stolen Tuesday night in Newtown.  They were parked in the Horseshoe Ridge Road/Old Farm Hill Road area.  Police Chief James Viadero says vehicles previously reported stolen have been taken by juveniles, driven around then abandoned in Waterbury.  Newtown Police have made several arrests in past incidents and are working to forensically process the recovered vehicle from yesterday morning. 

 

Newtown Police are ramping up patrols in the areas being targeted, but urged residents to also help out by locking unoccupied cars and not leaving keys or fobs inside.  Viadero says garage door openers left in open vehicles are another way to access garages with vehicles parked inside. 

 

Anyone with video surveillance of cars being stolen or being gone through is asked to contact Newtown Police. Viadero says thefts from motor vehicles and stolen cars is a situation plaguing Fairfield County for several months now; local agencies have been working together to make arrests.

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New Milford Community Center Committee to gather feedback next week

A meeting of the New Milford Community Center Committee is being held next week for residents to give their feedback.  The committee has been researching the history of community centers in New Milford, as well as the feasibility, precedent and outreach to determine if the current programs and spaces are meeting the community's needs.  The meeting is next Thursday June 21st at 7pm at the John Pettibone Community Center.  Feedback will be included in a report to the New Milford Town Council in July.

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Two votes in Dem nominating convention for congress nullified

Two votes cast at last month's Democratic 5th Congressional District nominating convention have been nullified.  Officials say the votes were cast by members of the New Britain delegation, but did not change the outcome.  Mary Glassman remains the endorsed candidate.  Jahana Hayes only lost by two votes and will be on the primary ballot.  The panel of Democratic State Central Committee members recommends that the party work to design a better process for recording votes at conventions and reconsider whether to offer a vote change option.  Democrat Shannon Kula is seeking to petition her way onto the ballot.

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Power cut to street lighting in part of Bethel for repairs

A streetscape lighting repair project in Bethel is underway.  The lighting on Durant Avenue near the municipal center has not been working since Friday due to repairs on light poles in the area. Power to those poles will be out until further notice. 

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Traffic stop turns up bogus bills, knife, Oxycodone

A routine traffic stop has led to drug and weapon possession charges being filed against a New York man.  State Police Troopers stopped 26-year old Anthony Smith on I-84 in Southeast on Tuesday. 
 
An investigation determined that the Bronx man had three or more suspensions on his license. 
 
He was found in possession of three Oxycodone pills, $5,100 worth of counterfeit cash and an illegal knife.  Smith was arraigned and held on $15,000 bond for a court appearance this afternoon.  He was charged with felony possession of a forged instrument, felony possession of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation.
 
(Photos: NYSP)

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Redding officials to review draft report on Police Chief conduct

A draft report by an attorney hired to investigate the Redding Police response to a suicide case will be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen on Monday. 

 

Police Chief Douglas Fuchs has been on administrative leave since Redding was served with a lawsuit by the family of Peter Valenti.  His relatives claim Peter's life could have been saved in April 2016 if officers checked his vital signs and allege that Fuchs kept a medical technician from inspecting the body because it was a crime scene.  Medics did find signs of cardiac activity, but Valenti could not be revived at the hospital. 

 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton told the Newstimes that the draft report will be reviewed with the town's attorney in executive session during Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting.  She does not expect action to be taken on the report, which won't be released to the public until it's final.

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DEEP approves fuel cells for use in renewable energy projects

Over 250 megawatts of clean and renewable energy projects have been announced by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Some of the projects were awarded to Danbury-based FuelCell Energy.  The projects were included in the state's first procurement of offshore wind and fuel cells. 
 
FuelCell Energy will be installing projects in Hartford and Derby while Bloom and Doosan will install projects in New Britain and Colchester.  The Hartford, Derby and Colchester projects will be located in urban areas near load centers or brownfield and other commercial property.  They will create or retain more than 200 jobs. 
 
200 megawatts of offshore wind from the Revolution Wind Project will be incremental to the 400 megawatts from the same project selected by Rhode Island.  This summer and fall, DEEP will be soliciting another round of clean energy projects.
 
FuelCell President and CEO Chip Bottone says their technology is one of the most space-efficient, resilient clean energy technologies qualified under Connecticut Class 1 Renewable Portfolio Standard.  He added that the projects will provide local tax revenue, high tech manufacturing jobs, economic development benefits, and clean energy resources consistent with the goals of Connecticut’s renewable portfolio.
 
Selected projects will now enter negotiations with the electric distribution utilities, Eversource and United Illuminating, to reach agreement on 20 year contracts. If successful, the contracts will be brought to PURA for final approval.

