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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-07

Club Getaway Fire in Kent suspicious

The state fire marshal is responding to Club Getaway in Kent to investigate a suspicious fire.

The fire caused heavy damage to two cabins and guests in those cabins were evacuated.

Litchfield county fire dispatchers say several fire departments responded and ambulances were sent. 

Guests were evaluated at the scene and released...

The club specializes in camps and sports and adventure programs.

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Danbury woman not to be charged for leaving child in car

Bethel police say charges will not be filed against a Danbury woman who left her 18-month old in a car Wednesday morning.  Bethel Police were called to the Grassy Plain Street YMCA about a boy in a vehicle with the windows rolled down. 

 

Police were told by 31-year old Madai Cervantes that she was trying to pick up paperwork to enroll the boy at the YMCA and left the child unattended for about 18 minutes while dropping her 5-year old off at the facility.  The police report says that Cervantes didn't realize how much time had passed while waiting for the school secretary.

 

Police say the child was not in danger of suffering a heat related emergency because the temperature was about 65 degrees.  But the state Department of Children and Families was contacted because the child was left unattended.

 

During the police investigation it was determined that Cervantes did not have a valid driver's license and she was issued an infraction for operating without a license.

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Former Conn. man charged for defrauding veterans

51-year old Joseph Morris, of Florida, has been charged with defrauding the co-founders and investors of his Wilton-based company out of $175,000.  The indictment was returned on July 1st, and was unsealed Tuesday during the former Connecticut man's arraignment.

 

According to the indictment, Morris and two others formed a company in October 2011 to develop business opportunities in Iraq.  The company's initial focus was a pizza restaurant for the U.S. Consulate compound in Iraq, and establishing a business to distribute and install specialty window film on vehicles and at hotels, residences, and government buildings, which would protect windows and windshields from blast and breakage, and provide heat retention, ultra-violet shielding, and privacy. 

 

Morris was the company's in-country manager in Iraq.

 

The indictment alleges that Morris made false emails, with photos, to his co-founders that he knew would be relayed to potential investors to induce them to invest in the company.  Morris implied that a lease had been signed to establish the pizzeria, that renovations were underway, and that progress was being made to open the restaurant.  Morris also falsely claimed that an exclusive arrangement has been made with a specialty window film manufacturer to distribute and install the window film in all of Iraq. 

 

About a dozen investors, most of whom were U.S. military veterans, invested $175,000 in the company.  Morris allegedly diverted large sums of money for his own personal use.

 

One of the co-founders discovered that the company did not have a lease or an exclusive arrangement in the spring of 2012.

 

The indictment charges Morris with five counts of wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count.

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Town owned car: Business or personal question raised

A trip to Tennessee by Brookfield First Selectman Bill Tinsley has raised some questions, because he took a town-owned 2013 Ford Fusion.  Former Democratic Selectman Howard Lasser says some town employees approached him concerned that the trip was personal not business.  Lasser filed a Freedom of Information request for milage records that showed the odometer has almost doubled since Tinsley took office in November. 

 

The first term Republican's mother lives near Chattanooga where he maintains he investigated business development ideas.

 

The Ethics Board will meet Monday.  The code about proper use of town property will be discussed.  A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.

 

Lasser helped craft the town code about proper use of town property.  When the Ethics Board meets Monday, Lasser has asked that they discuss the code about proper use of town property. 

 

A call to Tinsley for comment was not returned.

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Charter revision public hearing to be held in Ridgefield

A public hearing is being held tonight in Ridgefield for residents to weigh in on recommended changes to the town's charter.  There are 10 policy updates being suggested by the Charter Revision Commission along with seven technical changes.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the changes would appear on the November 4th ballot.

 

Among the changes are that the town treasurer be appointed rather than elected, the Commission on Aging would get an additional member and any open space donation must go through an environmental review before acceptance. 

 

Marconi says the Board would like the Parks and Rec Department Director have a reporting process to other town officials.

 

Any new committee created by the First Selectmen will end a month after the next election of the Board according to one change.  Another would add to alternate members to the Conservation Commission.  Minority representation rules would change for the Board of Finance.  The proposal is to have no more than three of the five members be from the same party, one fewer than the balance currently in the Charter. 

 

One proposal is that the Selectmen be responsible for organizing the annual town budget meeting rather than appointing a committee to do that and getting rid of attendance record submissions by boards.  Another change involves the Board of Education's out-of-budget expenditure requests.  The Board of Selectmen would have to support the spending in addition to the Board of Finance before sending the request to a town meeting.  An annual summary of activities and accomplishments by town agencies would no longer be required under another proposed change.

 

 

Tonight's public hearing is at 6:30 at Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Danbury teen arrested for sexual assault of 14-year old

A Danbury teenager has been arrested for sexual assault.  Police say 19-year old Johnny Zaruma had been under investigation since February.  The Special Victims Unit received a report of a pregnant 14 year old girl and launched the investigation which determined that Zaruma was the father. 

 

An arrest warrant was carried out on Monday at his Stillman Avenue home.  He was also charged with risk of injury to a minor and illegal sexual contact to a minor. 

 

Zaruma is being held on $5,000 bond.

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Utility taps Danbury company for expansion

United Illuminating has tapped a Danbury-based company to supply electricity to substations.  Fuel Cell Energy says the installation sites will be in Bridgeport and New Haven.  The Danbury company will build two fuel cell power plants to provide environmentally friendly distributed power to residents. 

 

Fuel Cell officials say distributed power generation like this installation increases the power supply while producing virtually no pollutants, have a low-noise profile, and only modest space requirements.  The power provided at both sites is enough to power about 5,600 homes.  FuelCell Energy will install the power plants and operate and maintain them under long term service agreements. 

 

Both sites are expected to be operational in early 2015.

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Unusal rescue effort launched by Danbury firefighters on Main Street

An unusual distress call resulted in a large scale rescue operation in Danbury Wednesday morning.  Danbury firefighters were called to a parking lot off Main Street on a report of a distressed duck, walking around and squawking.  It turns out 11 ducklings were walking through the lot and fell through a sewer grate.  All 11 ducklings were rescued by firefighters from the sewer lines under Main Street.  The 12 animals were then relocated to Rogers Park Pond.

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Danbury investigates opening additional small learning academies

As Danbury gets set to open its new STEM academy, school officials are looking at what other specialized choices for Middle School students can be offered.  The West Side Middle School Academy will house the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program as well as the a Global Studies Academy.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

 

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr Bill Glass says they're looking at the possibility of opening three small learning academies at the two middle schools.  They would be in the fields of health and bio science performing arts, and environmental science magnet academies.

 

Glass says they are studying whether to open a performing arts magnet academy at each middle school because there's a lot of interest in the field.  Western Connecticut State University is currently constructing a new performing arts center.  Glass says this would be a naturally occurring opportunity to build on the connection that already exists between Danbury Public Schools and Western.

 

Glass says a health and bio science academy at Broadview Middle School with an environmental studies academy at Rogers Park Middle School are possibilities being studied.  Danbury Hospital has expressed an interest in working with the City on the Broadview academy.  Rogers Park is near an old quarry, nature preserve, Tarrywile Park, a pond and organic gardens.

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Grant applications filed for wheelchair accessible vans

Applications have been sent to the state for grant funding of wheelchair accessible vans serving seniors and persons with disabilities.  At a recent meeting of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, regional rankings were given to certain programs that provide van services. 

 

Using the state Department of Transportation's criteria evaluation system, HART helped the regional planning group make the rankings.  Four grant applications to purchase wheelchair accessible vans are available this year.  The applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability, New Milford Wheels, the City of Danbury and Chestnut Grove Senior Housing Complex in New Milford. 

 

There are also Three grant applications available to fund projects and activities that support those services.  Applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability so they can implement GPS technology for door-to-door service, Rides for Ridgefield mobility Management services and SPHERE to support operations of the bus service in Ridgefield.

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Construction started in Wilton on natural gas pipeline expansion

Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan says the town has reached an agreement with Yankee Gas to expand natural gas distribution in the Wilton Village and school areas.  He says the end of July, early August was chosen for construction because it's traditionally the time of the lowest level of traffic and pedestrian activity.  The pipeline is being installed in the Center Street-River Road area. 

 

Brennan says the goal is to have construction completed in that area by August 22nd.  Work near Wilton High School should be completed around the same time, since classes are slated to resume on August 25th.  There will also be a construction crew working on Wolfpit Road West from Route 7 across the Norwalk River and the train tracks to River Road. 

 

He advises motorists that the construction will cause temporary traffic congestion.  Officials estimate that the whole installation should be completed in four months by the end of November. 

 

Brennan says natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, creating less emissions which will contribute to the Town's long range environmental objectives.  The town has already locked in a natural gas price for three years.

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WCSU scholarship created to honor slain Airman

TJ Lobraico Jr. was a carefree 10-year-old boy when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  A dozen years later on an early September evening in Afghanistan, Lobraico made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country during his second tour of duty with the New York Air National Guard as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

TJ attended community college before his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2010-11, and then transferred to Western to pursue a degree in Justice and Law Administration. TJ volunteered for his second deployment in 2013, this time to Afghanistan.  He died at the age of 22 after saving several members of his squadron when they were ambushed on September 5, 2013.

 

His family has started a scholarship at Western as a way for his memory to live on.

 

Lobraico’s mother Linda Rohatsch, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and WCSU graduate, commands the 105th Medical Group at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, the same base that TJ was assigned to, and served a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq. TJ’s father, Todd James Lobraico, is an Air Force veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who serves as a master sergeant with the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He also is a Stamford police officer.

 

The scholarship is for a student entering their junior year studying Justice and Law Administration who, like TJ, had demonstrated active participation in community service and held a part-time job.  Rohatsch says by having the scholarship designated for a junior, it's a student who has shown they are dedicated to getting through their four years and typically the junior year is the hardest to get through. 

 

Qualified applicants are required to submit a short essay that answers the question, “What does service above self mean to you?”  The TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship will provide a $5,000 scholarship annually, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

 

The goal is to raise $120,000, which is the minimum to be endowed.  It will then be self sustaining through a foundation.  They are almost half way to that goal.

 

Rohatsch says the community, the state, the air base and everyone else has been so kind.  She says she is very thankful for people's genuine kindness.  On behalf of the whole family, she says there really are not enough words for how much they appreciate that.

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Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) A Connecticut teacher who helped save students' lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has a book deal.

G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Tuesday that ``Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Your Life's Darkest Hour'' by teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be released next spring. The publisher says the book will be a ``poignant account of personal triumph over unbearable tragedy.'' Robin Gaby Fisher is co-writing it.

Roig-DeBellis hurried 15 first-graders into a bathroom upon hearing gunfire at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, saving their lives. The gunman eventually shot himself to death after gunning down his mother, six teachers and 20 children.

Last year, Roig-DeBellis founded Classes 4 Classes, a nonprofit that advocates teaching children that all lives are connected.

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Woman forgives husband who left son in hot car

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman whose 15-month-old son died this month after her husband left him in a car on a hot day says she forgives him.

Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, of Ridgefield, says that her husband, Kyle Seitz, was extremely distraught after bringing their son to a hospital. She says she told her husband she loved him and made sure he looked at her.

Rogers-Seitz, who also has two daughters, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that her family is grieving together.

Police say the father was supposed to bring Benjamin to daycare but went to work and left his son inside the car on July 7 for ``an extended period of time.''

A police investigation is continuing. The official cause of death has not been determined.

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Brookfield police ID teen killed in crash

The name of the driver killed in a two car crash on Saturday in Brookfield has been released.  Police say 19-year old Amanda Sarapochiello of Brookfield was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital. 

 

Police say Candlewood Lake Road was closed around 11am Saturday because a car travelling northbound, driven by Sarapochiello, crossed the double yellow line and collided with a vehicle travelling in the other direction.  Police say that other car was being driven by a 16-year old Brookfield resident, who was not seriously injured.  The other teen was also transported to the hospital. 

 

The road was closed for about 3 hours Saturday.

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Public hearing in Redding tonight held by Connecticut Siting Council

An application has been made to the Siting Council for a telecommunications facility to be constructed at the Redding Ridge Fire Department on Black Rock Turnpike.  Weather permitting today, the Council will conduct a public field review starting at 2pm, with the applicant flying a balloon to simulate the height of the proposed tower.  The 150 foot cell tower will be managed by Message Center Management and the fire district.  AT&T would be the primary carrier but Verizon would also use the facility.  Nextel is the only carrier on the existing 80-foot tower.  

 

The 3pm hearing at the Redding Community Center will provide the applicant and intervenors an opportunity to cross-examine positions.  The purpose of the hearing is to hear evidence of a public need for this tower outweighing any adverse environmental effects that would result from the construction, maintenance or operation of a tower, access road and ground equipment. 

 

The 7pm hearing will be reserved for the public to make brief comments on the record.  Cross-examination of all parties will resume if necessary after all comments have been entered into the record.

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Conn. man arrested at WCSU for unemployment compensation fraud

A Connecticut man working at Western Connecticut State University has been arrested for using someone else's Social Security Number to illegally collect $68,197 in Unemployment Compensation.  38-year old Mauricio Perez of Meriden was arrested Friday while working as an independent flooring contractor at the new visual arts building being constructed on the West Side Campus. 

 

He was charged with larceny, identity theft, and felony unemployment compensation fraud.  According to the arrest warrant, Perez used a California resident's Social Security number to collect the benefits from 2002 to 2013 when he wasn't legally authorized to work in the United States. 

 

He is being held on $20.000 bond for a court appearance on the 14th.

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Lake Waramaug poor water quality continues

The swimming area at Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent has been closed since Thursday and remains closed today.  Environmental officials say the rain last week caused elevated bacteria levels.  The water was tested again on Friday and the results came back the same.  State officials say water quality will be tested again early this week.  The tests are used by public health and environmental protection authorities to evaluate the potential for contamination in water bodies.

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Lawmaker calls for Metro North Danbury Branch advocate

An area lawmaker has written to Governor Malloy asking him to push Metro North to appoint more rail advocates.  On word that the Waterbury Branch Line Advocate was appointed last week, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher questioned why the railroad didn't also appoint one for the Danbury Branch.

 

Boucher says Danbury area rail riders have what she called "complaint fatigue", feeling Metro North is not listening to their concerns and complaints.  She says commuters on that line are frustrated, with good reason, but so are commuters on the Danbury Branch.

 

Boucher retold the story of a veteran commuter who is considering finding a new job or moving away because the deterioration of Metro North service has been maddening.  Earlier this year especially, commuters were telling officials they weren't sure if they would make it to work on time or get home safely because of the numerous issues the railroad is having.

 

Over the years, Boucher says the branch lines have been more neglected than the main line.  She notes that often times the branch lines can't be used and commuters will clog the highways by driving to other stations.  In addition to road congestion, Boucher says it worsens an already tight parking situation in other towns.

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Compromise on help for veterans dealing with health care delays

Senator Richard Blumenthal is pleased with a bipartisan compromise agreement reached over the weekend by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen to improve delivery of health care services. 

 

Blumenthal calls the legislation long overdue and called for immediate passage.  Recent data has shown a worsening of wait times for Connecticut veterans to get care at the two V-A hospitals and six clinics in the state, including the one in Danbury.  

 

The compromise calls for $5 billion in emergency funding for the hiring of more doctors and facility upgrades.  It also includes $10 billion for private health care for veterans who waited too long to receive treatment.

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Parking violation fines hiked in Ridgefield

Connecticut has raised the maximum fine for parking in a fire lane and illegally parking in a handicap parking space.  That means Ridgefield has now taken action to raise the rates set by the town, to match the state fine.  A town meeting and public hearing was held Wednesday to approve the changes. 

 

The ordinance change was recommended by the Ridgefield Parking Authority.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the change was made to streamline the process.  Any time the state raises the fine and the town decides to follow suit, only Board of Selectmen approval would be needed.  Previously a public hearing, town meeting approval process was also needed.

 

Marconi and other Board members feel strongly, particularly when it comes to illegally parked cars in handicap spaces.  If people are just walking into a store quickly to pick something up and they don't have a permit, it's still a violation.  Marconi says the stiff fine is a reminder that people shouldn't park there.

 

The fine for parking in a handicap space has increased from $86 to $150.  Parking in a fire zone has gone from a $50 fine to a $92 ticket.

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Gov: Feds no longer asking for Conn. sites to house child refugees

Governor Dannel Malloy says a closer look of the Southbury Training School and Old Gateway Community College buildings has revealed that neither can be used to house thousands of migrant children from Central America because of physical and safety limitations.

 

Malloy says mass housing sites, institutionalizing children is not the way to go.  He says the better way is to place children with family members.

 

He notes that the federal government is no longer asking the state to provide facilities for the children at this time.  The children are being settled with families members, more than 300 of them in Connecticut.

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Senator touts WCSU Upward Bound Program

While in Danbury on Friday, Senator Chris Murphy stopped by Western Connecticut State University to check in with high school students participating in the Upward Bound Program.  The Danbury High Schoolers are first generation college students or are from low income families.  He says they face a barrier if they do get into college--paying for it.

 

He is working on a bill with three other Senators that would hold colleges accountable for reducing tuition by possibly withholding financial aid from the federal government.  Murphy says the federal government spends $140 billion every year on that, with almost no conditions.

 

100 Danbury High School students, many of who were recruited at the end of 8th grade, are participating in the program to develop and strengthen their academic skills.

 

A mandatory six-week, nonresidential summer program is conducted at the University. This summer program is designed to prepare students academically and socially for the upcoming school year. Students are given an introduction to the major courses they will be taking in the fall.  Murphy was in Danbury to listen to presentations the kids have been working on and to push them to stay on course, get a degree and be able to earn a substantial living in Connecticut.

 

During the academic year, each student receives an academic advisor who monitors their academic and behavioral progress. Tutoring and various workshops such as Study Skills, SAT Preparation, and Financial Aid Awareness are offered.  Career and college counseling courses are offered, as well as supplementary classes which address issues effecting today's teens. Students participate in educational and cultural trips as well as college tours.

 

Over the course of the four years, each student participates in a ten-day Great Hollow Wilderness School experience in New Fairfield Students develop self-confidence and goal setting skills, as well as learn the importance of team work and social-personal responsibilities. These skills are developed through technical rock climbing, canoeing, caving, backpacking, and meeting the challenge of a high rope course.

