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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-04

Show denied permission to film at Fairfield Hills

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown officials have turned down a request from the SyFy television show ``Ghost Hunters'' to film an episode on the campus of the former Fairfield Hills psychiatric hospital.

Ross Carley, a member of the town authority that oversees use of the property, says the group felt the filming would be too disruptive.

The 185-acre property has been undergoing redevelopment since the town took it over in 2004. It is currently home to the Newtown Town Hall and the Newtown Youth Academy, and the town's emergency services center is currently under construction there.

The site has hosted film crews in the past. The 1996 movie ``Sleepers'' was filmed on the property.

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Actor Lillo Brancato to discuss substance abuse at WCSU

A teen actor now nearing 40 is hoping his mistakes will be a lesson that Western Connecticut State University students can learn the easy way.  Lillo Brancato will host a question and answer session after a screening A Bronx Tale tonight.  The free event is co-sponsored by WCSU CHOICES, MCAA and Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse.  He will be talking about how substance abuse and poor personal choices destroyed his life, hoping to teach students a valuable lesson. 

 

The 37-year old was 16 when he filmed the movie and says that's when he smoked marijuana for the first time.  He started drinking at age 14 or 15. 

 

Brancato was released on parole less than six months ago, having spent nearly 10 years in jail for attempted burglary in a 2005 incident in the Bronx in which an off-duty police officer was killed.  He goes to an out-patient treatment facility as part of his parole and attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings several days a week because his focus in life right now is to stay clean and sober.

 

Tonight's screening at the Student Center theater on the midtown campus at 6:30.

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Patterson man arrested for abusing his 8-year old son

The Putnam County Sheriff's office received a complaint from John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Brewster on Friday of suspected child abuse.  Investigators determined that the 29-year old man, whose name is being withheld to protect the child's identity, allegedly struck the child several times on his back with a belt. 

 

That caused welts and substantial pain. 

 

The man was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and felony assault.  He was released without bail for a court appearance next Thursday.  An order of protection was issued requiring the man to stay away from the child. 

 

The investigation is ongoing.

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Conn. bill credits vets' training toward licenses

The state Senate is the next stop for a proposal allowing military veterans in the state to apply their military training toward qualifying for various occupational licenses. The House approved the measure unanimously yesterday. The proposal has been co-sponsored by area Representatives David Arconti, Dan Carter, Bob Godfrey, Jan Giegler, DebraLee Hovey, David Scribner, John Shaban and Richard Smith.

 

The proposal was the result of a task force that looked at how to streamline the state licensing process to help vets find jobs.

 

Among the proposals, the bill requires the Police Officer Standards and Training Council to certify individuals who have undergone certain military training. It also requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to waive the entire examination fee for those veterans and military members who've had held a military operator's license.

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Ridgefield pharmaceutical co. donates medicine to AmeriCares clinics

The Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation is teaming up with AmeriCares to deliver medication to their free clinics in five states including Connecticut.   Patients suffering from hypertension, chronic respiratory problems and infections may receive a supply of Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim medicines free of charge. 

 

In the four Connecticut clinics alone, the new program will provide treatment for approximately 600 patients diagnosed with hypertension. 

 

In 2013, Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation donated more than $35 million of medicines to underserved patients around the globe.  That was done through its Product Donations Program.

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Conn., NY lawmakers propose train safety measures

Connecticut and New York members of Congress are partnering to introduce rail safety legislation.  The four lawmakers represent areas served by Metro North railroad.  The legislation would require railroads to implement a safety risk reduction program. 

 

It would repeal the grandfathering of so-called "alerters".  That's the safety system that sounds an alarm when an engineer remains idle while the train is in motion.  Metro North is one of the only railroads that does not have "alerters" in their control cabs.  If they had, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the Bronx derailment and fatalities would have been prevented. 

 

The proposal calls for a timeline for implementing Positive Train Control, which prevents two trains traveling on a single track from colliding with one another.  The National Transportation Safety Board has identified this as a way to prevent accidents caused by train operator or dispatcher error. 

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says rail safety standards badly need an update because crashes and deaths should not be on people's minds when they get on a train.  He added that fatigue in the railroad industry continue to be a significant factor in railroad accidents.

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Special Newtown Board of Ed meeting tonight

The Newtown Board of Education is holding a special meeting tonight.

 

During the special Board of Ed meeting in Newtown, members will meet in executive session to discuss the deployment of security personnel and other matters concerning security strategy for the schools.  The Board will also be interviewing a candidate for principal at Hawley School. 

 

They will then move into public session for a possible vote on appointing a principal.  The executive session is set for 6:30pm to 8pm. 

 

Another agenda item is an update from the architect for the design of the new Sandy Hook School.  There will be discussion and possible action on proposed revisions to educational specifications. 

 

That discussion is scheduled to start at 8pm.

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Hearing, vote planned on tax district dispute in New Fairfield

A public hearing and meeting is being held Wednesday in New Fairfield about creating a new tax district to settle a neighborhood dispute. 

 

A public hearing is being held tomorrow at 7pm in New Fairfield and will be followed by a vote.  While anyone can attend the hearing, only residents of Squantz View Drive and Carola Lane will be able to vote on creating an independent municipal district.  That district would maintain roads, sidewalks, crosswalks, drainage and sewers and appoint watchmen or police. 

 

The reason for the vote is an ongoing dispute between the homeowners on those two roads and the Candlewood Hills Tax District.  The residents have been unsatisfied with the allocations of the money paid to the District, which is similar to a homeowners association. 

 

A lawsuit about separating is pending.  At one point, a gate was put up and locked blocking access to Oak Street and Squantz View Drive.

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Funding approved for South Street pump station in Bethel

The water pumping station proposed for South Street in Bethel is moving forward.

 

At a special town meeting recently in Bethel, residents voted to approve an allocation for the new South Street Pump Station.  The $308,000 appropriation would come from the town's unreserved fund balance and reimbursed through a future Bond Anticipation Note sale with payment of the BAN to be made by the water account users of the Bethel Public Utilities Commission. 

 

The funding includes a 10-percent contingency and covers contracting services for the site work.  The meeting was held Tuesday at the Municipal Center.

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Fairfield Hills Authority meets on a number of items

The Fairfield Hills Authority met to consider a number of items in Newtown Monday night.  Among them was an update on Plymouth Hall preservation.  At their meeting last month, the group discussed funding a feasibility study to see if it's worth keeping the large building that many people have shown interest in. 

 

The group though voted not to fund the study. 

 

They also received an update on the Ambulance facility, which could be completed by August.  The agenda also included discussion of the Newtown Parent Connection lease, just authorized by other town officials.  A proposal for an ice arena was also on the agenda, last month the Fairfield Hills Authority was provided with a letter of intent. 

 

There was some discussion of a request by the SyFy channel show Ghost Hunters regarding the former psychiatric hospital campus.

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Dem. Gov. hopeful arrested for breach of peace

A Democrat seeking the party's nomination for Governor has been arrested on a breach of peace charge.  The Newstimes reports that 53-year old Lee Whitnum of Greenwich was arrested Thursday after creating a disturbance at a Superior Court Library. 

 

According to the Judicial Marshal's, Whitnum and another patron had an argument Wednesday over paper stacked in front of a printer, and also with the librarian for entering an office without permission.  On Thursday Whitnum allegedly got into an argument with the same person and was told she would be banned for three days. 

 

The report says when a marshal tried to escort her out, Whitnum tried to bite him.  She was released on bond for a May 20th court appearance.

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Man threatens security, officer's family at billiards hall

A Danbury man has been arrested for threatening and other charges after allegedly saying he would kill security officers at Danbury Billiards & Cafe early yesterday morning.  Police were called to the establishment about 31-year old Nicholas Cipolla, who refused to leave when asked. 

 

Responding officers tried to escort the man out, but he resisted and threatened to kill the officer's family. 

 

Cipolla was also charged with breach of peace, failure to submit to fingerprinting, interfering with an officer and simple trespass.  He was held on bond for arraignment Monday.

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Region 12 school future vote Tuesday

Residents in the Region 12 school district will be going to the polls this week to decide on the future of elementary education.

 

Region 12 Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington voters are voting Tuesday on proposed changes to the regionalization plan.  Right now the plan says elementary grades k-to-5 will remain in their present home towns.  That would change to a consolidated elementary school to be constructed on the Shepaug campus.  Residents will also be voting on whether to appropriate $40.87 million to consolidate the schools on that campus and renovate the middle/high school. 

 

If residents approve the change, Booth Free School in Roxbury, Burnham School in Bridgewater and Washington Primary School would be closed. 

 

Polls will be open tomorrow from 6am to 8pm.

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Retired Dr. honored by Families Network in Danbury

A retired pediatrician has been honored by Families Network of Western Connecticut.  During their annual luncheon on Thursday the organization recognized Dr. Alvin Goldman.  Executive Director Susan Giglio says Goldman was the partner of the group's founding member.  She notes that Goldman has been a phenomenal supporter of their programing and volunteered for the organization for the past 18 years.

 

Funds raised at this luncheon will help Families Network to expand their abuse prevention and health services to families in the greater Danbury area and expand into early literacy and school readiness. 

 

Families Network hosted a number of public awareness events and educational activities in the last several weeks for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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Fewest Charter revisions proposed in Bookfield in 15 years

The Brookfield Charter Revision Commission held a public hearing recently on their recommended changes, but it's unclear how many will be implemented. 

 

The draft document proposes clarification of the Ethics section of the Charter and a proposal to allow elected Boards and Commission to fill their own vacancies.  Another proposed change would permanently separate the annual budget referendum vote on town and school budgets, and add advisory questions to the ballot.  The group also suggests creating the elected office of Town Meeting Moderator.

 

Commission Chairman Matt Grimes says this Commission is proposing the fewest changes over the past 15 years.  Grimes says Brookfield has considered 21 questions in the past 15 years, and only 7 have been approved.

 

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen will also be holding a hearing on the proposed revisions at a future date.  Comments can also be submitted through the town's website.  The Board of Selectmen will then pick which revisions to put up for a vote on the November ballot.

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HARTransit recognized in Danbury for accessibility

HART transit has been recognized by the Danbury Commission for Persons with disAbilities with an award for access and accommodation to people with disabilities.  The award was presented Friday to HART Director of Service Development Rick Schreiner by Commission Chairman John Gentile. 

 

SweetHART service provided by the Housatonic Area Regional Transit provides two types of door-to-door services.  The Dial-A-Ride program is for seniors aged 65 and older and people with mobility disabilities.  ADA Paratransit service is for people of any age with physical or cognitive disability that prevents them from using the HART CityBus system. 

 

The Award for access and accommodation was given last year to the Carousel at the Danbury Fair Mall.

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Fireworks at WCSU take many by surprise

You may have heard some loud booms Friday night in Danbury around 9pm.  There were fireworks set off at Western Connecticut State University for an event being called West Fest or Jazz Fest. 

 

There was a Danbury Fire Department firewatch assigned. 

 

It took some by surprise because of the noise, others because of the Red Flag Warning yesterday when conditions were ripe for wildfire and then a 15 acre brush fire off Bear Mountain.

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Danbury battles 15 acre wildfire off Bear Mountain

The cause of a 15 acre brush fire off Bear Mountain Road in Danbury is being investigated. 

 

Fire Chief Geoff Herald says no firefighters were injured, but one person was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries after trying to put out flames by her house.  No homes were damaged by the fire. 

 

Herald says there wasn't as much wind Friday as the day before, but it was swirling off Candlewood Lake.  He says it's still very dry and made the conditions right for wildfires.  There was also steep terrain getting to the flames which made extinguishing them a challenge as well.

 

Mutual assistance was provided by Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Sherman and elsewhere.  The state forestry division is also on the scene.

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Region 9 voters to decide on roof restoration funding

Partial roof restoration at Joel Barlow High School is going to be a question on the budget ballots in Redding and in Easton.  The proposed allocation through the Region 9 Board of Education totals $1.45 million dollars. 

 

Like all other improvements, the cost will be split between the two towns based on the school's population from each. 

 

The Redding Pilot reports that the project needs to be approved by a combined majority of votes in both towns.  It would only be a partial restoration because there was no bid for another section, including some delays at the state level.

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Brookfield joins Solarize Connecticut program

Brookfield is joining the list of towns in the state that have been selected for the Solarize Connecticut program.  It's an initiative that provides incentives to municipalities for signing up residents and businesses for solar power.  The discount buying program also offers grants and rebates to those signing up. 

 

The more participants, the more the cost comes down. 

 

Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley said in a statement that the town takes pride in supporting initiatives that offer both environmental and economic benefits.  He added that this will make Brookfield a cleaner place to live, support local jobs and reduce energy costs.

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Prescription drug take back day today

The 8th annual National Prescription Drug Takeback Day is being held today.  It's a chance for residents to safely dispose of medication they no longer need or is expired.  Several collection sites have been set up in the Greater Danbury region. 

 

Redding Representative John Shaban says it's a public health issue to leave unwanted drugs in the home.  Shaban says prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  He says typically the old drugs are put into an incinerator and burned. The improper disposal of drugs has been reported to negatively impact the environment.  Some drugs cannot be safely flushed or poured down drains because wastewater facilities are not designed to remove them. 

 

During the last National Prescription Drug Takeback Day, more than 324 tons of expired and unwanted medications were turned in for safe and proper disposal.  All seven previous collection dates nationwide has resulted in removal of over 3.4 million pounds of medication from circulation. 