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FEMA continues preliminary damage assessment tour

Federal Emergency Management Agency teams continue to do a preliminary assessment of damage from the May 15th storms.  Danbury officials brought FEMA representatives to the Candlewood Lake area yesterday to see the affect of a macroburst that blew winds of more than 100 miles an hour through the region. 
 
Danbury's Civil Preparedness Director took FEMA officials on a 5 hour tour of storm damage yesterday.  Paul Estefan says the preliminary assessment teams took longer than planned because of the extent of the damage.
 
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has spent several days observing damage and reporting the information to FEMA.  It could take several months for the assessments to lead to a presidential disaster declaration, which could then open up federal aid.  Teams from FEMA spent three hours in Brookfield looking at the aftermath of the May 15th macroburst, and delayed going to see damage in Ridgefield.  Esty says the damage was more than FEMA anticipated.  

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School shooting video game websites back online

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The creator of a school shooting video game that was protested by parents of slain children says it's up and running again after being removed by a website host.

Acid Software says two websites for the "Active Shooter" game were shut down Tuesday night by Bluehost, a Burlington, Massachusetts, company. An Acid representative says the websites were running again Wednesday using Russian servers.

Bluehost was urged to remove the sites by Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-gun violence group formed by parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The game lets players participate in simulated school shootings. It was removed from the webpages of two online platforms after complaints by parents of children killed in the Newtown and Parkland, Florida, school shootings. 

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Area towns mark Flag Day

Two Blue Star Memorial Marker signs are being dedicated in Bridgewater and Roxbury on this Flag Day.  Two Cherokee Princess White Dogwood trees to honor the individuals who have served, are serving, and will serve are also being dedicated today by the Roxbury Bridgewater Garden Club.  The dedications are at 11am in front of the Capt. Burnham home on Route 133 in the center of Bridgewater and at noon at Roxbury Town Hall.  An honor color guard and an Armed Services Veteran who will play taps are among the featured participants.  The Blue Star Memorial program was started in 1944 by a garden club in New Jersey.
 
Ridgefield is hosting a Flag Day ceremony this evening at Ballard Park Gazebo.  The event, led by members of the American Legion and the Marine Corps Detachment of Ridgefield, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The Marine Corps will demonstrate the proper and legal way of retiring worn, faded and unserviceable flags through an actual flag retirement ceremony.  Tonight's ceremony in Ridgefield is at 7pm.

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Ridgefield Police remind pet owners it's illegal to leave pet on shelter doorstep

Some pets have been left at the doors of animal shelters in  the Greater Danbury area, according to Ridgefield Police.  When an animal is left at the door of a shelter, there is no confirmation of valid rabies inoculations or other diseases and defects the animal may have.  The unknown animals can cause risk to employees and other animals.  

 

Police are reminding people that leaving a pet at the shelter is considered abandonment and is not legal. 

 

If you can no longer care for a pet, contact Ridgefield Animal Control at 203-431-2711 and they will put you in touch with someone that will be able to assist in the surrendering of your pet.

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Man dies of gunshot wound sustained at Stevenson Dam

A man was shot and killed yesterday at the Stevenson Dam. Monroe Police are investigating the death of the 24-year old Oxford man, whose name has not yet been released.  Police told the Monroe Courier that there is no indication of foul play.  A person observing wildlife below the dam called 911 Tuesday evening about hearing a gunshot.  The wounded man was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and was later pronounced dead.  The state medical examiner’s office will determine the cause and manner of death.

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Primary hopefuls turn in petition signatures to local officials for counting

Local registrars of voters will be busy this week verifying whether petition signatures for candidates seeking to be on the August primary ballot are legitimate.  The certified signatures have to be sent to the Secretary of the State's Office by the 19th for tabulating. 
 
Primaries are needed to determine the November line up in the 5th congressional district, governor, lt. governor, treasurer, attorney general and comptroller races. 
 
Democrats Joe Ganim and Guy Smith sent in signatures for verification as gubernatorial candidates.  Republican businessmen David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski have submitted petition signatures to be on the gubernatorial August primary ballot.  Shelton Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti fell short of collecting the needed signatures.
 
Several candidates automatically qualified at the party conventions last month to be on the primary ballots.  

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New Milford seeks to become a 'Purple Heart Town'

New Milford is looking to honor the men and women who have received a Purple Heart and make New Milford a “Purple Heart Town”. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is seeking Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star Families and relatives of any resident who has received a Purple Heart to get the process started.  There will be an informal meet and greet next Thursday at 6pm at New Milford Town Hall.  Officials will be gathering stories to incorporate into the New Milford's Purple Heart Town Designation celebration, which will be held at a later date.