 

The Upward Bound Program is funded by the US Department of Education, along with supplementary grants from the Danbury Board of Education.

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Area lawmaker honored today as 'Children's Champion'

An awards ceremony is being held today at the Bethel YMCA to recognize this year's Children's Champions.  The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance has given the honor to 24 state lawmakers for their work during the latest legislative session.  Among them is Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher.

 

Boucher cited research that shows investments in pre-school and early childhood education will bring the greatest return on investment and help close the achievement gap.  She says a highly trained and educated Connecticut work force is vital in today's global economy.  Boucher says almost 80-percent of what we learn is done from the ages of birth through age 5.  She says their rapid pace of brain development means a good environment for young children is vital.

 

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide membership and advocacy organization committed to improving developmental outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children ages birth through eight.

 

Boucher also received the Children’s Champion award from the Alliance in 2013, 2012 and 2009.

 

The other 23 honored are:

Senator Andres Ayala (D-23) Bridgeport and Stratford

Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-13) Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield and Middletown

Senator Beth Bye (D-05) Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington and West Hartford

Senator Carlo Leone (D-27) Stamford and Darien

Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20) Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Salem and Waterford

Senator Don Williams (D-29) Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson and Windham

Representative Cathy Abercrombie (D-83) Berlin and Meriden

Representative Tim Ackert (R-08) Columbia, Coventry, Tolland and Vernon

Representative Joe Aresimowicz (D-30) Berlin and Southington

Representative Juan Candelaria (D-95) New Haven

Representative Victor Cuevas (D-75) Waterbury

Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-18) West Hartford

Representative Mae Flexer (D-44) Killingly and Plainfield

Representative Daniel Fox (D-148) Stamford

Representative Gerald Fox (D-146) Stamford

Representative Mary Fritz (D-90) Cheshire and Wallingford

Representative Patricia Billie Miller (D-145) Stamford

Representative Bobby Sanchez (D-25) New Britain

Representative Hilda Santiago (D-84) Meriden

Representative William Tong (D-147) Stamford and Darien

Representative Toni Walker (D-93) New Haven

Representative Roberta Willis (D-64) Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Torrington and Sharon

Rep. Michelle Cook (D-65) Torrington (Legislator of the Year)

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Tornado touches down in Wolcott

WOLCOTT, Conn. (AP) The National Weather Service has confirmed that a small tornado touched down in Wolcott.

Sunday's tornado was rated as an EF0, the weakest rating for the storms, with winds between 65 and 85 mph.

Investigators say among other things, the storm uprooted trees, knocked down a fence and blew down a portable backstop on the baseball field at Wolcott High School.

The weather service says the tornado touched down at 12:50 p.m. and traveled about six-tenths of a mile from the intersection of Minor Road and Center Street to the high school.

No injuries were reported.

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Newtown man reported missing 1 year ago still missing

Newtown police are continuing their search for a man who went missing almost a year ago.  Robert Hoagland was last seen at a Mobil Gas Station on Church Hill Road early on July 28th 2013.  He was reported missing by his wife, who was waiting for him to pick her up at the airport. 

 

The man does not have his wallet, ID, credit cards, cell phone or blood pressure medication with him.  His shoes were also found left behind at his home. 

 

Sightings of the man had been reported in the Rhode Island area, but they all turned out to be misidentifications or unconfirmed.  A possible sighting was made in Brookfield this January, but surveillance footage was not clear enough to make a positive identification. 

 

Anyone with information on Hoagland's whereabouts is asked to contact Newtown Police at 203-426-5841.

 

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Mental health services draft report submitted to legislature

A draft report has been submitted to the General Assembly's Appropriations and Children's committees by a Task Force studying mental health issues in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The joint meeting was held Thursday at the state capital.  Yale Behavioral Health Director Dr Michael Hoge says access is a challenge.

 

says there are many concerns with prevention, early identification and early intervention systems.  He notes that has led to a lack universal screening for mental health problems across the age continuum.  There are also inadequate services to refer to once behavioral health needs have been identified.

 

The report found that there are some effective programs in the state, but there is an overall disconnect. 

 

A final report is due to lawmakers in October by the state Department of Children and Families, Office of Early Childhood and others.

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Area towns take step for planning agency merger

The leaders of 10 Greater Danbury area towns are taking steps to merge their regional planning group with one representing lower Fairfield County towns.  The state recently passed an initiative calling for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says his biggest concern in all of this is that it will lead to a county level of government.  Marconi says he and others will stand firm that that can't happen.

 

The 10 towns in the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and the eight towns in the South Western Regional Planning Agency would become the 18 towns in  the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

 

Marconi says the state is hoping for more regionalization efforts when it comes to a sharing of equipment and bulk purchasing power to bring the cost of government down.  But he says, the HVCEO region already does a lot of that so they are entering this merger with caution. 

 

If larger councils of governments are not created, the current ones risk losing funding.

 

HVCEO towns are: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman.

 

SWRPA towns are: Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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Conn. Senators host immigration roundtable in Danbury

A roundtable discussion at Danbury Library has been held by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy about what they call the humanitarian crisis at the border.  Blumenthal was asked about Connecticut's rejection of the Southbury Training School as a place to house 2,000 migrant children.

 

The roundtable participants included immigration activists, student leaders, and religious leaders.

 

Blumenthal says the children face enormous danger as they flee trafficking, rape, and psychological abuse in their home countries.  He says many of the children have family members here and should be placed with those relatives instead of massive institutions.

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Doughnut Inn weighs in on toddler ban controversy

The other side of the Doughnut Inn controversy is being told.  Earlier this week a woman told broadcast media that her 4-year old son had been banned by the Monroe establishment for being rude after asking another customer if she was pregnant. 

 

The store manager has told the Monroe Courier that Rebecca Denham's story was fabricated. 

 

Becca Mason said in the published report that they've gotten multiple complaints from customers about the woman's rude behavior and they asked her to take her business elsewhere.  Mason continued to say that Denham is a problem customer who didn't enforce any rules with her son and used this incident to get 15 minutes in the spotlight at the expense of her son.

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US agency extends comment period on tribal rules

The U-S Interior Department is extending the period for people to comment on proposed changes to the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, citing significant public interest in the matter.

Kevin Washburn, an assistant secretary with the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, announced Friday the comment period has been extended by 60 days. 

 

The rules announced in May include a requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934. Previously, they had to show continuity from ``historical times.''  This could open the door for recognition of one faction of the Kent-based Scaghticoke Tribe. 

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen was among those seeking an extension. Despite changes made to the proposed rules, Jepsen's office claims they'll still have "serious consequences for Connecticut,'' making it easier for groups petitioning for federal recognition to gain the acknowledgement.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also adding more consultations with tribes and public meetings.

The existing regulations overseeing the federal recognition of tribes were originally adopted in 1978. They've been updated once in 20 years.
  Washburn said the new rules are intended to make the process more transparent and efficient. He said the standards are no less rigorous.

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Updated: Small plane removed from swamp by Danbury Airport

A small plane has crashed near Danbury Municipal Airport.  Interim Fire Chief TJ Wiedl says the accident happened around 7pm Thursday.  The plane is in the marshy area on the south fields of the airport near Miry Brook Road.  The small aircraft was attempting to come in for a landing.

 

Assistant Fire Chief Bernie Meehan says the pilot was standing on the plane when firefighters arrived.  He was rescued by boat.

 

(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)

 


(Photo courtesy @IAFF801 via Twitter)

 

A Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance was near the airport when the incident occurred.
 
The single engine 1984 Beechcraft Bonanza, crashed about a quarter mile short of Runway 35.  Ridgefield Firefighters were the first to locate the aircraft, which was not visible from the road. The plane was in water about 8 feet deep.
 
The pilot was checked by Danbury Paramedics.  According to FAA records, the plane is registered to Dr. Lionel  Brown of Newtown.  He was uninjured and was released by EMS. Firefighters placed booms around the aircraft to contain any possibility of fuel leakage. The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection was also on the scene.
 
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Danbury Police, State Police, Danbury Airport Administration, and the NTSB. 
 
(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)
 
According to the Danbury Orthopedics website, Dr. Brown founded the Hand Center of Western Connecticut in 1989. In 2011, he merged offices with Danbury Orthopedics, where he continues to practice.

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Danbury officials authorize final step of 911 call center transfer

The Danbury City Council held a special meeting last night to approve a $750,000 transfer of funds to consolidate the 911 dispatch center.  Currently police and firefighters staff the call center, but New Jersey-based IXP will be taking over those duties.  Council President Joe Cavo says Danbury is one of the last places to still use police and fire staff to answer the phones.

 

Cavo says the consolidation and the use of civilians means more police and firefighters will be back on the streets doing what they were hired to do.  Three  police officers per shift will be back on street duty.  Officials estimate that the fire department will realize a million dollar savings over the next few years.

 

The contract is for three years.  The police station was designed to have the capacity to handle a call taker center.  The space, the room and the equipment are all set to go.

 

There will be a six month cross over with police and firefighters sort of training IXP dispatchers.

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Ridgefield moves forward on Schlumberger sales

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has voted to move forward with a lease for some of the town-owned Schlumberger land.  The lease for $3.4 million dollars in exchange for 12 acres is to an art collector, previously identified as the Chairman of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. 

 

The proposal still faces a town vote.  The art collector would repurpose some of the buildings on the land and house a private art collection. 

 

Another request for proposals would go out to buyers looking to develop 10 acres of land that voters previously rejected a $4 million dollars sale for.  Toll Brothers proposed building 30 luxury condos on the site. 

 

Five acres was previously sold to a developer for a hotel and office space.  That would leave the town with 18 acres, mostly for open space.  About 4.5 acres would be set aside for future town building needs.

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Delay in opening Ridgefield Spray Bay

Spray parks in Ridgefield were set to open this weekend, but that has been delayed.  Work has not been completed at the Park and Recreation Center's Spray Bay because of recent rain storms.  

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that a rubber surface still needs to be installed.  The rubber surface has to dry for several days before the system can be tested. 

 

The new grand opening has been set for August 2nd.  Originally the town hoped to open the 26 fixtures on Independence Day weekend. 

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MD man wanted for attempted murder found in Weston

A man wanted in Maryland on an attempted murder charge has been arrested by Weston Police.  26-year old Jairo Gutierrez-Lopez of Maryland was founding working as a painter on a house in Weston on Tuesday and was charged as a fugitive from justice. 

 

He appeared in Norwalk Superior Court Thursday to start the extradition process. 

 

He is also wanted in Maryland for possession of a dangerous weapon and assault charges.  A warrant was issued in that state earlier this month but the man fled the state.

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Thomaston man accused of stabbing watermelon tries to give Police Chief fruit

The 49-year-old Thomaston man facing threatening charges after a woman told police he stabbed a watermelon in a passive-aggressive manner has tried giving a watermelon to the police chief.  The Register Citizen reports that Carmine Cervellino was bringing a required drug test, which was negative, to the police station and also brought along a watermelon. 

 

Police say the woman reported finding drugs, including marijuana, in Cervellino's tool box.  He was not arrested and the drugs were not found.  Police say she later returned home to find the watermelon on the counter with a butcher's knife in it.

 

She reported that Cervellino then entered the room and began carving the watermelon in a passive-aggressive and menacing way.  He will be in court next month.

 

An officer at the station reportedly told the man that the department doesn’t accept gifts and didn’t appreciate the “photo stunt."

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Redding approves capital items, Region 9 votes on new roof

Redding residents have approved bonding for two capital projects.  $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department was approved on a vote of 325 to 197.  $6.73 million over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan was approved on a vote of 375 to 148. 

 

Redding and Easton also approved funding for a partial roof restoration for Joel Barlow High School. 

 

A second vote was held yesterday for the Region 9 issue after the first decision had to be thrown out.  During a budget referendum, residents did approve the funding, but a technical error meant a new vote had to be taken.  The Region 9 Board of Ed held a hearing in March a day too late for public notice.  The total appropriation is $1.4 million.  Redding's share is 54-percent based on school population with Easton picking up the remaining cost. 

 

The vote passed overall by nearly 300 votes.

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Cops: Ohio man from NY killed wife in 1995

Authorities say they've cracked a cold case dating back nearly two decades with the arrest of a 70-year-old Ohio man.

Robert Honsch, formerly of Brewster, was charged with murder Tuesday. Authorities say he shot his 53-year-old wife Marcia. Her body was found by a hiker in October 1995 near an entrance to a Massachusetts park.

A week earlier, the body of a female, also shot, had been found in a parking area behind a strip mall in New Britain, Connecticut.

Authorities say a tip to New York state police led to Honsch, who was living with his current wife and children, and the identities of the victims.

 

DNA testing determined the second victim was Honsch's 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth.  Both victims had been shot in the head. Neither had identifying information on them.

Honsch has been charged so far in Massachusetts. It wasn't initially known if he has a lawyer.

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Fortune 500 firm Sealed Air moving HQ to Charlotte

North Carolina has convinced Fortune 500 packaging company Sealed Air Corp. to move nearly 1,300 jobs to the Charlotte area by relocating its New Jersey headquarters and consolidating management operations from several other states.

 

Sealed Air has about 175 positions in Danbury.  A company spokesman sauid in published reports that manufacturing operations will remain in Danbury, with fewer than 50 non-manufacturing positionsbeing relocated

A North Carolina committee that approves corporate tax breaks on Wednesday approved up to $36 million over 12 years if the company meets job and investment targets. The Elmwood Park, New Jersey, company was expected to announce the move with North Carolina officials later Wednesday.

North Carolina Commerce Department spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the company will consolidate some operations from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Jersey into a new headquarters complex in the Charlotte area costing more than $50 million.

Genardo said the company also considered Greenville, South Carolina, before choosing Charlotte.

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Toddler banned from Monroe's Doughnut Inn

A 4-year old has allegedly been banned from a sweet shop in Monroe.  A woman has told Channel 3 that her son was banned from Doughnut Inn in Monroe after an incident on Monday. 

 

Rebecca Denham says her son asked a customer if she was pregnant.  The woman said she was not and the boy reportedly apologized.  The next day Denham says she was told by management that her son is not allowed at Doughnut Inn because he was rude. 

 

The establishment has not returned calls for comment, but said on a Facebook Page that is now private, the televised report was not an accurate description of the incident and didn't have vital information. 

 

The owners of the Doughnut Inn located in Monroe are not the same as an owner of stores in Fairfield and Stratford.

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HVCEO towns start process of merging with another regional planning group

A town meeting was held in New Fairfield Tuesday night and the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen met Wednesday night to discuss merging the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials with another regional group.  The South Western Regional Planning Agency is made up of lower Fairfield County towns up to Wilton and Weston. 

 

HVCEO covers 10 towns in the Greater Danbury area up to New Milford and Sherman.  

 

A state initiative passed recently calls for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  If larger councils of governments are not created, the current ones risk losing funding.

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Probable cause hearing set for Danbury man wanted for murder

A probable cause hearing has been schedule for a Danbury man facing a murder charge.

 

20-year old Garfield Sanderson made a court appearance Tuesday on the felony charge.  He previously pleaded not guilty to the May shooting of 23 year old Jeliel Kingston of Bridgeport.  A Danbury Superior Court clerk says a probable cause hearing has been set for August 1st. 

 

A large fight broke out by Mambo Cafe on Elm Street and shots fired around closing time.  Kingston was found on White Street by the parking lot of 301 Main Street and later died at Danbury Hospital.  Sanderson was found with two handguns in his possession after his arrest, a little more than a week after the shooting.

 

He pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bond.

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Three men arrested in Danbury on drug charges

Three Danbury men have been arrested on drug related charges.  Police were carrying out a search and seizure warrant for 21-year old Kevin Gallardo at his Harrison Street home Monday.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says a man walking up to the house abruptly changed directions when he saw the officers.  20-year old Julio Bispo was found with drugs, money and a .32 caliber revolver on him at the time.

 

Both Kevin Gallardo and his brother, 22-year old Lenny Gallardo was found with various quantities of illegal drugs and paraphernalia.  In May, the elder Gallardo was arrested on a number of charges for selling drugs. 

 

All three men were arrested Monday and held on bond.

 

Kevin and Lenny Gallardo were each charged with two counts each of Possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession with intent to sell within 1500’ of public housing and possession of marijuana within 1500’ of public housing.  They were each also charged with possession of Marijuana, possession with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.  The brothers were each held on $100,000 bond.

 

Bispo was charged with carrying a revolver without a permit, possession of Marijuana with intent to sell, possession within 1500’ of public housing, possession of Marijuana with intent to sell within 1500’ of public housing, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.  He is being held on $150,000 bond.

 

In May, Lenny Gallardo was charged with possession of a controlled substance within 1500' of public housing, possession with intent to sell, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was released on bond at that time and pleaded not guilty.  He is due in court next Wednesday on those charges.

 

Kevin Gallardo was arrested in February during a motor vehicle stop for operating without a license, failing to have headlights on and possession of marijuana.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court on those charges and will answer for them on August 8th.  He was also arrested in May for criminal mischief and breach of peace.  He was released on $500 bond for those offenses and will be in Court on Tuesday.

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Kent to create 'town green' with STEAP funding

A $500,000 grant has been awarded to Kent.  The Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant money from the state will be used to purchase a vacant 1.6 acre lot in the center of town.  Kent is looking to build public restrooms, parking  and a village green.  Tourism is a significant driver of Kent’s economy.  Governor Dannel Malloy says this project would make the town an even more attractive tourist destination. 

 

The vacant lot sits on Route 7 and was once a Chevrolet dealership.  First Selectman Bruce Adams says it's a blighted property and will greatly benefit the town once it's put to good use.

 

Adams says a green would be a great place to host events such as craft fairs or movie nights.  He says right now people people stop at the railroad tracks, turn around and go back because it looks like nothing if beyond that.

 

$100,000 in STEAP funds will go to Cornwall for structural repairs to the North Cornwall Meeting House, including reconstruction of the steeple and repairs to the building itself.

 

$500,000 in STEAP funds will be used to repair two bridges that cross Beaver Brook on Park Road in Barkhamsted.  The bridges and road incurred significant damage from past storms.  The Department of Transportation rated one of the bridges “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete”.  The other bridge was damaged when Beaver Brook flooded during Hurricane Irene.

