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Local Headlines Archives for 2013-08

Conn. delegation faults US tribal recognition plan

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Interior Department to scrap proposed rules changes that could make it easier for American Indian tribes to win federal recognition.

A letter sent this week by all seven members of the delegation in Washington says the proposal waters down the criteria and would have a significant impact on Connecticut residents.

Under the changes proposed in June by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tribes that have had a state reservation since at least 1934 could be eligible for recognition. That could benefit the various factions of the Schaghticokes of Kent, the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Trumbull and Colchester and the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington.

Recognition could bolster the tribes' land claims and potentially help them bring new gambling halls to the state.

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Low blood supply of universal donor, local drives to be held

The New York Blood Center, which provides blood, transfusion products and services to hospitals in parts of Connecticut, says it has less than a two-day supply of O-negative "universal donor'' blood heading into the Labor Day weekend. 

 

The center said Thursday it tries to maintain a seven to nine-day supply of all blood types.  O-negative can be transfused into anyone during a trauma situation when there's no time for blood typing. 

 

There are blood drives Thursday at Danbury Hospital and Friday at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel.

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Mark Twain Library book sale this weekend in Redding

One of the largest book fairs in New England is being held this weekend in Redding. There are 60,000 books available for sale that cover 65 categories.  The sale takes place at the Redding Community Center on Lonetown Road behind the elementary school.

The Mark Twain Library was founded by Samuel Clemens, whose pen name was Mark Twain, in 1908.  He lived in Redding the last years of his life. Upon his death in 1910, his daughter Clara donated books for sale and 103 years later, the Book Fair is still one of the library's principal fundraisers.

 

This year's highlights include a large children's book section and a large collection of Art & Photography books including Franklin Library leather–bound sets.  The library received some donations from Lucie Arnaz and her husband Larry Luckinbill.

 

The book fair runs from Friday through Monday afternoon.

  • Friday: 9-4  prices as marked
  • Saturday: 9-4  prices as marked
  • Sunday: 9-4  half price day
  • Monday: 9-4  $5 for a bag full of books

 

More information about the book sale can be found on the library's website.

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Fewer trains for evening commute ahead of holiday weekend

Commuter rail lines in New York and Connecticut will provide extra service on Friday to help customers get a head start on the Labor Day weekend. Metro-North will provide additional early afternoon service from Manhattan tomorrow for customers planning to leave early for the holiday weekend. 

 

On Friday the 5:25 train to Brewster will not run. 

 

Several trains on the New Haven line will either be combined or not operated to accommodate the shift in ridership.

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NYC street to be renamed for Newtown, Conn., boy

NEW YORK (AP) A New York City street will be renamed in honor of a 6-year-old boy who died in the elementary school massacre in Connecticut in December.

The Daily News reports that the family of the boy, Benjamin Wheeler, moved from Queens to Newtown, Conn., when he was a baby.

But his parents, Francine and David Wheeler, frequently brought their son back to a Queens park to play with neighborhood children. Ben's mother had started a networking group for families.

The renaming ceremony is planned for Sept. 7 at the intersection of 41st Street and Queens Boulevard.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer says the community feels ``a lot of love for the Wheelers.''

He and U.S. Rep Joseph Crowley are joining local residents in planning the event.

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Flooding, power outages accompany Wednesday storm

The thunderstorm that hit Fairfield County Wednesday afternoon caused some road flooding in Ridgefield.  School officials say a few buses reported delays in getting kids home because of flooding and the heavy rain.  Some residents called town officials to report that their basements flooded with the quick, heavy rain.

 

The storm also knocked down some trees.  One fell onto a power line pole on Old Branchville Road causing the pole to snap.

 

Fire officials say power lines connected to a High Ridge house were struck by lightning, but there was no serious damage.  A lightning strike on Olmstead Lane was also investigated.

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Feds provide financial relief to Conn. police

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The U.S. Justice Department has announced it will provide $2.5 million to cover some costs Connecticut law enforcement agencies incurred related to the Newtown school shooting.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the money from the department's Bureau of Justice Assistance is intended to cover the costs of overtime, forensics and security following the shooting in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children and six educators were killed.

Police in the neighboring town of Monroe are getting the most, nearly $883,000. Connecticut State Police are getting more than $663,000 while Newton police are getting more than $602,000.

Almost $300,000 is split between more than 30 other departments.

Holder said providing financial support is ``one small action we can take to bring healing to a community that's been devastated.''

 

Acting US Attorney Deirdre Daly says the funding will compensate police for their tireless investigation of the crime as well as the officers that responded to the horrific scene and for months helped to provide security and comfort to the community

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Ridgefield considers anti-blight ordinance

Multiple old cars parked on the lawn, garbage and general junk littering a property could soon be subject to a blight ordinance in Ridgefield.  The Board of Selectmen is once again considering how to draft an ordinance to address neighbor concerns about the condition of rundown properties.  Though First Selectman Rudy Marconi says this would not be for tall grass or houses that need painting.

 

He says it's unfair to people in this economy who work hard to protect the investment of their home to have someone allowing their home to fall into a state of disrepair lower the property value of the neighborhood.

 

Marconi says the Ridgefield ordinance could mirror one enacted recently in Newtown which created an anti-blight enforcement officer, daily fines and hearings to contest blight charges.  

 

The Newtown language will be a guide for a similar statute.

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Conn. lawmakers approve medical marijuana regs

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut is the latest state to enact a medical marijuana program.

By a voice vote, the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee on Tuesday approved wide-ranging regulations that spell out the details of the new system. While there were some nay votes, no tally was taken.

Some cheers erupted in the audience after the regulations were declared approved.

The panel reclassified marijuana by a voice vote, moving it from a drug with no medical purpose to one that has a medical purpose but has potential for abuse and needs to be controlled.

Some committee members who originally opposed the underlying medical marijuana legislation expressed concerns about enacting regulations for a program that would be at odds with federal drug laws.

At the same time, they praised the regulations for their completeness.

 

Members of the committee include New Milford state Senator Clark Chapin and Representative Arthur O'Neill, whose district includes Bridgewater, and Southbury.  Chapin voted for the bill when he was in the state House and O'Neill voted against it.

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Wilton state senator exploring run for governor

NAUGATUCK, Conn. (AP) Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher is the latest Republican considering a possible run for governor in 2014.

The lawmaker announced Tuesday she filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee. She made the announcement in Naugatuck, where she grew up after emigrating from Italy.

Earlier this month, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced he was also exploring a possible gubernatorial campaign. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield has already said he plans to seek the Republican nomination and ultimately challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has not yet said whether he plans to seek a second term.

Greenwich businessman Tom Foley has said he hasn't decided whether to run again.

Boucher has served in the Senate since 2009. She previously served 12 years in the House of Representatives.

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Sandy Hook students return to school for new year

MONROE, Conn. (AP) Students at the Connecticut school where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in December have returned to classes in a neighboring town.

Newtown's first day of school was Tuesday. The Sandy Hook Elementary School students are being bused to Monroe, where a former middle school was renovated for them shortly after the shootings.

The 400 or so Sandy Hook students are starting their first full school year since the Dec. 14 shootings. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza shot the 26 victims and killed himself, after fatally shooting his mother at their Newtown home. The motive remains unclear.

Town voters will be asked in October to approve plans to demolish the school where the massacre occurred and build a new one on the same property.

 

The mother of a 9-year-old girl from Newtown says her daughter was "very happy to be back at school.'' 

 

Brenda Lebinski says her daughter's transition into the fourth grade was made easier because she was able to have the same teacher as last year. Lebinski says everything ``went well'' this morning -- there was a lot of police presence when we pulled in. There were lots of teachers and therapy dogs greeting the kids when they walked in".

 

"She was very happy to be back at school," Lebinski said. "Most of the kids were fine."

 

On one of the school buses carrying the Sandy Hook children on Tuesday morning, a window was decorated with a quotation from the school's slain principal, Dawn Hochsprung: "Be nice to each other. It's really all that matters."

 

The district has announced a partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York to review school security measures and make recommendations.

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Grant becomes official to train new docs in Danbury

A $450,000 federal grant is being used by the Greater Danbury Community Health Center to train three people to become primary care physicians.  Executive Director former Congressman James Maloney and Senator Chris Murphy announced the grant becoming official Monday. 

 

Murphy says the timing is appropriate because this particular program will make a difference as Obamacare rolls out.  He hopes the new doctors will stay in Danbury after they finish their residency.

 

Each student in the residency program will train for three years.  Three more doctors will start the program next year and three in the year after that.  The Health Center will receive a total of $2.7 million in funding for the program.

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Danbury students back to class, construction still underway

Danbury students are back in class and some will notice changes to their schools.  The gym floors at Morris Street and King Street Intermediate were replaced.  A new roof is being put on Morris Street School and work is scheduled to start on that in September.  All three elementary schools are being renovated and expanded. 

