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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-01

Company apologizes for ad with Newtown photo

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- A South Carolina company that has installed protective window coverings at the U.S. Capitol and other buildings around the world is apologizing for an email advertisement that used a photo of the shot-out entrance to a Connecticut elementary school where 20 children and six adults were killed.

 

Commercial Window Shield of Taylors, S.C., sent the email Tuesday to school officials across Connecticut. The email said the window coverings can stop bullets and keep out intruders. It included a police crime scene photo of Sandy Hook Elementary School's front entrance after it was shot out by the school shooter in Newtown in December 2012.

 

The ad upset officials in Newtown and other towns. Some officials contacted the company, which immediately apologized.

 

"Although it was not our intention, we understand that the email was insensitive and disrespectful," Sarah Staley and Adam Staley of Commercial Window Shield wrote in an email to Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra on Wednesday. "We ask that you are able to forgive us for this gross misjudgment as we did not mean to re-open unhealed wounds.

 

"Our intention was not to profit from a tragedy," the email said. "We took the wrong approach with the email, and would like to offer our most sincere apologies. ... The fact that I have unintentionally disrespected those affected by this tragedy makes me sick."

 

Adam Staley, the company's vice president, said Friday that the company immediately apologized and retracted the email. He declined to comment beyond the email sent to Llodra.

 

Llodra said she was more concerned than upset that the company used the school photo in its ad. She called it inappropriate.

 

"We're hyper-vigilant because of this horrible event, so we're quick to respond, quick to react," Llodra said Friday. "There's no hard feelings here. I bear no ill will. People make mistakes."

 

Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek, whose town is right next to Newtown, said the company's ad showed "what is wrong with this country."

 

"I just think it's the wrong thing to do to profit off a crime like this and show pictures of it," he told WVIT-TV.

 

Commercial Window Shield's website says it has installed "fragment retention window film" at the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, Pentagon, FBI, Grand Central Station in New York, the Willis Tower in Chicago and more than two dozen U.S. embassies around the world.

 

Besides South Carolina, the company has offices in Alexandria, Va., Bonita Springs, Fla., and Toledo, Ohio.

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Fugitive from Justice caught in Danbury

A fugitive from justice has been arrested in Danbury.  Police say 41-year old Cristyan Espinal-Martinez of Springfield Massachusetts was twice deported to his native Dominican Republic, but illegally reentered the United States. 

 

Acting on information from the U-S Marshal Service, Danbury Police located and arrested the man who used the alias "Yhoony Espinal". 

 

Espinal-Martinez was wanted in Massachusetts on a warrant charging him with kidnapping and indecent assault.  He is being held on 250-thousand dollars bond pending extradition.

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Danbury man arrested for injuring child in his care

A Danbury man has been arrested as the result of an investigation into injuries sustained by a child.  A local daycare contacted the Department of Children and Families on Monday about a child in their care.  The child said that Geraldo DaSilva, a person entrusted to care for her when she is not in daycare, had hit her with an object causing injuries to her legs. 

 

DCF contacted Danbury Police for a joint investigation into the abuse allegations. 

 

On Wednesday, an arrest warrant was issued for the 27-year old man.  He was charged with two counts each of assault and risk of injury to a minor.  DaSilva was released on $50,000 bond for arraignment.

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Brookfield Democrats call on First Selectman to release ethics details

The Brookfield Democratic Town Committee is calling on the First Selectman to release information related to any ethics complaints filed against him.  In a statement posted on the DTC's website, chairman Ray DiStephan said by releasing the documents--Bill tinsley can begin to restore some of the trust and faith of the voters which he violated through deceptive practices during the election. 

 

Tinsley has stated that releasing the documents would be a violation of the Ethics Code. 

 

The investigations stemmed from nondisclosure of two personal matters before the election.  One was a bankruptcy filing and the other was a larceny arrest in Vermont.

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Eviction notice going to marina on Candlewood Lake

First Light Power Resources has negotiated with seven marinas on Candlewood Lake to remain open for the coming season, but one is getting an eviction notice.  Cottonwood Cove Marina has been operating without a lease or paying rent to First Light for several years. 

 

The lake's owner says the marina, located near the causeway to Candlewood Isle, will not operate this season and eviction notices would be placed on the property.  The Newstimes reports that the state Supreme Court would not hear an appeal from the marina's operator on the eviction proceedings.

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Danbury officials make recommendations on Whalers debt repayment

A committee of the Danbury City Council has met to come up with recommendations about back payments owed to the City by the Danbury Whalers.  Police officers and a fire marshal are at each of the 29 home games, but for the past three seasons the team has not paid for those services. 

 

Councilman Tom Saadi says state statute gives Police Chiefs and Fire Marhsals discretion for crowd control, making sure emergency exits are accessible and other protections.

 

The police are owed more than $64,000.  More than $16,000 is owed to the Fire Marshal's office. 

 

The recommendation being made to the full City Council next week is that the Whalers pay five days in advance of each game for fire watch and police presence.  The committee is calling for an agreement to be worked out among attorneys giving the Whalers time to pay back the debt owed.

 

Saadi says there is an open line of communication between the City and the team's attorney to work out a final resolution.

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Area lawmaker calls for slowing of education reforms

The state's Performance Evaluation Advisory Council is being asked by Governor Dannel Malloy to slow down implementation of a program amid concerns that change may be happening too fast.  Referring to the new teach evaluation review program. Malloy said it's more important to get it right than get it done fast.

 

Meantime Malloy plans to issue an executive order establishing a Common Core State Standards Working Group, which will include teachers and other educators. 

 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky is a member of the legislature's Education Committee and is calling for a public hearing on the sweeping changes.   He says these are uncharted waters and it's not yet know if the evaluation method is even appropriate.  He met recently with educators and parents who are concerned about ambiguities of the program.  Parents also were concerned practical, subject-based learning may fall by the wayside and teachers said they don't want creativity to become a thing of the past.

 

Bolinsky doesn't want teachers to be pressured into teaching only to the test.

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Wilton man turns self in on DUI charges for December crash

A Wilton man will be in court on Monday to answer a drunk driving charge stemming from a December accident.  24-year old Joseph Milazzo turned himself in to police on Friday on the DUI and failure to drive right charges. 

 

Police were called to railroad tracks on Mather Street on the night of December 9th on a report of a car blocking the tracks.  Danbury branch trains were delayed for two hours because of the investigation.  Milazzo sustained lacerations and other injuries in the crash where his car hit a stone wall and rolled over. 

 

He was released Friday on a written promise to appear in court.

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Social media safety discussed with Redding, Easton parents

A forum was held Tuesday night at Joel Barlow High School to help parents safely navigate social media use by their children.  5th through 8th grade student's parents were invited to the forum by the PTAs of John Read Middle School in Redding and Helen Keller Middle School in Easton. 

 

The focus of the event was to discuss the consequences of abusing social media in a way that can harm themselves or others. 

 

Among those on the panel were a school resource officer and the school psychologist.  A digital forensics expert, and a member of the state's attorney's office were also on hand for the discussion.

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Ridgefield officials mull communications upgrades

During a nearly 2 hour discussion and presentation last week, the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen heard from the Radio Communications Task Force about the Police, Fire, EMS, Highway Department and Parks and Rec radio systems.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's an expensive project, a little more than $4 million.

 

Fire and Police departments, as well as other emergency departments, now use different radio frequencies.  Marconi says rather than upgrade in patches as the town has done for various departments, it became evident during the last few major storms a systemwide overhaul is needed.

 

If it were to be approved, Marconi says it would be about two years from now before the system could be installed.  The town would use a new tower in the Ridgebury section of town that has not yet been approved by the Connecticut Citing Council.

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Foley announces new bid for governor

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) Republican Tom Foley says he is making another run for Connecticut governor.

The Greenwich man who narrowly lost to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010 announced his decision Wednesday at a VFW post in Waterbury.

Foley, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, spent more than $10 million of his own money on his losing bid in 2010.

His running mate from the last race, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, has already joined the field of Republican candidates that also includes Senate Minority Leader John McKinney.

Malloy has yet to announce whether he will seek a second term.

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Updated: 3 killed in crash near Danbury-Bethel line

Danbury police say three people have died in a car accident on Route 53 near the Bethel town line.  The crash, involving three vehicles, happened around 11:45 this morning.

 

The road was closed until about 2:30pm.  Drivers were being detoured off South Street onto Great Pasture Road onto Mansfield Street in Bethel. 

 

45-year old Edward Kish of Brookfield was driving his 2001 Honda Accord northbound, and according to witness statements, was slumped over the wheel.  He lost control of his vehicle crossing the double yellow line, striking a 2007 Buick Lucerne.  The southbound vehicle was operated by 78-year old Jane Shannon of Bethel.  A passenger in the vehicle was 77-year old William Shannon of Bethel.  William Shannon was a former First Selectman in Bethel.  

 

They succumbed to their injuries at Danbury Hospital. 

 

The impact forced the Buick Lucerne back and into a 2011 International box truck operated by Roy Bass, of Middle Island NY.   The 59-year old was treated and released from the Hospital. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Any witnesses are asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco or Officer Lance Brevard of the Danbury Police Traffic Division at (203) 797-2157 or (203) 797-2156.       

 

Bethel's First Selectman has issued a statement mourning the loss of Jane and Bill Shannon.  Matt Knickerbocker says Bill was well regarded by all who served with him in town government and well known for his sense of optimism, respectfulness and civility in dealing with difficult political issues.  He added that they both worked tirelessly in support of causes in which they believed deeply and they will long be remembered for their generous contributions to Bethel over many decades. 

 

He offered the town's deepest condolences to the Shannon family and said their sudden loss leaves a painful void in the community.

 

He says Jane will long be remembered for her decade of service as Town Clerk and her contributions as a Library Board of Director.  Knickerbocker says Bill, who served a First Selectman and as a Selectman among many other positions, worked diligently to protect the rights of laborers and for equitable pay.

 

Bill, a longtime member of the Bethel Democratic Town Committee, served the town in numerous capacities, including Board of Police Commissioners, Insurance and Pension Commission, Economic Outreach Commission, Justice of the Peace, Special Policeman and most recently was a member of the Charter Revision Commission.

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Boughton choses Lt Gov running mate

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has announced former Groton Mayor Heather Somers as his running mate as he seeks the Republican gubernatorial nomination.  In making the announcement, he said the status quo isn't working and the pair want to change state government, making jobs the top priority.  Somers is serving her 5th term on the Groton Town Council, who spearheaded a School Planning Task Force to address the issues of racial imbalance and aging school infrastructure.

 

She holds Bachelor of Arts in Economics from UConn.

The field of Republican candidates also includes Tom Foley and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. 

Malloy has yet to announce whether he will seek a second term.

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Home health care services restored to some disabled children

An emergency regulation has been approved by the state for in-home health care services for disabled children.

 

Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill says the Regulations Review Committee held the special meeting Friday to help about 45 families who would have been adversely impacted after a homecare agency removed itself from the homecare program.  O'Neill says the committee's action allows other provider agencies to pick up the slack, and prevents those children currently receiving care from being placed in an institutional facility. 

 

He says it also allows those currently located in a facility to get back home sooner. 

 

O'Neill says in these circumstances the quality of care and the quality of life is better for patients who receive caregiving in their homes as opposed to in a facility.  He also called it a money-saver that gives families a freedom of choice. 

 

The Emergency Regulation was approved unanimously and immediately took effect.

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4 medical marijuana producer licenses granted in Conn.

The first four medical marijuana producer sites in Connecticut have been named.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein made the announcement in West Haven Tuesday afternoon.  Last summer, the planning and zoning commission approved an application from Advanced Grow Labs in Fairfield to grow medical marijuana in West Haven. 

 

Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions, LLC will open a facility in Portland, Curaleaf, LLC will open in Simsbury and Theraplant, LLC will open in Watertown.

 

Officials expect to award licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries by April.  Malloy said 1,684 patients have been certified for the state's medical marijuana program.  424 are from Fairfield County, 108 from Litchfield County and the remaining from the six other counties in the state.  Last year Malloy signed a bill into law allowing licensed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for adults suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions.

 

Rubenstein says medical marijuana licenses won't be granted to businesses if the applicants don't have approvals from the local communities where they want to locate.  The agency anticipates granting three producer licenses and three-to-five dispensary licenses. 

 

There were 27 applicants for the state's new dispensary license, including one from D&B Wellness in Monroe, and 16 applicants for the producers' license.  All but one of the producer applicants were from Connecticut. The lone out-of-state applicant, Breakwater Production Facility, listed a New York City address.

In Monroe, a proposal was made for a marijuana production facility at a vacant industrial building.  But the town's planning and zoning officials in September were considering a moratorium on dispensaries as they figure out Connecticut's new state medical marijuana law.

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Malloy won't rule out grace period for Conn. guns

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is holding out the possibility of establishing a grace period for gun owners who missed the Jan. 1 deadline for registering certain weapons and ammunition magazines under a new law.

Malloy said Monday his administration is saving the registration applications and envelopes postmarked Jan. 1, Jan. 2 and possibly Jan. 3. He said it's in case the General Assembly passes legislation allowing those applications to be counted as having arrived on time.

Malloy emphasized how said State Police staff remained until 8 p.m. at the Middletown headquarters to help people Dec. 31. The deadline was midnight that night.

Some gun owners have complained they dropped their applications in the mail on Dec. 31 but missed the deadline because their letters weren't postmarked until Jan. 1 or later.

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Metro North worker arrested for alleged sex assault on train

A Metro North engineer in training has been arrested for public indecency and breach of peace after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her on board a train this morning.  A train from Grand Central to New Haven was stopped in Fairfield shortly after 9 o'clock this morning when a pregnant woman called police to report the assault.  She gave a description to police of a man, who was standing over her when she awoke, performing a lewd act

 

Fairfield Police also responded to the station to help the MTA police in their investigation. Officers canvassed the area after the woman reported seeing the man leave the train.  34-year old Manny Ramos of Brooklyn, New York was spotted nearby and identified as the man in question.

 

A railroad spokesman says Ramos was suspended without pay pending an internal investigation and the criminal proceedings.  Metro-North hired Ramos as coach cleaner in October of 2011.  He had been in the engineer training program since March 20123.

 

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2013 and December Conn. labor data released

The State unemployment rate dropped in December to 7.4 percent.  But Connecticut lost 3,900 jobs for the month.  Labor Department researcher Andy Condon says the count appears to have been affected by poor winter weather around the time of the survey.

 

The national unemployment rate is 6-point-7 percent.

Condon says the recent improvement in the state's unemployment rate appears to owe more to people gaining employment than job-seekers giving up on their searches. He says it has sometimes been the reverse in recent months.

 

Four of the six major Labor Market Areas posted job losses, but the Danbury area's unemployment rate remained unchanged.  The only Labor Market posting a gain, although it was small, was Waterbury.

 

Year-to-date performance in the six major Labor Market Areas showed four were up in 2013 and the others were down.  The Danbury area was up 1.3 percent for the year.

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NYA Sports & Fitness names new executive director

The Newtown Youth Academy Sports & Fitness Center has promoted Dorrie Carolan to Executive Director.  She has managed the facility's Fitness Center since opening in 2008 and most recently, has served as Co-Director.

 

The non-profit says in her new role, Carolan will lead a dedicated and professional team in fulfilling the evolving fitness and social needs of Newtown and surrounding communities.

 

The Center promotes health, fitness and general well being through community events, fitness, training, and sport competitions.

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Ridgefield Police release photo of bank robbery suspect

Ridgefield police are releasing more information about a bank robber in hopes of capturing the suspect.  A wanted poster has been released for the man who robbed First Niagra Bank on Danbury Road Friday afternoon. 

 

The white male in his 20s is described as having red hair, very blue eyes and about 6 foot tall.  He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a hat and dark colored jacket.  The man indicated that he had a weapon, though none was displayed. 

 

The suspect fled on foot and then got into a dark colored SUV, possibly a Range Rover.  He made off with about $7,000. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ridgefield Police Detective Bureau at 203-438-6531.