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Ridgefield VNA relicensed by state

The Ridgefield Visiting Nurses Association has been relicensed by the state Department of Public Health.  According to the RVNA website, the home health care agency received a deficiency free report from the state. 

 

Every three years, agencies must be relicensed, with an on-site, in-depth survey of clinical practices, policies, documentation and procedures.  Two Department of Public Health surveyors spent a week evaluating RVNA and found that it not only met the stringent criteria required by the state, but did so completely. 

 

The agency is currently marking its 100th anniversary.

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Connecticut man accused of sexting with teen

BANTAM, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man faces extradition to New York where he is accused sending sexually explicit photos of himself to a teenager in the small town of Esperance, outside of Schenectady.

 

43-year-old Jason Callahan of Washington, Connecticut, waived extradition Monday in Bantam Superior Court and will be handed over to New York authorities on Friday.

Police say a relative notified police in June that the teen had been receiving nude photos of Callahan.

Prosecutors say New York authorities are still trying to determine how Callahan met the victim and if there may be additional victims. They have seized two cell phones as evidence in the case.

Callahan is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond. He did not address the charges in court Monday.

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Air defense drill for 4 Northeastern states

The New York state Division of Military and Naval Affairs says a two fighter jets from a Massachusetts Air National Guard unit have conducted an air defense exercise over parts of four Northeastern states.

Officials say the exercise took place from 10 am until noon Tuesday over northeast New York, southern Vermont, western Connecticut and Massachusetts. The exercise was run by the Eastern Air Defense Sector based in Rome, near Utica.

The drill involved two F-15 jets from the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing, a Civil Air Patrol Cessna airplane and a C-5 cargo plane from Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts.

Officials say most of the activity during the exercise was not visible from the ground.

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DOT meeting in Newtown on intersection realignment

The state Department of Transportation is holding a hearing tonight in Newtown on a proposed intersection realignment.

 

State officials are hosting an informational session tonight about a plan to create a four-way intersection for Church Hill Road, Commerce Road and Endmond Road.  The proposal was made to reduce the number of accidents at the intersection and to ease congestion on Church Hill Road, Route 6. 

 

Side walks would be added to increase pedestrian access as well.  A left turn lane would be created on Endmond Road, Route 6 would be widened a bit and the stop lights would be synchronized. 

 

The project is estimated to cost about $4 million.  It would be paid for mostly with federal funds and only about 20-percent of state funding.  The construction work, if approved and funding secured, would start in 2016 and take a little more than a year to complete.

 

The meeting starts at 6:30pm with a presentation at 7pm at the Newtown Municipal Center.

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Bethel, Danbury come to agreement on water storage tank

After six years of a stalemate between Bethel and Danbury, an agreement could be near for a water tank being placed near Long Ridge Road.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they need to build a water storage tank on town-owned land within Danbury city limits at Eureka Lake.  He says it's needed to handle what the state health department says is a water shortage in the downtown district. 

 

The City's Planning Commission has time and again denied the request saying the area is designated as scenic. 

 

No new industrial development can take place in Clarke Park because of the storage issue.  It's a fragile system, sensitive to any kind of disruption.  Knickerbocker says any kind of pressure change causes rust to dislodge. 

 

Bethel filed a lawsuit, but agreed to drop it if Danbury approves new plans to build the 750,000 gallon tank further into the woods.  An out-of-court- settlement offer put together by Bethel officials was tentatively agreed to by the Danbury Planning Commission Thursday night.

 

Knickerbocker says that option is more costly than the original design, but less costly than going to an alternative site.  That would have involved underground mains being moved and elevated tanks being constructed that could be seen for many miles.

 

A public hearing would have to be held in Danbury for final approval.

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Ceremony in Weston marking emergency first aid administration

During a ceremony in Weston Monday morning, Governor Dannel Malloy, advocates and state lawmakers marked the enactment of  "An Act Concerning the Storage and Administration of Epinephrine at Public Schools''.  The bill was signed into law last month and allows certain school employees to administer emergency first aid medication to children or teenagers who appear to be experiencing severe allergic reactions, even if an allergy wasn't previously documented. 

 

The ceremony was held at Weston High School.  The bill was co-sponsored by Redding Representative John Shaban and Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford among others.

 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities submitted testimony against the bill saying there are concerns about potential liability exposure on school personnel and school districts from well-intentioned, but improperly administered medicine.  A substitute nurse from Westport also submitted testimony, but hers was in favor of the bill and cited her son's allergic reactions.

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Prescription drug discount cards saving NY residents $850,000

Discount prescription drug cards provided to Putnam County residents are resulting in big savings.  Officials report that residents in Putnam county have saved over $850,000 on nearly 13,000 prescriptions. 

 

It's a program similar to one in Danbury and elsewhere that allows residents of any income, age or existing health care coverage to participate in. 

 

The ProAct Prescription Discount Card Program is anonymous and can be used at most pharmacies in the region.  Residents can receive a discount of between 10 and 20 percent on name brand medication, with larger savings on generic medication.  But the card cannot be used to reduce co-pays or deductibles.

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Kids train ride injures 3 in Ridgefield

Three people sustained minor injuries during Ridgefield's Summerfest 64 street fair on Saturday.  A kid's train ride tipped over and the three were transported to the Hospital as a precaution.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the train was giving rides to people when the back two cars flipped sideways. 

 

A boy receive cuts to his hand, a woman bumped her head and a man sustained cuts to his ankle. 

 

Officials say the Thomas the Tank Engine train is trackless.  It was operated by the Roaming Railroad company.

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29-year old shot in Danbury on Saturday

A 29-year old was shot over the weekend in Danbury.  Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says officers were called to the area of Patch and Main Streets around 1:30am Saturday on a report of gun shots fired.  Police found the City man with a single gun shot wound to the lower abdomen.

 

Carroccio says the injuries appear to be non-life threatening. 

 

The Detective Bureau is investigating.  Anyone with information is asked to call Danbury Police at 203-797-4662.

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Danbury businessman participates in White House meeting on exports

A Danbury businessman has attended a White House roundtable discussion about boosting U.S. exports.  Dr. Robert Bedoukian was a guest of 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for the event hosted by the Secretary of Commerce and United States Trade Representative Ambassador.  Only three other Representatives and one Senator were invited to participate in the event.

 

Bedoukian Research, founded in 1972, is a supplier of specialty aroma and flavor ingredients to the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and specialty chemical industries.

 

Esty says the Secretary of Commerce and others heard about the importance of intellectual property rights.  Currently, 55-percent of Bedoukian Research's sales are exports.  Federal officials discussed best practices and available federal tools for businesses looking to expand their exports. 

 

Esty says they heard the real world experience of the business owners challenges and opportunity for selling to the 95 percent of customers who don't live in the United States.  Esty is looking to bring some of those experts and resources back to the district and host an event for local businesses to learn about opportunities they have to get their products and services more easily exported around the world.

 

Last year, Connecticut set a record $16.4 billion worth of exports.  In 2011, a little more than 27-percent of all manufacturing workers in Connecticut depended on exports for their jobs.

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Redding goes to the polls on cell tower, road reconstruction

There is a referendum tomorrow in Redding about borrowing for two items.

 

One of the proposals Redding residents will be deciding on is an emergency communications tower.  The other is a road reconstruction plan.  Originally there was going to be a vote at an informational meeting, but residents instead will be voting tomorrow.  That machine vote coincides with a referendum on the roof replacement project at Joel Barlow High School. 

 

Redding officials are proposing $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department.  $6.73 million dollars over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan. 

 

Both projects would be funded through short term borrowing pending long term financing.

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Easton, Redding to re-vote on JBHS roof restoration

A special Region 9 Board of Education meeting was held in June about a technical error that is delaying the roof restoration project at Joel Barlow High School.  There was a problem with the public notification.  The referendum date was set at a meeting four days after notice was given of the meeting, not five days as required. 

 

The $1.4 million project would have started in late July, but has been pushed back to August. 

 

The Region 9 district is holding a referendum tomorrow.

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High school to college transition workshop to be held

Danbury Library is hosting a workshop for high school graduates who are going off to college this fall.  It's titled “Transitioning from High School to College”.  The workshop will be conducted by Tom Bisogno who teaches “Decision Making in Groups” at Western CT State University.

 

Bisogno says many college students have difficulties or drop out within the first two years of their degrees because they are not prepared to tackle the academic requirements, adjust to different teaching styles or make good decisions about other basics of college life like finances, lifestyle choices, class attendance and study habits.  The workshop will cover the key areas which students and researchers have identified as important for success in college.  Some of the topics include time management, attendance, studying, and plagiarism.

 

The program will be held Saturday, July 26 from 10:15am to 12:45pm at the LibraryRegistration is required online at danburylibrary.org, click on “Events” or call 203-797-4527.

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Local legislator weighs in on UConn's sex assault settlement

A ranking member of the General Assembly Higher Education Committee is reacting to the University of Connecticut announcing it will pay $1.28 million in a settlement with five current and former students who filed a federal lawsuit charging that the university mishandled their cases when they were raped or sexually assaulted.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the victims of sexual assault carry this trauma with them for the rest of their lives and hopes they get the help they need.  

 

Boucher says the first responders and staff at their university or college become, by default, their lifeline in a crisis because students are traditionally away from home when they are in college.  When a student attends college, Boucher says he or she should expect their campus to be as safe and secure as it possibly can be.

 

She called Connecticut a model for the rest of the country when it comes to legislation.  Connecticut now has improved services for victims, and we streamlined the often-confusing campus policies dealing with sexual assault. 

 

“The steps taken by UConn have been commendable and should provide added safety, security and sensitivity in response to traumatic incidents. Our priority must continue to be to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, and that starts with assurances from the leaders of our universities that they are listening to students.  It also requires training of employees and students on violent assault policies and there must be clear responses and consequences.”

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Area lawmaker speaks to youths about gun violence prevention

The "Make Progress National Summit" in Washington DC held Wednesday for young people featured an address from U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.  He talked about what they can do to reduce gun violence saying there seems to be a growing indifference to incidences in schools and at colleges and universities.

 

He said patience is not an easy thing to preach when his colleagues want immediate returns on political action.

 

Murphy says increasing support for gun violence prevention measures could take decades, the same way it took decades for the NRA to build it's massive support system.  He questioned whether member of Congress who opposed background check legislation will be able to hold on to their seats when 90-percent of Americans support the measure

 

Murphy says the average age of a victim of gun violence is 19, followed by 18, 16 and 17.

 

The Summit brings together hundreds of progressive leaders and young people from around the country to discuss ways they can make a difference now in moving our communities and the country forward.  Other featured speakers included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

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Connecticut matching immigrant kids with families

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut officials responded Friday to concerns about the state rejecting a federal request to temporarily house up to 2,000 immigrant children from Central America at the mostly vacant Southbury Training School facility, saying no properties met the federal government's criteria.

 

In a letter released Friday, the governor's chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, said the U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reached out to the state on July 3, seeking facilities with at least 90,000 square feet of open space for immediate use. The buildings would have to comply with federal environmental and Americans with Disabilities Act standards, with additional outdoor space for trailers holding showers, restrooms and kitchens.

 

But Ojakian said the state's Office of Policy and Management determined the Southbury Training School and other vacant state properties were inadequate.

 

"The decision OPM made was based on a factual review of state assets weighed against a list of specific criteria, including urgent time constraints," Ojakian wrote in a letter to state Rep. Juan Candelaria, chairman of the General Assembly's Black and Latino Caucus. "The state of Connecticut simply does not own appropriate facilities that can accommodate these needs."

 

Thousands of children from Central America have been crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. illegally and without their parents. The U.S. has been urging the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to take steps to stem the exodus of children. The volume of child immigrants has prompted President Barack Obama to ask Congress to approve an emergency $3.7 billion spending bill to deal with the "urgent humanitarian crisis."

 

Ojakian said OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz are working with federal authorities to match some of the thousands of children with family members living in the state. Also, the administration is working with the federal government to help families that want to house some of the children temporarily.

 

On Thursday, Candelaria sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asking him to reconsider housing the children, saying it's "not the time to point fingers or wait for Congress" to deal with the problem.

 

"We understand your concerns with the Southbury Training School and do not pretend to minimize them," Candelaria said. "However, we cannot keep our arms crossed while these detention centers continue to overflow and these children suffer in the direst of conditions through no fault of their own."

 

During a Republican gubernatorial primary debate on Thursday, the GOP's endorsed candidate, Tom Foley, accused Malloy of deciding too quickly not to house the children. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said the decision was out of character for Malloy, who has supported driver's licenses and in-state tuition for immigrants living in the country without legal permission.

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Connecticut native takes command of sub in Groton

GROTON, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut native has taken command of a Groton-based attack submarine.

Navy Cmdr Daniel Lombardo assumed command of USS Springfield at a ceremony Friday.

Lombardo graduated from Danbury High School in 1993 before attending the U.S. Naval Academy--earning a degree in mechanical engineering. He has been serving in Washington on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He replaces Christian Williams, who assumed command in January 2012 and led Springfield on a six-month deployment last year.

 

The Navy says Lombardo served aboard the USS Florida and USS Tuscon and was an executive officer of the USS Alaska.

Springfield is a Los Angeles-class attack submarine that was commissioned in 1993.

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Still River cleanup in Brookfield called off

An environmental clean up in Brookfield scheduled for today has been cancelled.  The Still River Alliance was going to be working with the town to clear garbage from an area near Golf Quest.  A large fallen tree is collecting debris across the river, causing a blockage. 

 

The town agreed to remove the tree, but officials say a small corner of the area that was to be cleaned up is private property.  The volunteers need to obtain permits with the land owner before they can go in and do the cleanup.  The Still River Alliance says Brookfield is filing the paperwork and seeking to expedite the matter. 

 

A new date for the cleanup has not yet been set.

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DUI checkpoint to be held tonight in Newtown

Newtown police will be holding a sobriety checkpoint tonight into Sunday.  While police did not disclose the exact location of the checkpoint, they do say motorists travelling in both directions will be stopped and briefly interviewed.  During the DUI checkpoint, police will also be on the lookout for other motor vehicle violations ranging from cell phone use to seat belt violations. 

 

Police say the special enforcement effort is one of three being held over the summer. 

 

The first was during the 4th of July weekend.  The Newtown Bee reports during that enforcement effort, 1 DUI arrest was made, 3 tickets were issued to people driving with a suspended license and 1 speeding ticket.  8 infractions and 56 warnings were also issued.

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First time homebuyers help session held in Danbury

The Housing Development Fund has hosted an event in Danbury Friday where first time home buyers learned about support available to them as they go through the purchase process.  The event at Western Connecticut State University involved eligibility for statewide housing assistance programs including the SmartMove program and the Live Where You Work Program.  Officials say the Home in a Day event also provided people with copies of their credit report. 

 

Homebuyers had the chance to sit with a loan originator from a local bank to determine whether they can pre-qualify for a first mortgage, six banks attendrf the event. Afterwards, they discussed their credit report with a housing counselor from HDF, and learned about whether they are eligible for programs that offer low-interest loans to help with down payment and closing costs.

 

The participating banks included Savings Bank of Danbury, Newtown Savings Bank, Union Savings Bank, First County Bank, Chelsea Groton Bank, and Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan.

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Future needs of Danbury Fire Department discussed by newly retired chief

The newly retired Geoff Herald is weighing in on the future of fire service needs in Danbury.  He was part of a Task Force that put a plan together in 2010 about how to protect the City for the next 50 to 70 years. 

 

Herald says the rapid growth and expansion of residential and business occupancies on the west side of the City creates a clearer view since even a couple of years ago.  The former fire chief says the Mill Plain area has seen a significant increase in residential and commercial population over the last 10 to 20 years, which has caused an increase in call volume for police, fire and EMS.  Herald says a new station, including an engine company with ambulance response capability, are now more obvious. 

 

Part of that plan calls for putting an engine company by South Street because of the new condo complexes being built in that part of the City.  An engineering study of the New Street Headquarters facility was completed in 2012.  The study determined the site and facility on New Street can be modified to accommodate a more modern facility with certain limitations.  Herald maintains that replacing the building with a new structure on another site is still the best option. 

 

He, ideally, would situate the station in the area of Main and South Street to Shelter Rock stretch of South Street.

 

Part of the Task Force plan also calls for consolidating the six volunteer firehouses owned and maintained by the City into two houses of three companies each.

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First part of Danbury Hospital expansion completed, opened

The first part of the new Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion at Danbury Hospital opened this week.  The 316,000 square foot addition will be opening in phases.  Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Morris Gross says at this point the lobby is the only area open to the public.  But there is also new parking available.

 

A staffed Information Desk is up and running for patients and visitors to the new Pavilion to guide them to their location.

 

The new facility will eventually include 30 beds for patient care, 35 beds for surgical patients and future space for more operating rooms.  Gross says most of the Tower Building will be opened by September.

 

This expansion project started six years ago with an idea, with construction started about three years ago.

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Redding horses just 2 of 10 animals seized recently

The state Department of Agriculture is detailing more information about the emaciated horses seized last week in Redding.

 

In recent weeks, the Department has seized seven horses, two donkeys and a mule--each with varying degrees of lack of food or poor general care.  Officials say that frequency is a more common occurrence in winter, not summer when hay and grass is plentiful.  In the Redding case, two emaciated horses were seized from an unkempt barn where there was not nearly enough food to sustain them. 

 

Officials say they intervened after cell phone photos taken by a delivery person were shown to police.  The horses were taken to a rehabilitation facility in Connecticut.  Animal control officers were familiar with the owner, who at times had been successful in bringing the animals up to a healthier weight. 

 

Animal Control Officer Nancy Jarvis says she hopes the horses have the same turnaround that one seized from Easton in 2011 had.  That emaciated horse not only fully recovered, but was later adopted by a New Jersey woman.  Jarvis said he is now thriving.

 

Part of the evidence in that case was a video shot by a private citizen visiting the farm that showed an emaciated Blackie limping and searching for food in his paddock.  The horse’s owner was charged with animal cruelty and was eventually placed in a court program for first-time offenders.