 

Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says nearly two dozen classrooms are being added to help alleviate overcrowding issues the district could face with an estimated additional 100 students each year for the next 5 years.

 

Pascarella says all security measures were reassessed over the summer.  In a back-to-school message, he said they have also increased the number of social workers in the district to provide counselling to identify and work with students who need extra assistance.

 

Exterior door locks were upgraded on all buildings.  Panic buttons were also installed in various locations.  A new district-wide card access system was installed that allows access to be programmed individually for card holders. 

 

In one Danbury neighborhood, there was some school bus rerouting done.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says that's because of construction on the right side of Park Avenue School and an access road to the street adjacent to the school.  Three buses for half an hour in the afternoons will have to use the access onto Crescent Drive.  

 

A custodian will be there to monitor the activities.  There is also a chain that gets locked and signage to safeguard traffic around the construction site when workers are at the school.

 

Iadarola says they did meet with the residents who had some concerns, but most of them have been addressed.

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14 new firefighters for Danbury head off to training

14 new fire fighters in Danbury have gone through some initial training and orientation this weekend.  They reported Monday to the Connecticut State Fire Academy.  Fire Chief Geoff Herald says they have not been assigned yet.

 

Herald says this is not an expansion of the Department, the 14 new members will fill in some vacancies created over the years through retirements.  They will be placed in four various platoons.

 

All of the new fire fighters came on board having a Connecticut or national registration as an EMT or paramedic.  Herald says that's especially important in this community because a lot of the calls the fire department gets need EMT skills.

 

The new firefighters will be done with training by December.

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Newtown shooter's school records being sought

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A portrait of a highly isolated young man is emerging as a state office investigating the Newtown school shooter seeks the release of his educational records.

Connecticut's child advocate office is seeking Adam Lanza's records as part of an investigation with its Child Fatality Review Panel into last year's massacre of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The 20-year-old Lanza committed suicide after the shootings.

The panel reviews unexpected child fatalities. It has obtained some of Lanza's school and hospital records, but the attorney general asked on the panel's behalf for the release of his educational records.

Faith Vos Winkel, assistant child advocate, says a theme is emerging of a very isolated child. She says the case is like a puzzle for which they have only a few pieces.

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Officials look for Sandy Hook school time capsule

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Officials in Newtown, Conn., say they're trying to find a 1980 time capsule buried somewhere at Sandy Hook Elementary School before crews demolish the building where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in December.

First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra tells The News-Times of Danbury that she recently learned about the time capsule. It contains artwork, pictures and other school items.

Llodra and school officials are seeking people who were fifth-graders at the school in 1980 and who remember where the capsule is buried.

The school is set to be demolished at the end of the year. Officials are proposing to build a new school on the same property. Llodra says if the time capsule is found, it can either be opened or reburied outside the new school.

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Sept. 24 referendum in Redding, Easton on Barlow field improvements

The Region 9 school board has set a date for a referendum on the $3.27 million bond request for the design and construction of various athletic stadium improvements at Joel Barlow High School.  Redding's share of the allocation is about 55-percent based on population in the school.  Easton will pick up the rest. 

 

The referendum will be September 24. 

 

There were less than a dozen people at the public hearing earlier this week about the project which includes money for soil testing, landscaping and improvements to the nearby parking lot.

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Newtown projects are on time, under budget

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has gotten an update on a couple of ongoing projects.  At their meeting earlier this week the Newtown Board of Selectmen heard that both the Sandy Hook streetscape and Hawley School boiler project are on time and under budget. 

 

For the street scaping, lights are being wired.  A sidewalk is planned to Crestwood Drive by the former Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

The boiler project should be completed by October 1st.  The gas company has installed the line and the equipment.  The new parent orientation and student walk through at the school has been rescheduled to Monday morning.

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Hurricane season not over, NU looks for staging site

Northeast Utilities is thanking Newtown for use of the Fairfield Hills campus as a full scale staging area during the unprecedented storms that hit the state in recent years.  Senior vice president of Emergency Preparedness William Quinlan wrote a letter to the First Selectman thanking her for the town's offer.

 

He wrote that that thousands of employees from as far away as Canada were able to quickly assemble at the space provided. 

 

He wrapped up by saying that even though the region has endured more than its fair share of inclement weather for a while, he hopes Connecticut Light & Power can use the Fairfield Hills campus again if the partnership is needed in the future.

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Conn. legislative lawyers now back pot regulations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Legislative attorneys are now recommending that state lawmakers approve a revised set of proposed regulations for Connecticut's new medical marijuana program.

In a report provided to The Associated Press, the Legislative Commissioners Office recommended that the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee approve the regulations in whole, along with 118 technical corrections, various deletions and substitute pages. The bipartisan panel is scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

The attorneys had previously recommended the committee reject the proposed regulations, citing more than dozen concerns, such as the broadness of the language. But the Department of Consumer Protection submitted revisions, expressing confidence that all the major concerns had been addressed.

 

Members of the committee include New Milford state Senator Clark Chapin and Representative Arthur O'Neill, whose district includes Roxbury and Washington.  O'Neill voted against the 2012 bill and Chapin voted for it when he was in the state House.

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Owner of gun shop pleads guilty to violations

The man who owned the store where the assault rifle used in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School has pleaded guilty to violating federal firearms laws.

 

56-year old David LaGuercia, who owned and operated Riverview Gun Sales in East Windsor pleaded guilty Thursday.  U.S. Attorney spokesman Tom Carson says LaGuercia was a federal firearms licensed dealer in Connecticut from 2005 to December 2012.  ATF revoked Riverview's license on December 20th and LaGuercia has not appealed the administrative decision. 

 

As part of his guilty plea, LaGuercia has agreed that he will not hold a license for five years and agreed to sell or transfer any firearms remaining in Riverview’s inventory to another licensed dealer. 

 

ATF investigation uncovered 300 false or missing records.  The investigation also revealed at least two instances where people received firearms prior to receiving approval from the national instant criminal background check system. 

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly says the investigation revealed shoddy inventory procedures and seemingly non-existent store security.  Daly says licensed dealers are the first line of defense in making sure that firearms don’t wind up in the wrong hands. 

 

Sentencing has been scheduled for November 14th.

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Public hearings will be held on privacy vs right to know law

A local lawmaker has filled in for a colleague at a Task Force meeting this week.  Representative Dan Carter subbed for DebraLee Hovey at the meeting of the group that's been charged with recommending how to balance victim privacy with the public's right to know.  The pair each represent a section of Newtown.  Carter says the group will hold two public hearings.

 

Carter says at Hovey's urging the group decided that the hearings should not be held in the state capital, but rather places that have higher rates of crime.  One will be in Hartford, but not at a state government building.

 

The task force was formed in legislation blocking the release of crime scene photos from Sandy Hook Elementary and certain other crimes going forward. 

 

The date and locations of the public hearings have not yet been scheduled.  The task force is looking to send recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1st.

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Newtown Selectmen propose larger memorial board

The Newtown Board of Selectman has voted to increase the number of people who will sit on a 12/14 memorial commission.  At their meeting on Monday, the Board decided to have a commission of 9 members rather than 7 that would come up with recommendations for a permanent memorial to those who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

 

According to minutes of the Monday meeting, the Board of Selectmen has received 33 applications.  The Board will interview candidates and will likely appoint members at their next meeting. 

 

The Commission would have to recommend the scope, scale and funding of a project after presentations from interested parties.

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Danbury Library has new, expanded computer lab

Danbury Library now has an expanded and relocated computer resource area.  Technology Center IT Manager Sonrda Grossi says the project was made possible because of a significant grant from the Praxair Foundation and funding from the Friends of the Danbury Library.

 

Grossi says it is a more efficient set up.  The old floor plan had one computer hidden where a quiet reading area is now set up and a majority of the other computers were in the lobby area.  The rest were spread out around the first floor.

 

The library was closed for three days during the work because electricians had to rewire the area for computers, new shelves were built and the main floor was rearranged.  The funding was used in part to purchase new computer carrels, a new microfilm machine and new shelving.

 

Grossi says even though the computers are right by the main entrance, it's not as noisy.  They took some of the bullet proof glass from the old Union Savings Bank branch next door and made a partition.  The bank branch next to the library was closed when construction started on a new location down the road.  The Library has acquired some of that old space and officials hope to eventually have a drive-thru book drop off. 

 

The rest of the building is becoming the Danbury Innovation Center.

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Danbury school parking, drop off zones reworked for next week's opening

Part of the infrastructure improvement work being done this summer at Park Avenue School in Danbury is wrapping up.  The parking lot is being reconfigured and the drop-off turn around are being reworked.  That portion of the project will be done when classes start next week.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says most of the addition work is taking place in the back of the school so the look of the building won't be changing too much.