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3 arrested for heroin sales, narcotics related charges

A New York man has been arrested for heroin sales, while two others were charged with narcotics related offenses.

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's office learned in December that a Putnam Valley man was selling heroin from his home.  Investigators were able to make two purchases.  During the investigation, a woman overdosed at the suspect's home and needed medical attention, but due to Good Samaritan Laws no criminal charges could be filed. 

 

Earlier this month a search warrant was carried out at 26-year old Kevin Maffettone's home.  Police seized heroin, suboxone, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. 

 

The man wasn't home at the time.  When Maffettone returned home, he was charged with two counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd Degree, three counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance with the intent to sell in the Third Degree, one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree and one count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree.

 

The two people in his car, 22-year old Michael Whalen of Putnam Valley and  20 year-old Samantha Dodge of Mahopac, were each charged with possession and possession of a hypodermic instrument after being found with more than 50 bags of heroin in the car.

 

Maffettone was arraigned and remanded to the Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of $25,000 bail.  Whalen was held on $1,000 bail.  She was released without bail upon her arraignment.

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Last dry town in Conn. to vote on allowing booze

BRIDGEWATER, Conn. (AP) -- Residents of Connecticut's last dry town are getting a chance to vote on whether to get a little wet.

 

A referendum in Bridgewater is scheduled for Feb. 25 to decide whether the town will continue to ban all alcohol sales or allow them in restaurants. If voters choose the second option, they will end Prohibition in town 81 years after the repeal of the 18th Amendment allowed alcohol sales to resume nationwide.

 

The ballot question is in response to plans to allow alcohol sales at two restaurants in town.

 

Town officials say allowing restaurant sales would make the town "partially dry." They say there still won't be a liquor store, because state regulations allow one package store per 2,500 residents and Bridgewater only has about 1,700 residents.

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Nearly 3,000 Conn. residents take part in same-day voter registration

Nearly 3,000 Connecticut residents took advantage of same day voter registration this past Election Day.  The November municipal election was the first time since the legislature approved Election Day Registration that people could cast ballots the same day.  Secretary of the State spokesman Av Harris says people in nearly every town and city took part in the program.

 

He tipped his cap to local registrars for implementing the law in a way that could accommodate everyone who wanted to register and vote on the spot.

 

There were no complaints of problems lodged with the Secretary of the State's office and Harris says there weren't many complaints about the process taking took long.  For those reasons, state officials consider the law a success.

 

Harris says that's also because 2,900 new voters were able to vote, who otherwise would not have been able to.  In Danbury 36 new voters registered, 26 in Southbury and 19 in Bethel.  15 each in Brookfield and Monroe and 11 each in Ridgefield, New Milford and Bridgewater registered and voted on November 5th.  9 each in Redding and Sherman, 8 in New Fairfield, 6 each in Newtown and Wilton also participated in the program.

 

Harris says they weren't sure how many ballots would be needed because voter turn out tends to be lower when its not a statewide or congressional election.  He adds that turn out also varies greatly from one municipality to another.

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Newtown answers questions about proposed community center

Newtown is answer some questions posed to the town about a proposed community center.  GE made a $15 million multi-year grant available to Newtown in November for the development, construction, and operation of a community center.   $10 million will be committed to the development and construction of this new facility.  The remaining $5 million will be dedicated to operating costs for the center over five years.

 

CEO Jeff Immelt says GE has more than 150 employees who live in town and is committed to supporting friends, family and neighbors as they continue to heal.  The company made the donation to fill a need that exists in Newtown. 

 

The Town’s goal is to have design and construction complete in 2016.  General public input will be solicited at many steps along the way. Plans for the facility would progress through multiple public hearings.

 

Several months ago the Town put together an informal, ad hoc, study group of representatives from the Commission on Aging, Parks and Recreation, town department heads, and community leaders to identify current and future needs.  The group was also charged with reviewing the research done over past years on the development of a community center and a senior center.

 

A feasibility study will determine if the community center can be added to the Fairfield Hill Campus. The original plan for the community center located the facility on the site of the former Litchfield hall/Yale Lab buildings.

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CCSU student raises funds for Newtown police

A Central Connecticut State University student has presented a check to the Newtown Police Union.  The 12-thousand-500 dollar donation from Criminal Justice Student David Rohner was made to the union last Monday.  The funding came from sales of a lapel pin commemorating 12-14. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that Rohner is a security guard at Westfarms Mall in West Hartford and his father is a retired East Hartford police officer.  They and others sold the pins to coworkers and friends, and also gave ones to all Newtown officers. 

 

Union Vice President Detective Dan McAnaspie told the Bee that the money will be used to support officers in need for years to come and that it's a great comfort to the Department knowing that they have been supported so much.

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Right to know vs. victim privacy report completed

The Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public's Right to Know, which was created in response to 12-14, has approved its final report.  Task Force co-chair Don DeCesare says the 62 page report was approved 15 to 2.

 

Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information President Jim Smith is a panel member and one of two who voted against the report.

 

The recommendations include protecting the identities of witnesses to violent or drug-related crimes or were minors at the time and allowing next of kin in homicide cases to object to materials release.

 

One of the 4 recommendations is that recordings of police 911 calls about homicides could be applied for and surviving family members of murder victims would be notified of the requests.

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Sen. Murphy wants to lower cost of college, consults WCSU students

Senator Chris Murphy says he'll propose legislation to lower the cost of college.  While there's been a lot of focus in Washington on lowering the interest rate on student loans, his proposal will seek to get colleges to cut their costs.

 

Murphy says part of his proposal would encourage colleges to develop shorter degree programs.  His proposal would tie federal aid that colleges receive to them cutting their costs. 

 

Murphy says colleges could cut tuition by reducing the time students spend in school, saving them tens of thousands of dollars.  Western Connecticut State University students, faculty and administrators are weighing participated in a roundtable discussion with Murphy in October on the issue.

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More money sought for mental health services

Gov. Dannel Malloy has unveiled state budget proposals he says are intended to fix mental health issues that were not addressed in initiatives launched after a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary school in December 2012, killing 20 first-graders and six educators.

Malloy's budget includes $250,000 to promote a stigma-free environment that would make it easier for people suffering from mental illness to seek treatment without being ashamed.

The budget dedicated $5 million, when fully annualized, to improve mental health services for the poor, including young people with serious mental illness.

The budget also provides $2.2 million in new funding to support subsidized housing for 110 people with mental illness.

Malloy is also proposing a legislative change to require all police officers in Connecticut to receive training regarding responding to situations involving people with mental illnesses.

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Stratford pastor vows to stay despite accusations

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) A monsignor has told parishioners he was upset with a news report about accusations of sexual assault and harassment, but did not admit or deny the information.

The Connecticut Post reports that Monsignor Martin Ryan said at Sunday masses at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Stratford that there is ``no question'' he will continue as pastor.

Bridgeport Roman Catholic Bishop Frank Caggiano apologized last week to members of the parish for not speaking earlier about the allegations.

Diocesan officials removed Ryan as pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield in 2011 after they say he acknowledged sending inappropriate emails to a female parish employee.

In 2003, the diocese settled a lawsuit accusing Ryan of molesting a teenage girl in the early 1970s at a Trumbull church. Ryan denied the allegations.

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Lawmakers balk at website marketing driver records

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Two Republican state senators are resisting a plan by the state Department of Motor Vehicles to market drivers' records for sale.

The Republican American reports that Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, and Sen. Robert Kane, R-Bridgewater, recently voted against adding a $3 administrative fee to a $15 charge for obtaining driver histories from DMV.

The administrative fee will be used to support a new state web portal that businesses will use to obtain driver records online. The DMV also will impose an annual $100 subscription fee. The fees will apply to for-profit businesses.

The DMV sells about 1.5 million drivers' records annually to insurance companies at $15 each. Miner and Kane say they're concerned the agency will market the records to other businesses and worry what the purchasers will do with the personal information.

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Conn. AFL-CIO head to attend State of the Union

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The new leader of the Connecticut AFL-CIO will be attending President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.

Lori Pelletier, the executive secretary treasurer of the labor federation, will be the guest of 5th District U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty on Tuesday night.

Pelletier was elected to the newly created leadership position in September. She is the principal officer overseeing the AFL-CIO's day-to-day operations. She replaced longtime AFL-CIO President John Olsen, who retired after serving 25 years in the top job.

Esty called Pelletier ``an outstanding leader'' who has fought for fair wages and benefits for workers.

The AFL-CIO initially endorsed Esty's Democratic primary opponent in 2012, former House Speaker Chris Donovan. After Esty defeated Donovan, the organization voted to back her in the general election.

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Ridgefield bank robbed Friday afternoon

A bank in Ridgefield was robbed yesterday afternoon.  Police were called to First Niagra Bank on Danbury Road shortly after 1pm on a report of a man entering the bank and demanding cash.  The man indicated that he had a weapon, though none was displayed. 

 

The white male--who is described as being in his 20s and wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a light brown hat--fled on foot.  The Danbury Police K-9 unit responded to help Ridgefield officers in the search. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to call the department's anonymous tip line at 203-431-2345.

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Car possibly connected to NY bank robberies stopped in Conn.

Three possibly connected robberies or attempted robberies at one New York bank branch continue to be investigated. 

 

On Tuesday while only the drive up window of the Putnam County National Bank in Patterson was open, a man tried to get employees to open the door so he could retrieve something from a safe deposit box.  The branch was robbed December 20th and January 2nd.  New York officials say there are similarities between the three, including the getaway car. 

 

A photo of it was given to all area police.  Thursday afternoon, Danbury Police stopped a car matching the description. 

 

35-year old Erik Gilstad of New Milford was charged for operating an unregistered vehicle without a license and failure to carry insurance. 

 

Putnam County Sheriff's investigators reportedly were at the station to interview the man.  No other charges have been filed against him.

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Men arrested for crack cocaine sales in Danbury

Two men have been arrested on drug related charges in Danbury as part of an investigation into illegal narcotic sales in the city.

 

Danbury Police officers carried out a search and seizure warrant Thursday at a State Street apartment.  While there, 30-year old Rohnen Frederick, of Brooklyn New York, was seeing trying to throw out evidence listed on the warrant. 65-year old Williams Wormstead, who lives in the apartment, was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. 

 

Crack cocaine, marijuana and cash were seized. 

 

Frederick was charged with possession of crack and of a controlled substance, possesion with intent to sell and possession within 1,500 feet of a school.  He was held on $50,000 bond while Wormstead was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission meets again

A state commission reviewing the Newtown school shooting has heard from experts about behavioral health and crisis counseling services available in Connecticut.

The 16 members of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission are reviewing current policies and making recommendations to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention in the wake of the massacre.

The panel has been focusing recently on mental health issues.

 

The father of the man who carried out the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School has met with a Connecticut official and agreed to help find missing school and medical records that could shed more light on the tragedy.

The man met for about an hour yesterday with the leader of a state panel that is investigating the shooting rampage.  Sandy Hook Advisory Commission chairman, Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, says he met with the man one-on-one in an undisclosed location in Stamford.

Commission members have said they need more information about the gunman's mental state before making recommendations to change mental health policy.

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Litchfield: Fatal crash, animal cruelty, Principal DUI

One person was killed in a head-on collision on Route 202 in Litchfield Thursday afternoon.  Police say a car travelling eastbound drifted into oncoming traffic in the opposite lane and crashed into another vehicle. 

 

The driver, 32-year old Stephen Grogg of Warren, died of injuries sustained in the crash.  His passenger, 30-year old Tara Carvell, is being treated for injuries at St Mary's Hospital.  The other driver, 66-year old Dorian Hickton of Torrington is being treated at Hartford Hospital for severe internal injuries. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.

 

The head of a Connecticut animal rescue group has avoided prison time in an animal cruelty case involving 15 dogs left out in the cold.  Litchfield Superior Court Judge John Danaher sentenced 61-year-old Frederick Acker to two years of probation Thursday and ordered him to pay $13,481 to the town of Bethlehem for its costs in housing the 15 dogs seized from his property.

The judge also ordered Acker to submit to random inspections if he continues running an animal rescue group.

Acker was convicted earlier this month of 15 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and found not guilty of mistreating 48 other dogs.  Authorities seized the 15 dogs in November 2012 from a barn-like structure in Bethlehem owned by Acker.

 

The principal of Litchfield High School, placed on paid administrative leave after being arrested on a drunken driving charge, has been reinstated.  Superintendent of Schools Deborah Wheeler said at a school board meeting Wednesday that Principal Kristen Della Volpe's leave was retroactively changed to a 10-day unpaid suspension. 

 

The pay for those 10 days will be deducted from future paychecks. 

 

The 44-year-old principal was arrested by Torrington police earlier this month after responding to a report of an erratic driver and found a vehicle matching the description at a fast food restaurant's drive-through.

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Conn. bishop talks with parish about pastor's past

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) Bridgeport Roman Catholic Bishop Frank Caggiano has apologized to members of a Stratford parish for not talking to them earlier about past allegations of abuse and sexual harassment against their new pastor.

Caggiano met privately Thursday with parishioners at Our Lady of Grace and told them Monsignor Martin Ryan had been thoroughly vetted by church officials.

Diocesan officials removed Ryan as pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield in 2011 after they say he acknowledged sending inappropriate emails to a female parish employee.

In 2003, the diocese settled a lawsuit accusing Ryan of molesting a teenage girl in the early 1970s at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull. Ryan denied the allegations.

Ryan did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

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Human error led to Metro North total shut down

Metro-North officials say Harlem, Hudson and New Haven line trains traveling between New York and Connecticut are now operating on or close to schedule after being suspended Thursday night due to signal problems.

 
The Danbury branch line took significantly longer to restore than the main lines and other branch lines.
 
4th District Congressman Jim Himes says Metro North President Howard Permut told him the cause was electrical work next to a control center in GCT which shut down the computer and cut power to signals on all lines.
 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said Friday that the cause of the two-hour service disruption has been traced to human error during an electrical repair project.  One of two main power supply units was taken out of service for replacement. Technicians performing the work did not realize that a wire was disconnected on the other main power supply unit. This destabilized the power supply system for more than an hour until a backup supply could be connected.

 

“Last night’s failure was unacceptable, pure and simple,” Prendergast said. “The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather.”

 

“Metro-North customers deserve better, and I extend my sincere apology to all of them,” Prendergast said. “I have directed Metro-North to bring in an independent consultant to examine how and why these mistakes were made, and to recommend any necessary changes to operating procedures to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

 

More than 50 trains were forced to halt for safety reasons when the signal system went dark. Rail traffic controllers instructed engineers to slowly bring their trains to the closest station. Trains were not allowed to proceed through switches until signal maintainers could respond and manually ensure the switches were lined up correctly, which delayed some trains further.

 

All trains had light, heat and power during the disruption. Customers were able to get off trains when they reached a station.

 

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Noise concerns in Newtown neighborhood to be addressed by DOT

Noise and safety concerns of some Newtown residents are being addressed by the State Department of Transportation.  The bridge replacement project on Interstate-84 is causing some headaches for residents in a Sandy Hook neighborhood. 

 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says about 30 neighbors and concerned residents this fall expressed their concerns, shared inconveniences and dangers being experienced to justify the need for safety and noise abatement measures.  Bolinsky says it wasn't just noise, but occassionally debris would fall near where children wait for busses.

 

Bolinsky introduced Transportation Commissioner James Redecker to the neighbors to experience the conditions himself.

 

The state has agreed to install 8-foot fixed safety fence at the bridge.  Rather than the permanent concrete safety walls the neighborhood wanted, a dense barrier of fast growing evergreens will be planted.  Bolinsky hopes that the request for fixed sound barriers will be considered during better financial times

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Danbury caregiver in court for allegedly stealing from patients

A Danbury woman arrested last April on larceny charges was in court yesterday.  28-year old Wanda Nunez is accused of stealing more than $180,000 of cash and valuable items for 2 elderly women in Newtown and Bethel that she was hired to be a care giver for. 