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Putnam County Shared Services Panel meets about improving service delivery

A Putnam County-wide Shared Services Panel, tasked with finding ways to increase government efficiency and reducing spending, met this week.  The panel is looking into improving service delivery across Putnam County. 

 

This week's meeting included roundtable discussions focusing on Public Works, Personnel Services, Dog Control and Shelters, Information Technology, and Tax Assessment. These discussions included the school district and local public works administrators, and focused on ways to increase inter-governmental cooperation throughout the County.   

 

A municipal planning and consulting firm has been hired to draft the County-wide Shared Services Plan by August.  It will then be reviewed by the County Legislature and be put up for a public hearing.

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Brookfield residents approve budget on third try

The third time was the charm in Brookfield for getting a budget passed.  Overall spending was increased about 2.8 percent and will result in a 3.85 percent property tax rate increase.  The $23.9 million municipal budget was approved by about 500 votes while the $42.7 million school plan passed with a margin of about 300 votes. 

 

Part of the spending increase was due to $485,000 for elderly tax relief accidentally removed from the budget last year.  Much of the increase was due to a rise in special education costs and a cut in state aide. 

 

Overall the budget proposal was reduced about $600,000 since it was first rejected last month.  On the municipal side, $102,000 in capital projects were removed and the town is ending a recycling event that had strong participation.  The Board of Ed will leave a secretary position vacant, rely on tutors in place of a second ESL teacher and put off upgrades to a computer lab.

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Lawsuit filed on behalf of Danbury against opioid manufacturers, distributors

Ventura Law has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Danbury, Ansonia, Derby and Norwalk against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and a former executive.
 
The lawsuit alleges that for decades, the manufacturers aggressively marketed to health care providers and reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioids like OxyContin, despite knowing the drugs were not safe or effective for long-term use.  The lawsuit also includes claims that the drug companies violated Connecticut’s consumer protection statutes. Some of the false marketing tactics included branded and unbranded advertising. 
 
The lawsuit also alleges that the manufacturers made misrepresentations about the risks and benefits of prescription opioids.  The suit alleges that these practices fueled Connecticut’s opioid epidemic, particularly in the four communities.
 
The marketing of OxyContin has led to criminal charges for Purdue, as well as citation by the Food and Drug Administration for false or misleading advertisements.

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Brookfield starts to clear storm debris from roads

Brookfield has started cleaning up debris from town right-of-ways.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says crews will be working for about four weeks, Sundays through Fridays, from 7am to 7pm on Brookfield streets.  The brush yard will only be open to residents only on Saturdays from 8:30am to 4pm.  The brush yard must be closed while the crews clear roads because it's considered a "work zone," and therefore unsafe.

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Ridgefield names interim Superintendent of Schools

The Ridgefield Board of Ed has named an interim Superintendent.  Former New Milford Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote will lead the school district until a permanent Superintendent has been named.  Ridgefield Director of Technology Robert Miller has been acting Superintendent since Karen Baldwin resigned earlier this year.  Paddyfote, who most recently has been serving as acting Superintendent in Avon, will start on July 1st and serve in the position until March 1st.  She led the New Milford school district for more than a decade.

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Kent officials warn of thefts from cars in surrounding towns

Kent officials are cautioning residents to lock cars at night and not to leave keys inside vehicles.  First Selectman Bruce Adams says there have been a rash of auto thefts as well as items stolen out of vehicles in neighboring towns so the advice is just a precaution.  But he also urged residents to lock sheds and boat houses when not in use and if there's no one home.

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New Assistant Principal named for Rogers Park Middle School

Danbury has named a new assistant principal for Rogers Park Middle School.  Dana Perez started in Danbury as a school counselor at Rogers Park before serving as a counselor at Westside Middle School Academy.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says choosing Perez to be assistant principal reflects a commitment to the social and emotional development of students.  Perez is fluent in Spanish and  an active participant in a variety of community activities in the Danbury area. 

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Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals meeting about Dorothy Day application

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals will be holding a hearing this week about Dorothy Day Hospitality House and their Spring Street facility.  There are several variances that will be discussed for grocery market, office space, emergency homeless shelter, and soup kitchen.  They include reducing the front, side and rear yard setbacks, reducing the driveway width, cutting down parking to 16 spaces, and reducing minimum square footage.  Waivers from certain zoning laws will be discussed.  The meeting Thursday is set for 7pm at Danbury City Hall in Council chambers. 