 

One Council member was concerned that there would be a wall of classrooms blocking the view of the two-schoolhouse and prairie center design.  The two-story addition at Park Avenue will have 12 new classrooms, a storage room and a media center.

 

Iadarola says at each school they try to separate bus traffic from parents dropping off or picking up children.  He says the contractor has kept a very an aggressive schedule--working 10 to 12 hour days, 7 days a week.

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Operation Dry Water yields no arrests

This latest enforcement effort to find those who are boating under the influence had better results than the first according to state officials.  A state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokeswoman says there were no boaters found to be under the influence of alcohol who were stopped during patrols this past weekend. 

 

Operation Dry Water included state wide increased patrols and checkpoints, as well as boater education efforts. 

 

An enforcement effort at the end of June resulted in four BUI arrests including two on Candlewood Lake. 

 

EnCon police captain Ryan Healy says when alcohol is combined with stressors such as sun, wind, waves and engine noise, a fun day on the water can turn tragic.  Healy says a boat operator or even passengers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. 

 

In Connecticut last year, 29-percent of all accidents with injuries involved alcohol.  Four of six reportable accidents that resulted in fatalities were alcohol related.

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Fence to be installed at Sandy Hook School

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Officials in Newtown, Conn., say crews will soon install a black iron fence to block the driveway of the school where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators in December.

The News-Times reports the fence will replace concrete barriers and orange traffic cones that currently block the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Town officials have approved a plan to tear down the school and build a new one on the same property. A new driveway would be built a short distance from the current one.

Officials are planning use a $50 million state grant for construction. Town residents must approve the rebuilding plan.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza gunned down 26 people and killed himself at the school, after fatally shooting his mother at their Newtown home.

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FBI works to train police on mass killing response

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) Two men stand anxiously at the classroom entrance and another lies seriously wounded beside a wall outside. "Don't come down here, I'm telling you - I'll kill `em," a man inside the classroom shouts to officers snaking down the corridor with guns drawn. The officers call out to the gunman, who demands money, and order the potential victims to get down as they approach the classroom they take out the shooter in a rapid firefight.

 

The drill is part of a training program the FBI is helping run for local law enforcement agents nationwide. Acting on a White House directive after last December's Connecticut school massacre, and partnering with a Texas-based training center, the FBI this year has been teaching best practices for responding to mass shootings.

 

"You don't need negotiators, you don't have time for SWAT teams, you need to get in there as fast as possible and stop the killing," said Chris Combs, who runs the FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center, the headquarters command post for major emergencies, and is involved in running the program.

 

The goal is to promote a standardized strategy as local police departments - invariably the first officers to arrive - respond to such shootings. Besides the tactical drills, conferences run by FBI field offices are intended to prepare local agencies for the challenges of an active shooter emergency and to let them know that federal help, including extra manpower to interview witnesses, collect evidence and manage a sprawling crime scene, is available to them.

 

"It's not capability - it's capacity," said Katherine Schweit, another FBI official involved in organizing the program. "Every police department, sheriff's department has the ability to do interviews and to do evidence collection ... But we can bring capacity. We can bring 100 agents to a scene in a day and do hundreds of interviews, and have done that time and time again."

 

Localized training programs have proliferated in recent years amid high-profile mass shootings in places such as Tucson, Ariz., where then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was wounded by a lone gunman in 2011 while meeting with constituents, and in Aurora, Colo., where a man killed 12 in a movie theater. After the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, President Barack Obama directed the FBI to train local law enforcement to develop a more consistent response and signed legislation formalizing the agency's authority to assist in mass killing investigations.

 

The FBI then partnered with an active-shooter training center - ALERRT, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training - which was created in Texas after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings and receives Justice Department funding. The bureau sent about 100 tactical instructors to Texas for training and returned them into the field to run exercises, alongside ALERRT trainers, for local officers.

 

Officials say the partnership helps spread ALERRT's teachings farther and faster than the program could cover on its own while lending the program what Schweit calls "the imprimatur of national support and standards." Officials hope the partnership lasts for as long as funding remains available.

 

The two-day, 16-hour tactical session - like the one held on a college campus in Maryland last week - opens with classroom instruction and ends with role-playing drills.

 

Officers and instructors were divided into gunmen, responders, hostages and victims and are given real-life scenarios that test their ability to enter a building and confront a shooter. The officers, in blue protective helmets, fired non-lethal projectiles from lookalike handguns - enough to make a loud "pop" and sting on impact. An instructor filmed the drill so participants could study their mistakes later; another periodically shouted out pointers.

 

"In that kind of event, you can never get to the point where it's real life. Always in back of the officer's head, they know, `I'm not actually going to die. No one's being killed,'" said J. Pete Blair, the ALERRT program's research director and an associate professor at Texas State University-San Marcos.

 

But, he added, "It's as close as we can get to the real thing without people getting hurt."

 

The drills coach officers to directly engage the shooter instead of waiting for specialized SWAT teams to arrive, even if the officer's weapon is less powerful than the gunman's and even if research shows an officer who arrives alone and confronts the shooter will himself be shot one-third of the time, Combs said. The average shooting is over within minutes, sometimes ending before police arrive or once the gunman hears an officer approaching.

 

That's a reversal from past training that focused on containing the scene, controlling the perimeter and calling for SWAT help. That strategy, though widely accepted at the time, was criticized as too slow and painstaking after the Columbine shootings.

 

"Now because of those lessons learned, because of the willingness to be introspective of what took place, tactics have evolved, and they're continuing to evolve," said Arvada, Colo., police Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea, who was among the first responders at Columbine.

 

Under the new initiative, the FBI is making available its behavioral analysts to consult with local police agencies concerned that someone in their community might be planning a shooting, and the bureau's 56 field offices are running table-top exercises and conferences to augment the tactical drills.

 

The willingness to go in alone is a "horrible personal decision," but must be weighed against the potential carnage inside a building, he added.

 

The conferences cover the added challenges posed by mass killings, such as collecting enormous amounts of evidence, interviewing hundreds of witnesses and sifting for explosive devices, said Stephen Vogt, who runs the FBI's Baltimore office. Interacting with the national news media also is discussed.

 

"We had hundreds of satellite trucks in a small, rural community that clogged our streets. People came from far and wide to see our memorials; traffic was a nightmare," Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe recalled in an interview.

 

Brian Waller, the operations commander for the Salisbury University police department, said he was re-evaluating his department's plans after sitting in on some of the training.

 

"There's kind of an explanation or some support, evidence, statistics, behind what they teach when we discuss the different tactics," Waller said. "It's not just, `Hey, this is what Joe came up with.' There's research behind it, there's experience."

 

Mike Sotka, the FBI SWAT team leader in Baltimore and one of the tactical instructors at last week's training, acknowledged that the training could be "very overwhelming" for patrol officers. But he said those are the officers who most need to be taught the proper response in the same, standardized way.

 

"We are asking patrolmen to go in and do a hostage rescue of hundreds of people, in some situations, with minimal amount of training when we ask SWAT teams to train their whole career for that."

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Call for nominations for Warrior Award

The annual Walk of Honor is being planned for October in Danbury.  It will be the second year that a local veteran will be honored with the Warrior Award.  Organizer Mary Teicholz says the nominees should be a veteran who has served in a combat zone and exemplifies the values of duty, respect, honor, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage.

 

Teicholz says it was an honor last year to have so many people share their veterans' stories with the committee and people can resubmit their nominations. 

 

Last year's winner was Navy Corpsman Todd Angell.

 

Teicholz says Danbury is blessed to have so many incredibly brave veterans in the community and she looks forward to this year's stories.  She encouraged people to resubmit nominations from last year.  A committee of 5 people, including veterans, will look at the nominations. 

 

The deadline for submission is September 30th.  The nomination should be approximately five hundred words and should include the nominee’s name, military rank, medals awarded and as many details as possible about their service.  Contact information of the person submitting the nomination should be included as well.

 

Nominations can be emailed to mteicholz@yahoo.com

submitted through www.walkofhonor.us

or mailed to:

Mary Teicholz

6 Shannon Ridge Rd

Danbury, CT 06810

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Local businessmen named to Conn. Red Cross board

The American Red Cross Connecticut Chapter has held it's annual meeting where the group elected its board of directors and slate of officers.  Two area business men have been elected to the 26-member Board.  Red Cross Spokesman Paul Shipman says the organization is involved in so many ways in helping people prevent prepare and respond to emergencies.

 

Shipman says the organization is involved in disaster preparedness and response and so they look for board members who can bring skills, experience and interest to their work.