 

There will be collection sites at Police Departments in Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield.  Residents state trooper offices in Bethlehem, Bridgewater, New Fairfield, Sherman Washington and Woodbury are also collecting.  Easton Town Hall, Monroe Senior Center and the Southbury police barracks are also participating.

 

The drug takeback day is from 10am to 2pm.

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Firefighters battles blaze at Southbury factory

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) Firefighters from several towns have battled a blaze at a Southbury manufacturing factory.

The fire at the Romatic Manufacturing Co. was reported just after 5 a.m. Friday. Flames were shooting out of the roof when emergency responders arrived, and smoke could be seen from nearby Interstate 84.  Mutual aid from Sandy Hook, Woodbury, Oxford and elsewhere was provided.

No injuries are reported.

The Republican-American reports the company makes caps for the cosmetics industry and employs more than 100 people.

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2nd Torrington teen wanted for DHS threats arrested

The second teenager suspected of planning to shoot people at Danbury High School has been arrested this week.  19-year old Peter Thulin was charged on Tuesday and will be in court May 6th.  His girlfriend, Natalie Carpenter of Torrington will be in court today on charges of conspiracy to commit assault and criminal attempt to commit assault. 

 

Their arrest warrants say two residents of Hope House, a Torrington facility for people with mental illness, told staff they overheard the pair say they were going to "shoot it up like Columbine".  The pair tried to buy a gun at Tactical Arms in Torrington, but were denied and also filled out forms at Walmart to buy a shotgun or rifle. 

 

Carpenter allegedly talked about committing suicide there so bullies could see the effects of bullying.

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Newtown Parent Connection signs lease for Fairfield Hills building

A lease has been authorized between the town of Newtown and Newtown Parent Connection.  The non-profit will be leasing one of the duplexes on the Fairfield Hills campus for 10 years at the rate of $1 per year. 

 

According to minutes from the Board of Selectmen's meeting Monday, the agency and the town can agree to two renewals for another 10 years each. 

 

Newtown Parent Connection can begin renovations of the duplex after paying an initial Common Area Maintenance fee of $1,905 a year, to be paid semi-annually.  The non-profit will have to pay to bring utilities to the location.  They will not be allowed to sublease the facility without permission from the Town because of potential impact to a grant from the state Department of Social Services.

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Newtown Hook and Ladder makes progress on new headquarters

An update has been given to the Newtown Board of Selectmen about Newtown Hook and Ladder's proposed new headquarters.  At the meeting on Monday, Rick Camejo of Hook and Ladder said that even though no contract to a purchase property from Trinity Episcopal Church has been signed, major impediments have been solved and hopes to have a contract signed by the end of the month. 

 

According to minutes of the meeting, soil testing has been done and the site plan is being worked on already.  Hook and Ladder is hoping to start construction by the middle of summer. 

 

Selectman Rodgers suggested verification that the state Traffic Commission does not have to be involved because the parcel is on Church Hill Road, a state road.  Review from other local boards and commissions are still needed as well.

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Property tax forum being hosted in Bethel Tuesday

A tax watchdog group in Bethel is hosting a property tax forum next week.  The Bethel Action Committee has invited outgoing Superintendent of Schools Dr Kevin Smith, Board of Finance Chairman William Kingston, the town's comptroller, the Director of Education Fiscal Services and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. 

 

The question up for discussion is "Why must property taxes always go up?". 

 

BAC founder Billy Michael says each panelist will give their views on how municipal and school spending can impact annual property tax increases.  Residents attending the forum will be able to ask questions of the panelists. 

 

The event is Tuesday at 7pm in the general purpose room of the Bethel Municipal Center.

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Tree City USA designations celebrated this Arbor Day

On this Arbor Day, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is touting 19 communities being designated as Tree Cities USA.  Danbury is marking its 24th consecutive year with the recognition.  DEEP Director of Forestry Chris Martin says there are several criteria that need to be met.

 

Municipalities must have a comprehensive community forestry program, dedicated Forestry Division, tree care ordinances and Arbor Day observation.  In honor of Arbor Day, the Danbury Garden Club is holding a tree planting ceremony at at Pembroke School and at Kenosia Park.  The Lions Club of Danbury is planting trees at 10am on Lions Way in Rogers Park.

 

Municipalities must have a comprehensive community forestry program, dedicated Forestry Division, tree care ordinances and Arbor Day observation.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the City's commitment to preserving and maintaining natural assets is important and has made Danbury a beautiful place to live.  He applaud the hard work of the city's Forestry Division in their dedication to preserving the local environment, making the honor possible.

 

UConn earned the designation of being Connecticut’s first ever Tree Campus USA.  UConn is now one of only about 200 schools across the country with that title.

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Healthy Kids Day event tomorrow at YMCA

The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut is holding a free community event tomorrow to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active.   Healthy Kids Day, part of a national initiative to improve families’ health and well-being, will feature a number of activities at the Boughton Street branch in Danbury.  Event organizer Mariah Fenton says there will be art projects, Tae Kwon Do, Zumbatonic and other movement activities.

 

Fenton says without access to out-of-school physical and learning activities, kids fall behind academically during the summer months.  One in three U-S children is obese.  Fenton says that statistic, coupled with the fact that once summer hits children will be more idle, demonstrates why it’s important to help families develop healthy habits while their kids are young. 

 

Fenton says there are a lot of ways that families can develop healthy habits including eating 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day, reading as a family and teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, bike rides and the like. 

 

Tomorrow's event is from 1 to 3pm.

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Mortar shell found in New Milford forces evacuations

Police responded to Route 7 in New Milford Wednesday afternoon because of an old mortar shell being found.  New Milford Police say the 60 mm mortar round was at Litchfield County Pickers, and appeared to be inert. 

 

The area was evacuated and traffic was detoured around the address. 

 

The State Police Emergency Services Unit Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team were called to the scene.  The mortar was x-rayed and the results were inconclusive.  The mortar was contained and transported from the scene for detonation.  The incident remains under investigation. 

 

The consignment shop, which also handles estate sales, is located at 7 Kent Road-Route 7 in New Milford.

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Former employee breaks into NY restaurant, steals liquor and seafood

A Mahopac man has been arrested for breaking into a restaurant where he was recently fired from.  Putnam County Sheriff's deputies responded to an automatic alarm at Char Steak House in Putnam Valley shortly before 9:30 Tuesday night and found the door forced open. 

 

The deputies spoke with the owner, who identified 29-year old Victor Zuniga-Chirinos as a person of interest.  Minutes later, a Carmel police officer spotted the man.  Liquor and sea food items from the burglary were found in Zuniga-Chirinos' possession. 

 

He was arrested and charged with felony burglary.  The man was arraigned and ordered held on bond for a court appearance Friday. 

 

There is an outstanding order of removal for the man by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.  ICE issued a detention order and when Zuniga-Chirinos is released from jail, he will be turned over for immigration proceedings.

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Proposed Brookfield Charter changes go before public hearing

The Brookfield Charter Revision Commission has held a public hearing on their recommended changes.  The hearing Wednesday night on the draft document includes clarification of the Ethics section of the Charter, a proposal to allow elected Boards and Commission to fill their own vacancies and creating the elected office of Town Meeting Moderator. 

 

The other proposed changes are that the annual budget referendum be separate votes on town and school budgets with advisory questions on the ballot. 

 

Brookfield residents can send written comments to the Commission through the town's website.  The Board of Selectmen will also be holding a hearing on the proposed revisions at a future date. 

 

Any changes approved by the Board will then be put before residents on the November ballot.

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Conn. bill adds text messages to Do Not Call List

State lawmakers are attempting to modernize the "Do Not Call Registry'' and include unsolicited text messages as well as phone calls. A bill co-sponsored by Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill that would add text messages to the list of prohibited activities unanimously passed the Senate.   The bill also increases penalties for violations from $11,000 to $20,000 per violation.

 

It now moves to the House. 

 

Danbury Representatives Jan Giegler and Bob Godfrey along with Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford co-sponsored a bill to increase the fine for commercially recorded messages that continue after the customer hangs up.  That measure passed the House unanimously and moved to the Senate.

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Edmond Town Hall installs new digital projector

Edmond Town Hall has a new digital movie projector.  The $2 movie house in Newtown is celebrating the first screenings on the new equipment with showings of Gravity and Frozen Sing A Long. 

 

The new projector is part of a major renovation done to the building over the course of the past year.   The Newtown Bee reports other upgrades include LED lighting, a new sound system for concerts, a retractable moving screen and restoration of the third floor.  Routine infrastructure work was also completed. 

 

Ingersoll Auto of Danbury, owned by a Newtown man, has been covering the costs of certain film showings for more than a year and will be providing funding so screenings are free this weekend.

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Fate of proposed Conn. FOI changes uncertain

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) It's unclear whether Connecticut lawmakers will approve any legislation this session that would place additional restrictions on the public release of information from homicides as part of an effort to protect victim privacy following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The Judiciary Committee failed to act Wednesday on one of two competing bills that created a procedure for allowing the public to view and seek copies of images of homicide victims.

Rep. Gerald Fox, the panel's co-chairman, said there weren't enough votes to support the bill.

A similar bill is sitting on the Senate calendar awaiting action. But that bill would restrict the release of certain 911 calls, something Senate President Donald Williams opposes.

Fox said he'd like to see a compromise reached before the legislature's May 7 adjournment.

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Mortar shell, possibly live, found in New Milford

Route 7 in New Milford is closed between Fort Hill Road and Bridge Street because of an old mortar shell that is possibly live.  The state police bomb squad is responding.  Some local evacuations have been issued.  No additional information was immediately available.

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Internet safety presentation made to Ridgefield parents

A safety presentation has been made last night in an event hosted by the Ridgefield Police Department.  The Internet Safety event  for parents of school-aged children was about current trends in social media.  The presentation covered SnapChat, Instagram and other platforms involving privacy when taking photos from a smartphone. 

 

The presenter is Wilton Police Detective R Scott Sear.  The 21-year police veteran investigates computer crimes for the department, is a member of the Connecticut Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and previously served as a School Resource Officer. 

 

A panel of educators and law enforcement answered questions following the presentation at the Ridgefield Playhouse.

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Conn. firms lauded for energy conservation

Several Connecticut firms are being singled out by the state for managing to cut their energy use last summer.  State energy and environmental officials recognized the firms from nine towns today at the state Capitol.

 

The companies all cut power consumption by at least five percent compared to previous years. 

 

The Platinum Award for the most outstanding achievement in energy savings from amongst all of the awardees and the Environmental Award for the greatest reduction in CO2 greenhouse gas went to Danbury-based Ethan Allen.  The honorees hail from Beacon Falls, Danbury, Fairfield, New Canaan, Woodbury and elsewhere.

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Lillinonah boat launch in Bridgewater reopens

The ribbon will be cut this afternoon for the newly-renovated boat launch by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee.  The renovations to the facility in Bridgewater were supposed to have been completed by December 31st, but state officials say the cold weather has prevented paving from being completed. 

 

Erosion prevention, a new parking lot and turn-around area were installed.  Officials say the floating dock system will make launches safer and more efficient.  New solar powered street lights and a portable toilet platform have been installed.

 

The boat launch closed on Labor Day for renovations that included a handicapped accessible design. 

 

There will also be a demonstration this afternoon about how to properly clean boats to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.  The invasive species was found in Lillinonah in 2010 and this boat launch is the first in the state to receive a decal reminding boaters to Clean-Drain-Dry their vessels.

 

The ribbon cutting is at 3pm at 199 Main Street in Bridgewater.  Final paving is being completed through Friday.

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Danbury non-profit works to end child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.  Families Network of Western Connecticut is hosting public awareness events and educational activities.  Executive Director Susan Giglio says the non-profit is hosting a fundraising event Thursday so that services can continue to be provided to families in the Greater Danbury region at no cost.

 

Giglio says the fundraising event is to support abuse prevention and health programs and their expansion into early literacy and school readiness.

 

Funds raised at this event will help Families Network to expand their services to families in the greater Danbury area.  The services are currently provided at no cost to families in Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Bedding, Ridgefield, and Sherman. 

 

The Families Network luncheon Thursday will be held at the Matrix Center in Danbury from 11:30am to 2pm.  Call 203-791-8773 for more info or visit them on the web at www.fnwc.org.  There is a suggested $35 donation.

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Electric Vehicle charging station availability touted on Earth Day

During an Earth Day event Tuesday, publicly available electric vehicle charging stations were touted by state officials.  To get people to buy environmentally friendly cars, dealers say so-called range anxiety must be eliminated.  Environmental Commissioner Rob Klee says that's the motorists' fear they won't be able to find a charging station when they need one. 

 

There are 187 charging stations in the state, within 20 miles of 90-percent of all state residents.  Klee says getting more electric cars on the road is vital in the effort to curb pollution. 

 

In addition to the electric vehicle charging stations coming to both of the Western Connecticut State University campuses and in Bethel, there are charging stations at the Ridgefield Playhouse and one at the Patriot Garage in Danbury.  The Danbury Parking Authority received a donation from Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton for the 2-vehicle charging station.

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Teens arrested for making threats against Danbury High School, student

On Wednesday, Danbury Police were made aware of threats against a Danbury High student and the general school population.  An investigation revealed that the unknown male caller and another made a call from a Danbury address and threatened harm against the student and "everyone else" at DHS. 

 

The 16 and 17 year olds were arrested Monday morning on two counts each of threatening and conspiracy to threaten.  They were transported to Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center. 

 

Although the teens said it was only intended as a prank, Danbury Police say there is zero tolerance when threats are made toward schools.

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Danbury man pleads not guilty to attempted murder charge

The Danbury man arrested last month for a shooting in the City has made a court appearance.  33-year old Eliseo Soto pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, assault and criminal use of a firearm.  He remains jailed in lieu of bond for a May 19th appearance in court.