 

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Newtown First Selectman honored by Jericho Partnership

The Jericho Partnership has held its annual fundraising breakfast.  Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra was the keynote speaker Thursday at the Amber Room.  She was also presented with an award from the non-profit.

 

The theme of the breakfast was "Faith in the Marketplace".  Llodra told her journey about how faith has helped sustain her as a parent, grandparent, educator and municipal leader.  Llodra told those in attendance about how she applies her own beliefs and practices in her "marketplace" as an elected official.

 

Llodra's speech focused on two practices she uses to guide her actions.  The first, she says is a trust in the peace of God; being calm, steadfast, focused, careful and courageous.  The other is a belief in good.  She says people need to seek it, find it, look for it and to not be distracted by badness or evil acts.  Llodra urged those in attendance to trust and believe that for every act of evil there is greater and better and more persistent acts of goodness and kindness.

 

Jericho Partnership is an umbrella organization for 24 urban and suburban churches and ten hands-on transformative ministries to Danbury’s youth, homeless and other at-risk communities.

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Brookfield GOP seeks volunteers for vacant board, commission seats

Volunteers are being sought by the Brookfield Republican Town Committee to fill vacancies on some boards and commissions.  Chairman Matt Grimes says some of the positions are regular members and others are for alternates.

 

Grimes says they will conduct interviews in the coming weeks, and the Town Committee will recommend candidates to be considered by the Board of Selectmen in August and September. Those approved by the Board of Selectmen will then begin serving on their respective commissions.

 

The BRTC is seeking two volunteers for the Arts Commission, one for the Library Board of Trustees, two for the Municipal Building Committee, one for the Water Pollution Control Authority, four for the Zoning Commission, and one for Zoning Board of Appeals.

 

Registered Republicans interested in serving on one of the groups, or who have questions can contact Vacancy Committee chairman Marty Flynn at 203-775-3879 or Town Committee chairman Matt Grimes at 203-241-1616.

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More state funding available for school safety upgrades

The application process will begin next week for the next round of the School Security Grant Program.  This round of funding brings the total allocation so far for school security since 2013, to $43 million.  The program was created in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Governor Dannel Malloy says $21 million for security upgrades was distributed to about 600 schools last year. 

 

The program will also expand the security infrastructure eligible for reimbursement to include real time interoperable communications and multimedia sharing infrastructure.  The program will also expand the security infrastructure eligible for reimbursement to include the installation of surveillance cameras, ballistic glass, solid core doors, double-door access and computer-controlled electronic locks, entry door buzzer systems, scan card systems, panic alarms, and other systems.

 

The program will expand eligibility to all public schools, including technical and inter-district magnet schools, and private schools.

 

"Almost from the moment that the tragedy in Newtown occurred, the Governor and the Legislature have made improving the safety and security of our students, teachers and others who work in our schools a major priority,” said Dr. Joseph J. Cirasuolo, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS). “This latest action on the part of the Governor is consistent with this ongoing effort.  The CT Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) is grateful to the Governor and other state leaders for their continued commitment to making our schools as safe and secure as they can be."

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Attorney: Former bus driver tossing garbage, not drunk

A former Ridgefield school bus driver made an appearance in court last week on a charge of attempted risk of injury to a minor.  Ridgefield Police charged 46-year old Kathleen Sweikert in May after a Scotts Ridge Middle School resource officer saw the First Student company bus driver walking out of a bathroom and finding the empty 1.8 ounce liquor bottle. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the woman's attorney says his client passed a breathalyser test and was just throwing out garbage.  She reportedly blew a 0.0 right after she was arrested.  Sweikert has pleaded not guilty and will be back in court on August 15th. 

 

First Student has rejected a proposal from the Ridgefield Superintendent of Schools to put Breathalysers on its vehicles.

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Bethel: residents approve budget, Appeals board decides on dispensary issue

Bethel residents have approved a municipal budget.  The municipal spending plan was rejected by Bethel residents three times and the town entered the new fiscal year using the same numbers as last year's budget.  Thursday's vote was approved by a margin of 550 ballots.

 

The Board of Finance has cut a total $516,000 from the original proposal. The plan still represents a $515,000 spending increase over the previous year.  That is mostly being driven by wage changes from last year, employee benefits and medical insurance. 

 

Tax bills could not be calculated until the municipal budget passed. Once the bills are sent out, Bethel residents will have 30 days from the new due date to pay the bill.

 

Also on Thursday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals decided that the town planner properly issued a zoning permit to D&B Wellness to open a medical marijuana dispensary on Garella Road.  The Board reportedly took two votes, the first upholding the "retail use" portion of the town's decision and then about not violating federal laws.

 

The property is zoned for retail use and town officials had argued that the dispensary is considered a pharmacy, therefore a permitted use.

 

Philip Lombino and Michael Moore filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving and application for a zoning Permit filed by Angela D'Amico and Karen Barski.  Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center gained approval in May as one of only six dispensaries licensed by the state.

 

The plans call for a high level of security and to be operated as an "appointment only" facility and would employ a pharmacist, receptionist and a counselor to educate patients about dosage and alternative therapies.  There will also be a full time security guard.  Video surveillance and other security features will be in place.

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.  

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Starbucks, Chick-fil-A planned for Danbury

Progress is being made to clear a parcel of land on North Street in Danbury to make way for a Starbucks.  The location received a special exception from the Planning Commission for a drive thru.  Two vacant office buildings were torn down in April.  The coffee house is expected to open next year.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says part of the approval from the state was that Starbucks would do some traffic adjustments and the light will be moved.

 

Boughton says it's one of the busiest intersections in the City and he hopes the state will move forward with their widening plan over the next couple of years.

 

The Mayor also mentioned that Chick-fil-A would be opening a location in the food court of the Danbury Fair Mall.  This comes as a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday in Brookfield for a Chick-fil-A on Federal Road at the former Burger King location. 

 

Chick-fil-A is also planning to open locations in Enfield and Wallingford.  The chain operates nearly 2,000 locations in 39 states and Washington DC.

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Appeal filed over Loaves & Fishes application rejection

An appeal has been filed by Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House to overturn a Zoning Commission denial.  The non-profit is looking to build a new facility on Bridge Street in New Milford, but the application has been denied.  Concerns with the Bridge Street site ranged from parking to traffic.

 

The town previously asked Loaves & Fishes to move out of their current site at the Richmond Center so the space could be used for municipal services. 

 

Attorney Neil Marcus filed the appeal on Monday.  Marcus says the seller is willing to give the non-profit a contract that will allow for the acquisition and construction.  He says there are a lot of opportunities for the two sides to reach a settlement, noting that minor changes to the plan could address many of the raised issues.

 

Loaves & Fishes has been in operation for more than 30 years.  They help the less fortunate and the homeless have access to a good meal.

 

The house at 25 Bridge Street would be torn down and a new building constructed.  The non-profit planned to call the facility the Danny Straub Community Outreach Center, named for the late husband of the woman selling the land where their business was located.

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Psychiatric test ordered for Newtown calls suspect

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has ordered a psychiatric assessment of a man charged with making threatening phone calls to Newtown residents in the days following the school shootings.

Defense lawyers told the judge in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Wednesday that Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman has received psychiatric care at home in Venezuela.

Cardenas was arrested last month at Miami International Airport while traveling to Mexico from Venezuela.

Prosecutors say Cardenas made the calls two days after the December 2012 shootings in which 20 first-graders and six educators were killed. Authorities say in a few calls, he claimed to be the shooter and threatened to kill the person he called.

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AAA opens driving school facility in Bethel

The AAA has opened a new facility in Bethel.  The Safe Driving Practices training class is now being offered at a location on Stony Hill Road. 

 

The only other two driving schools AAA has in the state are in Hamden. 

 

Teens and adults must take the eight-hour Safe Driving Practices class before applying for a Connecticut driver’s license.  The teen class includes the mandatory two-hour parent/guardian portion for individuals younger than 18.  The two-hour parent class also covers the state’s graduated driver law requirements.  Classes are also open to non-AAA members.

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Area lawmaker calls for transparency in Southbury request

An area lawmaker is calling for more transparency from the Government. 

 

Southbury State Senator Rob Kane says he, along with state Representatives and the First Selectmen among others, found out about talks to house 2,000 migrant children in Connecticut after the fact.  Kane he agrees with the Malloy administration's answer to the federal government about using the Southbury Training School, but still would have liked to be able to tell constituents what was going on.

 

Kane says Malloy had an obligation to forward the request to local officials.  He says the Southbury Training School is not an appropriate location because there are still about 300 people housed there.  They are disabled individuals and some with very specific needs.

 

State procedures for using surplus property could take up to two years to complete.  The federal government is looking for immediate housing.

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Connecticut rejects request to house children

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut officials have rejected a federal request to temporarily house up to 2,000 immigrant children from Central America at a mostly-vacant facility built for developmentally disabled adults.

The Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury reports the New England office of the U.S. General Services Administration has inquired about leasing space at the Southbury Training School.

The federal government planned to cover all expenses, including building maintenance.

Patrick M. O'Brien, assistant director of the state's Bureau of Assets Management, emailed back Monday, rejecting the request. He said the building was not suitable because of deteriorating conditions, complex state procedures for using surplus property, and the fact that some people are still housed at Southbury.

The federal government is looking for housing following a recent surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally.

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3 grade crossings cleared, 5 still being tested by Metro North

Buses will be back on Metro North's Danbury branch line again this weekend.  The state Department of Transportation and its contractors are running tests at five intersections to figure out what's causing crossing gates to activate at the wrong times.  The intersections are all in Danbury.  They are Great Pasture Road, Shelter Rock Road, Triangle Street, Taylor Street and East Liberty Street.

 

Three in Bethel – Greenwood Avenue, South Street and Taylor Road – have been fixed and the “stop and warn” requirements at those crossings were lifted yesterday.

 

Brookfield Representative David Scribner says there is still plenty of work to be done though in rebuilding confidence in the railroad.

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Man who made threatening calls to Newtown residents in court

A Venezuelan man charged with making threatening phone calls to residents of Newtown is making his initial court appearance in Connecticut today.

 

30-year old Wilfredo Cardenas Hoffman of Venezuela, was arrested in June in Miami on a federal criminal complaint charging him with making numerous threatening phone calls, two days after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  On May 20th of last year, Cardenas Hoffman was charged in a criminal complaint with transmitting threats and the redacted copy was unsealed Monday. 

 

Newtown residents who believe that they received a threatening call during that time are encouraged to call the Victim/Witness Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lori Vernali, at 203-821-3818.

 

In one of the telephone calls, Cardenas Hoffman allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza. I’m gonna [expletive] kill you.  You’re dead.  You’re dead.  You hear me?  You’re dead.”  In another phone call, Hoffman allegedly stated: “This is Adam Lanza.  I’m gonna kill you.  You’re dead.  With my machine gun.  You’re dead [expletive].”

 

U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly says threatening such vulnerable people is reprehensible and inhuman criminal conduct.  She added that it inappropriately stressed law enforcement resources at a critically demanding time.  Daly says this case demonstrates that her office and the FBI will arrest individuals who believe that international boundaries will protect them from prosecution in the United States.

 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick says the motivation to catch criminals runs deep within the FBI, but the pursuit of criminals who prey on innocent victims motivates agents like nothing else.  She said that someone can so callously prey on a community with such hate and vitriol is beyond comprehension.

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'Good Samaritan Mission' launched in Danbury to help homeless

An in-depth, long-term transitional program to move homeless and other at-risk men off city streets and into jobs and self-sufficient lives has begun in Danbury.

 

Called the Good Samaritan Mission, the faith-centered effort by Jericho Partnership includes shelter for up to 16 men in two-man rooms with private bathrooms, and transitional programs that will include recovery from addictions, and job training, employment and coaching.  The Mission will be housed in a three-story building on Maple Avenue, across the street from Jericho’s seasonal homeless shelter in the city’s downtown.  Jericho opened the seasonal shelter five years ago.

 

This new program is being run in partnership with Christian Community Outreach Ministries, a model in practice in more than 300 other sites across the country.

 

Executive Director Carrie Amos says she's heard many stories about being homeless, about the pain of addiction and family turmoil, and feeling helpless and devalued in Danbury.

 

Amos says over the past several months, Jericho staff met with homeless individuals and groups serving them, as well as downtown retailers and city police to formulate a strategy to help the homeless with transformative programs.

 

Jericho Partnership is an umbrella organization for 24 urban and suburban churches and 10 hands-on transformative ministries to the city’s youth, homeless and other at-risk communities.

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Danbury Hospital opens 'Peter Buck' Pavilion, parking garage

Danbury Hospital has opened the The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion and adjacent Rizzo Garage to the public.  Hospital patients and visitors for the Tower building, Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Robert J. and Pamela Morganti Center for Wound Care can self-park in the Rizzo Garage, formerly the Blue Garage.

 

It's located off of Hospital Avenue adjacent to the Broadview Middle School fields.

 

With the changes to the layout of services provided at Danbury Hospital, a staffed Information Desk will guide patients and visitors to the new Pavilion.

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Thomaston man arrested after stabbing a watermelon

BANTAM, Conn. (AP) A 49-year-old Thomaston man faces threatening charges after a woman told police he stabbed a watermelon in a passive-aggressive manner.

The Register Citizen of Torrington reports Carmine Cervellino was arraigned Monday on charges of threatening and disorderly conduct. He was released after posting a $500 bond.

Police say the woman had gone to police on July 4 to report finding drugs, including marijuana, in Cervellino's tool box. He was not arrested.

They say she later returned home to find the watermelon on the counter with a butcher's knife in it. She reported that Cervellino then entered the room and began carving the watermelon. She called the incident passive-aggressive and menacing.

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Zoning appeals hearing continues in Bethel on medical marijuana dispensary

A public hearing continues in Bethel tonight about the medical marijuana dispensary coming to Garella Road in Bethel.  The Zoning Board of Appeals held its initial hearing on the case June 18th and it continues tonight at 7pm in the General Purpose Room of the Municipal Center.  Philip Lombino and Michael Moore filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving and application for a zoning Permit filed by Angela D'Amico and Karen Barski. 

 

Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center won approval in May as one of only six dispensaries licensed in the state. 

 

The location is zoned for retail use and town officials say the dispensary is considered a pharmacy and therefore a permitted use.  The appeal says the state imposes specific location and operation criteria on dispensaries that are different from retail mandates, because the general public will not be patronizing the facility. 

 

The plans call for a high level of security and to be operated as an "appointment only" facility and would employ a pharmacist, receptionist and a counselor to educate patients about dosage and alternative therapies.  There will also be a full time security guard.  Video surveillance and other security features will be in place.

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.  

 

There are also strict security requirements in place, all detailed among 76 pages of state regulations.

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Redding Center Post office to cut back hours

The post office in Redding across from Town Hall will not be closing entirely, in a decision issued Wednesday.  Certain post offices have been subject to review, including the Redding Center Post Office. 

 

The United States Postal Service sent out a survey to residents, presenting them with four alternatives to closing the post office.  A community meeting was held last week in Redding about the matter.  It was decided that the alternative keeping the Lonetown Road facility open with new weekday service hours, based on workload, would be the way to go. 

 

Saturday service would not change, but the weekday hours would be cut in half.

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Blight prevention agency provides summer update to Danbury officials

This is the time of year a Danbury department receives a lot of complaints about properties in neglect. 

 

The Unified Neighborhood Assistance Team says residents notice that as the grass grows excessively high, if the surrounding property is vacant or in the process of foreclosure.  For the month of June, UNIT says they addressed several issues including more than two dozen blighted properties, nine with front lawn parking issues, nine illegal apartments or apartments with overcrowding and six abandoned properties. 

 

The department also issued five exterior blight order notices of violation.  71 quality of life issues in all were addressed last month.  Year to date, UNIT has responded to 449 issues in Danbury.

 

A majority of the 526 calls placed to the 311 Call Center in June were requests for phone numbers.  The Spring Yard Debris Pickup program generated about 20 calls with questions.  More than two dozen residents called asking about where to dispose of household garbage.  16 calls were about recycling and 11 people were looking for information about the next Household Hazardous Waste Day--which isn't being held in Danbury until September. 

 

Danbury residents also called in 43 potholes during June, which were then filled.  City officials say as the summer wears on, residents are encouraged to report high grass and bushes that block the line of site for motorists. 

 

Drainage issues, which typically coincide with heavy thunderstorms, should also prompt concerned residents to call with reports of clogged catch basins or other areas that need attention.

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Women's Center receives grant for empowerment programs

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury has recently received an infusion of grant money for some new programs.  The Fairfield County Community Foundation made a $16,500 donation to the Women's Center.  Program Manager of Counseling and Advocacy Nicole Sabel says the fiscal climate continues to challenge nonprofits to do more and more with less and less to meet an increased demand for services.

 

The programs called Thriving Women and Project B, for middle and high schoolers, are aimed at empowering women and girls.  They focus on sustaining health relationships, how to cope with anxiety and depression and substance abuse among other topics.

 

Sabel says there's a lot of areas which they work with the individual that all impact how they see themselves.  Thriving Women and Thriving One are free and confidential facilitated groups that meet three times weekly.

 

The Spring Semester of Project B focused on friendship and what it means to be in a healthy relationship with a peer.  She says that lays the ground work for all other healthy relationships teens will encounter.

 

During the 2013 fiscal year, the Women’s Center served a total of 26,125 adults and children in its 13-town service area through three major programs, Domestic Violence Services, Sexual Assault Services and Resource Services.

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Statement of Condition on Danbury Dire Department issued

One of the final duties that Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald had to do before he retired this weekend, was provide City officials with an update on the Department.  He submitted a Statement of Condition about the fire houses, equipment and the future needs of the Department.  There are 5 career and 12 volunteer fire stations in the City.  The city maintains and owns six of the volunteer houses.

 

He gave an update on the Commerce Park Station 24, which at last update was in imminent risk of failure.  An engineering study found it was just an issue with the facade.  Herald says while there are some issues remaining, this was positive news.  Station 24 was built and donated to the city by Powers Construction in the 1970s.

 

A backup generator was recently installed at the station, which means now all career stations have backup generators.