 

Recently elected members include: Kris Yeager of Monroe--the Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis at Philip Morris Capital Corporation.  He was also elected as Secretary of the Board.  Patrick O’Donnell, of Ridgefield will serve as Board chairman.  He is Vice President of Global Marketing, Strategy and Online Commerce at IBM Corporation.

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Danbury has 1,300 smoke detectors to install for residents for free

Danbury firefighters will be dropping in on residents on Saturdays from now through October.  They along with members of the Fire Marhsall's office will install 1,300 smoke detectors and perform inspections on existing smoke detectors. 

 

Fire Chief Geoff Herald says part of the campaign is to reach out to seniors, young people and residents who are especially vulnerable to fire injury deaths.  Herald says just having a smoke detector in the home cuts the chance of dying in a fire nearly in half. 

 

Because smoke detectors alone won’t prevent every fire death, Herald says the project includes educating residents to have a home fire escape plan so they know what to do if the smoke detector sounds.  Herald says with working smoke detectors, more people can safely self-evacuate and reduce the need for interior search and rescue operations--a primary source for firefighter injuries.

 

Residents who want to schedule a home visit should call the Community Risk Reduction Office of the Fire Marshal at 203-796-1541.  The effort is being paid for by a FEMA grant.

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Region 9 school district holds Tues. on bond money

The public hearing is being held to discuss the proposed $3.27 million appropriation for the design and construction of various athletic stadium improvements at Joel Barlow High School.  Redding's share of the allocation is about 55-percent based on population in the school.  Easton will pick up the other 45-percent of the tab. 

 

After the district meeting, the Board of Education will meet to set the dates for the referendums to be held in Easton and Redding, whose town charter calls for at least 30 days notice of a referendum. 

 

There is some money included in that total for soil testing, landscaping and improvements to the nearby parking lot.  Six bids came in for the project which includes a new turf field, a fence, field lighting and bleachers. 

 

Tuesday's meeting in the library of Joel Barlow will be held at 7pm.

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3 charged for drug sale near Dabnury housing complex

Three people have been arrested in Danbury after being seen conducting a drug sale in the area of Beaver and Spring Streets on Saturday night.  Police were conducting surveillance in the area and found that 38-year old Vandy Heard of Waterbury and 43-year old Tammy Turner of Danbury were selling narcotics from a parked car to 49-year old Michael Portella of New Milford. 

 

Heard was charged for possession of and intent to sell cocaine and possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a housing complex. 

 

Turner was charged with possession of crack with intent to sell and two counts of possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school/housing complex. 

 

Portella was charged for having narcotics and of drug paraphernalia in his possession because police found heroin and syringes.  He was released on bond for an August 28th court appearance.

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Inedpendent Party of Newtown not running candidates

The Independent Party of Newtown has held it's caucus and decided not to have any candidates run for office in November.  In a statement to the press following last night's meeting, the chairman of the party wrote that members would like to continue to focus on their community works rather than run for office. 

 

He said they have been directing their energies into the healing process working with the Newtown Volunteer Task Force, the Newtown Action Alliance and others. 

 

Incumbent Republican First Selectman Pat Llodra is running unopposed for another term leading the town.

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Quarantine on Ash wood expanded because of bettle

New York has expanded a quarantine on ash wood products to 42 counties, including Putnam, to combat the spread of the invasive emerald ash borer.  The beetle's larvae have destroyed tens of millions of trees as it's moved steadily east from Michigan, where it was discovered in 2002. 

 

There is also a quarantine in Fairfield County because the beetle was found in Sherman. 

 

The bans mean that untreated firewood can't be moved more than 50 miles from its source.  In Connecticut, state environmental officials have asked people not to move ash firewood out of the county.

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WWII ceremony honors Danbury man

A World War II Memorial Ceremony has been held in Danbury.  The Danbury Council of Veterans and the Catholic War Veterans held the ceremony at the Rose Gardens on Memorial Drive Thursday morning.  The featured speaker and honoree at the event was former City Councilman John Esposito. 

 

He is a Marine who took part in four amphibious landings in the Pacific during the war and was seriously wounded on Iwo Jima.  He still carries bullet fragments in his elbow from the intense hours of combat.  Esposito earned the Purple Heart among other medals and commendations. 

 

When he returned home, Espisito served 30 years with the Postal Service and as a volunteer fireman.  He is the longest serving councilman in Danbury's history. 

 

The Marine Corps honored him in 2009 as being the "founding father" of the 25th Regiment, which has a Reserve battalion in Plainville.

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Ridgefield school security money approved by residents for bonding

The Special Town Meeting followed a public hearing Wednesday night in Ridgefield Town Hall.  Residents approved a $731,000 special appropriation for enhanced school security. 

 

The request from the Board of Education, which will be financed through bonding, has also been approved by the Boards of Finance and Selectmen. 

 

The request is broken down into three parts. 

 

$162,000 for locks to interior doors in all of the buildings.  $231,000 for a swipe card system for the 9 schools' entrances and exterior doors.  About $338,000 is being requested for 105 security cameras.  That amount includes all of the wiring and software needed to run the cameras that can be viewed from various locations inside the schools, at the central office and at the police station.

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Money Magazine 'Top Earning Towns' includes two in Conn.

The country's top earning town is nearby Scarsdale, New York.  Weston came in a close second on Money Magazine's list.  The population of 10,300 residents had a median family income of $275,000.  The median home price in West on is $755,000. 

 

Money Magazine called the town picturesque saying you can see your neighbors if you want, but don't necessarily have to with a zoning regulated minimum lot size of two acres.  Residents were quoted as saying Weston is like nearby Westport though you can get more house for the money in Weston. 

 

Weston was credited with having an outstanding small school system that gives students the feel of private education at a public school price. 

 

Ranking 5th on the list of top earning towns: New Canaan.  The district's SAT scores were the second-highest in the state last year.  The magazine's description of New Canaan was of manicured lawns for substantial homes, a bustling downtown and green space in parks.

 

The 5 top earning towns in the country are: Scarsdale, New York; Weston, Connecticut; Hillsborough, California; Potomac, Maryland and New Canaan, Connecticut.

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Israeli security expert to brief Conn. commission

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The panel reviewing the Newtown school shooting is expected to hear from an Israeli homeland security official, who will discuss methods used in the Middle Eastern nation to safeguard schools.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is also scheduled to be briefed Friday by Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Donald DeFronzo, chairman of the state's new School Security Infrastructure Council. That panel has until Jan. 1 to recommend new standards to improve or enhance security and safety in new and existing Connecticut schools.

The 16-member commission was created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in January following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The panel is reviewing current public safety policy, including school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention. Their recommendations are expected later this year or next.

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State Police cancel speaking engagements about Newtown

State Police have backed out of speaking engagements in Texas and California this week.  The conference speeches were about response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  A Newtown Police officer will still speak at the Texas conference about their response. 

 

Governor Dannel Malloy's spokesman Andrew Doba said Wednesday that Chief of Staff Mark Ojakian recently asked state police to "take a deliberative approach'' when deciding whether to attend law enforcement conferences and discuss the December tragedy.

 

State officials had been critical of the speaking engagements when people of Connecticut were not getting the same information because the investigation report has not been completed or released.  The Hartford Courant reports that State Police officials have told the Western District Crime Squad to work only on the report and that other officers would take on any new cases in the district.

 

A full report on the investigation is expected in the fall.

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Plan to turn Danbury FCI into prison for men temporarily suspended

Senator Chris Murphy says the Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to temporarily suspend the transfer of more than a thousand inmates from Danbury to Alabama.  Murphy and other Senators from the region asked that questions be answered before the transfers happened.  He says the transfer out of Danbury would nearly eliminate beds for women in the Northeast. 

 

A federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman would only confirm that they have not transferred any inmates to Alabama and are not transferring any inmates. 

 

The moves were scheduled to start this month because there was a need for more minimum-security beds for male prisoners.

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Downtown fixture leaving Danbury after three decades

A downtown establishment is getting ready to close its doors after nearly 3 decades in Danbury.  Tuxedo Junction is closing August 31st.  Danbury Economic Development Director Bruce Tuomala says he remembers the business well.  But he says Tuxedo Junction has gone in a different direction in recent years so it's no surprise they wound up where they are at this point.

 

City officials and Ives Street establishments have been at odds in the recent past over things like "18 to party, 21 to drink parties" and fights among people when closing time rolls around.

 

But the current operator, Al Caccamo, told the Danbury Patch that the problem is downtown saying parking is too inconvenient for patrons, the problem of people begging for money and too much competition.

 

Tuomala says Caccamo's comments are unfortunate given the progress that's being made downtown.  He says the operator has chosen not to participate in the revitalization, which will have a tremendous impact on the long term picture.

 

CityCenter says they are trying to attract a regional business operator to Ives Street, which was named the Dining and Entertainment District in the 90s.