 

Officers were called to Rose Street around 6pm March 27th and found a 24-year old man had been shot in the arm and chest.  Witnesses told Danbury Police that Soto caused a disturbance at the housing complex earlier in the night and then returned to shoot the victim--identified as Jonathan Soto--no relation.

 

The arrest warrant says the pair fought about visitation of the younger Soto's son, whose mother is the niece of the older Soto.

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7 hospitalized, 4 charged after concert at WCSU's O'Neill Center

Western Connecticut State University may rethink any future contracts with an electronic dance music group who performed at the West Side Campus over the weekend.  Krewella and Radical Something drew a large crowd Saturday night.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says there were some tickets issued and some people taken to the hospital.

 

There were between 2,500 and 3,000 young people at the event, and the crowd became rowdy.

 

Seven people got sick, were throwing up and taken by ambulance to Danbury Hospital.  The illness was likely caused by alcohol consumption.  Four were charged for creating a public disturbance. 

 

This comes nearly two years to the day that a so-called Dayglow concert at West Conn got out of control and led to more than 30 people being taken to the hospital for intoxication.  At the time hospital officials called those concerts "patient producing events" citing a Dayglow event previously held in Hartford that resulted in more hospitalizations.

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Ridgefield hearings on Schlumberger site, cell tower proposals

A Public hearing will be held Wednesday in Ridgefield about a new proposal for part of the Schlumberger site.  The 10 acres is zoned for residential housing.  The hearing Wednesday will be about a proposed $4-million purchase by Toll Brothers.  The company was originally interested in the land for 30 age-restricted condos.  Town officials decided to go with a different developer at the same price tag, but the deal fell through. 

 

Wednesday's public hearing is set for 7:30pm at Town Hall.  After a Town Meeting next month, the sale could be a question on the budget ballot.

 

There is a Thursday afternoon hearing planned in Ridgefield by the Connecticut Siting Council.  Residents will have the chance to weigh in on the cell tower that's proposed for land off Ledges Road.  Danbury-based Homeland Towers LLC and A-T-and-T would bear the cost of construction and equipment for the 150-foot tower. 

 

The hearing begins at 3pm and continues at 7pm in the Town Hall lower level conference room.

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Budget review meetings to start in Danbury

Two of the five budget review committees in Danbury are meeting tonight.  The Education committee of the City Council and the General Government I committee are each meeting at 5:30pm.  The other three committees are scheduled to meet tomorrow and Thursday.  The proposed $235.7 million budget represents a nearly 3-percent tax increase. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says there were only a few people at the public hearing last week.  They wanted to know more about specific items related to an agency they are affiliated with.

 

Tonight council members will be calling on the Board of Ed, Superintendent of Schools along with the Directors of Finance for the City and Schools will discuss funding for the schools.  The town clerk, registrars, members from the library and lake authority among others will review general spending.

 

Boughton says there is no one-time revenue used in the budget. The historic McLean house on Main Street used to host the WIC program and is the future site of the new Office of Early Childhood.  Most of the spending increase is going to pay for staffing and equipment at the new middle school that's going into service at the start of the new school year.

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Cops: Body found in upstate NY may be missing man

PATTERSON, N.Y. (AP) State police say a decomposed body found in Putnam County woods appears to be related to a 2010 missing person case.

Police say the remains were found by residents clearing a wooded area Saturday morning about 500 feet off Maple Avenue in the town of Patterson, about 60 miles northeast of New York City.

A search with police dogs led to the discovery of a bicycle and identification from 39-year-old Gabriel Lopez-Duarte of Patterson. A relative had reported him missing in October 2010 after he left home on a bike and didn't return.

Positive identification will be made when DNA analysis is completed. The cause of death is still under investigation.

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WCSU to hold series of events on human trafficking, cancels some

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Western Connecticut State University has canceled a planned forum to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The four-day ``The Price of Life'' initiative was expected to kick off Monday with a panel discussion among specialists on women's and children's issues, as well as contemporary slavery issues. But WCSU announced Monday that the sponsors of the event decided to cancel it. No new date has been scheduled.

Other events, organized and sponsored by student organizations to raise awareness and inform the public about the human trafficking issue, are scheduled to go on as planned this week.

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Work begins on playground named for Newtown victim

MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) Volunteers in Mystic have begun work on another playground named for a victim of the Newtown school shooting.

A crew poured a foundation Saturday for the playground being built at Williams Beach in honor of Grace McDonnell, one of 20 first-graders killed in the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six educators also died.

The Day of New London reports that Grace's parents, Lynn and Chris McDonnell, chose the site because Grace loved the beach, and because Chris McDonnell proposed to his future wife in Mystic.

The playground is one of 26 being built in the region under the ``Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play.''

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for Grace's playground is set for next Sunday at 11 a.m.

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Danbury Police investigate several telephone scams

The Danbury Police Department is investigating several scam attempts.  In order to prevent others from falling victim to these types of telephone scams, police are describing what's been reported to them. Several of these scams were successful, while in other cases the target victim suspected a scam and did not fall victim to the attempt.

 

A Danbury resident received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS advising them that they owed back taxes and that they had to be paid by 4:00 p.m. on that day. The caller requested that the money be sent through the use of Green Dot Cards and the caller was then given the codes for these cards. Under no circumstances would the IRS employ this method for collecting back taxes.

 

While attempting to purchase a vehicle through EBAY, a Danbury resident wired several payments via Western Union to an out of state resident purported to be the seller. After these money orders were sent, the victim was unable to locate this person and claim the vehicle.

 

While attempting to pay for the deposit on an out of state apartment rental that he had found on Craiglist, the victim wired money to the supposed landlord.  The victim later determined that this was a false listing and was unable to recover the wired money.  When using this mechanism to send money, please remember to have a full understanding as to who is involved in the transaction and that you positively know who you are sending the money to.

 

An elderly Danbury couple received a phone call and the caller claimed to be their grandchild. The caller stated that they had been arrested for DUI and was in need of bond money. The caller requested that they wire money to him for bail. There would be no circumstances where bail money would need to be wired.

 

Under no circumstances should anyone send money to someone that they do not know.  Any suspected scams should be reported to the Danbury Police Department at 203-797-4611.

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Ridgefield awarded 'urban forestry' grant

15 urban forestry grants are being awarded by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, ahead of Arbor Day next week.  Ridgefield is among the towns being presented with funding to enhance knowledge and urban ecology.  DEEP Director of Forestry Chris Martin says the funding comes from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

 

Ridgefield will be getting $3,250 to develop a booklet that will be distributed to residents and businesses about what trees to plant where.  It's part of a larger effort by the state and the utility companies.  Martin says it will promote "Right Tree, Right Place", an initiative to inform people about what trees won't interfere with utility lines.

 

DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee says the grants support the work and recommendations of the state Vegetative Management Task Force and Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel.

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Tree trimming, infrastructure improvements by CL&P in Ridgefield

Tree trimming work and electric system upgrades are being done in Ridgefield.  Connecticut Light and Power says the work is likely to continue into the fall.  Spokesman Mitch Gross says it's part of the utility's System Resiliency Plan to improve reliability and reduce the impact of big storms.

 

Gross says approximately 2,300 Ridgefield customers will benefit directly from the resiliency work.  Most of the work in Ridgefield will take place between 8am and 5pm, weather permitting.   The work includes tree trimming along 26 miles of road in Ridgefield.  Drivers should to expect delays in the area.  The utility also says planned outages are anticipated and will be communicated in advance.

 

The work is being done on Bennett's Farm Road, Cross Hill Road, Danbury Road, Farmingville Road, Great Hill Road, Knollwood Drive, Old Quarry Road, Old Stagecoach Road, Old Danbury Road, Grove Street, South Street and Haviland Road.

 

This is a $2 million investment in the local electric distribution system.  Gross says structural hardening spans approximately 10 circuit miles, including 8.7 miles of backbone circuit--which are major lines originating at substations.

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Danbury man arrested for lewd act on school grounds

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly making lewd comments to women at the Head Start Center of Foster Street.  Police arrested 39-year old Willins Miranda on Wednesday. 

 

Danbury Police say Miranda had a stuffed sock down his pants as he approached women, including one who had a child with her, and made lewd comments and gestures.  Officers saw the sock and determined that the man was intoxicated. 

 

He's been charged with breach of peace, interfering with an officer, loitering on school grounds and felony risk of injury to a minor.  Miranda was arraigned in Danbury Superior Court and released on a written promise to appear in court on May 12th.

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Agency says alternate electric companies need more regulation

An interim draft decision has been made about alternative electric companies.  The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held public hearings around Connecticut, including one in Brookfield, after experiencing a spike in consumer complaints against various suppliers in recent months. 

 

PURA officials said in their initial decision that the records shows a need to take immediate steps to improve certain aspects of Connecticut's retail electricity market. 

 

Customers have said they signed up for alternative service providers and their bills have doubled and sometimes tripled after low introductory rates were switched to variable rates without notice.  The interim draft decision includes amended definitions for rate plan offers, imposes notification requirements on licensed suppliers and requires suppliers to update their company contact and agent information. 

 

The number of complaints about alternative electric suppliers more than doubled from a year ago.

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Newtown, Ridgefield police investigate larcenies

A Newtown man has been arrested for allegedly stealing a credit card from a purse left unattended in Caraluzzi's Market on Wednesday.  Newtown police say 29-year old David Cunningham was charged with larceny and credit card theft.  He's been released on $500 bond for an a court appearance next Thursday.

 

Ridgefield police continue to receive reports of car break ins.  Two vehicles were broken into at the dog park on Prospect Ridge on Tuesday.  Only a pair of glasses was reported stolen, though windows were smashed on both.  Three cars were broken into April 9th at a gym parking lot off Grove Street.  Police say two of the cars had their windows smashed in and purses were taken from the cars by an unknown suspect.  The five vehicle break ins this month brings the total to nine for the year in Ridgefield.

 

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NY man seriously injured in motorcycle accident

An early morning motorcycle accident in Patterson has left the driver in serious condition.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that the crash happened around 2ma on Route 311 near Cushman Road.  The deputy found the motorcycle against a tree and the driver lying on the ground. 

 

26-year old Daniel Brady of Hopewell Junction New York sustained serious head and back injuries.  He was flown by StatFlight helicopter to Westchester Medical Center. 

 

The investigation revealed that Brady was speeding and lost control around a curve.  He was also charged with driving while intoxicated and for not wearing a protective helmet.

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Conn. House: horses aren't 'inherently vicious'

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of Connecticut's House of Representatives want to make it clear they don't believe horses are inherently vicious, a response to a recent state court ruling.

By a unanimous vote of 138-0, the House on Thursday passed legislation clarifying Connecticut law by saying domesticated horses are not wild animals and therefore are not inherently dangerous.

Last month, the state Supreme court upheld an Appellate Court ruling in a case involving a boy bitten in 2006 by a horse named Scuppy in Milford. The ruling said a horse belongs to ``a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious.''

Monroe Rep. Debralee Hovey, a horse enthusiast, said the ruling put a billion-dollar industry at risk due to increased insurance premiums and legal liabilities.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

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Area lawmakers want fracking waste disposal studied

A bill that would ban the storage or disposal of waste from fracking in Connecticut is moving through the General Assembly.  On a 34-6 vote, the legislature's Judiciary Committee this week approved the proposed ban on drilling fluid and other waste generated as a byproduct of gas exploration.  It now moves to the Senate for further action. 

 

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says more research is needed.  He says the General Assembly should not ignore scientists studying the issue.  He notes that a report is imminent from the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Some lawmakers preferred temporary moratorium.

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New Milford lawmaker seeks reelection to state House

New Milford state Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor will be seeking a second term in the General Assembly.  She says she wants to continue to shine light on economic issues, and work toward solutions that improve government finances and build an environment where entrepreneurs and employers can thrive and create jobs. 

 

Buck-Taylor touted her vote against a state budget that exceeded the state’s constitutional spending cap, helped Republicans rally against a gas tax increase, and has supported related legislation. 

 

The Republican nominating convention is mid-May.

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Cartus Corp. to expand in Danbury

Work will start this summer on a major expansion of Cartus Corporation's Danbury headquarters.  The project will last about 18 months and is using a $6.5 million loan from the state for part of the work.   Governor Malloy was on hand for the announcement Thursday and said as part of the project, Cartus will retain 1,275 jobs in Connecticut and create as many as 200 new jobs for residents over the next five years.

 

Cartus President and CEO Kevin Kelleher says they looked at growing outside of Connecticut because their lease expires in 2015.  But he says they decided to invest here.  There is room to grow in the building, but they will also add square footage by creating a new entrance.

 

 

Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Bull says he looks forward to giving Cartus the necessary support as they continue to grow here.  Bull says Cartus has consistently distinguished itself as an employer of choice and philanthropic leader in the region.  He added that any city would be lucky to have Cartus as a tenant. 

 

It’s great news for greater Danbury,” said State Sen. Michael McLachlan (R-24). “Cartus is a great business partner in Western Connecticut and this incentive will help Cartus create or retain nearly 1,500 jobs over the next five years. I am pleased this quality company will grow right here in Danbury.”

 

“I’m very pleased Cartus has promised to stay and hire in Danbury – and I look forward to learning more about this agreement with the state to ensure the benefits to residents are greater than our investment,” said State Rep. Dan Carter (R-2). “Economic development is crucial for our region to grow and prosper, but we must always balance the costs to taxpayers.”