 

Herald says the Department, like others across the country, is faced with technological challenges and changes in response to fires.  He says that drives changes at the lowest level of fire service --gear, fire trucks and air packs.  The City has been able to fund some repairs and replacements of the radio system over recent years.  But Herald it's a mix of different manufacturers, ages and models for the units. 

 

Herald says at some point, the City will have to consider revamping the whole system for police, fire, EMS, public works, and education.

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Petition calls for action to end homelessness

A group protesting outside of City Hall for two weeks in order to have Danbury officials better address the issue of homelessness have packed up their tents.  Participants plan to present a petition to the City Council at their August meeting calling for action.  Advocate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index. 

 

A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, a draft of a new plan will be crafted. 

 

The City's Health, Housing and Welfare Department reported this month to the City Council about their activities for May.  The housing caseworker managed 63 active cases and the Day Center--located at the Emergency Shelter--had 879 visits from homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless.  That figure included weekend service meetings.  The nearly 900 visits to the Day Center included 540 lunches being served, 100 showers, and 43 veteran referrals among other services.

 

MCCA weekend counseling services also resumed with 15 mental health referrals or case management and 64 for substance abuse.

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Senators want help promoting 'Look Before You Lock' campaign

There were 7 incidences of children being left alone in hot vehicles in two weeks in Connecticut, including the fatality in Ridgefield.  Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement its "Where's Baby, Look Before You Lock" campaign here.

 

Murphy says the campaign could save a child's life.  Since there is no technological solution to this problem, he says awareness of the dangers of heatstroke may be the best course of action.  Heatstroke can happen in temperatures as low as 57 degrees. 

 

Blumenthal says to leave a child unattended in a vehicle is criminal and should be prosecuted.

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Emaciated horses seized from Redding home

Two emaciated horses have been seized from a Redding home.  The mustangs were taken Thursday from 75-year old Lisa Lind-Larsen of Packer Brook.  State Animal Control Officers say the horses were living in unsanitary stall conditions and were extremely underweight, with their ribs, hip bones, and spinal bones prominent. 

 

Photos were provided this week to the Department of Agriculture showing they were locked in stalls for long periods of time with little food and unclean water. 

 

 

Lind-Larsen was investigated in 2011 for possible neglect of the same horses, which she adopted in 2005 from the federal Bureau of Land Management.  No action was taken after the horses gained weight over the course of several months.  Chinook and Cheyenne were taken Thursday to a Rehabilitation Facility in Niantic. They will be cared for there pending resolution of the seizure, which Lind-Larsen can appeal in court. 

 

In April, Lind-Larsen was charged with importing a dog without a health permit and failing to license a dog after officers responded to a call that an Airedale puppy she owned had been exposed to a dead raccoon that was found to be rabid.  She has pleaded not guilty and the case is pending in Danbury Superior Court.

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Danbury man sentenced for home invasion drug robberies

A Danbury man has been sentenced for his role in home invasion drug robberies.  20-year old Jordano Perdomo was sentenced Friday to 30 months in jail followed by three years supervised release. 

 

Last January, Danbury Police started an investigation into a drug trafficking ring that had a number of distribution locations--or trap houses--in Danbury.  Members were selling crack and heroin.  They also rented hotel rooms to package and distribute the drugs. 

 

During the investigation, police learned that the leader of the ring had organized and carried out armed home invasion robberies of marijuana dealers.  Perdomo participated in ones on January 30th and February 14th of last year.  Several men wore masks and carried fire arms to those and a third related robbery, where they did or tried to steal pot and cash.  A victim was pistol whipped in each break in.  During the Valentine's Day robbery, Perdomo held a woman at gunpoint and threatened to harm her if she called police. 

 

He has been held in jail since his arrest last October.

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Danbury man arrested for child pornography possession

A Danbury man has been arrested on child pornography charges.  State Police charged 43-year old John Lefflbine Friday with promoting a minor in an obscene performance and possession of child pornography. 

 

An investigation was launched by state police after suspected child pornography files were traced back to Lefflbine in December 2013.  Police say the man was sharing them on the internet.  His computer was seized in February by police, who went through the man's computer files finding several. 

 

He is due in court on the 21st.

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Danbury Fire Chief officially retired, interim chief in position

Everybody goes home.  That is the message of the Fire Department, and the message Chief Geoff Herald is following after 35 years with the Danbury Fire Department.  He is now retired. 

 

Herald reflected on his past seven years as chief.  He says it comes down to making sure the firefighters have the training, tools and equipment they need so everybody gets home at the end of the day.

 

“In the Chief’s position it’s my purpose to be a cheerleader for the Department.  I don’t fight the fires anymore.  My job is to make sure they have the support, the funding, the training and the equipment they need to do when they get there.  I work for the men and women of the Department.  It doesn’t seem like 35 years, it’s been a lot of fun.”

 

 

Herald noted that the City has always stepped up for the firefighters to make sure the Department had all the equipment needed, even when the budget might not have allowed of it.

 

“We have a new ladder truck coming, despite the fact that the City is coming out of a bad recession.  A new aerial truck is coming and we’ve been able to get new air packs for everyone in the career department.  Those are critical.  When I came on they cost $1,200-$1,500 each.  Now, it’s $6,500 each.  We need 80 of them.  We worked hard to replace them all over three years.”

 

Herald spoke about how things have changed in the past four decades.

 

“The fire department is dynamic.  You never have the same day twice in a row.  The fire Department I joined in 1979 is long gone.  The equipment is gone, the radios are gone, the types of fires we had are gone.  Fire used to be about 1,000 degrees, that’s what the gear protected us for.  Now, 1,200 degrees and hotter is the norm.  It used to be wood, natural fibers, cotton and wool, but now it’s all polycarbonates and petrochemical-based fires.  The fires grow quicker and burn hotter, they put us in danger much quicker than they used to.”

 

Herald took time to tout what he learned from those who came before him.

 

“Another Chief once said, ‘the bravest thing a firefighter does is say goodbye to his family in the morning and go to work.  That one step of bravery to just go do what you’re supposed to be doing, is the biggest step because you may never go home.  It’s not starting when you get on the fire truck, the bravery starts as they say ‘I’ll see you tonight’.  And you do hope they see them tonight, you hope they go home.”

 

During his farewell ceremony, Herald spoke to the rookies in the Department, saying that he hopes when they have spent decades on the job they will feel the same sense of connectedness, the same emotion he does.   His other message:  Every time out is a round trip ticket and you all go home.

 

Herald also spoke about those who came before him, what he learned from them saying the sense of connection between generations in the firefighting family is important.   

 

“Former Chief Gene Tomanio is a really good man and a solid fire officer.  Guys would say they were afraid of him, but they weren’t.  They just had a great respect for him.  And I still have a lot of respect for him.  I respect him even more now because he’s been retired more years than he’s worked for the City.  That’s my goal.  He’s my hero. “

 

(Photo Courtesy: Steven Rogers Jr. Communications Coordinator / PIO DFD)

 

“Phil Curran was my first Lt.  Another great guy, a great field officer.  He invited me over for Christmas Eve once, and I go back every year.“

 

 

“Joe Halas was a firefighter’s fire fighter.  He was the guy you wanted to be…One of the proudest days of my life was the first time they let me have the nozzle and Halas backed me up.  Halas came up to me and said ‘Hey Geoff, you did a real great job in there.’, that was the proudest day of my life to that point.  I had the endorsement of somebody we all recognize as being the best nozzle man and one of the best firefighters anyone anywhere ever had.”

 

Herald said one of the most important things members of the Department can do is sit around the table after a fire and talk about what happened.  What’s really important about the fire service is, he says is if you have five guys go to a fire, they don’t really fight the same fire, they then learn so much by talking to each other.

 

“You learn what they did and what they saw to come home safely.  Our goal here is ‘Everybody goes home’.  The only way you can do that is by paying attention to the one who came before you.   These are the guys that did that for me, and so many others here.  You’ve got to pass that information on to the new guys. “

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Funeral planned for child left in hot car in Ridgefield

Kane Funeral Home in Ridgefield says a funeral service will be held Sunday for 15 month old Benjamin Seitz.  The service at Jesse Lee Memorial Church in Ridgefield is being held at 3pm.  The family is asking that attendees wear summer clothes, not black, to celebrate his life.  The family will receive friends immediately following the service at Jesse Lee Church.

 

Balls were Benjamin's favorite toy and the family is asking participants to bring them to the service for donation to the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children and Families.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Benjamin Seitz Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.

 

The Chief Medical Examiner's Office still has not released a cause of death for the child, who had been left unattended in a vehicle for an extended period of time on Monday.

 

Police say the boy was supposed to be dropped off at daycare by his father, who instead drove to his place of employment at 38A Grove Street in Ridgefield with the baby still in the car.

 

Police say Danbury Hospital contacted them shortly after 6pm when the child's father reportedly drove him there after finding the baby in his car and becoming concerned for his welfare.  The Ridgefield Police Departments Dispatch Center received no 911 calls regarding this incident.

 

A press release from police says "our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time."

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Danbury officials consider land purchase for public safety memorial

Members of the Danbury City Council will be meeting soon to discuss a proposal to buy a parcel of land next to the Police station.  The landlocked property has a home on it that the City would tear down to create a park with a memorial for fallen public safety members who died in the line of duty.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the people who lived there have passed on.

 

The goal is to purchase the land for $120,000 and get the site cleaned up and prepared for a spring construction.  Boughton says the pocket park would be a nice green space for the neighborhood while revitalizing that part of Main Street.

 

The people who lived in the home next to the police station have passed away and there's not a lot of other use for the property. 

 

The Committee, which has yet to meet, will then send their recommendation back to the full Council.  A public hearing will be held in August if approved by the Council.

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Ridgefield Fire Chief pays up on bet over charity hockey game

It wasn't a sight seen every day at Danbury Fire Headquarters.  The Ridgefield Fire Chief washing a car.  Kevin Tappe was in Danbury Tuesday afternoon to wash Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald's car to settle up on a bet. 

 

The Chief who's firefighters lost a charity hockey game had to wash the winner's car on the ramp of the fire station wearing a t-shirt with the winning department's logo. 

 

The second annual charity game was held in May.  Ridgefield lost to Danbury 6 to 3.  In the first year of the annual charity event, the Ridgefield firefighters beat Danbury on the ice in overtime. 

 

Proceeds from the game, more than $2,700, were donated to a Brookfield resident who suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident.  The money was used to obtain a service dog for the woman.  Her mother is a nurse in Ridgefield.

 

Ridgefield won in the first year over Danbury in overtime.

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State lawmakers consider penalties for leaving children unattended in cars

Ridgefield Police says they will not release any more details in the case of the 15 month old left in a hot car for an extended period of time Monday until a cause of death has been determined for Benjamin Seitz.  The Chief Medical Examiner's office says it could be six to eight weeks before their ruling.

 

The spate of seven children left in cars in two weeks in Connecticut has state lawmakers considering whether stiffer penalties are needed.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says their hearts go out to these families because it's a devastating situation, but she says something may need to be done.  

 

Children's Committee co-chair Senator Dante Bartelemeo says they've asked researchers for a report on the penalties for leaving children in cars in other states.

 

Right now in Connecticut, leaving a child under the age of 12 unattended in a vehicle can lead to up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

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Cupcake chain Crumbs in talks, could rise again

NEW YORK (AP) The cupcake chain Crumbs is trying to make a new start.

 

After announcing this week it was closing all of its stores, including the Danbury location and three others in Connecticut, the New York company said it is in talks with what it describes as ``various interested parties'' and could restructure its business. This development came just days after Crumbs closed its stores.

CEO and General Counsel Edward Slezak says the company is, quote, ``pleased to be in talks with various interested parties that are allowing us to pursue all of our options for the business.'' These options include consideration of restructuring alternatives.

Crumbs was founded in 2003 and went public in 2011, selling giant cupcakes topped with M&M cookie dough, and Girl Scout cookies. But the company has posted a loss for three straight years, and it warned in May that it might have to cease operations if it didn't generate enough cash flow.

In March it had 65 stores nationwide but couldn't say how many locations were left on Monday, when it closed all of its remaining stores. The company said Monday that it was considering options including a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

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Few people use boat pump out service during holiday weekend

Free sewage pumpout services for recreational boaters on Candlewood Lake is being offered by the state.  Up until now, many pump out facilities had charged a $5 service fee.  Funding for the new Clean Vessel Act program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment, as well as boat fuel. It's part of an effort to keep coastal waters clean for recreation by safely disposing boaters' sewage. 

 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Analyst Gwendolyn Flynn says this past weekend there weren't as many people using the services as DEEP had hoped.  Flynn says that night have been because fewer people were on the lake due to the weather or the holiday weekend meant more people on dry land having picnics.

 

Flynn says the previous weekend there was a significantly larger amount of sewage off loaded from boats.  She hopes with the nice weather, people will enjoy the lake and take advantage of their services.

 

She notes that extra sewage in the water means there are more nutrients in the water and that can cause more algae blooms and help invasive plants thrive.  There is a concern each year with the amount of invasive species, particularly Eurasian Milfoil.

 

Candlewood Lake Pumpout Cell Phone at 860-985-9474 Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 5pm.

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Protest in Danbury calling for action on homelessness set to wrap up

A group protesting outside of Danbury City Hall in order to have officials better address the issue of homelessness is set to wrap up this weekend.  A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, the Danbury Housing Partnership will receive the draft of a new plan to end homelessness. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the advocates are a little misguided in where they are placing the protest.  Boughton says the City does more than any other town in the area, and does more than most cities in the state when it comes to the issue of homelessness.

 

Boughton says while he supports their first amendment rights, the advocates should be lobbying area towns to do their part.  He says he will continue to push surrounding towns to step up and do their free share. 

 

Advocate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index.  One night in January, volunteers in Danbury conducted the annual Point-In-Time count to determine the number of individuals living without a safe, stable place to call home.  148 people were counted.

 

The City Shelter, Dorothy Day, the Jericho Shelter on Maple Avenue and The First Congregational Church Shelter across from City Hall have beds.  But some aren't open year round and others have limits on the number of nights people can stay.

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Danbury's Fire Chief has last day on the job before retirement

Today is Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald's last official day on the job.  He retiring after 40 years of service to Danbury.  Herald joined the Germantown Volunteer Fire Department in 1974.  He was appointed to the City's career department as a firefighter in 1979 and named Chief in 2007. 

 

At this City Council meeting last week Herald was presented with a plaque from the City thanking him for his years of dedicated service.  Herald was overcome with emotions saying he appreciates the gesture, has been honored humbled to serve as the chief with the best firefighters.

 

Herald is certified by the Center for Public Safety Excellence as a Chief Fire Officer.  The designation recognizes fire officers who have demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement throughout their career.  Those with the designation have developed a strategy for continued career improvement and development and have the educational and technical competencies necessary to meet the demands of today's society. 

 

There are 994 chiefs nationwide with the certification.   The only other active Connecticut Fire Chief on that list is from Enfield.  Former Ridgefield Chief Heather Burford holds the designation as well. 

 

Herald holds a Bachelor's Degree from Western Connecticut State University in social sciences, an Associate's Degree from Waterbury State Technical College in fire sciences and a Master's Degree from Eastern Kentucky University in safety, security and emergency management.

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Engineering firms take pre-bid tour of Hearthstone Castle

A tour of Hearthstone Castle in Danbury took place Thursday for engineering firms interested in submitting bids to the City about plans to stabilize the structure.  The tour is mandatory because any proposal for engineering services without having seen the castle, will not be considered. 

 

Mark Nolan of the Friends of Tarrywile Park said at a City Council meeting earlier this year that the castle in its present state is saveable with some work to secure it.  A study was done recently about what can be done with the site in the future.  The findings ranged from a school to an observation deck.  A lot of the recommendations are cost prohibitive and are not feasible.

 

Nolan says the retaining wall on the lower side is deteriorating.  If that is allowed to go, more damage will de done to what is left of the structure.  Hearthstone Castle was built in 1897.  The outer walls are all that is left of the structure after years of neglect saw the roof and internal structure collapse into the basement. 

 

Even if the decision is to take the castle down and make a picnic area, an engineering plan needs to be done. 

 

The bids are due to City officials by the end of the month.

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Bussing continues on Saturdays on Danbury Metro North branch

Buses will operate in places of trains along the Danbury branch of Metro North for the next three Saturdays because of planned testing of grade crossings.  The first three buses departing Danbury for South Norwalk will leave at 7:37am, 10:37am and 1:37pm.  That is 12 minutes earlier than the normal train schedule.  The first three buses departing South Norwalk for Danbury will be at 9:09am, 12:07pm and 3:07pm.  That's 6 to 8 minutes earlier than trains normally run. 

 

In November, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Metro-North completed a new signal system project for the entire Danbury Branch. Branch Line service was expanded as the result of the project upgrade and construction of several portions of parallel track, or sidings, allowing for the ability to operate more than one train along the corridor at a time.

 

The new technology train detection system that controls the closing of a gate crossing sometimes activates with no trains approaching, despite the fact that this system was comprehensively tested at each crossing prior to being activated along the right-of-way. 

 

The DOT is making modifications to the eleven grade crossings.

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Conn. school sued over sex abuse of student

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut school has been accused in a lawsuit of failing to prevent a female staff member from sexually abusing an emotionally disturbed 16-year-old boy.

The suit was filed Wednesday in Stamford Superior Court on behalf of the student against Devereux Glenholme School, a therapeutic boarding school in Washington, Connecticut.

The staff member, Brittany Larson, was sentenced to nine months in prison last year after she pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault under the Alford doctrine in which a defendant doesn't agree with the allegations but concedes the state has enough evidence to convict.

The lawsuit alleges the school failed to take reasonable steps to supervise its staff and the student. The suit says the student suffered serious emotional and psychological injuries.

The school had no immediate comment Wednesday.

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Conn. man to serve time in watch theft

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) A Stratford man has pleaded guilty to stealing $1 million in watches and now faces time in prison.

38-year-old Gilberto Nieves pleaded guilty Tuesday to under the Alford Doctrine to larceny and conspiracy charges. The plea means he does not agree with all the elements of the government's case, but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict him.

Nieves managed the watch repair department at Victorinox Swiss Army's Monroe headquarters, where prosecutors say 644 expensive timepieces were stolen between 2010 and 2012, including a gold watch valued at more than $20,000.