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Boughton forms exploratory committee for 2014 Gov. run

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has formed an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of running for Governor next year.  The 2010 Republican Lt. Governor candidate has so far been non-committal on saying if he plans to jump into the race.

 

Boughton has said up until now that he is focused on the Mayoral contest that's coming up in a few of months.

 

Danbury Democrat Paul McAllister has petitioned his way onto the November ballot to challenge Boughton.  McAllister, a former Common Councilman is a retired Ridgefield police lieutenant.

 

Last month, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield announced he planned to seek the Republican nomination and ultimately challenge Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, who has not yet said publicly whether he'll seek a second term.

 

Boughton says he will make a "go" or "no go" decision by January 1st.  If he decides to get into the race, Boughton says he will not become a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

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Savings Bank of Danbury breaks ground on 2nd New Milford branch

The Savings Bank of Danbury is set to break ground today on their second branch location in New Milford.  President and CEO Kathleen Romanjano says the bank is starting construction near the intersection of Route 7 and Sullivan Court.

 

The branch will be on the property of the former McNally's Pub and will have a drive-thru teller.  Romanjano says it will also feature a technology wall to show off some of the advanced technology customers can use like depositing a check by using an iPad, iPhone or Android phone.

 

It's expected to open in early spring and will be 4,500 square feet.  The branch itself will occupy 2,500 square feet with the other half used as office space.

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Lake Lillinonah boat launch in Bridgewater to be closed for renovations

The boat launch closure at Lake Lillinonah in Bridgewater will be in effect for most of the fall and winter, September 1st through December 31st.  State officials say the boat launch is being reconstructed and the facilities are being enhanced to improve accessibility making for a safer and more efficient launching and retrieval of boats. 

 

While this launch is closed, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is directing people to other nearby launches.  Boaters and anglers can use the one at Pond Brook on Lillinonah in Newtown, on Lake Zoar in Southbury and Squantz Cove on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield.

 

The improvements include a new pre-cast concrete boat ramp installed with a grooved surface, ADA handicap accessible parking area created with a travel way to the dock system and the installation of solar powered street lights to improve night boating. 

 

A gangway free floating dock system will also be installed.  There will be handicap accessibility improvements and grading and paving done for the access road and turning area.

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Woman rescued from New Milford cave

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (AP) A female spelunker had to be rescued by firefighters after getting stuck in a crevice at a cave in New Milford.

Firefighters tell The News-Times the woman and a male companion were inside Tory's Cave off Route 7 Monday afternoon when she went into an 8-foot crevice and could not get out.

Her partner spent several hours trying to extricate her before calling for help.

A firefighter was able to climb into the crevice and used materials handed to him by other rescue workers to build up its floor until the woman was able to climb to safety.

The spelunkers declined to give their names, but told the newspaper they were ``adventurers'' from Connecticut who had explored caves around the nation.

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Conn.'s Malloy honored for gun control efforts

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) Governor Dannel P. Malloy is being honored for his efforts to pass gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The nonprofit group, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, is holding an event Tuesday evening at Christ and Holy Trinity Church in Westport to pay tribute to Malloy for addressing gun violence.

Fellow Democrats Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Jim Himes are expected to be on hand.

Malloy recently signed into law a package of gun control measures that are considered among the strictest in the nation. They include an expanded assault weapons ban, additional background checks gun purchases and now ammunition purchases, and a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Twenty first graders and six educators were killed in the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown.

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Gun rights group weighs in on 'Starbucks Appreciation Day'

A gun rights group in the state is speaking out about the planned Starbucks Appreciation Day which never came to fruition on Friday at the Newtown location, because the coffeehouse closed early. 

 

Connecticut Carry said in an emailed statement that the company should not be put in the middle of the divisive issue and that they've called for no rallies at Starbucks locations.  The company has asked that their stores not be used as a political rallying point. 

 

Connecticut Carry President Rich Burgess said respecting the property rights of Starbucks is the best way to show appreciation for a business that allows firearms on the property.  The organization didn't plan Friday's event and says people must conduct themselves in a responsible and respectful manner.

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Danbury considering tax break for Kennedy Place developer

The Danbury City Council is considering tax breaks to develop a long-abandoned parcel of land downtown.  A committee was named Tuesday to review the tax deferral program that has expired for the Kennedy Place site and consider offering it to the new buyer.  A national company has been in negotiations with current owner, BRT. 

 

In 2007 a tax deferral was being offered for 589 units on the lot. 

 

The new developer would like to modify the current proposal by reducing the number of housing units and develop luxury apartments at the site.  The Mayor says as a priority in the Main Street Revitalization Plan, market rate housing downtown will be a high driver in spinning off economic development along Main Street.

 

Resident Ken Gucker expressed some concerns.  He says tax breaks for a company filling the space would be more palatable.  But for a residential developer with families coming in using City services, Gucker says it's a slippery slope.  He says another concern is that no plans have been submitted yet, so there's no way of knowing how many units will be built.

 

Some Council members tried to reverse the tax deferral offer to BRT for a Crosby Street development, but were unsuccessful because it was written so loosely.  The building was originally proposed for middle and low income housing, but is now mostly filled with WCSU students.

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Lay offs at New Milford Hospital take effect this week

Layoffs at New Milford Hospital due to cuts in state funding are taking effect this week.  Last week the Nurses Union rejected a concessions package requested by Western Connecticut Health Network.  President of the New Milford Hospital RNs Joanne Chapin says four nurses will be let go and two will have their hours cut.  She says no matter how they voted, at least two employees would be laid off.

 

New Milford Hospital's diabetic care coordinator and patient referral case manager are among those losing their jobs.

 

Chapin says their goal is to maintain safe staffing levels so they can provide quality patient care.

 

AFT Connecticut spokesman Matt O'Connor says one of the main reasons was it did not guarantee that more cuts wouldn't continue in the future.  O'Connor says it's not too late for WCHN to come up with alternatives or invite the front line workforce to talk about more constructive ways to address the change in state funding.

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'Pay to Participate' fee unchanged in Brookfield

Summer is coming to an end later this month for students heading back to school, and back to school sports.  Brookfield Schools say the Pay to Participate fees for the coming school year will remain unchanged. 

 

The fees will allow students to participate in an unlimited number of interscholastic athletic or after school activities.  The school district said in an email to Brookfield parents that the fees can now be paid by cash, check or credit card. 

 

Parents have two options of when to make the payments.  Starting on the 19th, parents can go to the Board of Education Business Office in town hall.  Or fees will be collected at the high school athletic sign up on Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th.

 

The co-curricular activity fee for Huckleberry Hill Elementary will be $25.  It's $35 for Whisconier Middle School students and $50 for those at Brookfield High School. 

 

There is also an athletic fee of $100 for Whisconier students.  It's $125 for students at the high school.

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US senator in Ohio urged to support gun checks

CINCINNATI (AP) Some Ohioans and the sister of a Newtown massacre victim are calling on U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to support background checks for gun purchases.

Carlee Soto, who on Saturday joined faith leaders and others at a rally in Cincinnati, says tragic mass shootings such as the one in which her sister was killed have put America's ``serious problem with gun violence'' in the spotlight.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Soto and others called on Portman to support universal background changes, which those organizing the rally say would close ``dangerous loopholes'' that allow some people to purchase firearms.

Victoria Soto was one of 20 first-graders fatally shot at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December.

The rally is part of a national bus tour calling for tougher gun laws.

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New Milford Hospital nurses union reject concessions

Registered nurses at New Milford Hospital have voted down concessions sought by Western Connecticut Health Network as an alternative to previously announced nursing position cuts.  The Union says the concessions failed to address safe staffing ratios or assure quality patient care.  Union officials say the group that oversees New Milford Hospital refused to include protections from future layoffs. 

 

Among the staffing cuts made necessary by a cut in state funding, is the facility's diabetic care coordinator and patient referral case manager.

 

WCHN says the layoffs are necessary because of cuts in state funding.  Union officials say they want to be part of the solution, but not at the expense of quality patient care. 

 

AFT Connecticut President Melodie Peters, a licensed practical nurse, says if this was about more than protecting a profit margin, WCHN management should have engaged the bedside workforce in a real discussion.

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Newtown Legislative Council takes on sports shooting, blight

The Newtown Legislative Council had a lot on their agenda Wednesday night.  The Council has moved a proposed ordinance forward that deals with firearms in Newtown. 

 

The proposal, which still needs to be finalized, would limit the hours when sports shooting can happen and the number of people that can be shooting at a time. 

 

The Legislative Council also took up a blight ordinance.  Members voted to approve the measure that calls for an anti-blight enforcement officer to be designated.

 

That person would meet with people who's property could be considered blight.