 

“I am committed to helping Danbury’s corporate infrastructure grow so that employers can afford to hire, and this commitment from Cartus is a step toward that goal,” said State Rep. David Scribner (R-107). “The employment infrastructure in Danbury has a bright future, and I believe it’s important to incentivize job creators to expand in our area.”

 

“This is great news for Danbury and the surrounding communities, which already support a strong economic environment and quality of life,” said State Rep. Richard A. Smith (R-108). “However, I continue to advocate for creating a stable tax and regulatory environment to draw in businesses so that taxpayer money isn’t needed to incentivize economic development.”

 

 “I commend Cartus Corporation for its commitment to remain in Connecticut and for continuing to provide indispensable high-end jobs,” said State Rep. David Arconti (D-109). “I thank Governor Malloy for once again proving he will do what is needed to attract and keep important companies in the state.”

 

“Danbury has been fortunate to have a community-minded business in Cartus, and I'm delighted it is expanding here,” said State Rep. Bob Godfrey (D-110th). “This boosts our state's economy and creates local jobs, and, since Cartus is a relocation business, signals that the national economy continues to improve. This is a win for everyone.”

 

“As valuable members of our community the Cartus Corporation has shown their commitment to Danbury with economic contributions, charitable giving and volunteer efforts,” said State Rep. Giegler (R-138).  “Their continued presence in Danbury will be good for the local economy with more jobs and more philanthropy to non-profits and other organizations and I’m pleased they’re staying here and expanding locally.”

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Danbury Labor Market Area leads state in job growth

Jobs were up while the state's jobless rate held steady last month according to the state Labor Department.  Connecticut added 4,900 jobs in March for an unemployment rate of 7-percent.  Research Director Andy Condon says that follows seven months of declines.  There were good increases in leisure and hospitality and also in the health care sector.

 

The state has now added 9,400 jobs since last March and recovered about half the jobs lost in the recession.  Five of the six Labor Market Areas saw job gains, with the Danbury area just barely leading in percentage terms.

 

Condon says the state seems to have returned to the growth seen in the last quarter of 2013.

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Two men seek 4th Congressional District GOP nomination

There are at least two Republicans seeking the party's nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat. 

 

Dan Debicella is seeking a rematch against Democratic incumbent Jim Himes.  Carl Higbie the 4th, a former Navy Seal from Greenwich, also is pursuing the GOP nomination. 

 

Redding State Representative John Shaban this week dropped his bid for the nomination to pursue re-election to the state legislature.  Shaban endorsed Debicella saying even though their styles may differ, the substance of their beliefs does not. 

 

Himes defeated Debicella, a Shelton businessman and former state senator, with 53 percent of the vote in 2010.

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Danbury man arrested for sexually abusing girl

A Danbury man has been arrested for sexually abusing a young girl.

 

Two weeks ago, the Department of Children and Families notified the Danbury Police Department that they received a tip about the sexual abuse of a 12-year old girl.  The report to the DCF Careline was investigated by the Special Victims Unit and resulted in a warrant being issued for 35-year old Juan Vidal. 

 

Vidal was located and arrested yesterday.  He's been charged with six counts of risk of injury to a minor, three each in the first and second degrees. 

 

Vidal is being held on $75,000 bond for arraignment today.

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Music teacher from Monroe allegedly touched 2 students inappropriately

A music teacher from Monroe has been arrested for allegedly touching students inappropriately.

 

68-year old Bruce Connery of Monroe was arrested Tuesday for two counts of risk of injury to a minor and 4th degree sexual assault.  Police received reports that he sexually assaulted two of his students at their homes. 

 

A 10-year old reported to her father that she didn't want to continue music lessons because of what happened.  Police also received a report from the parent of a 15-year old girl who reported inappropriate touching. 

 

Connery has been released on $20,000 bond.  He will be in court next Wednesday.

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Newtown, Southbury to receive DECD brownfrield funding

Newtown and Southbury are among the 21 towns receiving grants to help develop brownfield sites. 

 

$3.8 million in grant funding is being made available by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.  Newtown will receive $200,000 to investigate what needs to be done with nine buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus to make the property productive.  Southbury will get $200,000 to assess the baseline environmental conditions of the Southbury Training School site. 

 

Officials say the funding is meant to help communities take the next step toward reuse of sites that have been underused or abandoned for years.  DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith says the projects were selected for funding because they are ready to move forward and the properties can then unlock new development opportunities.

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Conn. state police troops to take routine calls

A preliminary review of state police consolidated dispatch has been completed by the new Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  Weeks after restoring 24-7 coverage to all state police barracks, Commissioner Dora Schriro yesterday announced a plan for handling all calls to state police.  She says administrative calls will be directed to troops, while 911 calls will be handled at consolidated dispatch centers.

 

Of the 1.5 million calls to state police last year, 60 percent were administrative while the remaining 40-percent were 911 calls. 

 

Field testing of a new plan started this week at Troop A in Southbury, with full implementation expected by the fall.  Schriro says this will give the agency the change to assess the plan and make any adjustments before statewide implementation is done.  While dispatches in the eastern and western parts of Connecticut have been consolidated, plans are on hold for the central region.

 

She is also calling for a working group to be formed of dispatchers, troopers and municipal representatives to address issues and concerns that may arise.

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TeachFest Conn. gives educators a say in Common Core

As the state continues to move forward with implementation of Common Core standards, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced a three day development session for nearly 100 teachers.  Several teachers from the Greater Danbury area will be participating in "Teach Fest Connecticut" next weekend.

 

The educators participating in the conference will then bring the concepts back to their school districts and others to counsel their fellow teachers. Pryor says the ‘Connecticut Dream Team’ will later serve as teacher leaders at a larger event this summer. 

 

The teachers from the Greater Danbury area are:

 

Rita Gregory, Kindergarten Teacher Regional School District 12, Booth Free School

 

Erin Birden, Grade 2 Teacher Regional School District 12, Washington Primary School

 

Hillary Singer, Grade 6 Math Teacher Danbury School District, Roger's Park Middle School

 

Paul Laedke, Grade 6 Teacher New Fairfield School District New Fairfield Middle School

 

Debra Parker, Grade 7 Teacher New Fairfield School District, New Fairfield Middle School

 

Amanda Peterson, High School Math Teacher and Curriculum Writer Danbury School District, Danbury High School

 

Ellen Meyer, Grade 6 Math Teacher Danbury School District, Broadview Middle School

 

Andrew Hill, Mathematics Teacher Brookfield School District, Brookfield High School

 

Clinton McLeod, Grade 2 Teacher Bethel School District, Anna H. Rockwell School

 

Amanda Johnson, High School Teacher Danbury School District, Danbury High School

 

Jane Giresi, Science Resource Teacher and Grade 2 Teacher Wilton School District, Miller-Driscoll School

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Connecticut man wants guns taken in son's arrest

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) A Litchfield man wants his guns back after they were confiscated at his home by state police during his son's arrest on charges of selling marijuana.

Patrick C. Redmond has hired a lawyer and says some guns are his. The guns were ordered destroyed as contraband.

The Republican-American reports that State Police confiscated 16 handguns and long guns last year from Redmond's home in Kent. His son, Patrick S. Redmond, admitted he was selling marijuana from his father's home. Police say he did not have proper paperwork to demonstrate ownership.

The 26-year-old Redmond was given a suspended five-year prison term and three years' probation.

A Litchfield Superior Court judge denied Redmond's request for the guns. He says he won't order them destroyed to give the state Appellate Court time to decide.

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Boughton: Refund of Foleys donations not possible

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says he wants to return $750 in contributions to his exploratory committee in his bid for the Republican nomination for governor from Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley. He says the money has already been spent.

The couple pleaded guilty March 31 to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions through a scheme that hid the consulting role prosecutors say former Gov. John Rowland played h her 2012 campaign. Prosecutors say Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland to work on her primary campaign but believed that because he had been convicted of a felony his involvement would attract negative publicity to her candidacy.

The New Haven Register reports (http://bit.ly/1h30A4Y ) that Boughton said if there were a way to return the money, he would.

The Foleys each contributed $375 to the committee last fall.

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Jewelery store, bank robberies in Danbury unrelated

Danbury police are investigating two robberies that happened within an hour of each other, but appear to be unrelated.

 

Around 10:30 Tuesday morning, an armed robbery was reported at Michaels Jewelers on Federal Road in Danbury.  Three men entered the store wearing nylon stockings covering their faces and one had a handgun.  Police say the 3 female employees hands were bound and the suspects stole items from the jewelry store.  An ambulance was called to the scene as a precaution for one of the victims. 

 

Shortly after 11:30, police were called to Webster Bank on Mill Plain Road.  Two men wearing masks and dark hoodies entered the bank and tied up the employees.  The men took off with an undetermined amount of cash.  No weapon was displayed and there were no injuries.

 

 

Police are asking anyone who was in the areas and may have seen something to call the Detective Bureau at 203-797-4662.

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Town finds compromise site honoring Newtown victim

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) West Haven officials have found a compromise to build a playground memorializing one of the children fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The New Haven Register reports that town officials and members of the West Haven Land Trust agreed Monday night to a playground honoring the memory of 6-year-old Charlotte Bacon at another site rather than a location protected by a land restriction.

The ``Where Angels Play'' Sandy Ground Project was begun by Elizabeth, N.J., Fire Department Capt. Bill Lavin to honor the 20 children and six educators who were killed in the December 2012 massacre. Twenty-six playgrounds in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are planned.

The West Haven site will be the 23rd.

Donations will finance the construction of the playgrounds.

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DEEP warns about moose near I-84

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is warning motorists in the Southington to be on the lookout for a moose on the loose.

DEEP said the animal was spotted Tuesday morning on West Street near Interstate 84. The moose was last seen entering a swamp area near the highway.

Connecticut has a resident moose population estimated to be 100 to 150 animals. They're found most often in wooded areas in northeastern and northwestern Connecticut, but have been spotted in other parts of the state.

 

A moose spotted in New Milford in September caused a sensation when it wandered through the Hospital parking lot.

DEEP said moose create a particular danger near roadways because when struck by a vehicle, they're likely to collapse through the windshield because of their tall stance. They're also difficult to see at night because of their dark color.

Moose sightings can be reported at www.ct.gov/deep/wildlife.

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Repairs to end signal troubles on Danbury RR line

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut Department of Transportation is making some fixes to the Danbury branch line of Metro-North Railroad.

The DOT is replacing rubber mats and other equipment at crossings to repair malfunctions that have plagued a $70 million signaling system.

Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker said silt build-up and moisture at some crossings drew the attention of engineers to the age and condition of the rubber matting, crossbuck signs and rails that set off a more sensitive train detection system when no train approaches.

Redeker said full service could be restored in May. The crossings have been a problem since a new signal system was completed in November.

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Danbury police investigate robberies at bank, jewelry store

Danbury police are investigating two robberies that happened within an hour of each other, but appear to be unrelated.

 

Around 10:30 Tuesday morning, an armed robbery was reported at Michaels Jewelers on Federal Road in Danbury.  Three men entered the store wearing nylon stockings covering their faces and one had a handgun.  Police say the 3 female employees hands were bound and the suspects stole items from the jewelry store.  An ambulance was called to the scene as a precaution for one of the victims. 

 

Shortly after 11:30, police were called to Webster Bank on Mill Plain Road.  Two men wearing masks and dark hoodies entered the bank and tied up the employees.  The men took off with an undetermined amount of cash.  No weapon was displayed and there were no injuries.

 

 

Police are asking anyone who was in the areas and may have seen something to call the Detective Bureau at 203-797-4662.

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Housekeeper allegedly steals ring from employer

A Connecticut woman has been arrested by Bethel police for allegedly stealing a ring from her employer.  Police say 38-year old Maryann Lamper of New Britain was charged with 3rd degree larceny.  Police say the woman was arrested when she was on her way to her appointment as a housekeeper at the home where she allegedly stole the heirloom ring from.  The ring, valued at $5,300, went missing earlier this month before turning up at a pawn broker.  Lamper is being held on bond.

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Redding Board of Ed wants budget proposal changed

During a special meeting on Friday, the Redding Board of Education decided to ask the Board of Finance to change it's proposed budget.  The Finance Board wanted the schools to find another $300,000 to cut from a budget that already was going to cost less than the current year. 

 

The Board of Education says that violates the state's Education Cost Sharing minimum budget requirement. 

 

The group met in executive session and also then decided to ask the Town Clerk and the Boards of Finance and Selectmen to put an advisory question on the ballot if the Finance board doesn't change their mind on the proposal.  The question would ask no voters if they cast their ballot that way because the budget was too high or to low.

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Weston police hold active shooter training drill at school

The Weston Police Department has held an active shooter drill today at Hurlbutt Elementary School.  The Weston Forum reports that the training drill included detailed classroom work and role playing scenarios.  The drill was being led by School Violence Solutions and a Rhode Island police officer. 

 

All of the schools are located on the same road.  The schools are closed this week for spring break.

 

Once the drill is complete, Weston Police say they will review and develop response strategies.

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'Spring of Service' serve-a-thon held by United Way

For the first time, the Youth Volunteer Corps of Western Connecticut is hosting a Spring of Service program.  The organization has held a six-week summer program for five years now across the Greater Danbury area.  United Way volunteer coordinator Deirdre Wallin says there was a kick-off event Saturday at Tarrywile Park where youths worked on a variety of projects. 

 

The youth service program offers volunteer opportunities for more than 100 youth ages 11 - 18 throughout the school year.

 

During Spring of Service, youth will assist The City of Danbury’s Office of Neighborhood Assistance cleaning up the downtown area of graffiti and addressing other blight issues.  Youths will work with Dorothy Day House later this week.