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Esty introduces initiatives to curb opioid epidemic

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is introducing initiatives today aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic.  One bill would open up funding for police forensic labs and medical examiner offices to pay for staff, equipment and overtime. Connecticut's Chief Medical Examiner says there were more than a thousand overdose deaths in the state last year.  Police Departments could also use the funding for additional field testing equipment.  Another measure Esty introduced last week would bolster current drug prevention programs to allow schools, communities, and youth athletic associations to provide evidence-based prevention programming to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose among students and student athletes. 

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Brookfield budget vote today

Brookfield residents are voting for the third time on a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Residents are being asked to sign off on a $42.7 million Board of Education plan and a $23.9 million  municipal budget.  Capital items were rejected during the first budget vote last month, and residents earlier this month rejected a plan to send the $2.6 million in projects to a vote.  Polls are open until 8pm for the budget vote.

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FEMA preliminary damage assessment teams in Greater Danbury

Throughout most of this week, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be touring different parts of Connecticut to see the destruction from a macroburst and 4 tornadoes that touched down on May 15th.  Preliminary damage assessment teams were in Brookfield and Hamden yesterday.  Senator Richard Blumenthal encouraged home and business owners affected by the storm to keep photos and receipts for follow up.
 
FEMA teams will be in Danbury today.  There are plans for FEMA to also see storm damage in New Fairfield and elsewhere.
 
40-percent of all single family homes in Brookfield sustained damaged.  That's 340 with minor damage, 29 sustained major damage and 10 destroyed.  Between $33 million and $48 million of property damage is estimated.
 
If a disaster declaration is made by the President, it's possible that individual assessment teams will be deployed.  The process is expected to take months.  

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New Milford launches Summer Lunch program

The New Milford Board of Education, Mayor's office, Loaves and Fishes and others have partnered for a Summer Lunch program.  Board of Ed members say 22-percent of New Milford students are on free and reduced lunch, while another 22-percent are slightly over the threshold, but still in need.  The partnership came up out of a concern that children would not get the one meal a day they can count on during the school year.  New Milford Social Services, New Milford Youth Agency, New Milford Hospital, The Community Culinary School, The New Milford Clergy Association, The United Way of Greater New Milford and MVP-SOS are helping to set up the program, which will start July 2nd. 

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GOP gubernatorial hopefuls participate in pre-primary debate

Four Republicans hoping to be the next governor of Connecticut have participated in a debate hosted by The Connecticut Association of Realtors and WTNH-TV.  There weren't many differences between the candidates.  Those appearing on the debate stage were endorsed candidate Mark Boughton and two who automatically qualified for the primary: Tim Herbst  and Steve Obsitnik.  Petitioning candidate David Stemerman was able to prove his signature collection would get him on the ballot and was invited to participate. 

 

All four opposed tolls and sanctuary cities.  They also agreed that pension reform should be a priority.  One area of difference was about a private company opening a casino in Bridgeport.  Boughton and Herbst appeared tepid on the idea while Obsitnik and Stemerman said they would support the idea.

 

Petitioning candidates businessman Bob Stefanowski and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti received invitations, but declined in order to focus on petition drives.  Signatures are due to the Secretary of the State's Office by today. 

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United Way to invest $498,000 in education, food insecurity, financial stability programs

The United Way of Western Connecticut plans to invest $498,000 in education, financial stability, and food insecurity programs in the Greater Danbury, Greater New Milford, and Stamford areas. The funding supports households that fall within the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed income threshold and below. ALICE families earn income above the federal poverty level, but not enough to make ends meet. 
 
United Way CEO Kimberly Morgan says helping these households support children's success in school and access free financial services to help families stay on budget and save.
 
The following is a list of programs funded in Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury:
 
Early Childhood Education Funding
Organization, program name/description:
Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury $72,000
Regional Y, Regional Y Early Education Program
Little People Learning Center, Little People Learning Center
Salvation Army, The Right Place
 
After School Funding
Organization (areas served) program name/description:
Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury $50,000
Danbury Family Learning Center, Extended Learning Program
Danbury Grassroots Academy
Danbury Youth Services, Target
Family and Children’s Aid, EXTEND
Regional Y, School Age Program
 
ALICE Enrichment Funding 
City/Town - Partner Organization:
Danbury - Danbury Youth Services, Inc
Newtown - Newtown Dept. of Social Services
Bethel - Bethel Dept. of Social Services
Brookfield - Brookfield Dept. of Social Services
New Fairfield - New Fairfield Dept. of Social Services
Ridgefield - Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield
Redding - Redding Dept. of Social Services
 
Financial Stability Funding
Organization (area served):
Catholic Charities (Greater Danbury)
TBICO (Greater Danbury/Southern Litchfield)
 
Food Programs Funding
Organization (areas served) program name/description:
CT Food Bank (Mobile Pantries in Danbury, Stamford, and New Milford) Mobile pantries
CT Food Bank (Danbury) Weekend food packs

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Tract of land in Danbury named an 'opportunity zone'

A tract of land in Danbury is among 72 receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury to become an opportunity zone.  Qualified tracts must have a poverty rate of at least 20 percent of the median income that does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.
 