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School security panel meets with educators to gather input

A Connecticut panel reviewing school security standards following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has been urged to keep their solutions simple and focus on adding classroom door locks and communication devices.  The School Safety Infrastructure Council held its fourth meeting Thursday night. 

 

State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor says there has to be a balance, making sure that security is in place while keeping the schools a learning environment.  He says these are schools, not a fortress.

 

Newtown Middle School teacher and union leader Ron Chivinski suggested that classroom doors be retrofitted with locks that can be used from the inside and outside, allowing teachers to lock down classroom. 

 

Connecticut Education Association Vice President Jeff Leake says his members think there should be a way to inform teachers of intruders without alarming students. 

 

It was the first session to gather input from people who spend much of their time inside schools.  Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Executive Director Bob Rader says the group has gone out to various organizations to talk about policies that may effect faculty and students.  Rader says school size, location and design are all variables in setting policy.  One size will not fit all because of demographics and location.

 

Rader says many Boards of Education have worked with consultants or worked with police to come up with what will work best for their district.

 

Members are examining a variety of measures, including the feasibility of reinforcing entryways, and using ballistic glass, solid core doors, computer-controlled electronic locks and buzzer systems.  The group is also looking into using cameras on school grounds to enhance security. 

 

Council members must submit recommendations by January 1st to state agencies and legislative committees.

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New Milford youths in MD hoping for baseball greatness

The New Milford Thunder 12 year olds are representing the New England Region in the 2013 Cal Ripken World Series.  They won the 12-year-old New England tournament championship game July 25th, the fourth consecutive year clenching that title. 

 

The Cal Ripken World Series is the culminating tournament that unites the 10 best teams from across the United States, with six international teams from Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Japan, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea. 

 

Baseball Hall of Famer and Ripken Baseball president, Cal Ripken, Jr congratulated the New Milford Thunder 12 year olds on representing the region and said in an emailed statement that he hopes it will be an experience they will remember for a lifetime. 

 

Opening ceremonies are tonight.  The New Milford Thunder will play their first game tomorrow afternoon. 

 

On August 17th and 18th, the International Championship, U.S. Championship and World Championship games for the 2013 tournament will be played.

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Danbury Housing Authority receives federal grant

The Danbury Housing Authority is among those sharing in more than 20-million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The funding must be used for large scale improvements to public housing units. 

 

Danbury will receive $567,000. 

 

The grants are part of the Capital Fund Program which can be used to build, repair, renovate or modernize public housing structures.  The funding can also be used for new roofs or to make energy efficient upgrades.

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Deed restriction question near Danbury Airport in holding pattern

An issue related to Danbury Airport that's been before the Danbury City Council for several months will be going back a committee for further study.  DXR Holdings wants a 1948 deed restriction removed so they can put a restaurant on private property adjacent to the airport. 

 

Among the concerns is the City's ability to secure future federal funding if the land use is changed. 

 

Council President Joe Cavo says some new information has come to light about the issue.  Though he did not disclose what that information was, he says that should be discussed. 

 

The Federal Aviation Administration has said restaurants and catering are not aviation-related uses, but that should not change the city's ability to secure future grants.  The FAA would not put that opinion in writing though. 

 

The agency said it would not weigh in until after the deed is changed.

 

Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty said a Fixed Based Operator that is an Airport Terminal could sell food as an accessory if it's not more than 25-percent of the total space.  The applicant said the restaurant would create 50 jobs and called the deed restriction antiquated.  The applicant said the 25-percent rule would work for his business.

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Conn. panel urged to add classroom locks

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut panel reviewing school security standards following the Newtown massacre has been urged to keep their solutions simple and focus on adding classroom door locks and communication devices.

The School Safety Infrastructure Council held its fourth meeting Thursday in New Britain. It was the first session to gather input from people who spend much of their time inside schools.

Newtown Middle School teacher and union leader Ron Chivinski suggested that classroom doors be retrofitted with locks that can be used from the inside and outside, allowing teachers to lock down classroom.

Connecticut Education Association Vice President Jeff Leake says his members think there should be a way to inform teachers of intruders without alarming students.

Council members must submit recommendations by Jan. 1 to state agencies and legislative committees.

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Candidates petition way on to ballot for November

Candidates in two municipalities have turned in petitions to try to get their names on the November ballots.  Danbury Democrat Paul McAllister has collected enough signatures to challenge Republican incumbent Mark Boughton.  

 

The former City Councilman and retired Ridgefield police Lieutenant needed 539 signatures to enter the mayoral race. He collected 552. 

 

In Bethel there will be a primary. 

 

Former First Selectman Bob Burke collected enough signatures to challenge Republican endorsed candidate William Duff for the town's top spot.  The primary will be be held September 10th.  Al Vargas also petitioned his way on to the ballot. 

 

They are looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Matt Knickerbocker.

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Danbury to look into revaluation abnormalities

The Danbury City Council is being asked by the Mayor to approve a special tax relief ordinance to fix about 100 inequities.  At their meeting on Tuesday, Candlewood Lake shoreline resident Henry Stenick says his taxes went up 33-percent.

 

Maryanne Hau says taxes on her 1,200 square foot home with 60-feet of waterfront went up by about the same amount, $3,000.

 

Stenick says the City is driving older families out and would bring in young families with school aged children, which will cost the City. 

 

Mayor Boughton wrote in a letter to the Council that the state-mandated revaluation was the first since 2007 and the economic downtown which has resulted in some pockets of difficulty from some residents.

 

An ad hoc committee was formed to look into the issue.

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Attorney General: Newtown donation plan meets donor intent

The State Attorney General has issued a report about donor intent and how money is being distributed from the Sandy Hook Community Fund. 

 

Attorney General George Jepson has found that the Foundation did not act contrary to donor intent in allocating a majority of the money to the families most closely affected by the tragedy while leaving some to be used for broader community needs.  Jepson said in his report that the United Way and Newtown Sayings Bank have consistently represented that the Fund is a multipurpose fund intended “to provide support” to “the families” and “the community”.

 

While broad Jepson said the intent gives the Foundation significant discretion to determine appropriate uses for the Fund for both purposes. 

 

United Way of Western Connecticut Executive Director Kim Morgan says they now consider this issue to be resolved.  Morgan says they hope the Attorney General's findings will also satisfy the interests of Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and others who may have had questions regarding this issue. 

 

Jepson's report said that money from special events, general purpose correspondence, corporate matching and Crowdwise plus credit card payments represent 84-percent of the nearly $12 million fund.  He says the Foundation’s decision to retain 34-percent, or $4-million, of the Fund for the community falls within the stated intent of the fund.

 

Morgan says without further delay, it is time for the Foundation to determine how best to allocate the remainder of the donated funds.

 

The Foundation reported that gifts over $25 each were acknowledged in accordance with the internal Revenue Service requirement that gifts of $250 or more be acknowledged in writing by the recipient charity, and that volunteer groups sent postcard acknowledgments to many donors who gave less than $250.

 

A spreadsheet from Newtown Savings Bank contains 18,141 entries.  The United Way maintained every envelope, note, or letter that accompanied any donation, regardless of the amount, and each piece of correspondence was reviewed individually, approximately 20,000 notes, letters, emails and envelopes.  As part of this review, it was determined that thousands of letters had no dollar amount referenced, and it was often impossible to determine Whether these letters had in fact contained a gift.

 

Of the approximately 20,000 pieces of paper, approximately 1,373 cards, notes, or emails were identified as containing these expressions which could be interpreted as intent to benefit only the victim's families or the families of the 26 Victims. Of the 1,373 cards and notes that contained such an expression, 404 included a reference to the dollar amount of the enclosed donation. The cumulative total for those 404 gifts was $361,153.79.

 

Larger organizations contacted United Way prior to fundraising. These organizations and United Way entered into agreements which detailed the terms and conditions under which the fundraising would be conducted and directed that any promotional materials would state that the Fund Was created to provide support services to the families and community affected by this devastating event. This special event money represents 10% of the $11.7 million.

 

A total of $4,832,461.99 of the $8 million, or 41% of the $11.7 million, specifically referenced the
community or the Fund.

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Conn. dairy agrees to school milk reimbursements

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Danbury dairy has agreed to pay tens of thousands of dollars to reimburse Connecticut school districts for milk-delivery contracts that a competitor said were unfairly inflated.

The Hearst Connecticut Media Group reports the state Department of Consumer Protection reached a deal with Marcus Dairy that includes no admission or allegation of overcharges. The company is giving $10,000 to the state and making payments to eight school systems.

Neil R. Marcus, president of the dairy based in Danbury, said Wednesday the payments represent the difference schools would have been charged under a different formula that is now prevalent in the industry.