Nieves was arrested after police traced some of the watches to a dealer in Texas, who had purchased them on the Internet

Nieves faces six years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 19.

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Woman fends off attack by man along Carmel trailway

An incident on a bike path in Carmel is being investigated.  A woman filed a complaint with the Putnam County Sheriff's office on July 1st saying that a man on a bicycle circled her several times along the Putnam Trailway.  He then tried to grab her arm, but she was able to fend off the would-be attacker and run from the area. 

 

Criminal investigators and the K9 unit along with Carmel Police, New York State Troopers and the aviation unit searched the area, but couldn't find the man.  The suspect is described as a white man, 50 to 60 years old, about 5-foot-9, 220 pounds.  He was wearing a brace on his right ankle. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff's office at 845-225-8060.

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Prosecutor: Cop justified in museum chief's death

A Connecticut prosecutor says a Ridgefield police officer was justified in the fatal shooting last year of a Connecticut military museum chief.

Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III issued a report Wednesday concluding that officer Jorge Romero was justified based on a reasonable belief that the use of force was necessary to defend himself and others when he shot 75-year-old John Valluzzo on May 24 at his home in Ridgefield.

The report quotes Romero saying he ordered Valluzzo repeatedly to drop his gun but he charged toward him. Romero says he was cornered and fired twice.

Sedensky says Valluzzo's gun was unloaded but the officer was reasonable to believe the gun was loaded.

 

The report also cited a 911 call from a woman in Florida, who said her cousin, Valluzzo's girlfriend, told her the man was flipping out and waiving a gun around in the house.  Janine Saviano said that there had been domestic violence in the past and that Mr. Valluzzo gets “drunk” and “nasty.”  Saviano said that Valluzzo had told the cousin to get out and that she was trespassing.  Valluzzo’s girlfriend, Anna Messina, was found by police during a sweep of the house locked in a bedroom.

Valluzzo was founder and president of the Military Museum of Southern New England in Danbury.

 

The State Police investigation included witness interviews, analysis of the physical evidence, police radio transmissions, the initial call to the Ridgefield Police Department and the applicable law

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Man stabbed in Danbury during argument over soccer game

A Danbury man has been stabbed during a fight over the Brazil-Germany World Cup game.  Police were called to Copacobana on Ives Street around 11:30 Tuesday night for an assault complaint. 

 

When officers arrived, they met with the 29 year old victim, who reported being stabbed by another man after a dispute over the soccer game.  The victim was transported to Danbury Hospital, treated and released. 

 

Witnesses are asked to contact Detective Mable at 203-797-4662.

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North Carolina man arrested for NY crimes, sought in Conn.

A 29 year-old man, wanted on a parole violation warrant from North Carolina, who is suspected of being responsible for several violent felony crimes in Putnam County over the past two months has been arrested.

 

Kenneth DeFreitas of North Carolina previously lived in Putnam Lake.  Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith says DeFreitas was arrested for two residential burglaries in Putnam Lake.  One was an attempted armed robbery of the A&P in Southeast, the other was an armed robbery of the Putnam County National Bank in Carmel.

 

DeFreitas was charged with felony robbery for the bank crime.  A nationwide bulletin was issued for his arrest.  On July 3rd, the NYPD located DeFreitas in the Bronx and he was returned to Putnam County.

 

He was also charged with two counts of burglary and one count of attempted robbery.

 

After the arraignment hearing, investigators were escorting DeFreitas back to the police car and he grabbed the gun of one of the investigators, attempting to remove it from the holster.  DeFreitas was subdued after a brief struggle.  Additional charges of attempted escape and attempted criminal possession of a weapon were lodged.

 

Law enforcement authorities from Connecticut and Westchester County also suspect DeFreitas of committing residential burglaries in their jurisdictions.

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Passenger in stopped car flees police due to outstanding warrants

The passenger of a car that was pulled over last night for a traffic stop, fled and has now been charged on a number of outstanding warrants.  A car aws stopped by New Milford Police on Route 7 Tuesday night when the passenger ran from the vehicle. 

 

30-year old Dean Trester of Danbury was caught after a short foot chase. 

 

He was wanted on four warrants for failure to appear in court.  Court documents show that Trester was supposed to appear in court on burglary and larceny charges filed by New Milford Police in January for crimes that happened August and September.  His re-arrest was ordered May 9th.  

 

Trester was held on bond for arraignment at Bantam Superior Court.

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Police ID Child who died after being left in hot car in Ridgefield

Ridgefield Police have identified the infant who died after being left in a hot car for an extended amount of time Monday.  15-month old Benjamin Seitz was supposed to be dropped off at daycare by his father, who instead drove to his place of employment at 38A Grove Street in Ridgefield with the baby still in the car.

 

Ridgefield Detectives are still conducting interviews to ascertain the exact amount of time the 15 month old was left in the vehicle.

 

Police say Danbury Hospital contacted them shortly after 6pm when the child's father reportedly drove him there after finding the baby in his car and becoming concerned for his welfare.  The Ridgefield Police Departments Dispatch Center received no 911 calls regarding this incident.

 

The Ridgefield Police Department has been working with the assistance of the State Police Western District Major Crime Unit and the Danbury State’s Attorney’s Office.  The cause of death is still listed as pending at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

 

A press release from police says "our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time."

 

This is the fourth case of a child or children being left alone in cars in the past two weeks in Connecticut.

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Man charged with assaulting author Colum McCann

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man has been charged with assaulting novelist Colum McCann last month outside a hotel in New Haven.

Police said Tuesday that 34-year-old Michael Mott, of Oxford, was charged with assault in the June 28 encounter outside the Study Hotel.

Police say witness accounts suggest McCann tried to help a woman involved in a dispute in the hotel lobby. The ``Let the Great World Spin'' author was treated for significant facial injuries at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Police say Mott confessed to assaulting McCann. A man who answered a phone listed with his address declined to comment.

Police say Mott had a dispute with his wife and McCann apparently asked if she needed help. Police say Mott punched McCann, who lost consciousness.

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Connecticut police honor those involved in Newtown response

18 months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, State Police have honored those who responded.  More than 100 awards for outstanding and meritorious service were given to First Responders and others who were part of the immediate and long term response. 

 

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro delivered remarks.  She said each responder ran to the unthinkable, faced the unbearable and took on the impossible.  Schriro says what they do every day makes it possible for everyone to regain their footing and restores a sense of safety and well being.  For these "gifts of service", she thanked them by saying what they do matters.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says he's very proud of the work done by all who responded on that day or in the months after.  He saw the faces of men and women bearing witness to unbelievable tragedy and said stoic as they tried to be, the difficult nature of the work they were doing was written on their faces.

 

State police officials handed out awards for outstanding and meritorious service Tuesday at the University of Connecticut's football stadium in East Hartford.

 

State Trooper First Class Matthew Bell was among the first police officers to enter the school and saw the horror. He says receiving an award was an honor, but he's always been more concerned about the well-being of the victims' families.

 

Receiving awards were:

 

First Responders (State Police and Local Police)

Lt. Michael Hofbauer
Lt. Michael Perry
M/Sgt. Michael Davis
Sgt. William Cario
Sgt. Joseph Salmeri
Sgt. Michael O’Donnell
Sgt. Adam Wagnblas
Sgt. Joseph Roden
TFC Christopher Kick
TFC John McGeever
TFC Edward Benecchi
TFC Dennis Keane
TFC William Blumenthal
TFC Anthony Cipriano
TFC Josef Duva
TFC Carlo Guerra
TFC Ken Cournoyer
Det. Christopher Zullo
Det. Patrick Dragon
Tpr. Laurence Greg
Tpr. Andrew Katrenya
Oxford Officer Luke Ramirez
Sgt. Thomas Bennett
Det. Brian Marino
Det. Janice Warkoski
TFC Matthew Bell
New Milford Police Det. Scott Flockhart
Newtown Police Officer Thomas Bean
Wolcott Police Officer Leonard Greene
Brookfield Police Officer Jared Turner

 

State Police Emergency Services Unit
Capt. Louis J. Fusaro
M/Sgt. Christopher McCarthy
Sgt. Raoul Palen
Sgt. Christopher Bartolotta
Sgt. Michael Alogna
Sgt. Chick Bistany
Sgt. Patrick Cauley
Sgt. Jeffrey Dubuc
Sgt. Kenneth Albert
Sgt. Shawn Corey
Sgt. Eric Murray
Sgt. Joseph Mercer
Sgt. James Kodzis
Sgt. Robert Girard
TFC Michael Avery
TFC Mark Wyler
TFC Eric Basak
TFC Arthur Derderian
TFC Brian Faughnan
TFC Chad Gomez
TFC Christopher Lunz
TFC Robert Maynard
TFC Steven Rief
TFC Daniel McCarthy
TFC William Rochette
TFC Joseph Voket
TFC David Luke
TFC David Lavoie
TFC James O’Donnell
TFC Richard Oenning
TFC Kevin Cook
TFC Steven Chapman
Tpr. Jeffrey Poach
Tpr. Michael Beauton
Tpr. Collin Konow
Tpr. Carson Konow
Sgt. Stephen Ostroski
TFC Scott Crevier
Dr. Richard Kamin

Major Crime Detectives (State Police, FBI and Newtown PD)

Lt. David DelVecchia
Lt. William Baldwin

Sgt. James Thomas

Sgt. Josh Pattberg

Sgt. Eric Dency

Sgt. Jeffrey Covello

Sgt. William Telford

Det. Karoline Keith

Det. Arthur Walkley

Det. Daniel Sliby        

Det. Michael Tranquillo

Det. Steven Rupsis

Det. Raymond Insalaco

Det. Rachael VanNess

Det. Daniel Jewiss

Det. Michael Mudry

Det. Alison Peters       

Det. Michael Downs

Det. Frank Mugavin

Det. Christopher Fongemie     

Det. Matthew Greenstein          

Det. Matthew Gunsalus             

Det. Patrick Meehan     

Det. Peter Farr

TFC Kenneth Dillon

TFC Anthony Cretella

TFC Joseph Russo

TFC James Foley

TFC Mark Pereira

FBI Special Agent Samuel Dispasquale

FBI Special Agent Lisa Skelly-Byrnes

FBI Special Agent Michael Zuk

Newtown Police Officer Jeffrey Silver

Sgt. John Turner

Sgt. Joseph Quilty

Sgt. Kevin Stratton

Det. Michael Fitzsimons         

Det. Richard Covello

Det. Peter Pinelli

Det. Marc Grandpre

Det. Thomas Kiely

Det. Christopher Allegro

Det. John Kimball

Det. William Flynn

Det. Joseph Bukowski

Det. Paul Lukienchuk

Det. Jeremy Combes

Det. Andre Roy

Det. Patrick Dwyer     

Det. Vincent Gogluicci               

Det. James Nolting      

Det. John McDonald      

Det. Shawn Sequeira               

Det. Kevin Slonski                       

Det. Scott Wisner

Det. Tanya Compagnone

Det. Matthew LaCluyze

Det. James McGlynn 

Det. Daniel Cargill

Det. Jeffrey Payette

Det. Priscilla Vining

Det. David Lamoureux

Det. Keith Hoyt

Det. Ryan Luther

Det. Brian Connolly

Det. Daniel DeJesus

 

Families Liaison Officers

M/Sgt. Kevin Mingo
Sgt. David Wagner
Weston Police Sgt. Patrick Daubert
Weston Police Sgt. Matthew Brodacki
Det. Brian Marino
Det. Janice Warkoski
TFC Jason Cassavecchia
TFC Gregory Trahan
TFC Robert Evangelista
TFC Catherine Taylor
TFC Edward Anuszewski Jr.
TFC Timothy Lehane Jr.
TFC Thomas Macholl
TFC Orlando Mo
TFC David Merriam
TFC Paul Macisco
TFC Dennis Keane
TFC Robert Maurice
Tpr. Adam McOmber
Tpr. Corey Clabby
Tpr. Scott Blair
Tpr. Dawn Taylor
Tpr. Sean Hickey
Tpr. Tamia Tucker
Tpr. Catherine Koeppel
Tpr. Gerard Joyal
Tpr. Joshua Sawyer
Tpr. Jessica Colburn
Tpr. Johnathan Kauffman
Tpr. Nicole Vallieres
Tpr. Edmund Vayan Jr.
Tpr. Michael Burke
Redding Police Officer Jason Heibeck
Shelton Police Officer Michael McPadden
Redding Police Officer Anthony Signore
TFC Walter Greene
TFC Dean Aresco

                                               

Peer Support Group (State Police and DESPP Civilians)

Sgt. Troy Anderson

Sgt. William Bundy

Sgt. Matthew Garcia

Sgt. Chris Ganzer

Sgt. Karen Gabianelli

Det. Daniel Crowley

Det. Kathleen Henry

Det. Adam Rosenberg

Rev. Dr. Paul Krampitz

Rev. Dana Hallenbeck

Rev. Edward Goetz

Fr. Michael Dolan

Dr. Mark Hall
Dr. Robin Grant-Hall

Phyllis Pavlik, LCSW

Dr. Anne Balboni

 

Law Enforcement Support Personnel (State Police Troopers & Dispatchers, FBI, paramedics)

M/Sgt. Kevin Rafferty OS

Sgt. Michael Roach

TFC Timothy Loomis

TFC Richard Binkowski

Sgt. Seth Mancini

Dispatcher Betsy Brennan

Dispatcher Mark Nadeau

Dispatcher Karen Laprade

Dispatcher Ryan Rigon

Dispatcher John Gebauer

Dispatcher Cynthia Dielemans

Lt. Sean Cox OS

Sgt. Dwight Washington

Sgt. Steven Zonghetti

Det. Richard Garcia

Det. Steven Bellandese

Det. Adam Brown

Det. Ian Nicholson

Det. Veronica Carpenter

Det. Gary Williams

Det. Andrea O'Donnell

Det. Gary Perry

Det. Daniel Rybacki

Det. Steven Orlowski

Det. Myles Ginley

Trooper Michael Prescott

Trooper William Ortiz

FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kline

FBI Special Agent Thomas F. Veivia

FBI Special Agent Gary Sanford

FBI Special Agent Jon Lauria

FBI Special Agent Jeffery Kuroughlian

FBI Special Agent William Aldenberg

FBI Special Agent Mark Lauer

FBI Special Agent Ian Kaufmann

FBI Special Agent John Sullivan

FBI Victim Specialist Ashley Hall
Paramedic Bernie Meehan
Paramedic John Reed
Paramedic Matthew Cassavechia

Civilian and Law Enforcement Support (administrative support, CT Telecommunication System, civilian and sworn personnel from the six divisions of DESPP and municipal police)

Linda Rosa

Paul Zito

Scott Wright

Mike Varney

Warren Lundquist

Matt Valleau

Mark Mattson

Robert Boudreau

Christine Plourde

DEMHS Regional Coordinator Thomas Vannini

DEMHS Regional Coordinator John. B. Field, Jr.

DEMHS Regional Coordinator Robert F. Kenny

POST Training Officer Karen Boisvert

POST Training Officer Geoffrey Anderson

State Fire Administrator Jeffrey Morrissette

State Fire Plan Administrator William Higgins

Mill Plain Fire Chief Dennis Ring

Westport Assistant Chief Michael Kronick

Greenwich EMD Daniel Warzoha

Dr. Guy Vallaro, Director, Scientific Services
Deputy Director of Identification Robert O’Brien

Forensic Examiner Lucinda Lopes-Phelan

Forensic Examiner James Stephenson

Forensic Examiner Rachel Maloney

Forensic Examiner Joseph Weronik

Sgt. Richard Alexandre

Forensic Examiner Eric Carita

Forensic Examiner Kevin Parisi

Forensic Examiner Cheryl Civitello Carreiro

Forensic Examiner Liz Sautter

Forensic Examiner Nick Juliano

Forensic Examiner Paul Penders

Det. Bryan Ferrucci

Det. George Jupin

IT Analyst Joseph Ament

Admin. Asst. Sandra Baker

Attorney Brenda Bergeron

Det. Francis Budwitz

Det. Andrew Burke

Area Coordinator Michael Caplet

Trainer Robert Christ

Hartford Police Det. Steve Citta

Program Supervisor Dana Conover

GIS Coordinator Dan Czaja

Legislative Program Mgr. Scott Devico

Program Specialist Robert Drozynski

Program Specialist Gemma Fabris

DOC Lt. Julie Gasiorek

Lt. Arthur Goodale

Det. Michael Grieder

Emer. Telecomm. Mgr. John Gustafson

Emer. Mgmt. Director William Hackett

Urban S&R Coordinator William Higgins

Intelligence Officer Mark Housley

Det. Michael Kowal

Exec. Sec. Yvonne Lewis

Fairfield PD Det. Kevin McPadden

Waterford PD Patrol First Class Richard Morgan

Intelligence Analyst Brett Paradis

Intelligence Officer Peter Payson

Program Specialist Emily Pysh

Det. Matt Reilly

Trainer Thomas Romano

Sgt. Kenneth Rigney

IT Services Director Jason Rosa

Sgt. Luis Rosa

Trainer Gary Ruggiero

Trainer Robert Scata

Dep. Comm. William Shea

Program Supervisor Cynthia Tangney

Admin. Asst. Lee Toffey

Program Specialist Brian Toolan

Mgr. Operations, Exercise & Training John Warren

IT Analyst Marshall Weaver

 

State Police Command Staff

Col. Danny Stebbins
Lt. Colonel Robert Corona
Major Butch Hyatt
Major Brian McLean
Major Brian Meraviglia
Major William Podgorski
Capt. Dale Hourigan
Capt. Thomas Begert
Capt. Edwin Henion
Lt. Mark Cassista
Lt. Mark Sticca
Lt. J. Paul Vance
Lt. Michael Jagoda
Lt. Anthony Schirillo
Sgt. Robert Palmer
Sgt. Paul Hufcut
TFC Kelly Grant

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Boughton Street YMCA to close July 25

The Boughton Street YMCA facility will be closing on July 25th as the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut restructures the organization.  The Board of Directors has decided to direct their limited resources to key programs that best serve the community.  Vice President of Advancement Maura Keenan says it's no longer feasible to maintain and operate two similar facilities so close in distance.