The program provides a federal tax incentive for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into these special zones by pooling money with other investors through Opportunity Funds.   In exchange for their investments, opportunity fund investors are able to decrease their federal tax burden through the preferential treatment of capital gains. 
 
 
Qualifying investments may include a broad range of commercial and residential investments, such as transit-oriented development, affordable housing and mixed-use development, and energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on public and private assets. 

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Brookfield Police K9 gets donation of body armor

Brookfield Police K9 Major has received a bullet and stab protective vest from non-profit Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. The vest was sponsored by Reimer and Bevis Families of Middletown.  It's embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love - Trained to Serve - Loyal Always”. 

 

Major's handler, Officer Kyek thanked the families for providing his partner with the vital piece of equipment.  He said it's reassuring to know that Major is further protected by this body armor. 

 

The non-profit was established in 2009 and has provided over 2,900 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars.

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police)

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Southbury Police investigating thefts from cars

Over the last two weeks Southbury Police received a large number of complaints of larcenies from motor vehicles.  Police say the thieves are looking for purses, wallets, laptops, cash, jewelry, firearms, and vehicles with keys left in them.  People can protect property by removing items from vehicles and locking car doors.  Anyone who sees a suspicious vehicle, especially during early morning hours, is asked to contact Southbury Police at 203-264-5912.

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Cumberland Farms seeks approval to locate in Danbury

The Danbury Planning Commission is considering a gas station and convenience store for a long vacant building.  Representatives from Cumberland Farms made a presentation to the Commission last week for the 106 Federal Road property. 

 

The space previously housed Bennigan's Grill and Tavern, but that was more than a decade ago.  The building would be demolished to clear the way for a 5,300-square-foot convenience store, two 20,000-gallon underground gas storage tanks and six double-sided gas pumps. 

 

The intersection with International Drive would be turned into a four-way traffic signal, with the driveway realigned.  A special exception is needed.  The facility is expected to generate over 500 vehicle trips per day.

 

The commission will take up the application June 20th.  

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Medals presented to Korean War veterans in New Milford

Medals have been presented to several New Milford veterans.  Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty presented the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal to nine veterans who served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.
 
The recipients are:
Henry A. Chatin- US Army
Lowell Hendrix- US Army
James W. McLaughlin- US Army
Edward Easton- US Marine Corps
Charles Elesser ( Posthumously) Us Marine Corps
Lawrence Tripp- US Marine Corps
Martin Jajer- US Navy
Frank P. Morris- US Navy
Edward Easton- US Marine Corps

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Off-duty Carmel Police Officer struck and killed by mail truck

A Carmel Police officer died Thursday after his motorcycle was struck by a mail truck on Route 301 in Carmel.  29-year Gary Pietropaolo was due to be married this weekend.  He was off-duty at the time of the crash, and died at the hospital.  Carmel Police issued a statement saying that the officer was well liked and respected by all of his colleagues and will be sorely missed.  Visting hours are tonight 4 to 8pm at Cargain Funeral Home on Route 6 in Mahopac.  A Mass of Christian burial will be held on tomorrow at 11am at St. James the Apostle R.C. Church in Carmel.

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Fire at former Tuxedo Junction building being investigated

A fire in the former Tuxedo Junction building in Danbury has been extinguished.  Firefighters responded to an automatic alarm at 2 Ives Street last night and found smoke coming from the building.  A fire was located in a first floor bathroom.  Firefighters searched the building for any occupants and then vented the structure to clear the smoke.  The Fire Marshals Office and Danbury Police are investigating the cause and origin of the fire.  

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FEMA to tour Brookfield today to view storm damage

FEMA will be in Brookfield today to look at damage from the May 15th macroburst. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will join officials from FEMA and Brookfield on their tour. 

 

During the immediate aftermath of the storm, 91% of Brookfield residents were left without power.  Some were without power for up to ten days. Esty and Senator Richard Blumenthal previously surveyed the storm damage last month. 

 

Brookfield officials have expanded the storm damage submission form to now allow residents to send up to 10 pictures.  Residents can now also give best estimates of insured and uninsured property loss.  Anyone who has already submitted a report can resend the forms to include the additional information.  Brookfield officials are asking that residents only send information about personal property as the town has all of the information needed for town-owned property, including rights-of-way, parks and open spaces.  