 

The Danbury Superior Court records have been statutorily sealed, but a judge yesterday denied a supervised diversionary program that would have resulted in the charges being dismissed.  The case was continued to February 6th.  Police investigated a February complaint from a Sandy Hook woman's daughter that items like silverware and jewelry went missing from the home. 

 

When she turned herself in to Police, she drove to the station, but police say she had a suspended license.  Nunez was also charged for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

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Danbury Board of Ed decides on redistricting plan

The Danbury Board of Education has met about redistricting some elementary school students.

 

Three options have been discussed by the Danbury Board of Education about how to shift the elementary population around, in part because full-day kindergarten implementation will be completed in the fall.  The Board last night chose the option that would affect the fewest students in their effort to alleviate some overcrowding. 

 

Groups of elementary students, about 250, from select streets will be moved together to new schools under the pocket-redistricting plan.  A large investment was made recently by the city in Park Avenue, Shelter Rock and Stadley Rough Schools, which will be completed by the start of the new school year.

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Quinnipiac to arm some campus public safety officers

Quinnipiac University is beefing up security by arming some of its campus public safety officers.

 

Quinnipiac University Officials say they will be arming senior officers this semester to improve safety.  This comes as some k-12 school districts are considering the move in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Executive vice president and provost Mark Thompson wrote in a memo that the school also will be offering active shooter training to members of the university community.  

 

University leaders say they've been discussing the idea for a few years and it's not in response to recent incidents at other colleges.  In November a halloween costume prompted a lockdown Central Connecticut State University, Last month a hoax phone call to Yale sparked a large police response and a Fairfield man was arrested for bringing a gun on the University of New Haven campus.

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Himes puts a personal face on immigration reform

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) U.S. Rep. Jim Himes is stepping up his push for immigration reform by inviting to the State of the Union speech the coordinator of a group that advocated for students living in the country illegally to pay cheaper in-state tuition at state universities.

Himes announced Wednesday that his guest to the address by President Obama next week will be Lucas Codognolla, coordinator for Connecticut Students For a Dream. After winning in-state tuition in Connecticut, the group is pushing for financial aid.

Himes says Codognolla was a top student and he wants to send a message that there's no reason to fear immigration reform and that it will boost the economy.

Himes is highlighting an issue important to a growing number of Hispanic and Asian immigrants in his Fairfield County district.

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Booth Library could reopen by March

CH Booth Library could reopen in about 6 weeks.  The facility in Newtown has been shuttered since January 4th when a sprinkler pipe burst on an upper floor and caused extensive damage.  Most of the library's collection was spared from damage. 

 

Reference Department head librarian Andy Forsyth says repairs are ahead of earlier projections, and the library could reopen around March 1st.

 

An information desk is being staffed in the old Courtroom of Edmond Town Hall.  The Reference Department staff are on hand to help patrons check out eBooks and eAudiobooks, place holds on material and manage online accounts.  Librarians will also help people with federal and state tax forms.  The satellite location will be open Mondays through Thursdays 2pm to 6pm and on Saturdays from 9am to noon.

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Homeless shelters at capacity in bitter cold

The latest bitter cold snap has caused homeless shelters to fill up.  The Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury serves 80-120 hot meals each afternoon and provides shelter to 16 people each night.  Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness executive Director Lisa Tepper Bates says the shelters do not have the capacity to house everyone looking for shelter under normal circumstances.

 

Tepper-Bates says there are some who refuse, but many homeless people want to go indoors when the weather turns as cold as it has.

 

The Danbury Emergency Shelter has 20 beds for people over age 18, 5 for women, 5 dedicated to homeless veterans and 10 beds for males.  The Day Center also provides services from laundry, showers and mail access to job searches and clothing vouchers.

 

Danbury's Housing Caseworkers reported to the City Council this month that they managed approximately 54 active cases in December.  The Day Center, located at the Emergency Shelter, had approximately 601 visits from homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless.

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2013 another safe deer hunting season in Conn.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the 2013 deer hunting season was a safe one.  Hunter Safety Training Coordinator Charles Bruckerhoff says there were no hunter related injuries due to the discharge of a firearm or bow.  He attributes the safety record to a strong training program. 

 

In the Greater Danbury area, through December 12th, the state reported that 55 deer were killed by shotgun or rifle in New Milford, 67 in Newtown, 40 in Redding and 33 in Ridgefield.

 

Greater Danbury area towns led the state in the number of deer killed in archery hunts last year.  There were 197 in Newtown, 84 in Redding, 142 in Ridgefield, 55 in Weston and 121 in Wilton.   In New Milford 78 deer were killed in bow hunting, 61 in Danbury and 54 in Bethel.

 

Bruckerhoff says this level of safety is remarkable in light of more than 300,000 deer hunting permits issued.  He adds that while hunters do a good job of policing themselves, the state requires safety education programs.

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Brookfield BOE looking to fill vacancy

Letters of interest are being accepted by the Brookfield Board of Education to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Greg Beck, who was elected as part of the "A Brookfield Party".  Chairman Scott McCarthy says applicants have to be from any party but the Republican Party because of minority party representation rules.

 

The term runs through the November 2015 election.

 

Before the start of the January 7th meeting Beck, a 26-year old emergency dispatcher who came under fire just after the election, announced his resignation.  Beck posted a Facebook comment on a 26 Acts of Kindness page leading up to the 12-14 anniversary saying he would buy his gun enthusiast friends ammunition.  Beck apologized and deleted the comment shortly after. 

 

Applicants are asked to send a letter of interest along with a brief resume outlining their education and professional or other experiences that they believe would contribute to being an effective board member. 

 

The deadline for applications is Friday. The Board will interview applicants shortly thereafter.  They 60 have days from when the vacancy occurred to fill the role.

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Metro-North passengers stranded in cold in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) Nearly 200 Metro-North rail passengers were stranded in freezing temperatures for about two hours when their train lost power in Connecticut because of a downed wire that continues to cause delays.

The train stalled at about 9 p.m. Wednesday near the Green's Farm station in Westport and the passengers were stuck without heat until another train arrived at about 11 p.m. The train left Grand Central Station in New York bound for New Haven shortly after 7:30 p.m.

Temperatures were reported to be about 10 degrees at the time.

Metro-North officials say the train sent to get the stranded passengers was delayed for about an hour because of a weather-related switch problem.

The downed wire is causing delays of up to 20 minutes Thursday morning on the New Haven Line.

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Danbury gas station explosion victim succumbs to injuries

The man who was badly burned in a Danbury gas station explosion last month has died.  A Bridgeport Hospital spokesman says Reverend David Wentroble died last night with his family present.  Wentroble, who was a chaplain at Nyack Hospital, was pumping gas at the Wheels Citgo Gas Station on Tamarack Avenue early December 20th when the vapors ignited. 

 

Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald previously said that an investigation ruled out mechanical problems.  He said while rare, it could have been sparked by static electricity.  A drip test was done on the nozzle and no gas was seen flowing from it when it should not have been.

 

The investigation was then turned over to police.

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Attempted bank robbery in NY at same branch robbed twice in past month

An attempted robbery at a Patterson bank is being investigated as possibly connected to two previous robberies at the same location in the past few weeks.  The Putnam County National Bank in Patterson was robbed on December 20th and January 2nd. 

 

The Sheriff's office says the drive up window was open yesterday afternoon but the lobby was closed at the time.  A man tried to open the door telling an employee he needed something from his safe deposit box.  As the employee went to unlock the door, she noticed a 2nd man wearing a ski mask so she kept the door closed.

 

The Sheriff's office says there are similarities to the two previous robberies where no weapons were displayed and a older white sedan was used to flee. 

 

Nearby New York and Connecticut authorities were alerted to the incident.  Anyone with information is urged to call New York State Police at 845-279-8656.

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Congresswoman to visit area businesses, host Congress on Your Corner event

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will tour Flagship Converters Incorporated this afternoon.  The company manufactures and produces the colored laminated paper used for ribbons, garland, and gift wrap.  The facility is on Shelter Rock Road in Danbury.

 

Since taking office last January, Esty has visited manufacturers throughout the 5th District. She has also introduced three bills to support manufacturing and workforce development based on the input she's received from local manufacturers. 

 

Regional Hospice Healing Hearts Center in Danbury is also on Esty's agenda.  She and members of the Newtown and Greater Danbury community will meet with staff members about how the Center helps grieving children and families who have lost loved ones. 

 

The Healing Hearts Center has been offering drop in hours to help those impacted by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Officials say the licensed social workers and specially trained volunteers create a safe place for healing to begin.

 

Esty will be in Bethel tonight capping a day of visits in the Greater Danbury area.  Tonight's Congress on Your Corner event will be at Byrd's Books on Greenwood Avenue.  The event is a chance for constituents to meet with Esty one-on-one and share thoughts, issues and concerns. 

 

The event is from 6:30 to 7:30pm.

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Bethel Selectmen cancel meeting, put off Charter revision discussion

The Bethel Board of Selectman was scheduled to meet Tuesday night, but the meeting was cancelled because of the snow.  They were to take up recommendations from the Charter Revision Commission. 

 

That group is still recommending that special meetings be held for double the amount of spending requested, about $50,000; and that the Board be expanded from three members to five and have four year terms instead of the current two years. 

 

But there were other proposals that have been scrapped.  The town meeting on the budget will not be moving later.  The Board of Education will not be recommended to get a new account for funds from the state and federal governments.

 

The Selectmen did not announce a postponement date for their meeting.

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Danbury man headbutts officer after domestic disturbance

A Danbury man has been arrested for injuring a police officer responding to a domestic disturbance over the weekend.  Police were called to Liberty Street Sunday night on a report of a man fighting with a woman.  Police say 30-year old Joel Retuerto allegedly started taking food being cooked and throwing it around the woman's workplace. 

 

Police found him at a nearby bar and tried to arrest him, but the man fought with the officers.  He headbutt one officer who was treated at Danbury Hospital for minor injuries. 

 

Retuerto was charged with assault on an officer, criminal attempt to assault an officer, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, interfering with police and threatening.  He was in court Tuesday.

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Newtown parents push NH gun check expansion

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) The parents of two young boys killed during a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut are urging New Hampshire lawmakers to pass legislation expanding gun background checks.

Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan died in the December 2012 shooting, said Tuesday at a news conference that the horrible pain Sandy Hook families are experiencing from gun violence could easily happen in New Hampshire. She urged New Hampshire lawmakers and citizens not to wait before doing something that could prevent a similar tragedy.

Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel that day, said he asks himself all the time what Daniel would do. He said when he was considering coming to New Hampshire, he knew Daniel would want him to go, to fight for passage of the legislation.

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Gov. issues statement on Michael 'Tweezer' Seri's passing

Governor Dannel Malloy has issued a statement on the passing of Michael "Tweezer" Seri.

 

“Mike Seri gave his all to serving the public, bettering his beloved city and improving the quality of life for the citizens of this state.  Over the years, Mike compiled an impressive record of civic engagement through his involvement in the Lions’ Club and American Legion, his many contributions as a member of the General Assembly, and his more than two decades of service as Danbury Town Clerk.  Mike will also be remembered as a man who brought joy into the lives of others with his charisma, wit and humor. Our condolences and prayers are with his loved ones at this time.”

 

Seri will be laid to rest today.

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Cold Weather Protocol activated in Conn.

The polar vortex where subzero temperatures enveloped much of the country has moved on and now there's another round of frigid temperatures setting in--but not the life-threatening cold it was.  With the thermometer dropping, Governor Dannel Malloy has activated the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol, directing state agencies to coordinate with 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable people are protected from the severe cold weather. 

 

The protocol has the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security activating its WebEOC communications network that allows local, regional and state officials and first responders to share information about conditions.  It's also used to monitor shelter capacity and when temporary shelters or warming centers are opened by municipalities.

 

The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is working to locate those who are most at risk and encourage them to take advantage of the safety of shelters.  The agency also works with shelters to assess and meet the needs of clients.

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Danbury man gets DUI after hitting NY police cruiser

A Danbury man who crashed his car into a New York State Police vehicle has been charged with drunk driving.  Police say 36-year old Angel Garcia fled from Somers Troopers on Interstate 684 last Wednesday night, ignoring lights and sirens. 

 

Police say the man was speeding over 90 miles an hour.  He hit a police cruiser in the town of Southeast and tried to keep going, but couldn't because of damage to his car.  Garcia was charged with reckless driving, unlawful fleeing a police officer and DUI. 

 

He suffered minor injuries.

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Danbury man arrested for 2013 heroin overdose of another

A Danbury man has been charged for selling the drugs that led to another man's overdose death last year.  Bethel Police arrested 38-year old Vandy Heard on Friday for negligent homicide, possession of narcotics and possession with intent to sell. 

 

A man died of a heroin overdose in May 2013.  Heard is being held on $50,000 bond. 

 

According to court records, he was arrested in August on six charges including possession, possession with intent to sell and four counts of possession within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing project. 

 

He will be back in court on the 31st for both cases.

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Crowd funding presentation in Danbury

A new way to fund business ventures or hobbies will be discussed during today's meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Danbury.  Crowd Funding is being done on a rewards basis and through investors purchasing a share of the business.  Reality Crowd TV founder and creator Manolis Sfinarolakis will make a presentation at 1pm today at Chuck's Steak House in Danbury.

 

He hopes a show he is creating around the movement will inform, educate, inspire and motivate entrepreneurs to start small businesses through crowdfunding and provide them a blueprint on how to do that. 

 

People could purchase stock in the business, or loan the company money.  Kickstarter-dot-com, the most successful crowd funding site, is a global movement that has projects and ideas collecting donations in exchange for rewards.

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Large crowd expected, wake for Michael 'Tweezer' Seri moved to church

Michael "Tweezer" Seri has died.  He passed away Friday night at the age of 90.

 

Due to the anticipated large crowd and inclement weather, Jowdy Kane Funeral Home says the family will receive friends at St. Joseph Church on Main Street in Danbury on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 from 4 pm to 8 pm.

 

He served as Danbury Town Clerk from 1979 to 2003.  He served as a state representative from Danbury from 1961-67 and served as assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1969-73.  Seri also served as City Auditor, Commissioner of Special Revenue for the State of Conn., and other posts.

 

He was among four men honored at the State Capital in 2008 as part of "Danbury Day" ceremonies. His citation referred to him as "the most distinguished toastmaster in the history of the City of Danbury."

 

Seri was a longtime member of the Lion’s Club.  In 2005, he made a presentation to the group reminiscing, reflecting and commenting on past, present and even future goings on about town, the political atmosphere in and about the community.

 

Seri also served in the Armed Forces in World War II.

 

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Church in Danbury, followed by burial in St. Peter Cemetery.

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Race4Chase triathlon program expanding

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A children's triathlon program inspired by the life a 7-year-old boy who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting is expanding in Connecticut.

The CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation has reached an agreement with the Greater Waterbury YMCA, Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut in Danbury and the Central Connecticut Coastal YMCA in Trumbull to host the Race4Chase Kid's Tri program.

The program will start in June, teaching kids swimming, running and bicycling for six weeks. A short-course triathlon competition at Camp Mataucha in Watertown is set for Aug. 2.

The program honors Chase Kowalski, who competed in his first triathlon the summer before he was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School with 19 other students and six educators.

A signing ceremony launching the program is set for Thursday at the Greater Waterbury YMCA.

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Conn. man accused of extorting models for sex

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) Fairfield police say a Rocky Hill man set up an extortion scheme with a phony talent agency to solicit revealing photos, money and sex from nearly 40 women seeking modeling jobs.

An arrest warrant accuses Anand Amin of telling women that unless they paid him and agreed to sexual favors, he would make public nude or semi-nude photos they submitted with applications for the non-existent modeling jobs.

Police said Friday the 24-year-old Amin succeeded in duping at least two women into sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves by posing as a female agent for the fictitious agency.

Amin was held in lieu of $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear Jan. 30 in state Superior Court in Bridgeport. It was not known if he's represented by a lawyer.

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MLK remembered in Conn. event

An event at a Connecticut High School last week celebrated the life and legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.  A Newtown woman was the keynote speaker.  Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, quoted Dr King: "hate can not drive out hate, only love can do that".