 

ESCAPE to the Arts in downtown Danbury, our two Children’s Centers, the Greenknoll branch, after-school programs, community health programs and day camps--all of which serve Danbury residents--will continue.  The Greenknoll branch, a similar facility with a fitness center and aquatic center, is 6 miles from the downtown Danbury branch.

 

The facility was built in the 1960s.  Officials say it's in need of significant structural upgrades, including to the pool, and a roof replacement.

 

Keenan thanked the Danbury community and City officials who have helped maintain the facility over the years.  They looked to close the branch about 10 years ago, but donors rallied around the fixture in the community.  She says it just wasn't possible this time around.

 

Keenan says the Y will continue to partner with other area agencies to meet the community’s most pressing needs.

 

“As we look at ways to best impact the Greater Danbury area, we are restructuring in order to put our limited resources into our many community based programs. We appreciate the loyalty of so many people to the Y over the years and look forward to continued growth, service to Danbury and community partnerships during our next phase of development.”  said Marie Miszewski, President/ CEO.

 

"The Y is not about the buildings we occupy.  We are an association of people from all walks of life who share a passion for nurturing children, improving health and well-being and supporting neighbors.  Our mission has not changed.  If anything, with this restructuring, we will be in a position to accomplish even more in Greater Danbury. The YMCA is committed to operating in a fiscally responsible manner and being good stewards of the funds entrusted to us to best impact our community."

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Informational about Redding Center Post Office future

A public meeting is being held this afternoon about the Redding Center Post Office.  Certain post offices have been subject to review, including the Redding Center Post Office. 

 

The United States Postal Service sent out a survey to residents, presenting them with four alternatives to closing the post office.  Three alternatives start with conducting a discontinuance study. 

 

One alternative is to then close the office and provide PO Box service through another facility.  Another alternative is to find an alternative location, usualy a local business, to be operated by a contractor.  The third alternative is to then provide mailbox delivery through a rural carrier, with other postal service obtained at another location. 

 

The fourth alternative is to keep the Lonetown Road facility open but with new weekday service hours based on workload.  Saturday service would not change. 

 

The community meeting is at 1pm at town hall.

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Town meeting in Redding to discuss capital items

There is a special town meeting tonight in Redding to discuss borrowing for two items.  The informational meeting tonight is about a proposed emergency communications tower and a road reconstruction plan. 

 

Originally there was going to be a vote at the meeting, but residents instead will be called on to vote at a referendum being held July 22nd.  That machine vote coincides with a referendum on the roof replacement project at Joel Barlow High School. 

 

Redding officials are proposing $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department .  $6.73 million over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan.  Both projects would be funded through short term borrowing pending long term financing. 

 

The meeting tonight is at 7:30pm at the Redding Community Center.

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Judge rejects Rowland's request to dismiss charges

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A judge has denied a request by former Gov. John G. Rowland to dismiss federal charges that accused him of trying to create secret consultant roles with two congressional campaigns.

Rowland argued in May that he did nothing wrong, denying the consulting contracts were false.

Judge Janet Bond Arterton ruled Tuesday that whether the allegation can be proven is an issue for the jury to determine, not the court on a pretrial motion to dismiss.

Rowland pleaded not guilty in April to conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation, causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission, and causing illegal campaign contributions.

Rowland argued the indictment didn't specify how he caused a false filing with the FEC, but Arterton said it's sufficient to allege Rowland was part of a conspiracy.

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Ridgefielder charged in 2013 fatal hit-and-run crash

A 33-year-old Ridgefield woman wanted in a fatal 2013 hit-and-run accident has been arrested after police say she was caught shoplifting.

Police took Sarah Allen into custody at the Danbury Fair Mall Saturday and were processing a shoplifting complaint when they discovered the warrant from the November 2013 accident.

Allen was faces numerous charges including second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle.

 

Danbury Police say Allen was travelling southbound on Route 7 when she lost control of her vehicle and rolled it.  Allen's passenger, Joseph Sherman, was ejected from the vehicle and died of his injuries.  She had to be extricated from her vehicle.  The other charges are reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, failure to drive right, and operation of a motor vehicle out of class.

 

Allen is being held on $50,000 bond for the 2013 charges, and $1,000 bond for the 6th degree larceny charge.  She will be back in Danbury Superior Court on July 21st to answer the charges in both cases.

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Police plan in place in response to World Cup celebrations in Danbury

There is another World Cup game this afternoon featuring Brazil that could potentially end right at the height of rush hour.  In the past, spontaneous celebrations along Main Street in Danbury have snarled traffic.  Mayor Mark Boughton says for this  semi-final game, they will deploy some extra police officers to lower Main Street.

 

Boughton says they want to encourage people to have a good time, but to not enjoy the World Cup at the expense of others.  City officials have reached out to Green's Funeral Home about any wakes that might be taking place tonight, but also asked that people celebrating to respect that area. 

 

Boughton says anyone seen operating or travelling in a vehicle in an unsafe manner will be ticketed.  Some of what's been seen include people on the roofs or hoods of vehicles.  Cars will also be towed.

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'Stop & warn' ended at some railroad crossings on Danbury Branch

The so-called Stop and Warn procedure in place at some railroad crossings along the Danbury branch line were lifted Monday by Metro North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  Railroad officials say testing has determined that the flashing lights and gates at the intersections are operating satisfactorily and normal train movements can resume. 

 

There are still signal issues at the Greenwood Avenue crossing in Bethel though and the Stop and Warn operations will have to continue.  That's when the trains slow to a stop before the intersection and the conductor looks to see if the crossing is working. 

 

Non-rush hour trains will once again be running on the Danbury branch during weekdays.  Busing will continue on the weekends to allow for more testing of the signal system. 

 

Metro North is adding cars to a number of trains to relieve crowding identified following schedule changes made in May.

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Developer to change plans for portion of Schlumberger build

Plans for a development on part of the Schlumberger site are changing.  Developer Steven Zemo appeared before the Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission last week to discuss a concern from the Water Pollution Control Authority. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the concern is a potential odor problem from the town's sewer plant nearby. 

 

The 3-story hotel would not have to be changed.  A 4th building on the site has been eliminated and the changes could be coming to the other two planned buildings, including a storage facility and a multi-use office building that also includes some apartments. 

 

The Conservation Commission and the Inlands Wetlands Commission are also considering the plans.

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Lawmaker wants more info about Connecticut VA

Senator Richard Blumenthal  is seeking answers following the release of new data from the Veterans Affairs Department which shows a tripling of the number of health care cases delayed by more than 30 days at facilities in Connecticut.  There are two VA hospitals in the state and 6 clinics, including the one in Danbury.  Officials had been assured that delays plaguing facilities in other states were not occurring here.

 

Blumenthal says they were told Connecticut had been spared the deadly delays, falsification of records and manipulation of data.

 

Data from the VA shows that appointments delayed by over 30 days at facilities in Connecticut increased from 998 in May to 2,727 in June.

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Connecticut to provide free boat pumpout-services

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is providing free sewage pumpout services for recreational boaters using Long Island Sound, Connecticut's rivers and Candlewood Lake.

DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said he's pleased the new policy was in place in time for the July 4 holiday weekend.

Funding for the new Clean Vessel Act program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment, as well as boat fuel. It's part of an effort to keep coastal waters clean for recreation by safely disposing boaters' sewage.

DEEP has launched a new interactive map on its website to help boaters take advantage of the available pumpout services. Up until now, many facilities had charged a $5 service fee.

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Christie defends gun ammo veto, not meeting with Sandy Hook families

KEANSBURG, N.J. (AP) Gov. Chris Christie is defending his decision to veto legislation that would have reduced the legal limits on gun ammunition magazines.

Christie said Monday that his potential national ambitions did not influence his decision to veto the bill, as some critics have suggested. He also defended his decision not to meet with parents of children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting who traveled to Trenton last week to support the bill.

Christie said he had already signed the veto at that point and didn't want to waste the parents' time.

The measure would have reduced the state's legal ammunition capacity from 15 to 10 rounds.

Christie said he doesn't believe the measure would do anything to end gun violence.

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Bethel Town Meeting tonight on budget proposal

Bethel residents are being called on to attend another town meeting on the budget.  The municipal spending plan has been rejected by Bethel residents three times and the town entered the new fiscal year using the same numbers as last year's budget. 

 

The Board of Finance has cut $516,000 from the proposal. 

 

But the budget is still proposed to have a $515,000 spending increase over the current plan.  That is mostly being driven by wage changes from last year, employee benefits and medical insurance. 

 

Tax bills can not be calculated until the municipal budget passes. Once the bills are sent out, Bethel residents will have 30 days from the new due date to pay the bill.  The town meeting on the proposed budget for the current fiscal year will be reconvened at 7:30pm at Bethel High School.

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Third Danbury middle school set to open in the fall

When the school year begins again in the fall, Danbury's third middle school will reopen.  School officials recently went on a walk through of the West Side Middle School Academy that showed construction is coming to an end.  All of the faculty and staff have been hired. 

 

Deputy Superintendent Dr Bill Glass says 300 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program will be located at the former Mill Ridge Intermediate School.  The STEM program is moving from Rogers Park Middle School. 

 

There will also be a Global Studies Academy open to 6th graders.  The following year, those 100 students will move to 7th grade and another 100 6th graders will come to the school.  In the third year of it's opening another 100 students will be accepted filling out the Academy.

 

There was an application process for each Academy, using a traditional lottery process.  There is a waiting list because there's a lot of excited generated by the small learning academies. 

 

Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

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Genealogist to give presentation at Danbury Library

A certified genealogist is coming to Danbury Library this weekend for a presentation about relative finding and using DNA to track your ancestry.  Nora Galvin is part of the Connecticut Ancestry Society and will explain about a new technology using DNA matching.  She says this is especially helpful for people who have been adopted and want to know more about their genetic history.

 

This technology is done by collecting saliva or brushing cells off the cheek to be sent to a genetic genealogy company, and the sample is then entered into a database.  The information is compared to others in the database to determine if there are any relations.  Galvin says the DNA database is only for genetic genealogy , for example it's not a criminal or paternity database.

 

Case studies will be used. 

 

Galvin's ancestors came from Ireland and she is trying to confirm who some relatives are and who their parents are.  By finding other people in the U-S that have the same DNA, she may be able to track backwards to find out who common ancestors are. 

 

The Connecticut Ancestry Society is made up of genealogists and family historians who share a special interest in southwestern Connecticut. 

 

The presentation is Saturday from 10am to noon.

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States look to gun seizure law after mass killings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- As state officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and near the University of California, Santa Barbara, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago.

 

Connecticut's law allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year.

 

The 1999 law, the first of its kind in the country, was in response to the 1998 killings of four managers at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters by a disgruntled employee with a history of psychiatric problems.

 

Indiana is the only other state that has such a law, passed in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was shot to death by a mentally ill man. California and New Jersey lawmakers are now considering similar statutes, both proposed in the wake of the killings of six people and wounding of 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara by a mentally ill man who had posted threatening videos on YouTube.

 

Michael Lawlor, Connecticut's undersecretary for criminal justice planning and policy, believes the state's gun seizure law could have prevented the killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, if police had been made aware that gunman Adam Lanza had mental health problems and access to his mother's legally owned guns.

 

"That's the kind of situation where you see the red flags and the warning signs are there, you do something about it," Lawlor said. "In many shootings around the country, after the fact it's clear that the warning signs were there."

 

Gun rights advocates oppose gun seizure laws, saying they allow police to take people's firearms based only on allegations and before the gun owners can present their side of the story to a judge. They say they're concerned the laws violate constitutional rights.

 

"The government taking things away from people is never a good thing," said Rich Burgess, president of the gun rights group Connecticut Carry. "They come take your stuff and give you 14 days for a hearing. Would anybody else be OK if they just came and took your car and gave you 14 days for a hearing?"

 

Rachel Baird, a Connecticut lawyer who has represented many gun owners, said one of the biggest problems with the state's law is that police are abusing it. She said she has had eight clients whose guns were seized by police who obtained the required warrants after taking possession of the guns.

 

"It's stretched and abused, and since it's firearms, the courts go along with it," Baird said of the law.

 

But backers of such laws say they can prevent shootings by getting guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people.

 

"You want to make sure that when people are in crisis ... there is a way to prevent them to get access to firearms," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the nonprofit Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.

 

Connecticut authorities report a large increase in the use of gun seizure warrants involving people deemed dangerous by police over the past several years. Officials aren't exactly sure what caused the increase but believe it's related to numerous highly publicized mass shootings in recent years.

 

Police statewide filed an estimated 183 executed gun seizure warrants with court clerks last year, more than twice the number filed in 2010, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch data. Last year's total also was nearly nine times higher than the annual average in the first five years of the gun seizure law.

 

Connecticut police have seized more than 2,000 guns using the warrants, according to the most recent estimate by state officials, in 2009.

 

Police in South Windsor, about 12 miles northeast of Hartford, say the law was invaluable last year when they seized several guns from the home of a man accused of spray-painting graffiti referencing mass shootings in Newtown and Colorado on the outside of the town's high school.

 

"With all that we see in the news day after day, particular after Newtown, I think departments are more aware of what authority they have ... and they're using the tool (gun seizure warrants) more frequently than in the past," said South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed. "We always look at it from the other side. What if we don't seize the guns?"

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Newtown victim's animal shelter dream turning real

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A slain Newtown girl's imaginary animal shelter may soon become a reality.

By next month, the state is expected to finishing conveying 34.4 acres of state-owned land in Newtown to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation. The foundation is raising money to fund the new Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, named after one of the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently signed legislation instructing the Department of Agriculture to transfer the land.

Plans for the new sanctuary include a shelter and adoption center for cats and dogs, a refuge for farm animals and a rescue and release program for injured wildlife. The goal is to open the main building in 2016.

Catherine had designed business cards for an imaginary shelter.

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State Parks expected to be busy, reach capacity

Independence Day weekend is historically the busiest weekend of the year for state parks. 

 

Officials expect that many, especially those with swimming areas, to close early due to capacity.  Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee says park visitors can anticipate some traffic and crowds.  Connecticut State Parks Director Tom Tyler says Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and Kent Falls have limited parking and routinely reach capacity on busy, hot days.

 

Tyler urged visitors to go early, but before you head out the door check Twitter for parking news and learn about other nearby park alternatives.  They will be providing live updates on boat launch facilities that may become unavailable as well.

 

All of the swimming areas have good water quality test results and are open for this weekend. 

 

Live updates on parking lot closures and boat launch facilities that may become unavailable can be found online at Twitter.com/CTDEPoutdoorrec.  Electronic signs along the highway often will director people to Sherwood Island State Park as an alternative when Squantz Pond reaches capacity.  Information can be found at Twitter.com/CTsherwoodislnd specific to Sherwood Island and activities at the park including parking.

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Caution urged with fireworks use

Each year nationwide, on average, there are 10,000 injuries, 3 deaths and 25,000 fires due to the use of illegal fireworks.  Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald says 60 percent of all fireworks injuries happen in the weeks immediately before and after Independence Day. 

 

He doesn't want residents to become a statistic. 

 

Sparklers and fountains are the only legal type of firework allowed in the state, but Herald urged caution even with those.  He says even sparklers can be dangerous because their high temperatures can cause third-degree burns.  Any sparks from these can also start a fire.

 

Bottlerockets, firecrackers and cherry bombs are among the illegal fireworks.  Illegal possession of explosives is a felony.  Purchasing and transporting explosives across state lines is also a crime.

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More reaction to Metro North safety test cheating scandal

A cheating scandal among Metro North conductor trainees was revealed this week.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher had mixed reaction to the incident, condemning the actions of the nine probationary conductors  and three other MTA employees in the class--while also being encouraged that the railroad took immediate and swift action.  The nine were fired and the three others were disqualified from being promoted to conductor.  A copy of the safety test was stolen and circulated. 

 

Boucher says there have been other outrageous stories that turned out to be true such as employees falsifying time sheets.  She says some were using Metro North vehicles to travel to places like Pennsylvania, on company time, racking up false overtime hours.

 

Boucher, the ranking member of the Transportation Committee, says there must be zero tolerance for corruption.  She adds that unethical acts should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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Men toss drugs to kids in backseat when pulled over

Two Putnam County men have been arrested for allegedly distributing heroin to others, including their own children. 

 

45-year old George Bushell of Brewster and 37-year old Jeffrey Pepper of Carmel were under investigation for three months by the Sheriff's office.  Officers saw the men in a car in Southeast on Tuesday, with three girls in the back seat.  When they were stopped by undercover deputies, it was revealed the men handed the heroin to their daughters. 

 

Bushell was charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, three counts of criminal possession and one count each of criminal sale to a child and endangering the welfare of a child.  Pepper was charged with criminal sale of and criminal possession of a controlled substance. 

 

Bushell is on parole for a prior felony conviction while Pepper is on probation for a DWI conviction. 

 

The case was also referred to the Child Protective Unit of the Department of Social Services for further action.  Each men are being held in jail.

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Stalking charges for man who sent threatening texts to woman

Threatening text messages have landed a Carmel man under arrest.  An investigation found that 20-year old Anthony Russo sent text messages to a Southeast woman at various times in April and May.  He also attempted to meet her at a park in Carmel.  Russo turned himself into police on Wednesday on charges of aggravated harassment and stalking.  Both are misdemeanors.  He was released without bail and is due in court on the 29th.

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Sentencing for ex-cop who punched disabled man

SOUTHEAST, N.Y. (AP) A former New York City police officer faces possible jail time for pulling a gun and punching another ex-NYPD officer during a dispute.

Mario Zeoli, of Southeast, is to be sentenced July 22. He's been convicted of menacing, a misdemeanor, and harassment, a violation.

Proseuctors say Zeoli got angry with another motorist who asked him to turn down his radio at a Southeast filing station in August 2012.

The Journal News says the other man, who uses hand controls to operate his car, was making a phone call.

Authorities say an argument ensued after the man asked Zeoli a second time to turn down his radio. Each declared he was an ex-police officer.

Authorities say Zeoli approached the man's car, displayed his revolver and punched him several times.

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World Cup celebration sparks safety concern in Danbury

With another Brazil World Cup game coming up today, some concerns are being raised about the celebrations on Main Street.  At the Danbury City Council meeting, member Phil Curren said he never got as many calls as he got about what was going on last Monday.