 

Last year 111 youth served a total of 2,156 volunteer hours assisting at after-school and pre-school programs, soup kitchens, parks and more.

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Police: Connecticut teenager threatened Columbine

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) Before she was arrested on allegations of planning to shoot up two high schools, a Connecticut teenager was suspected of making threats against Columbine High School in Colorado.

 

Natalie Carpenter, 18, is accused of phoning in a threat to Columbine, The Register Citizen reported. She was arrested March 4 and pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit assault, according to the newspaper.

 

Carpenter was arrested in Torrington for allegedly plotting with Peter Thulin, 19, to sneak into Danbury High School, hold students and staff hostage and shoot until "everyone was dead," police said.

 

An attorney for Carpenter, John Cizik Jr., said Monday he had no comment. Her mother, Wendy, said Carpenter wouldn't "hurt a fly" and was acting out while trying to cope with the loss of two close friends.

 

In her diary, Carpenter cited Columbine High School, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999. She planned to shoot up Danbury and Stratford high schools to get back at students she believed bullied her, police said.

 

The threat to Columbine on Sept. 16 originated from a cellphone traced to Carpenter's house in Stratford, police said.

 

Mark Techmeyer, spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's office in Colorado, said charges have not been filed. The alleged threat was one of nearly two dozen threats the department investigates every year at Columbine High School, he said.

 

"You look at the risk-value return," Techmeyer said. "She'd have to (be) transported. It's not a wise use of taxpayer dollars."

 

The number of threats "would blow your mind," Techmeyer said. "It's nonstop. It's not every day, but it's a very regular occurrence. We investigate every single one of them, but 99.9 percent of the time, just about every time, they're not credible threats."

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Metro North Danbury branch customers still frustrated

Commuters turned out to the Stamford train station Thursday night to meet with the President of Metro North.  It was one in a series of listening events the new leader of the railroad is holding.  There are three more scheduled for May.  Commuter Action Group founder Jim Cameron says train riders told Joseph Giuletti much of what he's been hearing from them.

 

He's still hearing from Danbury Branch riders.  Cameron says service is getting a little better with some of the gate problems resolved, but not all of them.  There is also still bus service replacing trains during the midday hours.

 

Cameron says for as expensive as the system is, it should be working.

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West Haven balks at site honoring Newtown victims

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A land restriction may block a proposed playground in West Haven memorializing the 20 children and six educators who were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Twenty-six ``Where Angels Play'' playgrounds are being built by the New Jersey-based Sandy Ground Project in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

The New Haven Register reports that the West Haven Land Trust has a conservation easement intended to shield the shoreline from development, which could include a playground.

Land Trust members worry that approving a playground would set a precedent.

But city officials such as Mayor Ed O'Brien, say West Haven will look heartless and disrespectful if it rejects a proposal to honor adults and children shot in December 2012.

O'Brien says he does not consider a playground to be a development.

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Next deadline coming up for 'Walkway of Honor'

The next phase of the Veterans Walkway of Honor is under way in Danbury.  The walkway is made up of bricks engraved with the names of veterans from all branches of the armed forces.  It's located at the Danbury War Memorial and leads from the building to the memorial monuments.  Organizer Mary Tiecholz says they only need a few dozen more bricks to complete one side of the walkway.

 

377 bricks engraved with the names of veterans are already in place on the walkway.  Just 50 more are needed.

 

The deadline for ordering a brick for a loved one is April 28th.  All bricks ordered by that date will be installed in time for the Memorial Day Parade.  The prices range from $100 to $250.  The bricks are either 4-by-8 or 8-by-8.

 

Bricks may be engraved with the name, rank and service branch.  Profits from the fundraiser will go directly to the Danbury War Memorial with a portion of the proceeds from each brick sale going to the Wounded Warrior Project.

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Conn. man charged for defrauding unemployment, social security programs

A Torrington man has been arrested for illegally collecting $12,500 in unemployment compensation benefits.  58-year old Ronald Roxburgh was charged Friday with larceny by defrauding a public community  and unemployment compensation fraud. 

 

According to the arrest warrant, Roxburgh collected the money between May 2011 and May 2012, when he was employed .  He also allegedly collected Social Security benefits under his own number while reporting his income under a relatives Social Security number. 

 

He was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 22nd.

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NY man steals religious items, cash from Brewster church

A New York man has been arrested for allegedly stealing religious vessels and money from St Lawrence O'Toole Roman Catholic Church in Brewster.  Church officials called the Putnam County Sheriff's office on March 8th to report the theft.  15 items, including gold-plated chalices, and cash from a display at the church vestibule were stolen. 

 

A scrap metal dealer in Elmsford, New York reported that a man sold the items to him for $20.  He called the parish administrator and police to return the items. 

 

The investigation ended with the arrest of 48-year old William Skeeth of Shrub Oak, New Yok on Wednesday.  Skeeth was charged with felony grand larceny and arraigned.  He's being held without bail at the Putnam County correctional Facility.

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Police car involved in cemetary accident

An accident involving a police car is being investigated by the Newtown Police Department.  Police say while on duty Monday afternoon, Lt George Sinko was driving an unmarked, police SUV.  While attempting to park, Police say Sinko backed into a 3-foot tall stone pillar at Land's End Cemetery on Hawleyville Road.  The accident resulted in about $2,000 in damage to the vehicle.  Police did not disclose whether there was damage to the pillar.

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Permanent Memorial Commission meets in Newtown

The Permanent Memorial Commission in Newtown has held another meeting.  Last night the group met with some family members of those killed on December 14th.  The families were told that there is no time frame for coming up with memorials and that they will have more opportunities for input. 

 

According to minutes from previous meetings, the Commission has heard input on the process from members of the 9-11 Memorial Commission and those who designed the Columbine High School memorial.

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Youth prison terms to get a second look

The state House has voted 129 to 15 in favor of a bill that could help inmates serving long prison terms for crimes they committed in their youths.  The U-S Supreme Court ruled that states must give a second look to sentences for teens aged 14 to 17.  The bill would help Connecticut comply. 

 

New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor says early release is not a given, they have to go through the same rigorous questioning that anyone up for parole would have to.

 

The youth sentencing bill still faces a Senate vote.

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Connecticut House backs campus assault measure

Legislation overhauling how college and university officials in Connecticut respond to sexual assault and violence on campus has unanimously passed the House of Representatives.

The vote Thursday was 144-0.

 

Danbury Representative Jan Giegler says making sure students are able to learn in a safe environmentl is important and she was proud of the state for strengthening existing laws about sexual assault and stalking.

The legislation requires reporting of sexual violence at an institution of higher education and greater details in a campus crime report. The report must include each incidence of intimate partner violence reported to the local or State Police or college or university.

It also requires schools to establish Sexual Assault Response Teams that include counselors, police, faculty and others.

A federal lawsuit claims the University of Connecticut reacted to reports of sexual assaults on its main campus in Storrs with deliberate indifference or worse. UConn denies the accusation.

The measure now heads to the state Senate.

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Conn. House rejects ban on modified grass seed

The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly has rejected a proposed ban on genetically modified grass seed that was approved by the Senate.

The Democrat-controlled House voted 103-37 on Thursday against the bill that was pushed by Democratic leaders.

Supporters of the legislation say The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. of Marysville, Ohio, will soon be releasing a genetically modified grass seed resistant to pesticides and herbicides. Supporters are worried use of the seed would spark a dramatic increase in chemical lawn treatments that harm the environment.

Bill opponents say the new seed is still being studied and there isn't proof a ban is needed.

More than 200 people in Connecticut are employed by Scotts Miracle-Gro. A Scotts spokesman says banning a product before research is complete would send a chilling message.

 

Among those voting for it was Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle and Danbury Representatives David Arconti and Bob Godfrey.

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Danbury mom files suit against Board of Ed over daughter's assault

A lawsuit has been filed by a Danbury mother against the Board of Education.  The Newstimes reports that Yadira Campoverde claimed in the suit that her Broadview Middle School daughter received a concussion when another girl slammed her head into a desk while the teacher was out of the classroom. 

 

The suit is seeking damages for medical expanses, pain and suffering, and psychological trauma. 

 

The published report explains that the two girls were involved in an altercation at lunch with one being egged on to get the other.  When they went to their next class, the teacher allegedly left a note on the board telling students to go to the Media Room. 

 

The suit says the teacher should have known that leaving no supervision could lead to imminent harm because the alleged attacker assaulted other students in the past.  That student and her mother are named as defendants as well.

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Woman pleads not guilty to sex assault of teen boy

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman has pleaded not guilty to allegations she sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy while she was a youth group leader at a New Canaan church.

Hearst Connecticut Media reports that 25-year-old Morgan Frawley of Fairfield pleaded not guilty to second-degree sexual assault Thursday in Norwalk Superior Court.

Police say they believe Frawley had a sexual relationship with the boy when she was a youth group leader at the Congregational Church of New Canaan, which suspended her last year. Authorities say Frawley and the boy also exchanged sexually explicit photos and text messages.

Police say Frawley also was fired as a substitute teacher at Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield because of the allegations.

Frawley remains free on $5,000 bail and is set to return to court April 29.

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Danbury High School makes $100k spending plan

Danbury High School won $100,000 in November during the Celebrate My Drive campaign to promote safe driving.  The students wanted to do things for the community and also use the money to enhance educational programming.  Principal Gary Bocaccio says they set aside $10,000 for the safe driving initiative, required by the grant.

 

The committee of students, teachers, parents and administrators decided to order 36 Chrome books for the library, which will enable classes to sign them out.  10 tables with benches will be installed in the courtyard for the students to use at lunchtime.

 

About $10,000 is being donated to a program allowing teachers to apply for funding. 

 

The students also want to order an electronic sign board to be placed in front of the school, similar to what New Fairfield and New Milford High Schools have.  Bocaccio says it's not something the school would normally be able to afford because the cost is more than $25,000.  They've applied to the City's Zoning Commission for a variance to install the sign.

 

Some seed money was put away for next year because they hope to win another $100,000 through the contest.  That money will be used for advertising, events and banners.  The Peer Leadership Group and DECA were reimbursed about $3,000 for what they spent on the contest this year.

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Vehicles broken into in Ridgefield parking lot

three cars were broken into Wednesday at a gym parking lot in Ridgefield.  Police say two of the cars had their windows smashed in the lot off Grove Street between 9am and 10am.  Ridgefield Police say purses were taken from the cars by an unknown suspect. 

 

The investigation is ongoing. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the three vehicle break ins Wednesday brings the total to seven for the year in Ridgefield.

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Ridgefield Library readies for move to new building

Ridgefield Library is getting ready to open their newly renovated facility.  But before that can happen next month, the temporary location needs to close so the books can be returned to Main Street. 

 

The Library is currently operating out of a location on Governor Street, but will be closed there as of 7pm next Thursday.  Opening weekend at the new library will be May 9th and 10th. 

 

In between the temporary location closing and the newly renovated library opening, no items can be borrowed or returned.  Hold requests, interlibrary loans and other the like will not be able to be processed.  Ridgefield residents will be able to use their library card at other libraries across the region. 

 

The library's website will remain operational during the closure.

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Brookfield Finance Board adopts budget plan

The Brookfield Board of Finance has voted to move forward with a proposed budget that includes a slight increase for the schools and a more than 5-percent increase to the town.  The proposed education budget is $38.5 million.  The proposed municipal budget is $21.9 million. 

 

A Town meeting is set for May 6th.  Residents have the option to vote on the budgets separately or combined as a $60.5 million tax and spending plan. 

 

The referendum would be held later next month.

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Ex-Conn. Governor charged in campaign scheme

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, a rising Republican star before he resigned 10 years ago in a corruption scandal that sent him to prison, was indicted Thursday on charges he tried to hide his role in two congressional campaigns.
 
Charges were announced by federal prosecutors.
 
Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty March 31 to a scheme to create a phony contract that hid the consulting role prosecutors say Rowland played in her campaign. Authorities say Rowland provided nominal services to Foley’s nursing home company to create a cover that he was being paid for those services instead of work for Wilson-Foley’s campaign.
 
Rowland was released from prison in 2006 after serving 10 months on a corruption-related charge.
 
A message left for Rowland’s attorney wasn’t immediately returned.
 
Authorities allege that as part of the scheme, Rowland proposed that he be hired to work on the political campaign. Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland to work on her 2012 primary campaign but believed that because he had been convicted of a felony, disclosure of his paid role in the campaign would result in substantial negative publicity for her candidacy, prosecutors said.
 
In one email, authorities say, Rowland wrote that “I want to stay under the radar as much as possible” and that “after Clark gets out of the race it can be different.”
 
Mike Clark, a former FBI agent, was a candidate in the Republican primary and filed a federal elections complaint over the payments made to Rowland. Clark also had been the agent who investigated the earlier case that ultimately sent Rowland to prison.
 
Rowland was paid about $35,000 for services to the campaign, authorities said. The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions but were not reported to the Federal Election Commission, in violation of federal campaign finance laws, prosecutors said
 
Rowland was elected governor three times and was a rising star in the GOP, serving as chairman of the national Republican Governors Association. He was a friend of former President George H. W. Bush and had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet member.
 
After he was released from prison, Rowland promised “to be a better person” and landed a job as an economic development coordinator. He also became a popular AM radio commentator.
 
Wilson-Foley, who lost the Republican primary, and her husband each face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 at sentencing.
 

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Boughton leaves 'Mayors Against Illegal Guns' group

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Governor, has ended his affiliation with the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. 