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Bethel seeks to repair historic train station canopy

The canopy at the old train station building in downtown Bethel has been deemed unsafe and needs to be replaced.  The state deeded the Old Train Station building to Bethel years ago, but still owned the canopy.  Bethel asked the state to deed the canopy to the town so it can be historically restored, rather than replaced.  The state agreed, and will provide $36,800 toward the replacement cost. 
 
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says more funding is needed and he's recommending that it borrowed from the general fund.  The money would be paid back by rent received from the tenant. 
 
The Board of Selectmen has voted to waive the bidding process since there is only one company in the area that has the certification to do work so close to an active rail lien.  The approval of a contract with Rizzo Corporation would need approval from the Board of Finance and from residents at a Special Town Meeting. 
 
Demolition and removal of the old canopy and construction of a new structure is estimated to cost $142,600, with another $10,000 for flagging and track protection by Metro North.  The cost includes a 15% contingency, and is 16% lower than originally proposed after successful negotiations with the company.  

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Gun control could play role in Connecticut governor race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut may have passed wide-ranging gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, but that doesn't mean the battle over gun control in this state is over.

It's expected the issue could influence the state's hotly contested race for governor.

Greenwich businessman and endorsed Democratic candidate Ned Lamont calls the debate "very passionate" on both sides of the issue. He's proposed banning so-called ghost guns, which are firearms parts that can be assembled to make untraceable weapons.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the endorsed Republican candidate, is struggling to win the support the gun rights enthusiasts who question his level of support.

Boughton says his positions have been misunderstood and he doesn't believe new gun laws are needed.

The president of pro-gun rights group The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is skeptical. 

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Republican to pursue unaffiliated run for Congress

A Brookfield Republican is seeking an unaffiliated run for Congress.  John Pistone has decided not to pursue a primary run for the 5th District seat, but rather petition his way on to the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.  Pistone says the Connecticut Republican Party believes he is too conservative and that the party is moving further left.  He calls himself an outsider, not part of the political establishment and not content with the status quo.  

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Danbury school dedicates 'schoolyard habitat' garden

Broadview Middle School in Danbury has officially dedicated its “Schoolyard Habitat” garden, with the help of a 3-thousand dollar grant.  Broadview was chosen last fall as one of two schools in Connecticut for the Audubon Society Schoolyard Habitat Program.  Students involved in the school’s Roots & Shoots afterschool program care for the gardens.  The entire sixth grade has used the gardens to learn ecology, starting with a nature walk as a unit introduction. 

 

For the past three years, students and teachers dedicated two areas around the school to gardens that grow native plants and vegetables and encourage good environmental practice for the community.

 

The gardens were established as a grassroots effort without any resources, which led to the grant funding.  A Peace Garden in the front of the school is home to native species.  13 raised beds on the side of the school are used to grow herbs and vegetables, such as cucumbers and peppers. 

 

The raised beds were built by students from the Alternative Center for Excellence and teacher John Webber.  Science teacher Dallas Moore and reading teacher Sue Mills led the project with help from school social worker Christine Miller and ESL teacher Val Anderson. 

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Danbury, Bethel Police participate in 'Push Against Cancer'

The 9th annual “Push Against Cancer” is happening tomorrow.  
 
The Bethel Police Department will be participating in Push Against Cancer.  Their team is called Cops Against Cancer.  The team will be doing as many push ups as they can for an hour on Sunday in an effort to raise money for kids that have serious illnesses.  Donations raised by the Bethel officers will send those kids to camp for a week.  
 
Several members of the Danbury Police Department are also raising money to send kids coping with serious illness to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman.  Over the past 8 years, Push Against Cancer has raised over $330,000. 

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Welcome home ceremony planned this morning in Danbury for army reserve members

A welcome home ceremony is being held today for Bravo company of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  The ceremony at 11am at the Danbury Armed Forces Reserve Center.  Councilman Tom Saadi says the 35 members returned home a few months ago from a nearly year deployment to Africa, and are back training with their battalion.  Awards and recognitions will be presented.  Saadi says the community has been very supportive of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  The group has a new commander coming in this summer.  The public is invited to attend the ceremony.  There is some security precautions at the training center.  People will have to check in when they arrive.  People wishing to attend the ceremony should contact tomsaadi@aol.com or call 203-797-1797.  

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New Milford Police get donation of GPS K9 tracking devices

New Milford has received a donation of two high performance GPS K9 tracking devices for their two canine officers.  They were obtained, in part, through a grant from the Hometown Foundation, which matches needs of municipal organizations with local donors. 

 

With town budgets tight over the last few years, and the equipment fairly expensive, Police Lieutenant Jeffrey Covello thanked the Town Council for accepting the donation. 