 

She spoke about transforming hardship into a pathway for love.  She quoted King in saying "life's most persistent and urgent question is--what are you doing for others?".  She said when filled with love, people are a force that can change anything.  Her role in life was forever changed on 12-14. Hockley said she took her experience and transformed it into something to benefit others. 

 

The event last week focused on Dr King's core values of courage, compassion, integrity, inspiration and vision.

 

In 1993, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in all 50 states for the first time.

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Sandy Hook Commission to get medical records

Progress is being made in obtaining the medical records of the young man who carried out the shootings in Newtown.  Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Chairman Scott Jackson says without subpoena power, there's not much the panel can do on its own.

 

The father of the gunman has said he will help the Commission obtain some of his son's medical records.  Jackson says he and the man's father are trying to determine how much involvement he will have with the group.  The Commission doesn't have an interest in having the man come before them and present to them.  But what they are looking for is the documents that tell the more complete story of the gunman.

 

Based on records it receives, Jackson says the Commission hopes to form a diagnostic chain to see how the system worked and where it failed.  Jackson says the panel hoped the records would be included in information released by the Danbury State's Attorney and State Police.

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Cold weather safety reminders

The polar vortex that gripped much of the country has moved on, but don't get too comfortable - another round of frigid air is expected to arrive next week across the northern U.S., from the Dakotas eastward to New England.  It'll be cold, but not the life-threatening cold of last week when subzero temperatures enveloped much of the country and contributed to at least a dozen deaths.

 

Cold weather brings about certain risks and the need to practice some basic precautions.  A Torrington woman was burned recently while putting wood in her stove.  Her clothes caught fire.  The woman was transferred to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Unit in serious condition. 

 

Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald has some common sense advice. He suggests using tongs or another instrument that will allow you to stand back from the stove while loading it.

 

Herald says cold weather brings about certain other risks too. These include having functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home.  If you have a heating system where there is a fuel burned, whether it is wood, pellets, fuel oil or gas, there is the potential for a carbon monoxide exposure.

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GE profits, FuelCell Energy announces sale

Fairfield-based General Electric posted increased revenue and profit for the fourth quarter on rising sales in emerging markets, higher banking profit, and stronger global sales of aircraft engines and oil and gas drilling equipment.  The company's shares fell nearly 3 percent in Friday morning trading though, because GE failed increase its profit margin as much as it had predicted.

 

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy  announced that it has priced an underwritten public offering of 22,000,000 shares of its common stock at a price to the public of $1.25 per share for gross proceeds of approximately $27.5 million. The net proceeds from the sale of the shares, after deducting the underwriters' discounts and other estimated offering expenses payable by the Company, will be approximately $26.0 million.

 

The offering is expected to close on or about January 23.

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Michael 'Tweezer' Seri has passed away

Michael "Tweezer" Seri has died.  He passed away Friday night at the age of 90.

 

He served as Danbury Town Clerk from 1979 to 2003.  He served as a state representative from Danbury from 1961-67 and served as assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1969-73.  Seri also served as City Auditor, Commissioner of Special Revenue for the State of Conn., and other posts.

 

He was among four men honored at the State Capital in 2008 as part of "Danbury Day" ceremonies. His citation referred to him as "the most distinguished toastmaster in the history of the City of Danbury."

 

Seri was a longtime member of the Lion’s Club.  In 2005, he made a presentation to the group reminiscing, reflecting and commenting on past, present and even future goings on about town, the political atmosphere in and about the community.

 

Seri also served in the Armed Forces in World War II.

 

Calling hours for Seri will be Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home in Danbury. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph Church in Danbury, followed by burial in St. Peter Cemetery.

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Alerts issued for two missing Danbury teens

State police have issued Silver Alerts for two missing Danbury teens.  Police are calling 17-year old Cassandra Palmer and 16-year old Caitlyn Shaffer endangered runaways. 

 

Palmer is a white girl with blonde and blue hair and blue eyes, about 5-foot-9 weighing 115 pounds.  She was last seen wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, black yoga pants and sneakers. 

 

Shaffer is a white teen with brown hair and brown eyes, about 5-foot-7 weighing 140 pounds.  She was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, brown boots and blue jeans. 

 

Each were reported missing from Danbury yesterday.  Anyone with information on Cassandra Palmer or Caitlyn Shaffer's whereabouts is asked to contact Danbury Police at 203-797-4611.

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Newtown appoints new Superintendent of Schools

Newtown has selected a new Superintendent of Schools.  During a special Board of Education meeting last night, Dr Joseph Erardi was unanimously appointed to the position. 

 

Newtown has been looking for a new leader for the schools since Dr Janet Robinson resigned in May.  In the interim, Dr John Reed has been filling the role. 

 

During the Board meeting, Erardi said he would be respectful of Newtown's past, work hard in the present and is excited for the future.  He has been a Superintendent for 14 years, the past 8 in Southington.  10 members of the Board did a site visit there last week.  Erardi said during the meeting that he was thankful and very humbled by the appointment. 

 

The Board thanked Reed and also the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Search Services group for their help in the process. 

 

The Board of Education said in a press release that in the near future they will hold a reception so staff, parents and the community can meet Erardi and welcome him.  They said the final details of his transition are being worked out, but it's anticipated that Erardi will join the Newtown district officially in the spring.

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Danbury man wanted for stalking, also charged for cocaine sales

A Danbury man wanted for stalking has also been arrested on drug charges.  Danbury Police carried out a search and seizure warrant Wednesday afternoon at a a City apartment. 

 

The months long investigation into 32-year old Victor Rivera involved illegal sale and distribution of cocaine in Danbury. 

 

Cocaine, packaging material and paraphernalia was seized from the man's Rose Hill Avenue home.  Rivera was charged with Possession of Narcotics, Possession With Intent to Sell, Possession within 1500 feet of a Housing Project and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. 

 

While being arrested, officers determined that a November domestic violence warrant had been issued for Rivera on a charge of 3rd degree stalking.  Police did not release details of the incident that led to the warrant. 

 

He was released on $27,500 dollars total bond.  Rivera will be in court Friday on the drug charges and February 13th on the stalking charge.

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Brewster bridge rehabilitation gets federal funding

A $2 million grant has been awarded to the Town of Southeast to repair a dilapidated footbridge.  The 100-year old Morningthorpe Avenue Pedestrian Bridge had been closed to vehicles in 2007 and closed to pedestrians last spring. 

 

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the closure disrupted commuters ability to easily reach the Brewster Metro North Station from a nearby parking area.  She says the project is a perfect fit for the County's plans to revitalize downtown Main Street Brewster. 

 

The bridge was once considered the worst in the lower Hudson Valley. 

 

The bridge also connects pedestrians to village parks, a bikeway and the Riverwalk.  All of those are part of Brewster's Master Plan for Economic Development.

 

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Conn. town officials call cops to remove reporters

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) Two newspaper reporters say officials in a Connecticut town called state police to have them removed from a town hall after refusing a public records request.

Register Citizen reporters Isaac Avilucea and Gayla Cawley say officials asked them to leave Bethlehem Town Hall on Thursday. State police showed up and took statements, but didn't arrest anyone.

The Register Citizen reports that town officials refused to immediately respond to the reporters' request under state law for information about the Public Works Department and missing supplies. So the reporters decided to stay in Town Hall until someone responded to the request.

Bethlehem First Selectman Lenny Assard says he didn't think officials were required to immediately produce the documents and asked the reporters to put the request in writing, which they did.

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Expert to Newtown panel: Violence, autism not tied

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A commission looking into the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre in Connecticut has been told there is no data linking people with autism to increased violent criminal behavior.

But Matthew Lerner, a psychology professor at Stony Brook University, told the panel Friday there are traits associated with autism that often explain behavior when those on the spectrum do come into contact with the legal system. Those include impulsive and compulsive behavior and the inability to understand social motives and emotional situations.

He told the governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission there is nothing that links autism to the type of planned mass murder that occurred in December 2012 in Newtown.

 

Recently released documents show that gunman Adam Lanza had been diagnosed in 2006 with a profound autism disorder that included a ``lack of comprehension of ordinary social interaction and communications.''  His father, Peter, told police that his son had Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism that is not associated with violence.

The 16-member commission is holding its 17th meeting Friday. It is charged with reviewing current state public safety policies and making recommendations about school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention.

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Conn. Senators tout school safety funding in budget bill

Connecticut two U.S. Senators are touting several gun violence prevention provisions in the omnibus appropriations bill passed by the Senate Thursday night.  There is $128-million for the FBI to conduct background checks and $58-million for states to improve their criminal background check databases. 

 

The bill also includes $115-million for the President's Now is the Time initiative to expand access to mental health services. 

 

$75-millionis set aside for the National Institute of Justice to conduct a new Comprehensive School Safety Initiative to study the causes of school violence and provide pilot grants to test state and local school safety initiatives,  $15-million was included in the bill to train police on how to respond to active shooter situations.

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Metal detectors to be installed at Conn. Capitol

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's State Capitol Police say they plan to install metal detectors and package scanners at the Capitol and Legislative Office Building.

The devices are expected to be up and running soon after the start of the 2014 legislative session, which opens on Feb. 5.

While metal detectors and scanners are already in place at many state buildings near the Capitol, they've only been used occasionally by the State Capitol Police. For example, they were installed temporarily last January when the General Assembly held a public hearing on gun violence and gun control measures in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

A 2011 state and federal security assessment recommended a weapons detection system and stricter protocols. Capitol police then visited neighboring state Capitols where metal detectors are already being used.

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Mahopac man allegedly assaults woman with a cane

A Mahopac man has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman with a metal cane.

 

A Mahopac man was arrested Tuesday for possession of a weapon.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that a 2nd degree assault charge, a class "D" violent felony, was also filed against 57-year old Joseph Strawn. 

 

A 45-year old woman reported in December that the man hit her several times with the dangerous instrument causing severe bruising on several parts of her body.  Investigators determined that the incident happened during an argument at a Putnam Valley home. 

 

Strawn was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 bail.  He will be back in court on the 28th.

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Ridgefield Charter Revision Commission meets

The Ridgefield Charter Revision Commission has held it's first meeting.  They also held a public hearing last week.  Several residents spoke out about what they think needs changing. 

 

Four people suggested separating the Inland Wetlands oversight from the Planning and Zoning Commission, though the Vice Chair of that Commission submitted testimony as to why they should not be separated. 

 

One resident suggested that the First Selectman be part of the Board of Finance.  Another said that voice votes at town meetings should be done away with. 

 

The Charter Revision Commission's next meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday.

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CH Booth Library to open some services at Edmond Town Hall

While CH Booth Library in Newtown remains closed because of water damage, an information desk will be staffed in the old Courtroom of Edmond Town Hall.  Starting on Tuesday the Reference Department staff will be on hand to help patrons check out eBooks and eAudiobooks, place holds on material and manage online accounts. 

 

Librarians will also help people with federal and state tax forms when they become available. 

 

Newtown residents will need to bring their library card with them to Edmond Town Hall to access the services.  The satellite location will be open Mondays through Thursdays 2pm to 6pm and on Saturdays from 9am to noon.

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More charges filed against NY man for Danbury robberies

A Brewster man has been charged with two more counts of robbery while in court on two separate counts.  Court records show that 35-year old Nicholas Negro was in Danbury Superior Court Wednesday for robberies at the 7-11 on Mill Plain Road over the summer. 

 

While in court, he was charged for robbing a 7-11 on Clapboard Ridge Road and a SoHo Pizza on White Street. 

 

In the final robbery, the 7-11 clerk recognized Negro's voice from the hold up the month before.  Police said during the July robbery Negro wore a mask and had a hammer for a weapon. 

 

The former John Jay High School social studies teacher has since resigned from the position in Wappingers Falls.  He's pleaded not guilty to all four of the charges.  He will be back in court on February 6th.

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Ex-judge not disciplined in Conn. bribery case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut judicial investigations board has decided not to discipline a now-retired state judge for disclosing the existence of a secret grand jury looking into a Sherman woman's disappearance in 1984.

The state Judicial Review Council took no action Wednesday against former Judge Robert Brunetti, because the panel has only a year to act on alleged misconduct.

Brunetti acknowledged telling a friend in 2010 about the grand jury looking into Mary Badaracco's disappearance and whether she was killed by her husband, Dominic Badaracco. No one was been charged in the case.

Shortly after Brunetti talked with the friend, Dominic Badaracco offered him a $100,000 bribe to influence the grand jury. Brunetti didn't accept, and Badaracco is serving a seven-year prison sentence for attempted bribery.

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Newtown gunman apparently called OR radio in 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) The man who carried out the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre apparently called a radio station a year earlier to discuss the 2009 mauling of a Connecticut woman by a chimpanzee.

The caller believed to be Adam Lanza speaks softly on a show on the University of Oregon's campus radio station and blames ``civilization'' for the animal's attack.

It would be the first known public recording of Lanza's voice. The 20-year-old man killed 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. He also shot to death his mother inside their home before driving to the school and took his own life as police arrived.

A person with the username ``Smiggles'' describes making the call afterward in a Web posting. State police documents refer to instant messages from ``Smiggles'' as presumably being from the Sandy Hook gunman.

A former classmate, Kyle Kromberg, told the New York Daily News that he recognized the voice as Lanza's.

State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said he didn't know whether the caller was Lanza but that it was a possibility.

In 2009 in Stamford, Charla Nash was blinded, lost both hands and underwent a face transplant after being mauled by a chimpanzee named Travis, who belonged to her friend. Nash had gone to the owner's home to help lure the 200-pound chimpanzee back inside. But the chimp went berserk and ripped off Nash's nose, lips, eyelids and hands before being shot to death by a police officer.

The caller believed to be Lanza said Travis was raised like a child and was highly domesticated, noting he used an electric tooth brush, a TV remote control and even the computer. Travis was integrated into society, the caller said, recalling the chimp's interactions with humans and his acting in TV commercials.

``Look what civilization did to him,'' said the caller, who identified himself as Greg. ``It had the same exact effect on him as it has on humans. He was profoundly sick in every sense of the term and he had to resort to these surrogate activities like watching baseball and looking at pictures on the computer screen and taking Xanax.''

The caller said Travis appeared to be desperate to change his environment, ``and the best reason I can think of for why he would want that, looking at his entire life, would be that some little thing he experienced was the last straw and he was overwhelmed by the life that he had.''

He compared the attack to other random acts of violence.

``I just don't think it would be such a stretch,'' the caller said, ``to say that he very well could have been a teenage mall shooter or something like that.''

The radio show was hosted by John Zerzan, 70, a fixture of Eugene, Ore.'s anarchist community for years. His books and pamphlets call for a return to the primitive and have been compared to the anti-technology manifesto of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whom Zerzan visited in jail.

In hindsight, Zerzan said it is easy to find statements from Lanza foreshadowing the horrific events to come, but at the time he had no such impression. He only remembers the call at all because at the time, he had not been aware of the chimpanzee attack.

``I didn't get any hint that he was thinking about being an agent of something like that,'' Zerzan said.

He said that what stood out the most was the caller's discussion of the parallels between what led the chimp to act out and what causes snipers or gunmen to act.

``These shootings are now daily affairs,'' he said. ``Nobody is asking why. What is this telling us about the evolution of mass society in the techno age?''

Prosecutors issued a summary of the investigation last year that portrayed Lanza as obsessed with mass murders and afflicted with mental problems but they said Lanza's motives for the massacre may never be known.

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Danbury discusses learning academies with 5th grade parents

Danbury Schools have held the first of two informational forums for parents of 5th graders to learn about Magnet Schools.  Deputy Superintendent Bill Glass says the new Exploration Academies at Mill Ridge is set to open in the fall in the former Mill Ridge Intermediate School building.

 

Glass says Danbury is leaning toward personalized learning and smaller schools.  He notes that the smaller, more personalized studies will all comply with the district's curriculum. 

 

6th, 7th and 8th graders can enroll in the STEM Academy while the new Global Studies Program will be open to 6th grade students.  The slots in each of the schools will be filled through a lottery system.  Glass says the district is looking at other types of Academies that could be created in the future. 