The probe was prompted by a Hearst Connecticut Newspapers report last September on complaints by a Bridgeport dairy owner who accused Marcus of undercutting competitors in the bidding process, then charging districts more.

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Democrat petitions way into Danbury mayor's race

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has a challenger in his re-election bid this November.

Danbury resident Paul McAllister, a Democrat, has collected enough signatures to challenge the mayor.

The town clerk says McAllister needed 539 signatures to enter the mayoral race. He collected 552.

McAllister said he decided to enter the race after the Democratic Party failed to nominate a candidate at the party caucus last month. McAllister, who served on the council from 1995 to 2003, is a retired Ridgefield police lieutenant.

Boughton, a six-term incumbent, was the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010. The ticket, headed by Tom Foley, lost narrowly to Democrat Dannel P. Malloy.

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Conn. teachers, officials to discuss school safety

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) A panel created after the Newtown school massacre is meeting with teachers, principals, administrators and teachers unions to discuss improving school security.

The School Safety Infrastructure Council was scheduled to hear Thursday evening from education professionals from around Connecticut during a special meeting, to be held at New Britain High School.

The General Assembly charged the council with developing new standards to improve or enhance school safety and security in schools constructed in Connecticut.

Members are examining a variety of measures, including the feasibility of reinforcing entryways, and using ballistic glass, solid core doors, computer-controlled electronic locks and buzzer systems. The group is also looking into using cameras on school grounds to enhance security.

The council must submit its new recommended safety infrastructure standards by Jan. 1.

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Newtown pastor receives award for healing working

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The Knights of Columbus has created a new award to recognize extraordinary works of charity and service, conferring it on a pastor who helped Newtown after December's school shooting.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson conferred the awards Tuesday night on Monsignor Robert Weiss of St. Rose of Lima in Newtown and to St. Virgilius Knights of Columbus Council 185 at St. Rose.

Anderson, who called Weiss heroic, said the organization will provide $100,000 to the parish for programs to help those suffering from the tragedy.

Caroline Previdi, one of the children killed, had been saving money to help in the council's annual Christmas toy drive for children in need. Council members raised more than $70,000 for toys in her memory.

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Newtown puts on show with help from Broadway

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) More than 100 children from Newtown and the surrounding area are putting on a musical with the help of some Broadway professionals.

The students have spent the last five weeks working with Broadway actor John Tartaglia, director Michael Unger, producer Van Dean and others on ``Seussical the Musical.''

It's being put on by the 12.14 Foundation, which was set up after the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It's intended to help town residents heal through the arts.

The show will be staged at Newtown High school Friday through Sunday. There are two separate casts for the show, and each is putting on two performances.

Proceeds go to the foundation, which hopes to build a performing arts center in Newtown in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

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Trash authority, contract tabled for more discussions

The Danbury City Council has decided to wait until next month to take action on the contract with Winters Brothers to see if some concerns can be resolved. Two of the items they want to see if there can be compromise on is the length of the initial contract and if there could be a mutual renewal provision.

 

When Winters Brothers bought the White Street Transfer Station following the arrest of trash czar James Galante, the company entered into an agreement with Danbury.  The Solid Waste and Recycling Authority was also created at that time.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Winters Brothers does not have to legally enter into any agreements.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says there were some complaints about the operators of the White Street Transfer Station during the public hearing last week, but nothing new.  Boughton says for many years the transfer station had no oversight, but would with this contract and the Authority.  If there was no public-private partnership, residents would have to bring their complaints about noise and the like to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 

 

Among the issues that some of the City Council members had with the contract is that there is no provision for inflation on the $1 per ton paid to the City by Winters Brothers on garbage that comes through the Transfer Station. 

 

Boughton says the company is providing the fee and also $100,000.

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Sandy Hook shooting report pushed back to the fall

Soon after the December tragedy, State Police said the report about the investigation was likely going to be completed in the summer.  Then Governor Malloy raised questions about the length of time it was taking to issue a report given that troopers and others were discussing the case at police workshops and conferences. 

 

On Tuesday Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane and the Governor's Chief of Staff met about the investigation.  Sedensky is expecting to release the report in the fall. 

 

He said the timing of the report is well within what would be expected from the scale of the investigation.

 

In an emailed statement, the officials said the victims' families have been a priority throughout the investigation and are spoken with regularly by the State Police and the State’s Attorney and will continue to be.

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Rob Zombie complains of skate park noise in Conn.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The racket from a new skate park in Connecticut is too much for rocker Rob Zombie.

The town of Woodbury has taken steps to reduce the noise following complaints from Zombie and his wife about the park near their home in the small Litchfield County community.

First Selectman Gerald Stomski says the town has taken several measures to muffle the noise and is also looking into the possibility of moving the park to another location. The $53,000 park opened in early April.

Zombie has written on Facebook that they are trying to find a solution that will make everyone happy.

Zombie began his career with the `80s shock-rock band White Zombie has reinvented himself as a contemporary horror film master with new classics like ``House of 1000 Corpses.''

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State sponsored summer reading program awards college savings funds

For the 4th year, the Connecticut Higher Education Trust is holding a summer literacy program.  The Reading Makes Cent$ Summer Library Promotion is a contest to help families save for their child's future education. 

 

CHET Program Marketing Manager Elizabeth McLaughlin says one student from each county will be chosen at random to win $250 for their CHET 529 college savings account.  The library where the child registered will also receive a cash prize that can be used for future children's programs.

 

She says they hold the event when students are not in school to coincide with their summer reading programs.  It also gives families a leg up in saving for their child's future.  McLaughlin cited studies that have linked developed reading skills to college readiness as added incentive for families to participate.

 

All of the libraries in the Greater Danbury area are participating in the program, which runs through August 16th.  To sign up, kindergarteners through 8th graders and their parents can fill out a form at their local library.  They can also sign up online.

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Sherman to use state grant money for Playhouse repairs

Another round of Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding has been awarded.  Among the towns receiving the STEAP grants is Sherman.  The town will use $69,000 in funding for repairs and upgrades to the Sherman Playhouse.

 

The Playhouse has hosted productions for over 100 years. 

 

First Selectman Clay Cope says with this grant, the historic Sherman Playhouse will have much needed updated facilities for both patrons and staff.  Cope says the improvements means the entertainment attraction will continue to serve  future generations of residents and tourists.

 

State Senator Mike McLachlan says for generations, the Sherman Playhouse has served the community and entertained visitors from around the region.  He says the grant will help with upgrades to the cultural landmark so it can continue to serve the community for generations to come.

 

Representative Richard Smith says the Sherman Playhouse is an historic town landmark that has driven local tourism and entertained area residents for years.  He adds that it's one of the premier performing arts venues in the region.  Smith says he is pleased the state is directing this competitive grant funding to Sherman in an effort to maintain a beloved town structure.

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Conn. recalls shellfish with bacteria from Sound

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Warm water in Long Island Sound is being blamed for a naturally occurring bacteria that sickened at least five people who ate oysters, clams and other shellfish from shallow areas near Norwalk and Westport.

The state has recalled shellfish before due to pollution from storm water runoff or similar reasons. But the Department of Agriculture says a recall announced Monday due to naturally occurring bacteria is a first.

David Carey, director of the agency's Bureau of Aquaculture, says the extreme heat in mid-July is partly to blame for the warm water in shallow areas of the Sound. The state has shut shellfish harvesting areas until September when the water is expected to cool down.

If ingested, the bacteria that's known as Vibrio parahaemolyticus can cause acute stomach illness.

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Newtown school shooter's father selling Conn. home

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) The father of Newtown elementary school shooter Adam Lanza is selling his home in Stamford.

The Stamford Advocate reports that Peter Lanza's house in the city's well-to-do Westover section has an asking price of $710,000.

Listing agency Halstead Properties describes the home as a 2,375-square-foot ranch cape on 1.04 acres of land, with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and a pool in the backyard.

The 54-year-old Lanza and his second wife have lived in the house for about five years.

In December, Adam Lanza shot to death 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself as police arrived. He also shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before going to the school.

Peter and Nancy Lanza's divorce was finalized in 2009.

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New Milford on board as 'Clean Energy Community'

Some New Milford officials are leading by example when it comes to being green.  Mayor Pat Murphy and members of the Town Council are paying for Home Energy Solutions Program audits to find out how they can be more energy efficient.  CL&P Senior Program Administrator Rebecca Meyer says in late spring, New Milford signed the Clean Energy Communities Pledge.

 

HES audits cost $75 to $99, depending on heating source.  The home visit includes on the spot services from sealing critical air leaks and drafts to installing energy efficient lighting and low-flow shower heads.

 

By being a Clean Energy Community, New Milford can earn points toward the purchase of clean energy systems.  Each resident or business that participate in one of more than 30 Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund Programs will help the town earn points. 