 

In a statement, Boughton said he is withdrawing from the group because the group's mission in recent months has changed from law enforcement to increasing gun regulations.  Boughton says he believes enforcement of existing gun laws is preferable to creating new gun laws.  He added that his position is still that of supporting the rights of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen in Connecticut.

 

Boughton notes that other area mayors have left the group in recent months including New Milford's Mayor and the Mayor of Poughkeepsie. 

 

Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo issued a statement in response saying that Boughton is pandering to the NRA.

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New Fairfield budget meeting, referendum dates set

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen voted last night on a date of the Annual Town Meeting for residents to go over the budget.  A vote though will not be taken at the town meeting on the 16th.  Instead, the Selectmen say there will be a machine vote on Saturday April 26th from noon to 8pm. 

 

The town meeting on the 16th is at 7pm in the community room.  

 

The Board of Finance is proposing a $10.39 million municipal budget along with a $40.8 million education budget.

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4 arrested in Danbury for crack cocaine deal at Taco Bell

Four area men have been arrested for a drug sale in the parking lot of a fastfood restaurant in Danbury.  Police were issued search warrants for two of the men based on several weeks of investigations into illegal drug sales in Danbury.

 

Danbury officers and members of the Community Conditions Unit carried out the warrants on 25-year old Ramon Cruz of Danbury, and 26-year old Bernard Coleman of Brookfield as they conduced a drug sale at Taco Bell on Main Street shortly before 5pm Tuesday.  Coleman and the two buyers were arrested, but Cruz fled.  He ran through the restaurant, across rush hour traffic and into the backyard of a nearby home.

 

Cruz resisted arrest when police caught up to him.

 

The four were taken to the police station where Cruz and Coleman were found with a substantial amount of crack cocaine and several hundred dollars in cash.  57-year old Gary Grandieri and 56-year old Louis Montanaro were each charged with possession of crack cocaine and released on written promises to appear in court at a later date.

 

Cruz was charged with possession of crack cocaine, possession with intent to sell, possession of a narcotic within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing, two counts of sale of crack cocaine, two counts of possession of a narcotic with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing, interfering with a search warrant, destruction of evidence and interfering with the duties of an officer.  He was held on $150,000 bond.

 

Coleman was charged with possession of crack cocaine, possession with intent to sell, possession of a narcotic within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing, two counts of sale of crack cocaine and two counts of possession of a narcotic with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing.  He was held on $100,000 bond.

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Ridgefield Charter Revision Commission votes down proposal

The Ridgefield Charter Revision Commission has decided to keep the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Commission as one.  The possible Charter change was backed by the Conservation Commission.  The group considering revisions to the Charter were presented with a petition on Monday signed by hundreds of residents supporting keeping the responsibilities under one Commission.

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Mass shooting victims' families helping Fort Hood

DALLAS (AP) Dozens of families who lost loved ones during Sept. 11, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings and similar attacks are coming together to financially help victims of last week's shooting at Fort Hood.

The National Center for Victims of Crime tells The Associated Press that about 70 families are supporting a fund to provide no-strings-attached cash payments to people affected by similar tragedies. The idea came from the mother of a man killed in the 2012 movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo.

The fund went live in February. Its first efforts will focus on Fort Hood, the Texas military base where a gunman killed three people April 2.

Anita Busch, who lost a cousin in the Aurora shooting, says the money will help grief-stricken parents and victims left ``riddled with bullets'' get back on their feet.

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Congresswoman wants gun-related 'riders' out of appropriation bills

A local lawmaker is looking to end a practice she sees as limiting transparency in government. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is the Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  She is leading the call against legislative language, known as riders, from being included in appropriations bills that would block efforts to reduce gun violence.  Esty and more than 100 colleagues sent a letter to House leaders urging them to oppose gun-related riders in bills for Fiscal Year 2015. 

 

Esty says in previous years gun-related riders were included without any public debate. 

 

The Task Force is recommending that Congress repeal those and restore funding for public safety and law enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence.  The Task Force also wants Congress to fund law enforcement's efforts to reduce gun violence while supporting federal research into the cause of such violence.

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Public hearing on compensation to union employees for Sandy Hook response

A public hearing is being held at the state capital today about compensation to state employees who responded to Sandy Hook in 2012.

 

In an agreement with six unions, the state is awarding 40 hours of compensatory time for state employees who were directly involved in the response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The agreement was made after many first-responders took vacation and sick time after December 14th.  The Appropriations Committee is holding the hearing today on stipulated agreements that were submitted to the General Assembly on March 24th.

 

Lt Governor Nancy Wyman previously said that crediting these men and women with compensatory time is one way the state can thank them for their professionalism and dedication to duty during an event that required them to put their own emotions on hold in order to do their job helping others.

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Monroe woman nominated as Human Rights Referee

A public hearing has been held at the state capital to appoint Human Rights Referees.

 

The Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee held a public hearing to confirm the nominations of two residents to become Human Rights Referees.  One is Michele Mount of Monroe.  The Monroe Town Councilwoman is an attorney. 

 

The Human Rights Referees are part of the Connecticut COmmission on Human Rights and Opportunities. 

 

The agency was created to eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights law enforcement through advocacy and education.  The group also monitors compliance with state contract laws and with laws requiring affirmative action in state agency personnel practices.

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I-84 work continues in Newtown, Work Zone Safety Week

The bridges that carry Interstate 84 over Center Street in Newtown are being rehabilitated which is causing ongoing overnight lane closures.  State officials are urging motorists to "Obey the Orange" during this National Work Zone Awareness Week.  Among those promoting workzone safety is State Department of Transportation planner Rick DiNardi, whose DOT supervisor brother was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2012.

 

37 state DOT workers have been killed in highway workzone accidents.

 

The theme of this year's safety campaign "work zone speeding: a costly mistake", highlights the consequences of driving too fast through those designated areas.

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Bethel sets public hearing on proposed budget

A public hearing has been set in Bethel for residents to weigh in on the proposed budget.  Town officials are recommending a budget with a 3.3 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year. 

 

The municipal budget is proposed at $27.1 million and the proposed education budget is $42.1 million dollars.  Among the capital items proposed is $1.5 million for road construction, $650,000 to replace a fire engine and funding or upgrades to Meckauer Park.  

 

The public hearing will be held tonight at 7:30pm at Bethel High School.

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MA man in Conn. court over fake emergency dispatch calls

More details are being revealed about the Massachusetts man arrested Friday by Connecticut State Police for making fake dispatch calls in Litchfield County between Christmas and early January.  Adam Perrelli appeared in Bantam Superior Court Monday on a number of charges. 

 

The arrest warrant shows Perrelli bragged, laughed and gloated to people about his actions, which he said were made out of boredom.  According to the arrest warrant, Perrelli wanted to be a firefighter but failed his certification in Connecticut in 1999 and was denied in Massachusetts in 2013 because of a criminal history. 

 

Police say the man admitted a friend gave him the portable radio and sent ambulances to non-emergencies while cancelling calls to actual fires.

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Vigil Against Inequality to be held in Danbury

A so-called Vigil for Inequality is being held in Danbury tonight.  It's one of many being held across the state by Connecticut Working Families.  The events are meant to bring state residents together to demand action that would create an economy that works for everyone. 

 

There are several bills before the General Assembly the group says would help achieve that goal.  They include a bill to hold large corporations accountable, creating a retirement for all savings plan that will allow people to retire with security and a bill that would find solutions to address the student debt crisis. 

 

The Danbury event is being held at 6pm at Walmart on Newtown Road.

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Danbury Exchange Club 'Officer of the Year' to be awarded

The Exchange Club of Danbury is getting ready to honor it's Police Officer of the Year.  The award is being presented to Officer Steven Castrovinci on Thursday.  The former NYPD officer joined the Danbury department in 2006.  Exchange Club Program Chair Joe DaSilva senior says Castrovinci has served as a member of the Patrol Division as well as taking on extra responsibilities.

 

Castrovinci is a Field Training Officer.  In this capacity, he provides the program with an outgoing attitude while teaching new officers how to be productive and conduct themselves safely.  He also plays on the department's hockey team for their charity game against the Fire Department.  DaSilva says Castrovinci always steps forward to assist others with whatever is help needed in any way he possibly can. 

 

He says Castrovinchi's commitment to the Danbury Police Department and community along with his professionalism and respect for his job and fellow officers is highly commendable.

 

On the last day of school, Officer Castrovinci was at Broadview Middle School for a minor complaint when another incident arose.  A student brought a knife to school and intended to stab as many of his peers as possible.  Officials say his investigation and attentive school staff averted a potential mass casualty incident by a student who was later committed to a psychiatric facility.

 

The award presentation Thursday is sponsored by the Danbury Housing Authority and will take place at Anthony's Lake Club at 6:30pm.

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Jepsen in race for 2nd term as attorney general

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has announced he's seeking a second term.

Jepsen, a Democrat, told reporters on Monday he's had a ``terrific three plus years'' advocating on consumer issues and representing the state in court.

He said he believes he can quickly raise the $75,000 in individual donations that would qualify him for public financing.

Jepsen, who was accompanied by his wife, Diana, at a news conference at the Capitol, said his biggest accomplishment was his high-level participation in a $26 billion national settlement over mortgage foreclosures. In Connecticut, $650 million benefited more than 6,000 homeowners who faced foreclosures and other financial problems.

Southbury lawyer Kie Westby is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general. In announcing his candidacy in March, he said he wants to limit the power and size of government.

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Redding police tally cell phone citations during weeklong effort

About four dozen tickets were issued each day by Redding police during the recent texting ban enforcement campaign held by departments across the region. 

 

Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says the effort was about more than catching motorists who were distracted or not driving safely.  He says it was also about how to better enforce the law.  In

 

Danbury more than 680 tickets were issued to drivers texting or using a cell phone while behind the wheel over the course of 8 days.

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Cops: driver in Redding crash shot himself in head

REDDING, Conn. (AP) Police in Redding say they responded to a rollover car accident and found the driver dead from a gunshot wound to his head.

Authorities say 35-year-old Gugsa Dabela of Redding appears to have shot himself inside his car. Officers and paramedics responded to the one-car accident shortly after 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Police say they recovered a semi-automatic handgun at the crash site and it doesn't appear anyone else was involved.

Authorities continue to investigate the crash and are asking anyone who witnessed the accident or saw Dabela beforehand to call Redding police.

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'Operation Smooth Streets' launched in Putnam County

"Operation Smooth Streets" is now underway in Putnam County, giving residents a voice in the road maintenance process.

 

Highway Superintendents from towns in Putnam County New York gathered recently to discuss the launch of the program to improve the quality of roadways in the region.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the time was right to look seriously at the issue because the roads took a terrible beating this winter. 

 

Operation Smooth Streets gives residents one place to notify officials about road damage--potholes, drainage issues, cracking and the like. The reporting site also is where local, county and state officials can collectively go after funding and know what work has been done.

 

Southeast Town Councilwoman Lynn Eckardt says residents don’t care if a road is a state, county or local road--they just want it fixed. 

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Danbury Library plans ahead for school spring vacation

The Danbury Library is offering up some programming for kids and teens during school vacation next week. 

 

Leading the way is “Sing Along with Irv” on Saturday, April 12 from 11:00am to noon for children ages 3-7.  Accomplished singer/performer Irv Plastock will lead the event.

 

“Cool Tunes for Kids” will be held on Tuesday, April 15 from 11:00 am to noon for kids of all ages and their families.  Eric Herman and the Invisible Band will provide the entertainment with comedy, audience participation and outrageously fun songs.  Eric Herman is a children’s performer based in the Pacific Northwest.  His music combines various styles of rock music with often wryly humorous child-related lyrics to create what he refers to as “cool tunes for kids.” 

 

On Wednesday, April 16 from 3:00-3:45pm, Vermont based PuppeTree will travel to Connecticut to present their colorful and entertaining puppet show ”Caps for Sale,” based on a favorite children’s book by Esphyr Slobodkina. 

 

Drama teacher Ingrid Schaeffer will return to the library to conduct another children’s drama workshop “The Rain Puddle” on Thurs., April 17 from 11:00am to 12:30pm.  Children ages 5-10 are eligible to register.  Participants will dress in costumes and act out the parts of the various animals that see their reflections in the rain puddle. 

 

An additional program on Thursday, April 17th will be a program for the older set ages 11 to 18 with “Stuck on Duct Tape” craft class from 4:30-6:00pm.  Artist Katie Stevenson will guide eager artists to create a wallet, necktie, flower, ring or other creation.  All materials are supplied.

 

All programs are provided free of charge.  Registration is required online at danburylibrary.org, click on “Events” or call 203-797-4528.

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Area lawmaker supports agriculture tourism bill

There's a growing interest in organic foods and eating locally grown foods and the state wants to help. 

 

The General Assembly's Environment Committee has advanced a bill to expand existing law to allow  signs related to agricultural tourism to be placed along interstates and highways.  The signs are meant to help consumers looking for farm fresh goods to find the people who are producing and selling it. 

 

New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor says the seemingly small step to help drive consumer and tourist traffic could produce big rewards for people in the industry as well the communities where these farms are located.  Buck-Taylor says at the heart of it, these farms are small businesses.

 

She says the agriculture industry is a $3 billion economic driver in the state and is far reaching; influencing the health of sectors such as construction, veterinary services, and retail supply. 

 

The proposal was voted out of the Legislative Commissioner's office last week.  It awaits action from the full legislature.

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WWII at Brookfield Museum and Historical Society

The Brookfield Museum and Historical Society, as part of its American Military Forum, will host a presentation given by Peter Cronin of Brookfield. Cronin a former member of the Historical Society’s Board of Directors has given a number of lectures on World War II. 