 

The collars have a unit that stays with the handler.  Covello says the K9s were sent out recently looking for a missing child, and noted that New Milford is the largest town geographically in Connecticut.  Once police exhausted the day's work, he had to print off map and go through with handler exactly which areas were already searched so they didn't cover the same area when the search picked up the next day. 

 

The GPS unit archives exactly where the dog has roamed.

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Local sites to participate in Connecticut Open House Day

The 14th annual Connecticut Open House Day is today.  

 

The Bethel Historical Society will be taking part.  Town Historian Patrick Wild will be hosting a game to test people's knowledge of Bethel's history. Contestants are going to answer multiple choice questions using the touch screen of their cell phones.  Results for each round of the game will be immediately scored, tabulated, and projected on a large screen to provide up-to-the-minute player standings. Prizes will be awarded for the game's top three contestants. There is no fee for the event, but donations to the Bethel Historical Society are encouraged.

 

People who registered for the event will face off in the lower room of Bethel Congregational Church at 1pm.  A number of tourist destinations are offering special discounts and promotions. 

 

Brookfield Museum & Historical Society is holding free admission from noon to 4pm.  In Danbury, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and Workspace Collective will have open gallery hours from 11am to 6pm.  The Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum in Kent is open 10am to 4pm and will give a free Connecticut mineral specimen from the Mining Museum.

 
Among the cultural sites participating is also the Village Center for the Arts in New Milford.  The Center will hold demonstrations on the pottery wheel, cartooning, drawing, and painting from 10am to 6pm.  The EverWonder Children’s Museum in Newtown is among those participating, offering half price admission.  The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield is offering free admission. 

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Redding to host paper shredding day today

Redding's sdditional Paper Shredding Day for residents will take place today.  Businesses and in-home offices will not be able to participate in the shredding day at the Redding Recycling Center on Hopewell Woods Road from 9am to noon.  A mobile shredder will cross-shred documents including receipts, bank statements, tax returns, checks and medical records.  Staples and paper clips can be attached, but binder clips and file hangers can not.  The service is free to all Redding residents, with proof of residency required.  There is a limit of 5 file boxes per person. 

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Newtown Police investigating attempted car break-in

Newtown Police are investigating an attempted car break in.  A Taunton Lane resident reported finding people going through their unlocked car parked in their driveway, around 1:30 yesterday morning.  The resident confronted the suspects, who ran away and got into a large SUV-type vehicle with a loud exhaust.  No other description of the suspects or vehicle was given.  Newtown Police are reminding residents to lock cars when parked so you don't become an easy target.  

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Vessel inspections to be held this weekend in Putnam County

Putnam County Sheriff’s and Carmel Police Marine Units are holding a voluntary vessel inspection Saturday and Sunday.  The inspection will be performed by police officers and deputy sheriffs assigned to the Marine Unit on Lake Mahopac.  It's an attempt to educate the community on safe boating.  Officers will tell boaters about required safety equipment and boating regulations in New York State.  The inspections will be done Saturday at Mahopac Marina from 10am to 2pm and on Sunday at MacDonald Marina and Oscawana Lake Marina in Putnam Valley from 10am to 2pm.

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WCSU monitoring blacklegged tick population

The West Conn Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory monitors blacklegged tick populations by dragging a flannel cloth through the leaf litter.  21 nymphs were collected by a research staffer this week in just a few seconds.  The Lab says tick numbers are picking up in the northeast and people spending time outdoors are urged to be vigilant and check for ticks.

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Ridgefield Animal Control offers reminder about interacting with wildlife

Ridgefield Police have received some calls about a fawn possibly being abandoned.  The Animal Control Officer says young deer are often left hidden and alone for hours while their mothers forage for food.  It's advised to leave the fawn alone for at least 48 hours to determine if the mother is returning for feedings.  A truly orphaned fawn may show signs of distress by walking around aimlessly and calling out for several hours.   

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Family of NY man killed in hit & run doubles reward for info

The family of a Brewster man killed in a hit and run crash in I-84 in Danbury is doubling the reward for information that leads to an arrest.  32-year old Daniel Crawford was found dead next to his car in the shoulder of the highway, westbound by exit 2, in the early morning hours of April 7th.  Crawford's father is now offering a $10,000 reward.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Connecticut State Police at 203-267-2200 or text TIP711 ti the confidential line 274637. 

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Bethel to test changes in hours of town hall operations this summer

Bethel is going to do a four month test of different hours for Town Hall.  Officials say the change in operating hours is being tested to provide greater access to the public. 
 