 

Once the town reaches 100 points, a Bright Ideas Grant will be awarded to New Milford.  Town officials can use the funding for a number of energy efficiency projects.

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STEAP grant helps Bethel fix ailing sidwalks

Another round of Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding has been awarded.  Among the towns receiving the STEAP grants is Bethel.  The town is set to receive $250,000 for a sidewalk project that includes the replacement of stairs at several entrances to the Municipal Center. 

 

Representative Dan Carter says the funding will also be used for sidewalk replacements and construction at the Municipal Center, at the Bethel Police Department and at the intersection of Main Street, Chestnut Street and Maple Avenue.  Carter says the condition of Bethel's downtown structures is vital to town services and economic development.  He says the improvements will increase the quality of life and safety of residents.

 

17 jobs will be created or sustained through these projects. 

 

State Senator Toni Boucher says many communities are trying to create safer and more walkable environments and this grant will help increase pedestrian access in downtown.  She called the intersection a busy and often unsafe one.

 

Senator Mike McLachlan says safe pedestrian access downtown is important and he is encouraged that this funding will provide that access.

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Ridgefield Police to hold gun buyback program

Ridgefield Police are hosting a gun buy-back program next weekend.  In an effort to reduce the number of guns on the streets, Ridgefield Police will be at the Town Highway Department building on South Street next Saturday August 10th from 9am to 4pm. 

 

Police said in a press release that there will be no questions asked so people with unregistered and unlicensed firearms can bring them in in exchange for cash.  State Police will destroy all weapons and ammunition turned in.  Police will be accepting everything from large magazine clips to bb guns. 

 

The funding for the buy back program is coming through private donations.

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Work begins on new STEM school in Danbury

Ground has been broken for an addition to the former Mill Ridge Intermediate School in Danbury, which will become the STEM Middle School.  Construction started this week on the more than $18-million project.  Mayor Mark Boughton says he hopes the completed facility will open in time for the 2014 school year. 

 

It's one of many school renovation projects happening in the city.

 

Mill Ridge was closed as part of a school consolidation effort as age populations shifted.  A cafeteria and science lab are being added to the existing facility.  Renovations will take place to the main entrance.  The roof will also be repaired. 

 

Currently the some 300 students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy are located in Rogers Park Middle School.  When construction is done the program is expected to be able to house 600 students.

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Nurses union rejects concessions, more layoffs loom

The nurses union has rejected concession with Western Connecticut Health Network.  Danbury and New Milford Hospital officials were seeking the concessions as part of an overall reduction in staff and spending because of a $30-million cut in state funding. 

 

The concessions included overtime payment adjustments and getting rid of differentials of evening and weekend shifts.  Hospital officials previously said if the concessions didn't come through, 25 people would have to be laid off. 

 

In all, 116 positions were being eliminated at the two hospitals.

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Open race in Warren for First Selectman

There is an open race in Warren for the position of First Selectman.  Incumbent Jack Travers has announced that he would not seek another term in November. 

 

Republican Town Committee chairman Craig Nelson will be running for the position.  Democrat Stephen Warshaw will also seek the town's top spot. 

 

Nelson is on the Inland Wetlands Commission , the tax appeals commission and works for the zoning enforcement office.  Warshaw is a former congressional aide who worked for a few U.S. Senators who is a volunteer fireman and an EMT. 

 

Both have a business background.

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Conn. crime victim privacy panel meets

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of a new task force charged with recommending to state lawmakers how to balance victim privacy under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission with the public's right to know met for the first time on Thursday, acknowledging they face a challenging job.

 

Don DeCesare, a representative of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association and co-chairman of the 17-member panel, said the charge may sound simple but it's extremely complicated.

 

"I know for sure it is not going to be an easy line to draw," he said, adding how "there is a lot at stake."

 

State lawmakers created the task force as part of a new law that blocked release of crime scene photos and video evidence from the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and other homicides. It was originally in response to requests from family members of the Sandy Hook victims, who feared their loved ones photos would be spread on the Internet.

 

The task force includes representatives of a range of professions and perspectives on open government laws, including the media, police, a legislator representing Newtown, a Quinnipiac Law School professor, the executive director of the Freedom of Information Commission and Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane.

 

While the group still needs to determine its priorities, Kane said he expects the group will have to come up with recommendations on whether certain police audio tapes should be released to the public. The new law barred the release of such tapes, including recorded descriptions of homicide victims, until May 2014.

 

"It's obvious the legislature would like a recommendation from this task force because they're going to have to decide next session what to do," said Kane, who has supported blocking the release of certain audio recordings to protect the privacy of victims and their families.

 

"I think this panel needs to address it," he said. "I mean, these are dying words of people, whether they're victims of a crime, or whether they're people firefighting in a building where the roof collapses on them or something like that."

 

But Jodie Mozdzer-Gil, president of the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, said her group is sensitive to such concerns but wants to make sure the public's right to know is protected and that information that was previously public remains public.

 

"If we're allowing the government to decide that something should not be public, how do we know that they're doing the right thing," she asked. "We're letting professional journalists be the ones to decide whether or not this is something we should publish. So, they're the ones that should be the gatekeeper."

 

The group is expected to meet again later this month.

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Gas leak prompting evacuations in Ridgefield all fixed

A gas leak on Main Street just after 9:30 this morning closed down Main Street by Market Street.  It also prompted some evacuations.

 

All of Main Street has reopened in Ridgefield.  Those who were evacuated due to a gas leak have returned to their homes, stores and the community center. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the Highway Department was prepping the road for paving, doing drainage work and saw the 8 inch gas main but did not see another one coming off it that's used to help purge and clean the line.

 

Yankee Gas was called to the scene after workers accidentally pulled that second line away from the main, rupturing it.

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Meat recall at Big Y stores

Big Y Foods is recalling some fresh ground sirloin.  The supermarket chain, with locations in Bethel and Newtown, was notified that its supplier issued a voluntary recall for a different product that came from the same factory. 

 

The other product tested positive for E Coli.  None of the local recall products have tested positive.  A store spokeswoman said the recall is a precaution.

 

The supermarkets are recalling fresh ground sirloin and sirloin steak patties both labelled as 87% lean.  The were sold between July 18th and August 1st. 

 

Customers who purchased these products can return the items to Big Y for a refund.

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Newtown officials working on school security plans

In her latest blog posting Tuesday, First Selectman Pat Llodra says she along with the superintendent of schools and the police chief have met several times this summer to discuss security plans.  They are moving forward on three fronts--short term, mid-term and long term plans. 

 

The discussions were for all schools except Sandy Hook Elementary.  A separate plan has been made for the school currently located in Monroe.

 

In the short term, Newtown Police will be assigned to the elementary schools using overtime funding.  Each school will be served by armed security guards in addition to an armed officer. 

 

The mid-range plan calls for school resource officers to be hired for the elementary schools and a back-up fired for the juvenile officer at Reed.  If the grant is awarded, two officer's salaries would be covered, the third would come from the municipal budget. 

 

For the long term, the town could create a position called School Safety Officer.  The certification process is currently being developed by State Police.  The role is being implemented in two Connecticut communities so far. 

 

When the job description is completed, site visits will be made to see if this alternative would be better, and a recommendation made to the Board of Ed.  The position would not mean full additions to the police force, but rather would be school-year based.

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Gov. tours shops affected by Newtown shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Governor Dannel Malloy is getting a firsthand look at some businesses in Newtown that suffered economically after December's massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Many shops and restaurants near the school could not stay open in the days after the shooting that left 26 students and educators dead. Police activity and a media crush led to road closures and clogged streets, and kept many regular customers away.

The state approved a $500,000 grant to help offset the losses and about half of that money has been distributed. The other half is slated to be used to promote economic development.

Malloy toured the businesses Wednesday, along with Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra and other local officials. He says it's been ``pretty tough'' on those businesses.

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Young local artist featured in industry magazine

An industry magazine has chosen a young local musician as New Music Seminar Artist of the Week.  24-year old Miles Arnell of New Milford was selected by Aquarian Weekly for the recognition after drop box submissions for 2013 were been reviewed.  Arnell says it was his first time attending the annual major music expo and found the independent music magazine was having an artist of the week contest.

 

The review called Love Nest a pleasant tune with a great hook.  The column said Arnell is an "easy listen" for fans of bands like The Script, who enjoy a fun mix of pop and alternative.

 

Arnell says one day he skipped a class in college and was sitting in his car when inspiration hit.  The song is about being snowed in with a significant other.  He says music has always been a central theme in his life.  His mother and grandfather were singers.

 

Arnell will be performing tonight at 59 Bank in New Milford from 9pm to 1am.  He says his next adventure will be moving to Nashville in mid-September.

 

Arnell is showcasing his photos, videos and songs on Facebook and also on Reverbnation.

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