 

This presentation will  follow the U.S. Marine campaigns in the Pacific up through the Solomon Islands to Bougainville, then over to the Gilbert and Marshalls Islands and finally across the Pacific to the Marianas. The main focus will be on the Battle of Saipan and America's resolve to meet the incredible challenges they faced early on in the war against Japan. 

 

Following the presentation, complimentary refreshments will be served. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.  The event is tonight at 7:30.  The Museum is located at 165 Whisconer Road.

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Newtown Historical Society program about Ellis Island

Twelve million of our ancestors passed through Ellis Island on arriving in America between 1892 and 1954, offering a common heritage to more millions of later generations. The Newtown Historical Society will look at the history and traditions of Ellis Island in a presentation by Arthur Gottlieb.

 
Named after an early owner, colonial New Yorker Samuel Ellis, the once small oyster island was used by the state to hold a 20-gun battery protecting New York harbor from 1794.  Annie Moore, a fifteen-year-old from Ireland coming to join her family, was the first person to be processed at the station on January 1, 1892, and she was given a $10 gold coin to mark her place in history. The processing time averaged 2-5 hours, with a questionnaire and a health exam included. Only about two percent were rejected, usually for health reasons, criminal backgrounds or suspected mental deficiencies.

 

Arthur Gottlieb was Technical Director of Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in NYC, working with veterans from all services toward the creation of exhibits illustrating the history of 20th century warfare.  He was an Auxiliary Officer of the Coast Guard for 17 years, and served as the Commander of a flotilla in Long Island Sound.

 

He currently offers Pro Bono trauma counseling for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

The presentation will be hel at 7.30 on April 14th in the meeting room of Booth Library.
 

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Monroe man grows pot in former home, caught by new owner

A new Monroe homeowner called Police on Monday to report that there was a man living in the house, which was supposed to be vacant.  The man, 35-year old Jesse Berthe, told the homeowner his parents used to own the house.  Officers responded to the Cottage Street home and, after a brief struggle, arrested Berthe. 

 

Police obtained a search warrant for the home and found several items used to grow marijuana, several plants and packaging materials. 

 

At the police station the man gave a fake name.  Berthe was booked on 12 charge ranging from burglary and criminal trespass to interfering with an officer and criminal impersonation.  He is being held on a total of $215,000 bond after arraignment Wednesday.  He is scheduled to appear in court on May 1st on the charges.

 

Berthe was also charged with illegal cultivation of marijuana, illegal manufacture, distribution of prescription drugs, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was also charged with two counts of failure to appear and being a fugitive from justice. 

 

There is an outstanding warrant for the man's arrest in New Hampshire.

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680 citations issued in 8 days to distracted drivers in Danbury

Nearly 700 tickets were issued in Danbury over eight days to drivers who were seen by police using their cell phone or texting while behind the wheel.  The enhanced texting enforcement campaign was the 3rd in several months held by Danbury Police with the help of a federal grant. 

 

541 tickets were issued to people using their cell phone while driving and officers issued 141 citations for drivers who were texting. 

 

While on patrol, the officers also arrested six people for driving with a suspended license, caught two people with drugs in their cars and found 18 motor vehicles were unregistered.  13 people were cited for not wearing their seatbelts while nine child restraint violations were found. 

 

33 people were given tickets for running stop signs or stop lights.  109 tickets were issued for other traffic violations, with two resulting in misdemeanor arrests.

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Arrest made in fake emergency dispatch calls in Litchfield County

An arrest has been made for the series of fake emergency calls made on the Litchfield County Dispatch system recently.  State Police began an investigation into the false calls made on the radio system used by fire and ambulance crews in northwest Connecticut between Christmas Day and early January.  Police in Massachusetts helped in the investigation, which led to 36-year old Adam Perrelli of Great Barrington Massachusetts. 

 

He was charged Friday as a fugitive from Justice in Connecticut and extradited to the state.  He's been charged with reporting a false incident, reckless endangerment, interruption of computer service, interfering with an officer and tampering with physical evidence. Perrelli is being held on $150,000 bond for arraignment on Monday.

 

The investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible.

 

Officials say the person or people making the calls cancelled fire services to actual emergencies and has dispatched ambulances to fake emergencies. Officials believe Perrelli was using either a lost or stolen portable radio or a programmable transceiver type electronic device.

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Feds agree to pay $3.1M to convicted trash hauler

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Federal authorities have agreed to pay $3.1 million to a trash hauler convicted in a price-fixing conspiracy to settle his claim that they violated his plea agreement by failing to pay him after the government sold his companies.

James Galante said in February the government was supposed to pay him $10.7 million but had only paid $7.6 million. Galante and the government have filed an agreement in which he will be paid the balance.

Galante, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and fraud charges, was sentenced in 2008 to more than seven years in prison and is expected to be released this summer.

The agreement is subject to a judge's approval.

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New Army Reserve Center nears opening in Danbury

A dedication ceremony is being planned for next month for the new Army Reserve Center in Danbury.  The training facility on the former Lee Farm Property by the airport will be known as Veterans Memorial Armed Forces Reserve Center.   The name is meant to honor all military veterans in all branches throughout history. 

 

8 Army Reserve Units, including the Danbury-based 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, and two units of the Connecticut National Guard will be assigned to the Center. 

 

The facility includes a vehicle maintenance shop, weapons simulation rooms and classrooms.

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Putnam DA's friend acquitted in child rape case

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A child rape case that sparked allegations of interference by a district attorney — the son of TV's Judge Judy — has ended with the acquittal of his close friend.

 

A Putnam County jury found Alexandru Hossu not guilty Thursday on two counts each of first- and second-degree rape of a 13-year-old girl.

 

The county's district attorney, Adam Levy, recused himself from the case in March 2013, saying Hossu was a close friend and frequent houseguest. Westchester County prosecutors took over.

 

But Putnam Sheriff Donald Smith, a fellow Republican and a political rival, said Levy was interfering with the prosecution. Smith said that if Levy had his way, "Mr. Hossu would never have been brought to justice for his crime and Mr. Levy's relationship with him would never have been brought to the light of public scrutiny."

 

Levy sued the sheriff for $5 million, claiming defamation and calling Smith "an out-of-control sheriff who does not care about the truth." Smith denied defaming Levy. The case is pending.

 

Levy's mother, Judy Sheindlin, is the star of "Judge Judy" and issued a statement at the time calling her son "principled, honorable and dedicated." On Thursday she said: "The 12 people who had the opportunity to evaluate the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses delivered their verdict. I can only hope that having been acquitted, that Alex can get his life back."

 

In October, Levy acknowledged he had helped pay for Hossu's defense. And he said he doubted Hossu could hurt a child. Levy's brother-in-law eventually took over the defense.

 

In November, the prosecutor on the case told the judge Levy was interfering. Some local politicians called for an investigation.

 

Levy, however, said he had fulfilled his "ethical, moral and legal obligations" by recusing himself and cooperating with the prosecution. No charges have been filed against Levy.

 

Hossu, a 36-year-old immigrant from Romania who also is Levy's former personal trainer, was accused of raping the daughter of his former girlfriend.

 

At the trial in Carmel, 50 miles north of Manhattan, the girl testified that Hossu raped her in 2010. She said he "snapped" when she refused his offer for help with her homework.

 

Hossu did not take the stand, but the evidence included a phone call from the girl to Hossu last year, made at the suggestion of prosecutors and recorded without Hossu's knowledge. On the call, he denied the assault and called the allegations ridiculous.

 

Jurors heard him say, "I never touched you in an inappropriate manner."

 

On Wednesday, after three hours of deliberation, the jury reported it was deadlocked, but the judge said to keep trying for a verdict.

 

A spokeswoman for Levy, Michelle Carter, referred a call for comment to the Westchester district attorney's office. A spokesman there, Lucian Chalfen, said, "The jury heard all the evidence and gave it due consideration, as evidenced by the length of their deliberations and the fact they were initially deadlocked."

 

Hossu's immigration status is under investigation, and he remained in custody.

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Danbury prison employee indicted on more charges

An employee of the federal prison in Danbury has been indicted for her role in a scheme to collect bribes from inmates in exchange for early released.  42-year-old Kisha Perkins of Waterbury was arrested last month on federal charges stemming from the scheme to collect bribes from inmates in exchange for recommendations that they be released early to halfway houses. 

 

Prosecutors say Perkins approached a co-worker at Danbury FCI last June and offered to split a $20,000 bribe from an inmate if the co-worker would endorse early release. The co-worker refused and contacted authorities.  In July the coworker told Perkins they changed their mind and a different inmate was identified by Perkins in February as a possible candidate for the bribe scheme. 

 

On March 8th, Perkins and her co-worker traveled to a commuter lot off of Exit 28 on Interstate 84 to pick up a partial bribe payment of $5,000 in cash in a fast food bag that, as Perkins believed, was to be dropped off by an acquaintance of the inmate.

 

Her bond was revoked last Friday and she is being held for arraignment on Monday.

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Weston couple face more charges in multi-town thefts

More charges have been filed against the Weston couple who were arrested in January in what police call one of the biggest larcenies the town has seen.  38-year old Joshua Bamman and Kathlene Falone were arrested last week on more larceny charges stemming from the theft of hundreds of items from Weston and the surrounding area. 

 

Police say both were processed and released on bond. 

 

The investigation picked up in November when officers were called to the couple's home for a domestic dispute and saw items matching reported thefts.  Bamman and Falcone's initial arrest came in January for the some 400 items. 

 

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

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NY teens invited to house, steal jewelry

Two teenagers have been charged with felonies for allegedly stealing items from a Brewster home where they were guests.  An investigation was started by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department after a complainant said the pair were invited to the home in August. 

 

The probe revealed that 19-year olds Kiana Marie Cable and Kelly Ann Debenedetto, both of Southeast, allegedly took jewelry and sold it at two local precious metal dealers, where it was recovered. 

 

Each were arrested last week and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.  Cable was released without bail following arraignment while Debenedetto was released after posting $2,000 bond.  They will each be in court on the 14th.

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18th Sandy Ground playground to open tonight

The 18th Sandy Ground Playground dedicated in memory of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is set to be opened.  The playgrounds are mostly being built in towns hard hit by Hurricane Sandy in an effort led by New Jersey firefighters and paid for through donations. 

 

Today's ribbon cutting at Elizabeth Park in Hartford is celebrating the life of Ana Marquez-Greene, on what would have been her 8th birthday. 

 

Her father Jimmy is a jazz musician who is a professor at Western Connecticut State University.  Her mother Nelba is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  The couple's first home was in Hartford and the family used to spend time in the park. 

 

Ana's brother Isaiah was named the honorary foreman of the project, which features two of Ana's drawings and a music motif.  The slides are purple, Ana's favorite color.  The ribbon cutting is at 6pm and will feature a group salsa lesson because Ana loved to dance.

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Compost pilot program kicks off in Bridgewater

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection  Deputy Commissioner, Macky McCleary, will join the members and staff of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Burnham School in Bridgewater today to mark the official start of the Bridgewater Residential Curbside Food Scraps Collection Pilot Program. 

 

Under the program, All American Waste will collect food scraps from participating Bridgewater properties every Friday for six months at no cost to the participants.  The collected organic material will be delivered to either New Milford Farms or New England Compost in Danbury (operators of two of the three permitted organics composting facilities in the state) where it will be processed and turned into compost.  Partway through the pilot, participating residents will be able to pick up a free bag of the finished compost at each facility--closing the loop. 

 

As the Bridgewater organics pilot program kicks off almost 140 households are participating, approximately 13% of all Bridgewater households.  Bridgewater Village Store, Bridgewater Congregational Church, Parker Medical and Burnham School are also participating.

 

At the end of the six month pilot All American Waste will analyze the cost of the program and the number of participants to determine whether they can continue to offer the program as a value-added service to their customers or whether there will be a charge for the program going forward.  The more customers who sign up, the lower the cost will be for everyone.  In the future HRRA would like to expand the program to cover other communities in the region and have other solid waste haulers participate. 

 

Residents of the HRRA region produce about 140,000 tons of trash a year, and Connecticut residents produce almost 2.4 million tons of trash annually.  About two-thirds of all trash produced in the state is burned and turned into electricity at one of the state's six waste-to-energy plants.  Almost one-third of it is organic material which could be made into compost and returned to enrich the soil and grow more food organically.

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Danbury area firefighters help Torrington battle tire shop blaze

Firefighters from Danbury, Stony Hill and Newtown are on their way to Torrington to help put out a multi-alarm blaze at a tire company.  Emergency crews responded to the Toce Brothers company on Taylor Street Thursday morning.

There are no reports of injuries.

Smoke from the fire drifted over the city and could be seen for several miles.

It's not clear yet what caused the blaze.

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NY man charged for violating protective order

A domestic incident in Mahopac has led to the arrest of a Yorktown man.  A woman went to the Putnam County Sheriff's office last Tuesday night to report a violation of a protective order by the father of her child. 

 

The man, identified as 28-year old Kevin Harrigan, showed up for court ordered visitation, but physically fought the woman. 

 

On Thursday afternoon Harrigan surrendered to deputies and was charged with criminal contempt, endangering the welfare of a child and harassment.  He was arraigned and is being held at Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of $500 bond.

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3 arrested for drug deal in Ridgefield

A Ridgefield Police detective conducting surveillance last night arrested three people who were caught with 69 packets of heroin and 45 grams of cocaine packaged in separate bags. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that two men and a woman were in a parking lot along Route 7 near Route 35 when the exchange was witnessed.  30-year old Christopher Ruggiero of Waterbury was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance and having a weapon in the vehicle.  He was released on $50,000 bond for an April 16th court appearance. 