 

Another meeting will be held on the 27th at Rogers Park Middle School.

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Bethel Fire Department honors members for bravery

The Bethel Fire Department has held their annual dinner and recognized members for service in 2013. 

 

On Saturday, two people were presented with Unit Citation for Heroic Actions.  The Citations presented to Lt Ben Gerstenmair and Lt Ryan McNair were for their actions at the fire on Putnam Park Road January 2nd.  They were cited for bravery and quick action in rescuing another firefighter from a collapsed floor. 

 

The Bethel Bulletin reports that Brendan Ryan was named Fire Officer of the Year and Andrew Matturro was named EMS Provider of the Year.  Fireman of the Year was awarded to Scott Murphy.

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Putnam County Courthouse set to reopen after pipe burst

The Putnam County Courthouse, shuttered for nearly two weeks following damage to its sprinkler system, could reopen as early as today.  The Highways and Facilities department says the fire suppression system is being recharged and tested. 

 

Court business is currently being conducted in alternate sites including the VFW hall, Knights of Columbus building and the County Office Building. 

 

The Journal News reports that the courthouse has had weather-related problems since the beginning of the year.  A heating coil burst on January 4th, causing water damage on the first and second floors. Several days later, the sprinkler heads burst, knocking out the fire suppression system.

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Ridgefield officials to meet on posible land sale

Ridgefield officials are holding a closed meeting tomorrow to discuss the possible sale of some town-owned land.  The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will meet in Executive Session on Friday morning to discuss the possible sale of a 10-acre parcel of land. 

 

There will be no vote taken at the meeting on the piece of the Schlumberger site. 

 

In previous discussions, officials said 10 acres of the property could be sold to a developer for multi-family housing units, though when requests for proposals were sent out a provision would be that half of the land be left open.  The bids received by the town ranged from $1.75 million to $4 million. 

 

When the town bought the 45 acre Schlumberger property in 2011, the plan called for selling some of it to recoup the $7-million cost.

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CH Booth Library officials give update on closure

CH Booth Library officials are still assessing damages.  They are not accepting donations of the library collection at this time.  If people want to help, Acting Library Director Beryl Harrison sent out a message saying their annual fundraising drive is still underway and tax deductible donations can be sent to the library through their website.  The Friends of the Library group is accepting donations at the Transfer Station during the closure. 

 

The CH Booth website is still available for people to borrow audio books, ebook and other online services.  Library cards will work at any Connecticut library. 

 

There was no update on when the library will be able to reopen.

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NY Congressman to marry partner

WASHINGTON (AP) — Freshman congressman Sean Patrick Maloney plans to marry his longtime partner, who proposed over Christmas.

The New York Democrat released a statement on Tuesday with partner Randy Florke. They say after 21 years together they're excited to take the next step and share a special day with family.

Florke's proposal came after one of their adopted children, 11-year-old Essie, wrote to Santa wishing for her parents to be married.

Maloney will be one of two members of Congress married to a same-sex partner. Democratic congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin is also in a same-sex marriage.

In 2012, then-congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts became the first member of Congress to marry his same-sex partner.

Maloney represents the 18th congressional district, which includes all of Putnam County.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes, who represents lower Fairfield County, acknowledged the announcement on Twitter.  He congratulated his friend and colleague.

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Threatening calls made to Danbury Juvenile Court

Danbury Juvenile Court was closed for a few hours Wednesday after threatening phone calls were made.  Danbury Police Chief Al Baker says the State police bomb squad also responded to the Main Street building around 10:40am.

 

The caller said that someone would die if custody was taken away from the individual by the Court.  Shortly after that, a bomb threat was called in.

 

State police are continuing their investigation.

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Ridgefield School Superintendent announces retirement

Ridgefield will be looking for a new Superintendent of Schools this summer.  During Monday night's Board of Education meeting, Deborah Low announced her retirement.  She will be leaving at the end of the school year. 

 

Low told faculty that it's been an honor serving as superintendent in Ridgefield. 

 

She said the supportive community, excellent faculty, motivated students and engaged parents have made the past seven the best years of her career.  She touted the accomplishments of the district during tough financial times.

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AG seeks founder of Newtown charity, IRS asked to investigate

Connecticut's attorney general says his office and his counterpart in Tennessee are investigating a charity that raised money it said would go to those affected by last year's school shooting in Newtown.

Attorney General George Jepsen wrote a letter Monday to Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. about the 26.4.26 Foundation and its co-founder, Robbie Bruce. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

Ryan Graney, another co-founder of the foundation, told the AP last week that Bruce has been unable to account for more than $70,000 in foundation money. She filed complaints with the FBI and the Tennessee attorney general's office.

 

Graney, filed that complaint saying only $30,000 of the $103,000 taken in by the charity went to the intended recipients. She says Bruce has not accounted for the rest of the money and cut off contact.

In his letter, Jepsen offers assistance in the Tennessee investigation and says he also is seeking contact information for Bruce.

 

The federal government is also being asked to look into the charity.  Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, sent a letter Tuesday to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen calling for an investigation.

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Head of rescue group convicted of animal cruelty

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) The head of an animal rescue group has been convicted of 15 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty over dogs housed in the cold.

The Register Citizen reports that Frederick Acker was convicted in Litchfield Superior Court on Monday by a judge who found that 15 dogs housed at a Bethlehem facility owned by Acker were in jeopardy because of the cold. The dogs were transferred to a warm environment.

The 61-year-old Acker has said he'll appeal.

Acker faced 63 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty after as many dogs were seized in November 2012 from his unfinished barn-like facility. Prosecutors tried to prove he failed to provide adequate food, water and protection from the elements.

Danaher said state animal cruelty laws are vague in addressing the definition of ``proper care.''

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Oxford man pleads no contest in fatal car chase

DERBY, Conn. (AP) An Oxford man who wrecked his car and killed his friend during a police chase has pleaded no contest and agreed to serve up to nine months in prison.

Twenty-one-year-old Eric Ramirez entered the plea Monday in Derby Superior Court. He remains free on $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be sentenced March 24 for negligent homicide and engaging police in pursuit.

Authorities say Ramirez was fleeing a police officer at speeds reaching more than 90 miles an hour when his car hit an embankment and flew into a building in Oxford on March 9, 2012. The crash killed 15-year-old Brandon Giordano of Oxford.

Former Seymour Officer Anthony Renaldi was cleared of wrongdoing in the chase. He had tried to stop Ramirez for having illegal neon lights under his car.

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Passenger recalls plane landing on NYC highway

NEW YORK (AP) A passenger in a single-engine plane that made an emergency landing on a New York City highway recalls ``freaking out'' as the plane lost elevation.

Kristina Terrellof New Milford  was one of three people on the Piper aircraft that landed on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx on Jan. 4.

Terrell tells The Journal News that the plane started losing elevation over the Hudson River.

Pilot Michael Schwartz got on the radio with a traffic controller and reviewed his options.

Schwartz determined that landing on the highway was the best option.

Terrell says Schwartz landed the plane calmly and did ``a great job.''

Schwartz, Terrell and fellow passenger Monica Castillo all walked away with only minor injuries.

It's not known what kind of engine problems the plane experienced.

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New Fairfield man convicted of tax refund fraud

A New Fairfield man has been convicted in Missouri of filing a claim for a false refund.  A federal court jury in Kansas City yesterday found 40-year old Nkosi Gray guilty of fraudulently collecting a nearly $279,000 refund on his 2008 income taxes. 

 

16 defendants were charged in the scheme that prosecutors say had them compiling records of debt and spending but claiming them as taxes paid on bond income. 

 

Gray will be sentenced in May.  A woman from Georgia was also convicted yesterday.

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Man barricades self in room, tries to set fire at Blue Sky Behavioral

Employees at Blue Sky Behavioral Health Clinic in Danbury had to call police Monday afternoon because an uncooperative crisis patient had barricaded himself into a room.  When Danbury Police arrived, the 26-year old became agitated and said he was going to set fire to the room. 

 

The Fire Department was called to the 52 Federal Road facility and the building was evacuated.

 

The Crisis Negotiation Team was able to make contact with the man and tried to talk him out of the room that he reinforced from the inside.  After about an hour, he became more agitated and damaged the room. 

 

The man tried to start a fire and the Emergency Services Units forced entry inside.  They subdued the man who was taken by ambulance to the hospital for evaluation.

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Brookfield DTC elects new chairman

The Brookfield Democratic Town Committee has elected a new chairman.  Ray DiStephan was chosen to lead the party at their caucus held on Thursday.  DiStephan says the position will become official at their next meeting in February.

 

DiStephan says he's honored and excited to serve as the chair of the DTC because they have a talented group of people working hard for the town.  He says the town is ready to work hard to keep progress moving forward.

 

Current DTC Vice Chair Ron Jafe will continue in that role.

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Newtown group protests gun industry foundation

A group supporting tougher gun laws has rallied outside the Newtown headquarters of the gun industry's national trade association and lobby organization.  The Newtown Action Alliance is protesting what they say is the gun industry's record of selling military-style assault rifles while opposing new laws to prevent gun violence. 

 

Several dozen people supporting The Newtown Action Alliance gathered outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

 

The foundation represents more than 9,500 federally licensed firearms manufacturers, distributors and retailers.  The rally comes a day before the foundation's annual trade show and conference opens in Las Vegas. 

 

The Foundation issued a statement saying while they respect the First Amendment rights of Americans, they reject the mischaracterization of their group and lawful business activities its members conduct.  Foundation spokesman Bill Brassare says they are committed to improving public safety.

 

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Congresswoman seeks clarity on Affordable Care Act measure

Some clarity is coming from the IRS and the Treasury Department when it comes to whether volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel have to be counted as full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says not having the volunteer hours count will help towns recruit and retain firefighters.

 

She heard from a number of fire chiefs in the district looking for clarification on the employer shared responsibility requirement.

 

Esty says most of the volunteers had no expectation that their departments would be providing health care coverage even though they receive nominal compensation for their volunteer hours.  She says most work full or part time elsewhere are already quality for health care coverage.

 

Congressman Joe Courtney said working together, the Delegation was able to solve a simple issue that came from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to ensure the law works as intended.

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Oil spill in New Milford cleaned up

600 gallons of home heating oil spilled into the environment in New Milford. 

 

A cleanup got underway Monday in New Milford by an environmental company and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Spokesman Dwayne Gardner says the spill occurred on Lanesville Road near the foreclosed Connecticut Auto Body shop. 

 

Two 330 gallon tanks were overfilled and the oil then spilled over.

 

Gardner says its mostly confined to a wetlands near the area and residents don't have to worry.  There were concerns that the oil may go into the nearby Still River.

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Candidates coming forward for underticket seats

While a lot of focus has been put on the Gubernatorial race this year, the 5th Congressional District seat will also be on the ballot in November.  Republican Mark Greenburg is once again running for the position currently held by Democrat Elizabeth Esty.  Greenburg was recently endorsed by the New Milford Republican Town Committee. 

 

The town committees will be sending delegates to the nominating convention in May.  New Milford Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Bass said in an emailed statement they endorsed Greenburg because of his business experience and his commitment to the community.

 

Potential Republican candidates are coming forward to challenge Connecticut's incumbent Democratic constitutional officers.  Former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker on Monday announced he has formed an exploratory committee for statewide office and is interested in the lieutenant governor spot on the November ticket.  Stafford Springs Rep. Penny Bacchiochi has already formed an exploratory committee and expressed interest in the lieutenant governor position.

Other potential candidates considering or seeking statewide positions include Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst and Fairfield attorney Peter Lumaj.

Incumbent Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Treasurer Denise Nappier and Comptroller Kevin Lembo have each said they're running for re-election.

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Alerts issued for two missing Danbury teens

State Police have issued two Silver Alerts for missing Danbury teens.  Police called 14-year old Collin Gartland an endangered runaway.  The white boy with brown hair and blue eyes is about 5-foot-10, weighing 160 pounds and was last seen yesterday.  He was wearing jeans, a red shirt, a blue & white jacket and brown boat shoes. 

 

 

Police say 14-year old Gabriel Bardo was also last seen yesterday in Danbury.  The white boy with brown hair and blue eyes is about 5-foot-7, weighing 140 pounds and has earrings.  He was last seen wearing a red and blue plaid shirt, jeans and a denim jacket. 

 

 

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of either teen is asked to contact Danbury Police at 203-797-4611.

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Newtown group to protest gun industry foundation

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A group supporting tougher gun laws is planning a protest outside the headquarters of the gun industry's national trade association and lobby organization in Newtown, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at a school more than a year ago.

The Newtown Action Alliance says its members will gather Monday morning outside the offices of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The alliance says it's protesting the gun industry's record of selling military-style assault rifles used in mass shootings while opposing new laws to prevent gun violence.

The rally comes a day before the foundation's annual trade show and conference begins a four-day run in Las Vegas.

The foundation represents more than 9,500 federally licensed firearms manufacturers, distributors and retailers. A message seeking comment was left at the foundation Monday.

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Danbury seeks grant for engineering plans on Hearthstone Castle

After much debate, the Danbury City Council agreed to front some money for an engineering study of Hearthstone Castle.  The city is also seeking a matching grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation to determine what needs to be done to stabilize what's left of the castle to raze it. 

 

Councilman Mike Haddad questioned Planning Director Dennis Elpern about the chances of receiving grant funding.  Elpern said if the grant is not approved, the City is basically dead in the water unless the Council approved the full $45,000 for the engineering plans.  But he says he's optimistic because the Trust has been very interested in the future of the Castle, which is on the National Register of Historic Structures. 

 

Councilman Warren Levy says he is concerned because of lack of parking, handicap accessibility and security.  He said documents comparing Hearthstone Castle to Gillette Castle weren't very helpful because that's in a state park where 200,000 visitors pass through each year.  He also noted a trust by the Gillette family to maintain Gillette Castle.

 

A previous study was done that took into account Tarrywile Park deed restrictions, on what uses there would be for the Castle.  It ranged from a school to an observation deck.  Mayor Mark Boughton says a lot of the recommendations are cost prohibitive and are no feasible, but even if the decision is to take the castle down and make a picnic area, an engineering plan needs to be done.

 

The castle could collapse because a retaining wall is in danger of falling.

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83 new state troopers sworn in

The 83 new State police Troopers are part of the 123rd Training Troop.  They come from eight different states.  Connecticut public safety Commissioner Reuben Bradford says 85-percent of the class left higher paying jobs to serve as Troopers.  20 of the recent graduates of military experience and 26 have prior law enforcement experience.

 

Troop A in Southbury is adding 6 new members while Troop L in Litchfield is adding 8.  The Troopers spent over 1,400 hours in the classroom and many more hours training in physical conditioning, water rescue, driving and other specialized areas of police work.  The new Troopers will next report to their assignments, where they will complete their training with field training Troopers.

 

Among the 83 new graduates are 4 from the Greater Danbury area.  Anthony Perrone and Kryl Rapp, both of Danbury, will be joining Troop L.  Peter Gardella of Bethel has been assigned to Troop G in Bridgeport and Emily Shaham of Monroe will be serving Troop A.

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Brookfield mulls law requiring uranium well tests

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP) Brookfield is considering a law requiring homeowners to test wells for uranium and arsenic and disclose the results to buyers if they are higher than federal or state standards allow.

The town's health director, Ray Sullivan proposed the ordinance and says radium is a more deadly concern because it has been known to cause leukemia in exposed children. Uranium can be toxic to kidneys based on exposure over four decades or more.

 

Some real estate agents are concerned the law would make it difficult to sell homes. Linda McCaffrey, a real estate agent, says the law is not enforceable.

Republican Selectman Marty Flynn, a plumber and advocate for installing filtering systems, is skeptical that the proposal would require newly installed wells to be tested, but not mandate remediation.

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Woman's Club gives Danbury Library funding for software

A $2,000 donation has been made to the Danbury Library from the Woman's Club of Danbury/New Fairfield.  The funding is being used to purchase licenses for photographic restoration software.  The software is for patrons to learn how to preserve and enhance their photos. 