Beginning July 9th, Bethel Town Hall will open half an hour earlier each week day and remain open 90 minutes later on Thursday evenings.  Friday will have shortened hours to maintain a 40-hour week. 
 
Bethel Town Hall will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays 8am to 4:30pm, Thursdays 8am to 6pm and Fridays 8am to noon. 
 
An evaluation will be done during the first week of October to determine the effectiveness of giving residents more of an opportunity to condcut business before and after normal business hours.  

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Danbury man arrested for alleged marijuana trafficking

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug trafficking related charges.  Police launched an investigation into 37-year old Alberto Lantigua months ago, after neighbor complaints of alleged illegal activity at his Purchase Street home.  

 
Investigators, with the help of Bethel Police, stopped Lantigua yesterday.  He was found in possession of a substantial amount of marijuana.  Police found more than two pounds of pot, packaging material, a scale and several hundred dollars cash. 
 
Lantigua was held on bond.  He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, intent to sell within 1500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of paraphernalia near a school and risk of injury to a child.

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Danbury teacher remains on leave pending investigation into allegations

A Danbury teacher is being investigated for the second time this school year.  The Newstimes obtained the personnel file of Broadview Middle School teacher Bill Herzog, which shows he remains on administrative leave pending an investigation by the state Department of Children and Families. 
 
He is accused of using harsh and abusive language toward special education students. 
 
Herzog denies the allegation that he placed a rag in a student's mouth to discourage humming.  He allegedly forced a student to clean up mucus she spread on the floor, but argued that's a “sensory integration model” to teach the severely disabled student not to spread mucus on other students or adults.  

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Redding recount shows budget failed by 3 votes

A recount in Redding shows that Tuesday budget vote still failed.  There were just 3 votes more in opposition to the plan, compared to the 4 votes tabulated on the day of the referendum.  The additional YES vote was found on an improperly marked ballot which was read by the optical scan machine as blank.  The Redding Board of Selectmen will meet on Monday.  The Redding Board of Ed will meet Tuesday and the Board of Finance will make revisions on Wednesday.

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Eversource to string utility lines across Route 6, I-84 in Bethel

Part of Route 6 in Bethel will be closed overnight into Saturday for utility work.  Eversource Energy will be stringing new high-voltage transmission lines along a utility right of way crossing Route 6 and Interstate 84.  Eversource has been staging equipment for the work at the corner of Benedict Road.  The utility says the work is needed to help strengthen the power grid and increase reliability.  State Police traffic control vehicles and signs will be put up on I-84 to help manage the flow of traffic as the lines are pulled across highway.  The work is slated, weather permitting, for midnight to 3am Saturday.

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Project status updates Saturday, Tuesday on Newtown Community Center

Two project status sessions are planned in Newtown so residents could see the most up to date information for the Community Center and Senior Center.  A scale model can also be viewed at the events Saturday from 10am to 11:30am and Tuesday from 7pm to 8:30.  Both sessions will be held at the Newtown Municipal Center, in Council Chambers. 
 
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, Community Center Director Matt Ariniello and other town officials and the Community Center Advisory Committee will be available to answer questions.  A continuously-looping slideshow of some areas of the building's plans will be playing during the open house events. 
 
Residents can see construction progress at the site on Simpson Street across the from the Municipal Building.

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New Milford Town Council trims budget proposal

The New Milford Town Council has trimmed $300,000 from the proposed school budget for the coming fiscal year.  The plan is now $63-million.  The $39-million municipal budget was not changed because it was approved during the second referendum.  If approved, the budget represents a 3.3 percent tax increase.  They also opted to include a million dollars for capital nonrecurring items not on the first two budget ballots.  The money would go to the 2020 revaluation and roof and oil tank replacements. 

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Brookfield Police investigating thefts from parked cars

Brookfield Police are warning residents of a new round of thefts form cars.  Police say there have been multiple thefts from unlocked cars throughout town over the last few nights.  Residents are urged to take valuables out of cars at night to make sure vehicles are locked.  

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Two cars reported stolen in Newtown

Newtown Police are investigating the report of two stolen cars.  The vehicles were taken from the garage of a residence on Butternut Ridge. The vehicles were unlocked and keys were in the cars.  The theft occurred during the very early morning hours yesterday. No other details are being released as police continue to investigate.  Residents are being reminded to remove valuables from vehicles and to lock the doors. 

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Farmer, pickup truck collide in Woodbury accident

State Police say a man sustained serious injuries when his tractor and a pickup truck collided in Woodbury last night.  64-year  old Daniel Logue was pulling a corn planter across Quassapaug Road at Route 6.  He was thrown from the tractor during the crash. The other driver was uninjured.  State Police are continuing their investigation.

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