 

27-year old Kevin Fleischmann and 23-year old Katherine Saleeby of Westport were each charged with possession of narcotics.  They were released on $500 bond and will appear in court the same day.

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Texting ban enforcement effort coming to an end in Danbury

After several days of a crackdown on drivers using their cell phones behind the wheel, Danbury Police are reporting a significant number of citations issues.  In six days of ramped up enforcement, more than 550 tickets were issued to motorists using their cell phone or texting while driving. 

 

Police Chief Al Baker says during this enforcement, three motorists were found with suspended licenses.  While on patrol the officers also cited nine drivers for having unregistered vehicles.  One drug arrest was also made during that time.  Officers also issued 5 citations for child restrain violations.

 

Several police departments in the Greater Danbury area are participating in the texting ban enforcement program.  The fine for cell phone and texting violations start at $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second citation and $500 for each subsequent violation.

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Conn. panel blocks chimp victim's request to sue

A Connecticut woman disfigured in a 2009 chimpanzee attack says she's ``heartbroken'' a committee is recommending the General Assembly deny her request to sue the state for financial damages.  The Judiciary Committee voted 35-3 Wednesday in favor of upholding last year's decision by the state claims commissioner denying Charla Nash's request. 

 

Redding Representative John Shaban sits on the Committee and questioned the state Attorney General about the claim.  He wondered if a seizure notice was issued, would that change the state's liability.  Attorney General George Jepson says if the state was contacted about the chimp, an agency would likely have sent a letter to the owner ordering her to go through the permitting process. 

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith wanted clarification about the regulation stating people must have a permit for primates larger than 50 pounds, but that there was no consequence of seizure if they didn't have a permit.  Smith was told that there would have been a 75-dollar penalty.  The state could have then either issued a permit or, with court authorization, seized the animal. 

 

Nash says she's devastated by the decision and only wants a chance to pay her medical bills and ``live as normal of a life as possible.''

 

The full legislature still has the option of approving Nash's suit but it would be an uphill battle.

 

Committee members spoke about how it was difficult to vote against Nash, who impressed the lawmakers with her courage in appearing before the panel during a public hearing earlier this month.

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Area lawmaker disagrees with High court on big campaign donors

The Supreme Court struck down in a 5-to-4 ruling Wednesday federal limits on overall campaign contributions donors may make to candidates, political parties, and Political Action Committees.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says per-election limits on individual contributions to candidates for president or Congress, set at $2,600 per election, are still in effect.

 

Himes says no idea is more important than "one person, one vote", not $1 billion, one vote.  He agreed with Senator McCain who said it would take a major scandal to cause the court to wake up and realize how wrong the constitutional interpretation is.  He says while Chief Justice Roberts is right in noting that sometimes the First Amendment protects things others find offensive, he's wrong that dollars are speech.

 

Himes says less money is needed in politics, not more.  He says the decision threatens to unleash an additional torrent of money into the political system at a time when large donors already have far too much influence.

 

Himes supports public financing for political campaigns to level the playing field for voters whose voices are being muted.

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Warrant unsealed in DHS threat arrest of Torrington teen

New details are coming out about the teens arrested after making threats against High Schools in Danbury and Stratford.

 

The arrest warrant for 18-year-old Natalie Carpenter of Torrington has been unsealed.  Torrington police also issued an arrest warrant for her boyfriend, 19-year old Peter Thulin. 

 

The warrant says two residents of Hope House, a facility for people with mental illness , told staff that two other residents were planning to travel to Danbury High School and "shooting it up like Columbine".  The warrant revealed writings in a journal Carpenter kept say she can't stop thinking about Columbine, Eric and Dylan, calling them her heroes.  She also wondered how they were able to get guns at such a young age.  The arrest warrant says Carpenter was fascinated with Columbine, looking at Youtube videos saying her plans would make her famous. 

 

The warrant revealed they tried to buy a gun at Tactical Arms in Torrington, but were denied.  They also filled out forms at Walmart to buy a shotgun or rifle.  The warrant also states that Carpenter and Thulin reenacted scenarios, but that the threats wouldn't be carried out until she turned 21.

 

Portions of a journal the girl kept were detailed in the warrant.  Carpenter condemned the shooter of the Sandy Hook tragedy for killing innocent children “who did nothing wrong” saying it was "uncalled for". 

 

Carpenter allegedly talked about committing suicide there so bullies could see the effects of bullying.  

 

She is being held on $300,000 bond.  Carpenter will be in Litchfield Judicial Court on the 25th.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged break in, assault in New Milford

A Danbury man has been arrested on assault, strangulation, criminal trespass and other charges in New Milford.  Police were called to West Street early Tuesday morning on a report that a man climbed into a house through the window. 

 

Officers found 28-year old Jose Rodriguez had been confronted by a 55-year old woman and choked her.  Police say the man previously had a relationship with someone who lived at the home, but was not there at the time.  There was a minor in the house so Rodriguez was also charged with risk of injury to a minor. 

 

Police say a neighbor pushed Rodriguez out of the house.  Both the woman and Rodriguez were treated at New Milford Hospital for injuries. 

 

He was held on bond.

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Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation sets next distribution

A 10 page report has been released by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation with how the next $200,000 in donations will be distributed.  The report also included results of an online survey.  Some Newtown residents say in the new survey that they want the Sandy Hook School shooter's home torn down and the property turned into a park or nature preserve.

 

$75,000 will be going to the so-called immediate needs fund set up by the United Way of Western Connecticut shortly after December 14th.  That fund is being taken over by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation. 

 

Another $75,000 will be used to pay for mental health treatments not covered by insurance companies.  $10,000 will be used to bring community wide programs to Newtown.  The other $40,000 will be used to expand public education and training.

 

Most of the money collected by the Foundation, nearly $8 million was distributed to 40 families.   They were the families of the 26 educators and children killed, the families of the 12 surviving students in those classes, and to the two injured faculty members.  That left the foundation with about $4.4 million.

 

There remain some ‘stigma’ barriers with Police, Fire, and Ambulance Corps members who may be reluctant to receive mental health assistance or don’t want to have anything on record that indicates they have sought treatment. There is confusion and lack of clear communication about resources available to assist individuals.

 

 

 

Many of the families of children who were in the school feel like they have been forgotten as survivors/witnesses. Many children who were in classrooms in the immediate vicinity were deeply traumatized.  These families, along with the victims and surviving children,are struggling with significant family disruption, increased expenses and decreased income for some who needed to take time from work to be with their children.

 

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Board of Ed give input on Newtown High principal qualities

The Newtown Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday night before their regularly scheduled meeting.  One of the items on the agenda was to hold the High School Principal search consultant focus group meeting. 

 

Newtown school officials say the candidate should have the ability to lead through open communication and consensus building; have a knowledge of best practices in teaching and instructional technology; and a working knowledge of Common Core Curriculum. 

 

The Board of Education at their regular meeting received the retirement announcement of Middle School Assistant Principal Tony Salvatore.  He is leaving the school district after 20 years teaching and 15 years as an administrator.

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Oxford man in court for Ridgefield bank robbery

An Oxford man has appeared in court on charges stemming from a January bank robbery in Ridgefield.  According to court records, 35-year old Andrew Rendflash pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery, larceny and conspiracy to commit robbery for the incident at First Niagra Bank on Danbury Road January 24th. 

 

He is being held on $100,000 bond.  Rendflash will be back in court at the end of the month. 

 

Last week the alleged getaway driver, 45-year old David Stiber of Derby, pleaded not guilty to accessory to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

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New Conn. mother didn't know she was pregnant

SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman says she thought she caught a bug when she developed stomach pains but ended up giving birth to a 9-pound-3-ounce boy without having known she was pregnant.

Jennifer Scollin gave birth Saturday morning in an ambulance parked in the driveway of her home in Seymour after her boyfriend, Matt Dillman, called 911 when the couple realized they were having their second child. Both mother and son were discharged from a hospital Monday and are doing fine.

Scollin told the Connecticut Post that there were no signs of a pregnancy. She said she had been feeling fine up until Saturday and had been menstruating every month until last month.

The couple named the boy Cole Michael Thomas Dillman, who joins his 4-year-old sister, Kelsey.

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Obit: Bethel businessman, Police Commissioner Hugo Greco dies at 81

Hugo Greco of Bethel has died at the age of 81.  He passed away Sunday March 30th at Danbury Hospital.

 

Greco, a native born Italian, created a family business and trained his sons in the multitude of metalworking and finishing skills.  They own and operate Greco Industries.  According to the company website, Hugo is regarded as a master of bronze patina work. He had to apply, or create, more than forty patina formulae for the prestigious Society of Medallists, a series of art medals created by the Medallic Art Co., in the time he headed up their finishing department.

 

Greco celebrated his fiftieth year in the field in 2005.  Their new plant is located in the Francis J. Clark Industrial Park.  It's the third move for Greco Industries since its founding in 1986.  The firm's client list is an impressive who's who of renowned organizations.

 

Greco Industries has worked with the National Collegiate Athletic Association for nearly 20 years, creating trophies and medals for the athletes of America's collegiate competitions. "The NCAA National Championship Trophy that has been held aloft by the winning teams has been proudly crafted by the firm."  A recent production is the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal, an award that the organization bestows to civilians across America and Canada for acts of lifesaving, heroism and bravery. "Greco Industries is proud to produce these medals for the Carnegie Foundation as it enters its second century of honoring ordinary people doing extra-ordinary acts in the preservation of human life."

 

Greco also served on the Bethel Police Commission.

 

In addition to his wife Martha, he is survived by two sons, two daughters, two sisters, 10 grandchildren as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

 

Donations in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718, or online.

 

The family will receive friends at the Bethel Funeral Home, 215 Greenwood Avenue Wednesday afternoon from 1pm to 3pm and in the evening from 6pm to 8pm.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Church, Bethel, Thursday at 10am. Burial will be in St. Mary Cemetery.

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Guilty pleas from former Congressional candidate, husband

A former Congressional candidate and her husband have pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions.

 

Lisa Wilson-Foley, a former candidate for the 5th Congressional District seat, and her husband, Brian Foley pleaded guilty Monday.  The 54-year old was competing in the Republican primary when she formed a Federal Election Commission to make and receive payments. 

 

Authorities say in September 2011, a co-conspirator, former Governor John Rowland, proposed to the couple that he be hired to work on the campaign.  But the couple thought because of his felony conviction, it would result in negative publicity for her campaign. 

 

Prosecutors say they agreed Bryan Foley would pay Rowland for his work on behalf of Wilson-Foley's campaign and routed those payments from his real estate company through a fictitious contract outlining an agreement purportedly for consulting services between Rowland  and the law offices of an attorney who worked for Foley’s nursing home company. 

 

Rowland was paid a total of $35,000 and that was considered campaign contributions unreported to the Federal Election Commission, which violated federal campaign finance laws. 

 

The couple is scheduled to be sentenced June 23rd.

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Two moms work to have rare disease included in newborn screenings

A mom from Connecticut and one from New York are working together to expand newborn screenings to include Adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD, a rare genetic disease that affects the brain.  Jean Kelley's son was diagnosed with ALD after he had MRI and says strides have been made here in Connecticut.

 

Elisa Seeger got Aidan's Law, named for her son, passed in New York a year ago.  When Aidan was 6, he began having vision problems, it wasn't until an MRI was done that his parents discovered Aidan had ALD.

 

If ALD is diagnosed before symptoms show, a patient can be treated with a stem cell transplant to stop the progression of the disease.  The screenings will be done in Connecticut under a law signed by the Governor in June.  Kelley will be working with the state Department of Public Health soon on implementation. 

 

Her son had a bone marrow transplant, but he is in a wheelchair and can't see or speak.

 

It's been one year since New York passed 'Aidan's Law' a newborn screening program for ALD.  The law was named after the 7-year old, who died in 2012. 

 

The moms say the cost of screening each child for ALD is minimal, while the cost of misdiagnosing one child can run into the millions.

 

Since the New York legislation was enacted on December 30th, 2013, three infants in the state have been identified with the rare disease and 1 was identified as having a related disorder.  ALD is estimated to affect one in 17,000 people worldwide and most severely affects boys.

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Anti-bullying campaign being created by youths for peers

The issue of bullying is being addressed by a group of youths.  Through the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut's "Achievers Program", minority and hispanic youths in the region will discuss anti-bullying efforts.  YMCA Vice President of Advancement Maura Keenan says the program shows kids the skills they need to become leaders in society.

 

College aged mentors from AmeriCorps will help the youths create the anti-bullying program.  Keenan says together, they will design an anti-bullying seminar led by students.

 

The YMCA and AmeriCorps is also working with the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury on this program.

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Metro-North delays rise amid track repairs

NEW YORK (AP) Train delays on Metro-North rose dramatically in the first two months of 2014 as the beleaguered railroad ramped up track repair.

Maintenance work was responsible for delaying more than 4,500 trains. That's compared to 456 during the same time last year.

The Post says this year's harsh winter also was responsible for delaying over 1,000 trains.

Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders says on-time performance has taken a hit as the railroad concentrates its resources on safety. She says the railroad is working to restore ``high-service quality and this includes a lot of track work.''

There were 4,300 customer complaints through the end of February, up from 2,800 during the same period last year.

In December, a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx killing four people.

 

Track work is underway along the Danbury Branch to figure out what's causing false signals to activate gates at crossings along the line.

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