 

Last December the Woman's Club also donated funding to the Danbury Library in order to purchase Adobe Photoshop licenses for this purpose.  The Club requested the software.

 

The Woman's Club was founded in 1982 and since then, the Philanthropic Committee has awarded nearly half a million dollars in funding to select organizations.  In addition to grant money and scholarships, members of the Woman's Club have contributed 28,000 volunteer hours to the Greater Danbury area.

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$70K in Newtown donations missing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The co-founder of a charity formed in the wake of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School says her organization has been unable to account for more than $70,000.

Ryan Graney, of Nashville, Tenn., tells The Associated Press that only $30,000 of the $103,000 taken in by the 26.4.26 Foundation was used for the organization's purpose. That money was presented last year by co-founder Robbie Bruce to NYA, a nonprofit youth sports center in Newtown.

Graney says she filed reports about the missing money with the FBI and local officials after Bruce was unable to explain where it went.

Bruce, an endurance athlete, did not return repeated telephone messages. He lives in a gated apartment complex in Nashville, Tenn., and attempts to reach him there also failed.

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Republican gov. candidates filing finance reports

Among Republican candidates for governor, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney reports a fundraising total of $134,000 while Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says he's raised nearly that much.

Boughton reports a total in 2013 of nearly $130,000, including nearly $40,000 raised during the final three months of last year.  McKinney and Boughton are among the candidates collecting the small contributions necessary to qualify for public campaign financing. Candidates for governor must raise $250,000 in small contributions to participate in the program. Ultimately, they can receive at least $1.25 million for a primary and $6 million for the general election.

 

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti reported raising $1,200 in December as he formed a campaign committee.  Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher is also considering a run for governor. Boucher raised $37,000 in the latest quarter, bringing her total to $66,659.

Friday was the quarterly reporting deadline.

 

A GOP candidate with an exploratory committee, Tom Foley of Greenwich, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and the party's 2010 candidate, spent more than $10 million of his own money on the narrow race.

 

Candidates at the exploratory stage can accept contributions up to $375, but only those of up to $100 count toward qualifying for public financing.

 

Joseph Visconti of West Hartford, who filed paperwork for a candidate committee, raised $805 in the latest quarter.

Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, meanwhile, has yet to announce if he'll seek a second term.

 

Jerry Labriola Jr. said this week that he'd like to see the Republican candidates finish raising their qualifying funds by the state party's convention, scheduled for May 16 and 17 at Mohegan Sun.

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Danbury Housing Authority to receive federal funds

Danbury is receiving $34,000 in grant funding from the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development to help public housing residents gain access to education, job training and employment.  The funding will help the Danbury Housing Authority to hire and retain program coordinators to work directly with families to connect them with supportive services.

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Redding police receive state accreditation

The Redding Police Department has received state Accreditation from the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council.  The process was described by Chief Douglas Fuchs in November to the Board of Selectmen saying the Department's policies and procedures are reviewed to assure they meet current operation standards. 

 

There is no cost for the town associated with the review or accreditation. 

 

Redding is now the 16th police department in Connecticut with this accreditation.  Among the others are Monroe and Ridgefield.

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Brookfield ethics board takes no action on former BOE member

The Brookfield Board of Ethics has decided to take no action against a public safety dispatcher now that he resigned from his seat on the Board of Education. 

 

26-year old Greg Beck is being allowed to keep his job despite an outcry over a comment he posted on Facebook about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.  In response to a ``26 Days of Kindness'' post, Beck wrote on Facebook in November that his kindness would be distributing ammunition to his friends.

 

He later apologized. 

 

Beck posted the comment while working as a town dispatcher.  The Ethics panel was looking into the matter because of two complaints from residents who said that Beck should not be a member of the Education Board.

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Newtown gunman's father willing to help commission

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The father of the 20-year-old gunman who committed the Newtown school shooting says he's willing to help provide his late son's medical records to the state commission reviewing the massacre.

In a statement released Friday, a spokesman says Peter Lanza already had informed law enforcement that he would ``approve the release of any medical records he has the authority to release'' and that he told the chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission that ``he is willing to meet with him towards reaching that goal.''

Some mental health experts who sit on the commission have said they want to see Adam Lanza's records to determine if there were any gaps in treatment and to gain insight into the shooter and the state of his mental health.

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Danbury man arrested for sexually assaulting two women

A Danbury man has been arrested for sexually assaulting two women.

 

A Danbury resident was arrested this week after a lengthy investigation into complaints of sexual assault by two women.  Police say each reported in June that they had been assaulted at different times during their childhood by 32-year old Moises Carter. 

 

The complaint was investigated by the Special Victims Unit and an arrest warrant was granted.  Carter was located at his job at Stop and Shop and arrested. 

 

He was held on $150,000 bond for arraignment today.

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Wilton man charged for stealing from Cheshire Police Union

A Wilton man has been charged with stealing from the police union.

 

Former Cheshire Police Officer Robert Anderson Jr has been arrested for stealing nearly $50,000 from the police union.  The 43-year old Wilton man was charged yesterday with two counts of felony larceny.  An investigation started last February after a complaint was filed by Cheshire's police chief and the Cheshire police union.  

 

Anderson served as president of in 2008 and vice president from 2011 through 2012.  Union officers are volunteers and don't receive compensation for their service. 

 

Anderson allegedly stole $22,000  in cash through ATM withdrawls and another $27,400 through debit card transactions. 

 

Anderson resigned from the Cheshire police department in September.  He was released on bond for arraignment on the 17th.

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Putnam DA responds to calls for resignation

The embattled Putnam County District Attorney is responding to a call for him to resign.

 

Putnam Legislator Sam Oliverio has called for District Attorney Adam Levy to resign following a New York state investigation into Levy's prosecution of a case in 2009 involving a candidate for Putnam County Sheriff.  Levy says in November the legislature declined to join in Oliverio's call for resignation. 

 

In a separate controversy involving Levy, Judge Lewis J Lubell decided last month to deny Sheriff Donald Smith's request to have Levy's defamation lawsuit against him dropped.  Smith called the lawsuit baseless and says he believes it will be dismissed.

 

That lawsuit stems from Levy's involvement in a case charging his former live-in personal trainer with raping a child.  The son of TV's Judge Judy helped pay for Alexandru Hossu's defense.  The Westchester County district attorney's office is prosecuting the case because Levy previously recused himself.

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Bethel Charter revision meeting Monday

The Bethel Charter Revision Commission will be holding a public hearing next week about proposed changes.  The hearing will be Monday at 7pm in the municipal center. 

 

The Commission has discussed possibly increasing the term for the Board of Selectmen from two years to four years.  There has also been discussion of increasing the number of people on that Board from three to five. 

 

The group also discussed petitions and overrule thresholds.

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Newtown officials to make site visit with potential Superintendent

The Newtown Board of Education is preparing for a site visit to one of the possible candidates to become Superintendent of Schools.  A visit with Southington Superintendent Dr Joseph Erardi will take place tomorrow. 

 

Erardi became superintendent there in 2007.  Prior to that he lead schools in Watertown and in Bolton going back to 2001. 

 

Newtown has been looking for a new Superintendent since Dr Janet Robinson took the same position in Stratford last fall.

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New Milford police ID pedestrian struck and injured on Rt 7

New Milford police have identified the pedestrian who was struck and injured by a car last night on Route 7. 

 

Police say 46 year old Victor Azevedo of New Milford was crossing Route 7 shortly after 5pm when he was hit by a car.  The man was treated and released from the New Milford Hospital Emergency Department. 

 

Police say there appears to be no negligence on the part of the driver, 34-year old Jason Tasheiko of Bethel.

 

Route 7 was closed for several hours between Pickett District and Sunny Valley Roads.

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Danbury Mayor enters GOP Governor race, takes aim at Malloy

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has announced he's a Republican candidate for governor.  The seven-term mayor is seeking his party's nomination this year because he says he believes Connecticut residents are not "getting their fair share of the American dream." He says Danbury has recovered from the recession faster than the rest of Connecticut and its economy is the envy of the state. 

 

Boughton criticized the amount of taxes on businesses in the state as the reason for a recent report saying Connecticut is losing the most residents of any state in the country.  He says the regulatory and tax policies of Connecticut need to change.  He suggested a several year tax deferral for businesses that want to relocate to the state.

 

He was also critical of Governor Malloy's First Five initiative, saying the state should not be investing in businesses but rather setting the regulatory environment and tax policy.  The program offers grants to companies to relocate to or in Connecticut.  Boughton says it's a great time to be a company in Connecticut because all they have to do is say they are thinking about leaving and the state will offer them millions of dollars in taxpayer money.  Boughton says now a lot of these people are coming back writing huge checks to the state Democratic Party for $5,000 or $10,000 and they ought to be ashamed about. 

 

When it comes to fundraising, the next filing isn't due until Friday, but Boughton called December a good month.  He says it was hard to ask supporters to write two checks, one for his Mayoral race and another for his exploratory committee.  He hopes to qualify for the Citizens Election Program by the May convention.  He says self-funded Republicans have not done well in Connecticut on the national and statewide level.

 

Boughton says he understands what ordinary residents face each day. He called himself a "blue collar Republican."  He will spend time going across the state to talk about why there needs to be a change to change the dynamic in Connecticut and keep people in the state. 

 

A former state representative, Boughton won re-election as mayor in a landslide in November, capturing nearly 71 percent of the vote.  He says focus groups and canvassing has shown there is an appetite for a Boughton run for Governor .  Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has not yet announced if he'll seek a second term.

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Girl found wandering alone at night in bitter cold, mom charged

A Danbury woman has been arrested after her young daughter was found wandering around outside on White Street.  Police were called to the intersection with Wildman Street around 10:30 Monday night.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says a driver called police around 10:30pm to say the girl was walking along on the sidewalk.

 

Carroccio says the 4-year old was able to show officer where she lived, but no one was home and attempts to locate the mother were unsuccessful.  A note was left for 23-year old Maritza Vizhco saying that the girl was at the police station and to contact them immediately. 

 

The child was later turned over to a family member by DCF. 

 

Vizhco called police at 9:30 Tuesday morning and was taken into custody at 2pm.  She was charged with risk of injury to a minor.

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Tax deferral approved for Danbury housing development project

A seven year tax deferral for a housing project in Danbury has been approved by the City Council. 

 

At their meeting Tuesday, the Council voted in favor of the deferral for Virginia-based Greystar Development for the Kennedy Place Property.  Developer Dan Lee says his company is looking for investments for the one, two and three-bedroom apartments, which would be located in three buildings. 

 

The proposal calls for 375 units of market rate apartments, which won't be taxed under the agreement.  Greystar will continue to pay taxes on the 9.5acre property. 

 

The property is being sold by BRT, which came under fire from several City Council members when they built the Crosby Street apartments using a tax break meant to bring people downtown and turned it into student housing for West Conn.

 

Council members were told there are a few differences from the previously authorized deferral when the property was going to be developed by BRT.  Similar to a previously approved contract when BRT was going to build, if the project is converted to condominiums, individual owners will have the opportunity to acquire a tax deferral.

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Frozen pipe bursts strike in Bethel, Danbury, Newtown

Frozen pipes bursting when they warm up is a bigger problem this winter than usual.  Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald says they've had numerous calls about it since the arctic blast set in over the weekend. 

 

Most notably in Newtown, a pipe burst in CH Booth Library over the weekend, closing the facility indefinitely.  In Bethel, a sprinkler pipe burst at Walnut Hill Community Church on Saturday as well. 

 

Fire officials say the best thing to do at home is to drip water through the faucet to prevent freezing.  Allowing warm air to circulate through the cabinet where the pipes are located will also help.

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Newtown Council gets update on Sandy Hook School plans

The Newtown Legislative Council has been given an update at their meeting Wednesday night on how to move forward with a new entrance to what will be a rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Town officials have decided against using eminent domain, but negotiations with a property owner on Riverside Road have not been successful to relocate the entrance. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra was scheduled to give the update. 

 

Officials say the only real option left would be to redesign the driveway currently on Dickinson Drive, which is town owned land.  The old school was completely demolished last year and construction is expected to start in the summer or fall.

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Brookfield Board of Ed member resigns amid Ethics investigtion

Before the official start of the Brookfield Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night, the chairman announced that newly elected member Greg Beck would be stepping down.  Beck, a 26-year old emergency dispatcher, has been under fire to resign since shortly after the election because of a Facebook comment on a post calling on people to do 26 Acts of Kindness leading up to the anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.   He said "I shall buy my friends who are gun enthusiasts a box of ammunition on days 1-26".  The comment was removed shortly after being posted. 

 

Beck has not yet submitted his resignation to the Town Clerk's office.  A message left for Beck was not returned.

 

Before being sworn in, Beck issued, in part, the following statement:

 

"At the time of the post, it was not apparent to me that this comment would be seen as an insensitive post.  The comments were insensitive and completely indefensible.  I acknowledge the damage this has caused and truly had no malicious intentions.  Nor were there any attempts on my part to downplay the Sandy Hook Tragedy behind the comment.  It is said that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back, I should never have even conceived of making the comment.  For this reason, I unequivocally apologize to the citizens of Brookfield, Newtown and all others whom I have offended or hurt.  I am sorry for my mistake and ask for your forgiveness which I hope to earn with time.  With deepest regret and sincere apology,
Gregory A. Beck"

 

Two complaints have been filed about Beck with the Brookfield Board of Ethics.  That group will hold a hearing on the matter Thursday at 10:30am.

 

Beck was elected as part of the "A Brookfield Party".  The group says they will look through independent voters for potential candidates to fill the vacancy.

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Danbury Mayor announces run for Governor

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has announced he's a Republican candidate for governor.

 

The seven-term mayor said Wednesday he's seeking his party's nomination this year because he believes Connecticut residents are not "getting their fair share of the American dream." He says Danbury has recovered from the recession faster than the rest of Connecticut and its economy is the envy of the state.

 

Boughton says he understands what ordinary residents face each day. He called himself a "blue collar Republican."

He was the Republican Party's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010.

 

A former state representative, Boughton won re-election as mayor in a landslide in November, capturing nearly 71 percent of the vote.

 

(Boughton flanked by his wife Phyllis and members of the City Council)

 

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not yet announced if he'll seek a second term.

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Blight ordinance hearing in Ridgefield

A draft blight ordinance is up for a public hearing tonight in Ridgefield.

 

The blight ordinance will give Ridgefield residents a way to express concerns about the condition of rundown properties.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi has said this would not be for tall grass or houses that need painting.  The ordinance provides definitions of what would be considered blight.  It includes being dilapidated, having boarded up windows, is a fire hazard or the property is littered with excessive amounts of garbage or abandoned unregistered cars. 

 

The proposed ordinance calls for a blight enforcement officer to be part of a Blight Prevention Board and the creation of a Citation Hearing Appeals Board.  It still needs approval in a town meeting.

 

The public hearing tonight is at 7:30 in the town hall large conference room.

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Garner inmate sentenced for stabbing prisoner

A Connecticut man jailed at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown on an attempted murder charge gets more prison time for stabbing an inmate.

 

35-year old Travis Hampton has been sentenced in Danbury Superior Court to five years in prison for using a homemade knife to stab another inmate last May during an argument. 

 

Hampton was in the Newtown jail on a 59-year sentence for a 2003 crime in Hartford. 

 

According to court records Hampton was charged as a participant in the kidnapping, rape and near killing of a 19-year-old woman who was left unable to use her left arm, partly blind and unable to have children.  Hampton had also been convicted in 1995 of shooting a man with a shotgun.

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Man gets probation in gun shop theft

A Connecticut man has been sentenced to five years of probation for stealing a gun from a shop that legally sold a rifle used in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The U-S Attorney's office says 27-year-old Jordan Marsh was sentenced Tuesday for stealing a semi-automatic rifle from Riverview Gun Sales on December 11th, days before the shootings. 

 

Marsh is already serving an 8-year prison sentence on a state court conviction for trying to steal a Bushmaster rifle from Riverview four days after he swiped the other.  His attorney called the sentence fair. 