 

There was a wake going on at Green's Funeral Home last Monday and Curren says the honking and other activity was highly disruptive.  Mayor Boughton said on social media to stay away from Green's Funeral home, keeping from Elmwood Park up Main Street toward the highway, which seemed to help a bit during the next game.

 

He added that he thought this was the reason the Council passed the Parade Ordinance.  The process of getting a permit is for organized parades, where as these are spontaneous outbursts of celebrations with no real organizer to apply for a permit. 

 

Curren says it's not just the excessive honking that's a problem.  He noted that some residents complained to him if they were to go down Main Street without a seatbelt on, they would get a $100 ticket.  But they saw people riding on top of cars and in the back of pick up trucks.  Curren called it a safety issue.  He also pointed out that emergency vehicles wouldn't have been able to get down the road because of the congestion.

 

Boughton and Police Chief Al Baker will talk as the team progresses, about directing something more formal around the green.

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Carmel man has plea deal pulled after committing more crimes

A Carmel man who committed crimes while awaiting sentencing on drug and forgery charges, had his plea deal revoked and was sentenced to six years in state prison on Monday.  35-year old Jason Todd Bennett faced charges for a 2013 conviction on felony Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and misdemeanor Criminal Possession of Stolen Property--stemming from his purchase of stolen and forged prescriptions for oxycodone painkillers, and attempt to fill the prescriptions at local pharmacies.  At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of over 120 oxycodone pills. 

 

Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy says while prosecutors originally wanted a sentence that allowed Bennett the chance to address his addiction issues and lead a law-abiding life, he chose to do the opposite. 

 

Bennett is accused of selling a car he didn’t own to multiple victims in Putnam, Westchester and Dutchess counties, falsifying the car’s title, writing numerous checks on bank accounts he knew to be closed, bail jumping, and other charges.

 

Bennett’s spree ended with his arrest in February after he attempted to flee police on the Taconic, and Interstate 84 in Southeast.  A young child who was in the car at the time wasn't buckled properly and charges were added because of that. 

 

He has had a total of seven arrests following his conviction in November 2013, has ten criminal matters still pending in Putnam, and 13 matters pending in other jurisdictions.

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NY man fails to show in court, arrested again

A Bronx man has been arrested for failing to show in court on charges lodged in Patterson.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that 30-year old Miguel Diaz had been charged in April with aggravated harassment and menacing for allegedly making several threatening phone calls to staff at Green Chimney's School in Patterson. 

 

At that time he was released on bail for a court appearance. 

 

On Friday he was located by a bail bonds company and transported to the Sheriff's office in Carmel.  He was arraigned and held at Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of 25-thousand dollars bond.  He is due in court on the 17th.

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Recognition made of Danbury's Fire Chief retiring

A plaque was presented to Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald on Tuesday night at the City Council meeting, thanking him for his service to the Department.  Herald told WLAD in early June that after 35 years he was getting ready to retire.  Mayor Mark Boughton's father appointed Herald to the Department as a firefighter in 1979.  Boughton called Herald a "fireman's fire chief" who has committed decades of service to the City.

 

Boughton says Herald has been able to build consensus in the department.  He also touted his ability to understand the small things that go on, as well as the global picture.

 

The recognition thanked Herald for his years of dedicated service.

 

Boughton says when this City is faced with tragedy or an incident, Danbury firefighters work hard to fix the situation, make it a little better for those experiencing loss and to make sure residents are safe.

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New Milford man found dead of aparent suicide in shopping plaza parking lot

New Milford police responding to a report of erratic driving late Tuesday night heard gunshots from the area of the suspicious vehicle.  Police were called to the Kohls Shopping Plaza on Route 7 around 9:15pm about a Chevy Silverado hitting at least one concrete lightpost, up and over a curb that eventually hit a tree. 

 

The driver, later identified as 60-year old John Pierpaoli of New Milford, was found in the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

 

State police say there appears to be no criminal aspect to the case, though the investigation is ongoing.

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Home of former Conn governor to be torn down

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) A Ridgefield building that once served as home for 19th-century Connecticut Governor Phineas Lounsbury faces demolition.

The house on Governor Street has been repurposed into a professional building, which officials say diminishes its historical value.

It was purchased by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, which plans to tear it down to make way for a new headquarters.

The town's Historical Society tells the News Times it has given up attempts to save the house. They do hope to salvage parts of the building such as fireplaces, doors and trim that date back to when Lounsbury lived there.

Lounsbury, a Republican, served as Connecticut governor from 1887 until 1889 when he retired from politics. His brother, George Lounsbury, was the state's governor from 1899 until 1901.

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Ridgefield police warn of phone scam, resident bilked of $700

Ridgefield Police are warning of a telephone scam by someone claiming to be from Connecticut Light and Power.  According to police spokesman Jeff Kreitz, a Danbury Road business employee was bilked out of $700 through the scam. 

 

The victim reported to police that someone claiming to be from the utility said the business owed that money and if they didn't pay, electricity would be cut off.  The scammer told the employee that a Green-Dot MoneyPak card was the only form of payment acceptable and gave a phone number to call after the cards were obtained. 

 

Kreitz says anything dealing with pre-paid cards should always be questioned. 

 

Police believe the call originated overseas using the "magic jack phone system", showing a local area code despite not being in the region.

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Newtown Board of Ed chairman steps down from leadership role

The Chairman of the Newtown Board of Education is stepping down from that position.  According to video of their meeting Monday, Debbie Leidlein said that would be her final as the board's chair.  She said some personal reasons make it so that she can't focus 100-percent on the job and decided it was best to step down as chair. 

 

She has served in th e position since the end of 2011. 

 

During the Board meeting, an assistant principal for the Middle School was appointed.  James Ross will fill the role.

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Fire at Danbury nursing home, Warren home struck by lightning

Danbury firefighters responded to a blaze on the roof at the Danbury Health Care Center at 107 Osborne Street Wednesday afternoon.  It's a convalescence care facility. 

 

Chief Geoff Herald says there was no fire in building, but rather in the air handling unit on the roof of the structure. The smoke was drawn into the building by a ventilation system.  He said smoke doors prevented the smoke from traveling throughout the building. 

 

Herald commended the nursing staff for getting patients to a safe place in the building where they could breathe easily.  Only one person was being evaluated as a precaution.  There were no reported injuries to firefighters.

 

Emergency officials are responded to a home on Angevine Road in Warren after it was reportedly struck by lightning as intense stormed moved through the state Wednesday afternoon.  It's not clear if anyone was inside the house when it happened.

 

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Metro North conductor trainees fired for cheating on safety test

A cheating scandal is the latest PR problem for Metro North.  Nine probationary conductors have been dismissed, and three other MTA employees in the class disqualified from being promoted to conductor after a copy of the safety test was stolen and circulated. 

 

One of the trainees allegedly took the test from the instructor's bag and photographed with a smart phone. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, the ranking member of the Transportation Committee, says there must be zero tolerance for corruption.  But Boucher says she is encouraged that the railroad's management is dealing with this cheating swiftly. 

 

The matter has been referred to the MTA Inspector General's office for investigation.

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New train schedules to take effect Monday

Metro North is beginning new schedules on Monday.  Several adjustments were made to more accurately reflect travel time. 

 

The Connecticut Department of Transportation, its signal contractor, and Metro-North will wrap up remediation work on the Danbury branch’s grade crossing systems by Monday.  As a result, off-peak and weekend train service, which has been replaced by bus service since earlier this year, will resume.  The first outbound train from South Norwalk to Danbury will depart South Norwalk 10 minutes later when full train service resumes, but will arrive in Danbury at the same time. 

 

In addition to schedule adjustments, Metro North is adding cars to a number of trains to relieve crowding identified following schedule changes made in May.

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Pair arrested after jumping from highway bridge

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) Stratford police have arrested an Easton man and a teenager after they leaped into the Housatonic River from the Moses Wheeler Bridge on Interstate 95 in Stratford.

Police say 22-year-old Mcrae Barlow and the 17-year-old, whose name was not released, were not harmed in Sunday's jump.

They were picked up in the water by a Stratford Police Department boat.

Barlow was charged with risk of injury to a minor, criminal trespass, breach of peace and reckless endangerment. He is due in court on July 7. The teen was released into the custody of his parents.

A woman who answered the phone at the Barlow home Wednesday morning declined comment.

Police say Barlow told them the pair had been on a friend's boat before deciding to climb the bridge and jump.

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Ridgefield Fireworks rescheduled

Ridgefield's July 4th Fireworks, sponsored by Fairfield County Bank & Pepsi Beverages Company, have been rescheduled to Saturday July 12th.  They are being held at Ridgefield High School.  If there is rain next Saturday, the rain date is July 13th.  Gates open at 6pm. 

 

A $20 parking pass is required! They are available at Fairfield County Bank, Town Hall, and Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce.  All proceeds will go to the Family Fourth Committee. 

 

Parking is avaialble at  RHS and Barlow Mountain & Scotland Elementary (115 & 111 Barlow Mountain Road).  Handicapped Parking is located at Ridgefield High SchoolShuttle buses will be provided to and from Barlow Mountain and Scotland Elementary School.

 

No grills or alcohol permitted.

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DEEP approves Limkiln diversion, funding stalled

A request by Brookfield to divert the Limekiln Brook has been approved by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The request was made to alleviate flooding conditions in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood. 

 

Grants have been applied for in order to pay for the project, which is estimated to cost about $2.4 million. 

 

Brookfield officials say it's not clear when the grants might be awarded because the state wants to consider a number of projects all at once.  It could be as long as a year before Brookfield is notified if grant funding will be awarded.

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One boating while intoxicated arrest made after Danbury fireworks

One Boating Under the Influence arrest was made during Operation Dry Water on Candlewood Lake.  The national enforcement effort coincided with Danbury's annual fireworks show.  Environmental Conservation Police Sgt Sean Buckley says Operation Dry Water is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents on the water.

 

56-year old Charles Betolatti of Brookfield was seen operating his homemade vessel in circles near Echo Bay, trying to find the Bay using handheld flashlights.  Environmental Conservation Police Sgt Sean Buckley says officers performed a Boating Safety Check and determined the man was intoxicated.

 

He failed field sobriety tests and was transported to the Brookfield Police Department.  Betolatti is schedule to appear in Court on the 10th.

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Protest against 'inaction on homelessness' at Danbury City Hall

A group is protesting outside of City Hall in order to have Danbury officials better address the issue of homelessness.  They are then calling on the City to offer services that promote housing stability and personal well-being.  A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, the Danbury Housing Partnership will receive the draft of a new plan to end homelessness. 

 

One-time Mayoral candidate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index.  Taborsak is also calling on the City to provide people with housing quickly, without income or sobriety requirements and then offer services that promote housing stability and personal well-being. 

 

On the night of January 29, 2014, volunteers in Danbury conducted the annual HUD Point-In-Time count to determine the number of individuals living without a safe, stable place to call home.  This year Danbury counted 148 people.  18% were in families with children and 82% were single adults.  

 

The protest will end on the 13th with participants presenting a petition to the City Council at their August meeting calling for action.

 

The City Shelter provides 20 emergency beds year round to 5 women and 15 men.  Dorothy Day provides 17 beds year-round.  However, from June 1st until October 1st, guests who have stayed more than 30 days are not allowed to stay at Dorothy Day even if beds are available.   There are 55 different single homeless adults in that category.  

 

The Jericho Shelter on Maple Avenue is open for 6 months of the year from November 15th until April 15th and has 16 beds for men.  The Jericho Shelter provided 2075 bed nights for the 2013-2014 shelter season.  The First Congregational Church Shelter across from City Hall has 26 beds.  That shelter provided 3498 bed nights this season for men and women.

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Boughton sends official withdrawl letter for Gov. race

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has formally withdrawn from the Republican primary race for governor.  He announced in mid-June that he intended to leave the race.

 

Boughton sent his official notice to the Secretary of the Sate's office on Thursday, asking to be removed from the August 12th primary ballot. 

 

When making the announcement that he was stepping out of the race, he threw his support behind the party's endorsed candidate Tom Foley.  Foley faces a primary challenge still from Senator Minority Leader John McKinney.

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Report: More than $28 million raised for Newtown

A new report shows more than $28 million has been donated to charities in connection to the deadly 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Of that $28 million, more than $15 million has been distributed.

The unspent funds were set aside by various organizations for long-term community needs, including mental health services, scholarships and memorials.

The report, compiled by the Office of the Attorney General and the state Department of Consumer Protection, was released on Tuesday. It is based on information from 77 organizations that voluntarily responded to a survey about their charitable fundraising activities.

Attorney General George Jepsen said 96 percent of the organizations asked to complete the survey complied. He said the report documents the generosity while providing transparency about how the money was spent.

 

Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein also compiled a Charities Disaster Relief guide.

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Former Ridgefield Director of Health dies at age 88

A longtime Ridgefield doctor has passed away at the age of 88.  Patrick Neligan, who once served a physician to England's King George VI.  Neligan is a native of Ireland and moved to the United States in 1954 to study at Cornell. 

 

He settled in Ridgefield a few years later and began working at Norwalk Hospital.  He became Chief of Staff in 1975 and later served as Vice President of Medical Affairs, Medical Director and Director of Medical Education.  He also co-founded Norwalk Community Health Center and served as Ridgefield's Director of Health for more than three decades. 

 

Neligan and his wife lived in Ridgefield until last year when they moved to Meadow Ridge in Redding. 

 

He is survived by his wife, three sons, three daughters, a sister and 15 grandchildren.  Neligan was laid to rest Tuesday morning at St Mary Cemetery in Ridgefield.

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Boating accidents in New Milford, New Fairfield

There are a few details being released about an accident on Candlewood Lake Sunday  night near Vaughns Neck.   State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokeswoman Cyndy Chanaca says there was one person on board around 8pm.

 

Environmental Conservation Police, the Candlewood Lake Authority patrols and Sherman EMS responded to the single vessel accident.

 

The boater, 60-year old Donald Bullock of New Fairfield, was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  On Monday afternoon, he was listed in Fair Condition.  The 13-foot vessel ran aground and was towed from the scene.

 

New Milford police say a small aluminum boat overturned in the Housatonic River Monday afternoon.  The incident happened near Bleachery Dam.  Chanaca says there were two people on board, neither suffered injuries and there was no damage to the 15-foot boat.

 

EnCon police and the Fire Department responded to the scene.

 

The boat's operator, 39-year old Steven Martinetto of Woodbury, was issued a written warning for operating too close to the dam.

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New principal hired for Berry Elementary in Bethel

Bethel Public Schools have appointed a principal for Berry Elementary School.  Danielle Legnard has worked in New Canaan schools for the past 18 years.  She is a former elementary school teacher, literacy and math specialist and has a background in curriculum development. 

 

46 applicants applied for the position, nine were given interviews and three candidates were then invited back for a second interview.  Legnard has a BA from Manhattanville College, a Masters from Sacred Heart University and a 6th year degree in Educational Leadership from Sacred Heart. 

 

Her start date is today.

 

Outgoing Superintendent of Schools Dr Kevin Smith wrote:

 

"Ms. Legnard is an accomplished author. She has published several articles including “The Math Promise: Celebrating math at home and school;” “Mathematical Mind Journeys: Awakening minds to computational fluency;” “Empowering Teachers;” and “Math Workshop: The recipe for every young mathematician’s appetite.” She was a nominee for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and serves as an adjunct professor and program developer at Sacred Heart University for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics and Science program.  Danielle is a member of Atomic – the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She has presented at both local and national conferences for these organizations."

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Area lawmakers call for federal funding to fix Metro North problems

Federal funding for vital repairs to Metro North in Connecticut is being called for by a number of state lawmakers.  Senators Toni Boucher and Mike McLachlan along with Representatives Bob Godfrey, Dan Carter, Gail Lavielle, David Arconti, David Scribner, John Frey, John Shaban and Mitch Bolinsky have all signed on to the letter. 

 

Senator Bob Duff penned the open letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging action on three projects. 

 

The lawmakers want funding to replace the Walk Bridge in Norwalk which failed twice in a month span, severe weather resiliency improvements and flood proofing of the signal system.  More than 100 state lawmakers signed on to the letter.

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Oversight firm recommended for Newtown Community Center project

A firm has been selected to manage the Newtown Community Center Project.  Public Buildings and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell told the Newtown Bee that Diversified Project Management was requested to fill the position.  DPM does need municipal approval, but will start collecting information about Requests for Qualification for architects and construction management firms.

 

The Community Center is being paid for with a $10-million grant from GE. 

 

The Commission is hoping to follow the same process as the new Sandy Hook School--by creating a short list of firms, inviting them to submit proposals and selecting from that list.

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Murphy, Kane want student access to more websites

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Republican state Sen. Rob Kane are joining forces to urge Connecticut schools to allow students greater access to political websites.

Both said Monday there is no justification for restricting high school students from accessing such websites for research, including those addressing hot political topics such as abortion and gun ownership rights.

Murphy recently sent a letter to the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education asking its members to provide students with greater access.

The politicians teamed up after learning about a Woodbury student who recently raised questions about why his high school's Internet firewall blocked him from accessing politically conservative websites.

In a written statement, Region School District 14 acknowledged it was wrong to block ``appropriate websites, regardless of political or religious viewpoints.''

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Danbury School officilas update Code of Conduct

An annual review of conduct codes at Danbury Schools has updated language about threats to the school population and also changes to bullying consequences. 

 

Deputy Superintendent Bill Glass says the minimum punishment for students found guilty of bullying is now a one day out-of-school suspension, which includes having a guardian meet with the principal.  Social media was also added to the definition of bullying incidences among middle schoolers.  He says cyber bullying has become an increasingly challenging area to deal with because of the saturation of technology.

 

Danbury schools have a whole separate policy about bullying and inappropriate behaviour on social media, which was updated a few years ago.

 

The threat policy was updated to be more general, not just bomb threats.  Glass says it could be anything from arson to false alarms.

 

The high school rules about truancy were updated.  One and two hours of detention for the first two times a student cuts class have been increased to one and two day in-school suspensions respectively.  A third skip will result in an out-of-school suspension with a parent conference.

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