 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked the license of Riverview Gun Sales in December 2012.  Authorities raided the store shortly after the shootings.  ATF found 300 examples of false or missing information in the company's acquisition and disposition records and at least two instances of people receiving guns before getting approval from the national instant criminal background check system.

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Possible GOP governor contenders line up for 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Potential Republican candidates for governor are lining up to contend for the party's endorsement.

Shortly before Christmas, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti filed the necessary paperwork to form a gubernatorial campaign committee. He joined Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield. Both hope to qualify for public financing and are collecting small contributions.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has scheduled a news conference for today to announce his intentions. The Republican is expected to transition his exploratory committee into an official gubernatorial campaign committee.

A couple of other GOP candidates still have exploratory committees, including Tom Foley, the party's 2010 candidate, and Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher.

All the potential Republican candidates have made the state's slow economy a key issue.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not yet announced his re-election plans.

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UPDATED: Man struck by car in Danbury in stable condition

A Danbury woman has been arrested for hitting a pedestrian Monday morning on White Street in Danbury.  Police say officers responded to the area between Meadow Street and Locust Avenue. 

 

The man who was struck was crossing from South to North in a cross walk.  He was unconscious and transported to Danbury Hospital.  33 year old Juan Albar Racem of Danbury was in stable condition at the hospital on Monday, though a hospital spokesman says there was no record of a patient with that name.

 

The driver, 29-year old Maria Moreno-Jimenez of Danbury, was found at fault.  She was charged for operating without a license and failure to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk. 

 

Any witnesses are asked to contact Danbury Police Officer Kruijs at 203-797-2156.

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Regional planning agencies to merge

Regional planning agencies in Connecticut need to merge this year from 13 into eight according to a new state law.  The Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials is made of 10 towns from New Milford to Redding.  They are merging with the Southwestern Regional Planning Agency, which includes seven towns stretching from Weston to Greenwich. 

 

HVCEO operates out of Brookfield and SWRPA has an office in Stamford. 

 

The state has approved the plans, but the Ridgefield Press cites a letter from the Office of Policy and Management suggesting they further merge with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council.  That Council includes Monroe, Easton, Trumbull, Stratford, Fairfield and Bridgeport.

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CH Booth Library faces prolonged closure due to water damage

CH Booth Library in Newtown is facing a prolonged closure due to a broken sprinkler pipe.  There is severe water damage to the building. 

 

Library officials say the facility will likely be closed for several weeks.  All programs and club meetings have been cancelled. 

 

The water soaked through items on the first and second floor.  Dehumidifiers are placed around the affected areas to prevent mold.  Workers are looking to see what can be saved and what has to be considered a loss.  The Library's website says the phone system is not currently working and only authorized personnel are allowed in the building.

 

Newtown residents are being asked not to return items that have been checked out to help protect them.  No fines will be charged.  If items were borrowed from other local libraries, patrons may be responsible for fines.  The CH Booth website is still available for people to borrow audio books, ebook and other online services.  Library cards will work at any Connecticut library. 

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Newtown schools receive federal grant for recovery aid

Nearly $2 million is coming to Newtown from the U-S Department of Education for further support of recovery efforts.  The Project School Emergency Response to Violence program awards services and grants to schools that have experienced a significant traumatic event. 

 

An earlier SERV grant was awarded to Newtown in May totalling $1.3 million.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says this $1.9 million grant will go toward additional grief support services for siblings and those who lost their peers, interventions for those with posttraumatic stress reactions, tutoring for students showing an academic decline since last December, additional security and nursing services among other areas.

 

Esty says people grieve in different ways over different times and can take time.

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12 displaced by New Milford ceiling collapse, Danbury fire

Weekend incidents in New Milford and Danbury have displaced a dozen people.  On Saturday, a ceiling collapsed in a senior apartment complex on Chestnut Grove in New Milford.  One adult was displaced when a sprinkler line burst.  There were no injuries. 

 

There was a fire yesterday on Golden Hill Avenue in Danbury displacing three families.  Eight adults and three children were being held by the American Red Cross with emergency housing and food needs.  Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald says it was an electrical fire. 

 

21 people in total are being helped after the fires also in Waterbury, New Haven and Norwich over the weekend.

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Danbury man arrested for stabbing woman in arm

A Danbury man has been charged with assault after allegedly stabbing a woman during a domestic incident on Friday.  Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says officers responded to an Elm Street home just before 10pm on Friday on a report of a stabbing. 

 

A 52 year old woman was found with lacerations on her arm.  Police found 28-year old Edwin Cruz in the home and arrested him for the woman's injuries.  Police say a folding knife was found near the scene.  Police say the injuries were the result of a verbal argument between the two.  

 

Cruz was held on $50,000 bond.

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Middlebury man faces sentencing in Donovan case

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Middlebury man who owned two roll-your-own tobacco shops in Waterbury is facing sentencing for his role in a campaign financing plot surrounding former state House Speaker Chris Donovan's failed congressional campaign in 2012.

Paul Rogers is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in federal court in New Haven. He pleaded guilty a year ago to devising a scheme to bribe a public official and conspiring to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission and impede the agency's enforcement of federal campaign finance laws.

Prosecutors say Rogers and others schemed to hide the source of $27,500 in contributions to Donovan's campaign in hopes of trying to block state legislation that would be harmful to the roll-your-own tobacco industry.

Donovan was not charged and denied wrongdoing.

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Governor's Newtown panel wants yet more documents

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of a commission appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to review the Newtown school massacre say they need more information and documentation about the shooter and his mental health.

State police recently released thousands of pages of documents stemming from their investigation. But the chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission says the panel still doesn't have enough original documents, such as records of treatment 20-year-old Adam Lanza might have received.

Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson says the commission needs to understand the story of Lanza and his mother, but ``we really don't have it.''

Dr. Harold Schwartz is a commission member. He says every incremental piece of information can be helpful in improving the mental health system and potentially better understanding the minds of mass murderers and their development.

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Status conference set for proposed Danbury waste transfer station

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has scheduled a pre-hearing status conference about a proposed waste transfer station on Plumtrees Road in Danbury.  The status conference will be in Hartford on the 22nd. 

 

City Councilman Tom Saadi says Joseph Putnam has applied to build where the Danbury Planning Commission previously rejected his proposal.

 

The station would be near hundreds of condominiums and single family homes.  Saadi says noise and odor issues still exist in the area, but it's significantly better than it was.  The landfill has been capped and closed, the emissions station has been closed and permits for a fertilizer and waste processing facility were denied.

 

Saadi says a waste transfer station would be a step backwards.  It would bring noise, traffic, odor, lights, and vibrations.

 

Saadi and others are calling for a public hearing on the issue in the Danbury area.

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Gas prices could hold steady in 2014

In 2013, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in Connecticut was $3.80.  That was more than 30 cents higher than the national average.  It was the 4th most expensive in the country.  The state hit $4 or more over the summer.  Connecticut also experienced a price hike when the gross receipts tax went up in July.

 

AAA spokesman Aaron Kupec says they expect the average to be slightly lower in this new year.  But Kupec says most drivers won't likely notice a difference in prices because it will be relatively small.

 

Kupec says increased domestic oil production and refinement should provide a supply cushion to limit dramatic price spikes caused by supply and demand.

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Senator wants programs for youths in legal trouble, not prison

Senator Chris Murphy wants the federal government to help states reform the way they deal with juvenile criminals.  Murphy says Connecticut is a leader in providing programs for young people who get in trouble with the law instead of sending them to prison.  He will propose legislation to create financial incentives for states that agree to start such programs because prison is no place for a troubled youth.

 

Hardliners may believe that a prison stretch for a young person who commits a crime will scare them straight, but Senator Murphy says instead it will likely push them into a life of crime. 

 

Murphy says fiscal conservatives should support alternatives to incarceration because they're far less expensive than prison.

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Small plane from Danbury makes emergency landing on NYC highway

NEW YORK (AP) — A small plane that made an emergency landing on a New York City highway was returning to Connecticut after touring the Statue of Liberty.

 
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says the Piper PA-28 that landed on the northbound side of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx Saturday afternoon had taken off from the Danbury Municipal Airport.
 
He said it was on its way back to Danbury, Conn., when it experienced engine problems.
 
He said all three people on board are being treated at a Bronx hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
 
He said emergency workers were removing the plane's fuel and there was no fire or gas leak.
 
He called the safe landing extraordinary and "a bit of a miracle," that nobody was seriously hurt or killed.
 
Police and fire officials said neither the male pilot nor two female passengers appeared to have been badly hurt.
 
The FAA said damage to the aircraft was minor. Photos taken by bystanders showed blue and white plane largely intact, but resting on its belly by the snowy edge of the road. The plane's landing gear appeared in the photos to have collapsed.
 
It didn't strike any cars on the road, police said.  The highway was closed and emergency personnel were on the scene.
 
FAA records indicated the plane was registered to an owner in South Salem.
 
Patricia Sapol, 29, of West Point, was driving south on the highway with her husband when they saw emergency vehicles surrounding the downed plane, about 15 minutes after the landing.
 
"We couldn't believe it! We thought, 'Oh my god that's a plane!' It was pretty incredible," she said. "The fact that there was no actual crash we thought was pretty surprising."

 

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Jericho Partnership seeking donations to help keep shelters open

The Jericho Partnership in Danbury is requesting help for its homeless shelter at 13 Maple Avenue.  Director of Operations Chrystal Perkins says they are requesting items like cold cuts, bread and bottled water.

 

Extra socks and Dunkin Donuts gift cards are also helpful in these frigid temperatures.

 

Perkins says the items requested are extremely critical for their clients because the shelter is open extra hours. They will be open till noon today for donations.

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Litchfield man killed in crash with DOT truck

By Midday Friday, state police Troopers had responded to more than 225 accidents, about two dozen with injuries.  There was also a fatal accident in Torrington involving a Department of Transportation vehicle and a jeep.  The driver was extricated from the vehicle and was identified as 22-year old Christopher Watts of Litchfield.

 

State police spokesman Lt Paul Vance says the boom truck was parked and unoccupied along Route 8 near the exit 44 off ramp to repair an overhead traffic light.  The hanging portion of the light could interfere with traffic if it broke loose.  Watts lost control, slid across the road and the driver's side collided with the back of the truck.  Watts was transported to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 

 

The case remains under investigation.

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Fire hydrants unlikely to freeze, pipes in homes could

People are using alternate heating sources to try to battle the cold weather and with that comes the increased potential for a fire.  Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald says homeowners should make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.  There's been a lot of talk about steps to take to prevent pipes in your home from freezing.  That includes keeping the thermostat up and opening cabinet doors to let the warmer air circulate in. 

 

If the fire department does have to respond, he says the hydrants are not likely to freeze in this bitter cold.  Herald says fire hydrants are not full of water, the water is six to eight feet below ground--below the freeze line.

 

Herald is asking people that when they are out shovelling their driveways and sidewalks to also clear a path to the fire hydrant.

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Thousands get power back after car v. pole accident

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton praised Connecticut Light and Power for restoring electricity to about a thousand customers in the South Street area last night following a car versus utility pole accident.  CL&P crews on scene have had to de-energize the wires and switched most of the affected customers to another line, restoring power for most of the affected people.

 

South Street was closed from about 5:45pm Thursday until about midday on Friday.

 

(Photo Courtesy: CL&P)

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Sandy Hook School construction website in development

Newtown officials have provided an update on the demolition and rebuilding of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Officials said the community would be informed of progress of construction through a website that's currently under development.  The Newtown Public Building and Site Commission is designated as the Building Committee for the project.  The Commission's meetings are open to the public.

 

Hazardous material has been abated and the entire school has been demolished.  The site was graded and stabilized for the winter.  Official say it cost about $1.3 million for remediation and $850,000 for the demolition.  Security at the site is still in place. 

 

Four community meetings have been held at this point by Svigals and Partners architects for input on the design of the new school.  The next steps are to finalize the architectural and engineering drawings, then complete the state review and finally secure all approvals needed from state agencies.

 

No decision has been made about the new access road that was required for building on the same site.  Land acquisition efforts have not been successful.  Town officials plan to make a final decision on the access road at meeting being held next Wednesday. 

 

Work on the access road will begin in the spring with shovel in the ground work for the building in late summer or early fall.

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Thursday fires in Bethel, Danbury and Newtown

The American Red Cross is helping nearly a dozen people after three fires in the Greater Danbury area yesterday.  Three adults were helped with emergency housing, food and clothing needs in Newtown.  The fire at a Thunder Ridge Road home caused smoke and heat damage to the secnd floor of the house.  A family dog was killed in the blaze. 

 

In Bethel the Red Cross is helping five adults after a fire at their Putnam Park Road home.  The occupants were not at the house at the time, but the house is a complete loss.  Fire officials say a firefighter was uninjured when he fell through the floor. 

 

Three people were helped in Danbury after an early morning fire in their Springside Avenue home, which was likely started y a propane-fueled space heater.  A family bird was killed in the blaze.  The Red Cross also provided hot beverages to firefighters at the scene of the fires.

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Putnam County National Bank branch robbed twice in two weeks

Danbury police have been alerted by New York officials to be on the lookout for a man who robbed a Putnam County National Bank branch Thursday morning.  Police say a man wearing a camouflage ski mask ordered everyone in the Putnam Lake branch to the floor and fled with cash. 

 

This was the  same branch that was robbed on December 20th.  Neither man displayed a weapon and there were no injuries. 

 

This suspect was described as a white man driving a beat-up white car.

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Man falls through ice at Pierrepont Pond, rescued

A man fell through the ice on Pierrepont Pond Wednesday afternoon and was pulled out by others who were skating and playing hockey.  The Ridgefield Press reports that a few girls saw a man disappear from view near the north end of the pond. 

 

Their parents called 911 while trying to help the man out with ropes and logs, but the ice kept breaking away.  They were able to pull the man out of the water just as first responders arrived. 

 

The man, in his 40s, then skated off toward Lookout Point.

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Candlewood Lake Authority studies water issues

A new report authored by two college professors and the head of the Candlewood Lake Authority is looking at the water quality of the state's biggest body of water.  CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says there are a few issues facing the lake: the potential for zebra mussels, the annual battle with invasive milfoil and a blue-green algae bloom that flared up this fall. 

 

The towns that surround the lake have hired New England Environmental Incorporated to study the water quality issues. 

 

The report that came out recently by the CLA studied water quality over 20+ years.  It was sent to officials there and to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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Conn. town shoots down anti-aircraft gun display

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) Bethlehem officials have dropped plans to purchase a World War II-era anti-aircraft gun to decorate the Town Green.

Voters decided in May to earmark money to improve the Green and replace a cannon melted down in 1942 to help the war effort. The Board of Selectmen agreed to pay $10,500 for a twin Hotchkiss 13.2-mm anti-aircraft gun.

The Republican-American reports some residents criticized the decision. Opponents expressed anti-war sentiments and concerns that the machine gun did not fit with the green's character.

First Selectman Lenny Assard said he was not sure the anti-aircraft gun is appropriate.

Former Selectmen Edward A. Roden, who was defeated by Assard in the first selectman's race in November, said the anti-aircraft gun is not a symbol of war. He says it honors those who served.

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Danbury man arrested for charging at wife with a knife

A Danbury man will be arraigned Thursday for a New Year's Day domestic incident.  Danbury police say they were called to a South Street home early this morning on a report of a man with a knife. 

 

Police say 29-year old Hoskellyn Marte returned to his home around 1am after having argued for about a week and found his wife hosting a party for friends and family.  Police say he threw CDs and a speaker at her when she refused to end the gathering. 

 

He then allegedly threatened to cut her throat.  He grabbed a knife and made several small slash marks on the woman's arm, but she refused medical treatment. 

 

Two children were home at the time. 

 

Police charged Marte with assault, carrying a dangerous weapon, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, risk of injury to a minor and threatening.  He is being held on bond.

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Bethel has a new police dog

Bethel's current Police K9 is getting ready to retire this year because the German Shepherd is 10 years old.  During the November Police Commission meeting, officials say Bishop was doing well with his training. 

 

Bishop came from Europe.  Officer Adam Cleary will be Bishop's handler and the dog will live with him full time. 

 

The dog is used for drug detection, searches, suspect apprehension and tracking among other aspects of the job.  The cost of a new police K9 officer is about $6,500.  The cost was donated by the Verdi family--owners of Verdi Construction.

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Public hearing in Redding soon on bridge replacement

A public information hearing is being held next week in Redding about a bridge replacement project. 

 

The state Department of Transportation is holding an informational meeting next Thursday, the 9th, in Redding for residents to learn more about the upcoming bridge rehabilitation project.  The bridge that carries Route 53 over the Saugatuck River near Umpawaug Road was built in 1928 and has narrow shoulders. 

 

The proposed project would replace the existing bridge with a precast concrete box beam superstructure on steel piles.  The travel lanes are proposed to be the same widths, but the shoulders would be five feet.  Construction would take about four months and would require a month long detour. 

 

The meeting on January 9th will by at 7pm in Redding Town Hall.

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Bain Capital buys controlling stake of Bob's Discount Furniture

A major stake of Bob's Discount Furniture--which has a location in Brookfield--has been bought by Boston-based Bain Capital.  The Boston Globe reports that the private equity firm will purchase a controlling interest in the furniture company for 350-million dollars.  Industry trade publication "Furniture Today" ranked the chain number 16 among the nation’s top 100 furniture stores based on 2012 sales.

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State agency approves WCHN, Norwalk Hospital merger

Western Connecticut Health Network and Norwalk Hospital have been given permission from the Connecticut Office of Health Care Access for their planned merge.  The Certificate of Need Application was approved in December. 

 

The order from the state found that the proposal will improve access to and the quality of health care services in the area.  The order also said that two relatively financially strong health systems collaborating at the clinical and administrative levels will provide more efficient integrated operations. 

 

The integration plan must be submitted by April.

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Wilton pitbull attack victim still recovering

A report released in December finds no harmful substances in the pitbull that attacked its Wilton owner in November.  The report was released by the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory about the two-year old dog.  65-year old Anne Murray lost her left arm and part of her right arm in the attack at her Wilton home. 

 

Police told the Wilton Villager they don't yet know what prompted the attack and are hoping to interview the woman soon. 

 

She is reportedly still recovering at Norwalk Hospital.

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Politics, scandals, train troubles, murder trials and homicides mark 2013

Just this month a 19-year old was stabbed to death during a fight.  17-year old Emanuel Von Harris was arrested for the death of Luan Pitol and will be tried as an adult.  In October a Danbury man was arrested for the death of his 20 month old son.  25-year old Christian Williams was arrested on charges including manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor.  Authorities say Ayden Baskay died of blunt force trauma to the head with subdural hemorrhaging. 

 

Also in October, the Bronx woman who posed as the aunt of a boy killed in the Newtown was sentenced.  37-year old Nouel Alba will serve 8 months in jail for soliciting money while claiming to be the aunt of 6-year-old Noah Pozner. 

 

December saw the conclusion of two murder trials.  A jury found 63-year old Robert Bell of New Fairfield not guilty of shooting his wife in their home after an argument last December.  Bell testified that he shot his wife of 21 years, Svetlana, when she charged at him with a knife.  70-year-old John Heath of Bridgewater was sentenced to 50 years in prison for killing his wife, Elizabeth, in 1984. Her skeletal remains were found three years ago under a barn floor on their former property in Newtown. 

 

In September of this year, 77-year-old Dominic Badaracco of Sherman was sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to bribe a judge to influence a grand jury investigation into the 1984 disappearance of his wife.  Mary Badaracco was 38-years old when she disappeared and her body has not been found.  No one has been charged in the case, which was reclassified as a homicide in 1990.

 

In August, a Danbury Hospital surgeon caused an international stir with an accidental amputation.  While vacationing in Italy, Dr. Patrick Broderick tried comparing his hand to that of a 600-year old marble sculpture and one of the fingers broke off.  The 55-year old New Fairfield resident apologized profusely and was not charged.  In April of this year, the so-called "Mnsgr Meth" was indicted.  61-year-old Kevin Wallin of Waterbury, who once served as pastor of St. Peter Parish in Danbury, received shipments of methamphetamine from California and sold drugs to an undercover officer. 

 

Causing a local stir in March, the Bethel and New Milford High Schools athletic directors were arrested on breach of peace charges at a hotel in Rocky Hill.  42-year old Lance Pliego of New Milford and 30-year old Jayme Lynn McGovern of Danbury were at The Connecticut State Athletic Conference when an incident happened.  McGovern now has a protective order against Pliego.  Each have since resigned.

 

A black bear in downtown Danbury attracted a lot of attention in June and was dubbed Dan"bear"y.  The bear cub climbed up a tree behind the Bishop Curtis Homes and stayed perched off Main Street for a while.  The bear was tagged and transported to a state forest in Redding, eventually being spotted in Ridgefield and Weston.  In June there was also a report of a bear on Mill Plain Road near the 7-11.  In September, a moose was photographed wandering around New Milford.  He was quickly called Marty and a Facebook page under the name showed the moose near the Canterbury School and in the parking lot and around New Milford Hospital. 

 

In October, Two members of the state Democratic Party dressed as chickens, and paraded in front of City Hall to poke fun at a Twitter exchange Mayor Mark Boughton had with a student at Danbury High School about the lack of heat in the school.  A spokesman for said a Boughton's "no heat until trick or treat" tweet was not "very gubernatorial". It was  a reference to Boughton's exploratory committee for his potential run for the state's top elected post next year.

 

In May, New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge announced that he was resigning.  He wanted to devote more time to working with the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for his firefighter cousin who died on September 11th.  In July, Bridgewater's first selectman announced he would be stepping down after 30 years in the position amid an FBI investigation of town finances.  State officials found no wrongdoing on William Stuart's management of the Burnham Fund, a charity for the needy. 

 

Also in July, former Newtown First Selectman Zita McMahon was remember.  She died at the age of 75.  In November, another former Newtown First Selectman died.  Jack Rosenthal passed away at the age of 94.  Rosenthal's son Herb also served in that role. 

 

Some minor party candidates were left off the ballots in November because of a little known two-year old state law requiring a signature from each minor party candidate agreeing to be endorsed.  The Independent Party of Ridgefield did not have a ballot line.  Connecticut Tea Party candidates in Bethel were not on the ballot.  Candidates in Easton, Fairfield and elsewhere also were not certified.  The Danbury City Council took some heat for considering moving a polling place from a school to the Moose Lodge shortly before election day.  After November, it was decided not to move the voting location. 

 

After being elected, two Brookfield politicians landed in hot water.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley is facing an embezzlement charge in Vermont and appeared in court to lower it to a misdemeanor petty larceny charge.  A Brookfield Police Dispatcher who was elected to the Board of Education is being called on to resign.  26-year old Greg Beck posted a controversial comment on Facebook about the Newtown shooting anniversary.

 

The driver of a car that was struck by a train in West Redding at the end of 2012, died of injures at the beginning of January.  A passenger in the car had died at the scene of the crash with a Metro North train at the ungated crossing .  Gates have since been installed.  In March a person was struck and killed by a train in Darien.  In May there was a derailment and collision at the Fairfield-Bridgeport border that resulted in more than 70 injuries.  That same month a track foreman was struck and killed on the New Haven line.  Along the Hudson line new New York, a Metro North train derailed at the start of this month and resulted in four fatalities. 

 

A Metro-North railroad spokesman says a train crew reported striking something on the tracks in Westport just last week, but found no evidence it was a person. A woman's body was found the next day. Police are investigating after 46-year-old Annette White, a Maine resident who had been living in Connecticut since July, was found dead Friday in the Saugatuck River near the tracks.

 

To begin this year, a small plane crashed in Danbury off of South Street.  All three people on board walked away from the crash and were treated for minor injuries.  The plane was coming from Groton when the pilot deployed the parachute because of an unspecific mechanical problem.

 

In June, the search was on for a popular photographer who went missing in Lake Lillinonah near Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford.  33-year old Eric Langlois fell off his mountain bike and both fell into the water.  He reportedly went back the next day to see if he could retrieve the bike.  His body was recovered from the Lake later that month.  In October Bethel Police were searching for the driver in a fatal hit and run accident.  Police say a car cut in front of the 59-year old.  Business writer and avid bicyclist, Thomas Steinert-Threlkeld of Weston, was pinned beneath a second care on Route 302.  21-year old Alexander Scott Lee faces charges of evading responsibility for a fatal accident, making an improper left turn and tampering with evidence.

 

In August a Newtown man was reported missing and has not yet been located.  50-year old Robert Hoagland was last seen at the Mobil Gas Station on Church Hill Road in the early morning hours.  The white male, described as being 6-feet tall, 175 pounds, bald with blue eyes, was last seen on surveillance video wearing a white t-shirt and khaki shorts. 

 

On Black Friday, shoppers fled the mall in fear of a supposed gunman.  Both Danbury and State Police responded on a report that someone yelled "gun" in the Food Court.  There was not official lockdown of the shopping center, but many stores closed and locked their doors.  Three juveniles were arrested for the incident. 

 

In May the founder and president of the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury was shot and killed at his Ridgefield home.  Officers were responding to a possible domestic incident involving John Valluzzo.  Authorities say a police officer opened fire after the 75-year-old refused to obey orders to put down his handgun and instead raised the weapon toward police. 

 

Also that month Danbury Police were called to check the well being for 41-year old Scott Smith, who was found unresponsive.  Smith died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  He was the first cop in Connecticut to be tried for murder in the line of duty.  In 1998, the then-27-year-old had been on the job for two years.  He shot and killed 19-year-old Franklyn Reid, of New Milford while trying to take him into custody.  While no evidence was presented that the shooting was racially motivated, there was speculation about that because Smith was white and Reid was black. 

 

In June the Danbury Police officer at the center of a recent controversy over actions during a March traffic stop was fired.  Mayor Mark Boughton wrote a four page letter to Officer Chris Belair saying he was unwilling or unable to carry out the duties of a police officer.  Video from in the police cruiser and an audio recording by another officer at the traffic stop was reviewed to determine Belair violating the city's use of force policy and verbally abused the driver, an unlicensed immigrant who ran a stop sign during a snow storm.  Boughton says the car was snow covered the night of the traffic stop, so there was no way to see who was the driver.  Officers Ryan Howley, Andrew Katkocin and Rob Madore were suspended for their roles.

 

In July the Danbury Police Department mourned the deaths of two longtime police officers who died on the same day. Former Deputy Chief Leo Gantert  the former deputy chief for 24 years, worked 49 years in the Danbury Police Department.  Former Public Information Officer Captain Thomas Wendel retired in 2012 after more than 30 years in the department.

 

A 4-year old Danbury girl, who was diagnosed with a softball-sized tumor, died in March.  Mackenzie Newsome's Stage 4 cancer had returned.  In January her mother Melissa wrote in a journal update that the cancer had consumed Mackenzie's entire left lung and there were some lymph nodes in her diaphragm. Her parents said they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. 

 

In September a 22 year old from New Fairfield was killed in Afghanistan.  Staff Sgt Todd Lobraico was on patrol with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan, having been deployed in June, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire near Bagram Airfield. 

 

Demolition of Ridgefield Library wrapped up in February.  The 1903 Morris Building portion remains.  The $20-million project is being paid for with $5-million in town funding and $15-million raised privately by the library.  Construction should be substantially complete within a few months with a grand reopening in the Spring.  In April Bethel Public Library closed for construction on the second floor and in the Seelye House.  The project was stalled for several years because of funding and other issues.  In May, Newtown officials decided to tear down Sandy Hook Elementary School and construct a new facility at the site.  A study found the cost of rebuilding on the same site would be $57 million.  Students are currently attending a renovated school in the Monroe, where they can stay through 2016.

 

Western Connecticut Health Network Officials gathered in the freezing temperatures last January for a topping off ceremony of the new Tower building in Danbury.  The project is slated for completion this spring.  Work is also being done for all new emergency departments at Danbury and New Milford Hospital .  In March construction started on a new Army Reserve Center in Danbury.  The facility off Wooster Heights will be used by some 1,000 Army Reserve and Connecticut National Guard Soldiers--replacing U.S. Army Reserve Centers in Danbury, Fairfield and Waterbury.  It is also replacing Army National Guard Armories in Norwalk and Naugatuck. 

 

Changes to the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution were announced in November.  The existing minimum security Satellite Camp for female prisoners is being turned into a low security facility for women.  The Bureau of Prisons still intends to turn Danbury F-C-I into a men's facility and will construct a new minimum security camp facility for women near the Satellite Camp.

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Conn. weapons registry, rail fare hike begin Wed. among other laws

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The new year in Connecticut will bring a range of new laws, including one requiring state public safety officials to create a registry of people convicted of offenses involving a deadly weapon.

The registry, which will also track those found not guilty of deadly weapon offenses by reason of mental disease or defect, was part of the package of legislation passed earlier in 2013 in response to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

That same legislative package also requires weapons now considered to be assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines to be registered with state authorities as of Wednesday.

Connecticut's minimum wage increases.  State legislation increasing the minimum wage to $8.70 per hour from $8.25 an hour is the first of a two-year increase.  Another raise to $9 an hour takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015.  The state Department of Labor says between 65,000 and 70,000 workers in Connecticut were paid the minimum wage last year, or about 4 percent of the state's labor force.

 

Also on Jan. 1, higher commuter rail fares take effect.   Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed in certain residential buildings when a title is transferred.

 

A state law is taking effect imposing fines on truckers and motorists who fail to clear their vehicles of snow.

Three years after the legislature and then-Governor M. Jodi Rell enacted the so-called ``ice-missile'' legislation the measure makes drivers liable for fines of $1,000 or more if flying ice and snow causes damage or injuries. Motorists whose vehicles are piled high with snow can be stopped by police and ticketed for $75.

A legislative compromise delayed the effective date of the law in exchange for passage in the final days of the 2010 General Assembly.

The state's trucking industry fought 20 years to block the so-called ice-missile legislation. It's now selling a product that allows drivers to reach up and scrape the tops of their big rigs.

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Repeat DWI offender, DWAI arrests in Putnam County

A car accident and failing field sobriety tests has led to a Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs arrest in New York.  Putnam County Sheriff's deputies responded to the Interstate 84 exit 19 ramp in Southeast on a report of a car driving off the roadway last Monday. 

 

50-year old Shane Bowers of Pleasant Valley appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.  The man was arraigned in Kent Justice Court and released without bond for a future court appearance in Southeast Justice Court.

 

A repeat drunk driving offender has been arrested after being pulled over for speeding.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that 31-year old Erich Gertig of Southeast was stopped on Peaceable Hill Road early on Christmas Eve. 

 

Having failed field sobriety tests, he was charged with driving while intoxicated.  While being processed, the charge was upgraded to aggravated driving while intoxicated.  Then Deputies determined he had previously been convicted of DWI within the past 10 years.

 

The charge was upgraded to a felony.

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Sandy Hook teachered honored by Congressional Medal of Honor Society

An organization composed of Medal of Honor recipients traveled to Newtown last Tuesday to honor the six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The Congressional Medal of Honor Society said it chose the women to receive its Citizen Honors Medal, the highest award it gives to a civilian, after receiving dozens of nominations for their actions during the shooting. 

 

In announcing the honor, the Society said the women exemplified courage, sacrifice and selflessness in trying to protect students from the gunman. 

 

The organization also honored every other member of the school’s staff with a Certificate of Commendation.

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Judge upholds most of NY gun control law

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A federal judge has upheld most of New York's new gun control law, rejecting arguments that its bans on large-capacity magazines and the sale of some semi-automatic rifles violate Second Amendment rights.

Judge William Skretny in Buffalo says those provisions are constitutional because they're related to achieving an ``important governmental interest'' in public safety. He says those two features make guns more lethal.

Skretny struck down the restriction on gun owners loading more than seven bullets in a legal 10-round magazine, saying that appears to be ``an arbitrary number.''

The law was adopted last January following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association, sportsmen's groups, firearms businesses and gun owners filed the suit.

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