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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-11

Coats donated to Women's Center of Danbury

This is the season for giving.  With many groups focused on food drives for Thanksgiving and toy drives for holiday presents for kids, there is another need that sometimes goes unnoticed.  Warm coats for a cold winter.  The Women’s Club of Danbury New Fairfield, Public Issues Committee, collected over 100 coats at the their meeting this week, which they then delivered to the Danbury Women’s Center.  The donation was valued at $800.

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Area towns 'Light the Lights' to usher in holiday season

With Thanksgiving in the books, many area cities and towns are turning their sights on "Lighting the Lights".  The annual festival in Danbury is planned for tonight.  A great oak tree by the Danbury Library will once again be lit with icicle lights that have a dripping pattern.  The event begins shortly after dark at Library Plaza off Main Street.  There will be other activities surrounding the lighting including performances by the St Joseph Church School choir.

 

In Bethel, the Chamber of Commerce is hosting Winterfest events.  It starts with the "Run Santa Run! Buddy in Bethel" 5k race.  Registration starts at 9:00 am at the Bethel Municipal Center.  Santa's Village Marketplace will be set up inside the Bethel Municipal Center.  "Run Santa Run" proceeds to benefit Masonicare and a local family whose 4-year-old son is battling Guillan Barre.

 

Bethel’s tree lighting ceremony was held Friday night at PT Barnum Square.  The town offered horse drawn carriage rides, hot cocoa, caroling, and a Pipe Organ Recital.

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Redding Board of Appeals approves police communication tower

The Redding Board of Appeals has approved allowing the Police Department to build a new communications tower.  The current tower is 118 feet tall and more than three decades old.  The new proposed tower would have antennas and would be about 120 feet tall.  Even though the existing tower is non-conforming, the Police Department needed a variance to regulations for the taller one. 

 

The tower is for police, fire, EMS and the highway department. 

 

Voters decided in favor of a replacement during a July referendum on $300,000.  Since it's being built in the same location a temporary tower needs to be constructed as well, but funding was not considered for that.

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Winter Artisan Fair at Tarrywile to benefit Friends of the Park

A Winter Artisan Fair is being held tomorrow in Danbury to benefit the Friends of Tarrywile Park.  Organizer Stacey Olszewski is hoping to extend Small Business Saturday into tomorrow for people looking to purchase unique gifts from local artisans. 

 

The Fair is being held at Tarrywile Mansion and features 20 vendors.

 

Gift packages will be available from The Olive Oil Factory, along with primitive folk art by Stacey Olszewski, Goatboy Soaps, handmade jewelry by Jess Morgans and Gemini Dream, bath products by Sensational Scrubs, and hand-turned wood items by Lost Loon and Featherworks. Don’t miss Joan Pollak Art, featuring the artist’s amazing work of hand- painted driftwood animals, from dinosaurs to farm animals - sure to peak your imagination.

 

At 11:00am and 2:00pm, award winning children’s book author Jeanne Rogers will be telling tales of Australia as she reads excerpts from her fantasies for young people, and book signings are scheduled throughout the day.

 

Homemade clam chowder, specialty sandwiches, drinks, and Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies will be available from Catering by Roxannne of Brookfield. 

 

The Fair is being held at Tarrywile Mansion tomorrow from 10am to 3pm.  There's a $5 admission fee which goes to Friends of Tarrywile Park.  The group supports projects happening at the park.

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Computer donated to Danbury's Emergency Shelter

Danbury's Emergency Shelter has received a charitable donation of a laptop computer, software and printer from the Non-Profit Development Corporation of Danbury.  The donation is valued at $3,000.  The donation will be used for a Housing and Urban Development mandate called Coordinated Access.  Coordinated Assessment is a common process for accessing homeless assistance services including prevention, diversion, emergency shelter, transitional housing, rapid re-housing, supportive services and permanent supportive housing. 

 

HUD is requiring that all Continuum of Care programs establish and operate a centralized or coordinated assessment system to conduct an initial, comprehensive assessment of the housing and service needs for all people entering into homelessness.

 

This donated equipment will help the local agencies involved in Coordinated Assessment to place all vital and statistical data into the Housing Management Information System.  The system is a computerized data collection tool specifically designed to collect data on the provision of housing an services to homeless individuals and families or people at risk of becoming homeless.

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Consumer tips for savvy weekend shoppers

Black Friday has been named that because it was traditionally a day that put retailers books back in the black.  Cyber Monday became a day when online retailers had big savings for customers.  Tomorrow has become known as Small Business Saturday.  Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz says holiday shoppers can likely find deals all weekend.

 

Schwartz says consumer confidence continues to look good according to various polls, and low gas prices now may help a great deal in getting people out to brick and mortar stores.  He says holiday “sales creep” helps businesses get consumers into their stores and pump up sales figures for the end of the year, and consumers benefit by being able to stagger their holiday purchases over two months.

 

Schwartz says consumers should also know their rights.  Orders made by mail, phone, fax or online must be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days.  If the merchandise cannot be shipped on time, the seller is obligated to notify you of your right to cancel and receive a refund.  You also have the right to reject an item if it’s defective or has been misrepresented.

 

Schwartz encouraged shoppers to check return policies and fees before making a purchase.  Businesses are not required to give money back, but they are obliged to post their return policy prominently near the cashier.

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Shopping, parking lot safety reminders from police

Crime doesn't take a holiday and this Thanksgiving, Danbury Police are reminding Black Friday shoppers to be aware of their surroundings.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says drivers should keep their parked cars locked, and to not be distracted by a cell phone while walking in parking lots.

 

Officials are also reminding people to keep an eye on credit card statements following big shopping trips to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.

 

Carroccio says people should be out in groups late at night and early in the morning and keep an eye on personal belongings.  Police are asking that people report all suspicious persons, vehicles and activity to the Danbury Police Department at 203-797-4611 or by calling 911 when appropriate.

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Men arrested for stealing dirt bike, fleeing police

A New Milford man and one from Amenia New York have been arrested as a result of a traffic stop involving a stolen dirt bike being driven along Route 22 Monday night.  Troopers followed the bike for three miles before 21-year old Keith Gash and 28-year old Gary Jensen dropped the bike and fled on foot. 

 

Jensen was captured after a brief chase.  Gash, the driver from Connecticut, turned himself in early Tuesday morning. 

 

The dirt bike had been reported stolen earlier Monday and both men were charged with possessing stolen property.  Jensen was also charged with resisting arrest.  Gash was charged with fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.

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Women charged for giving unlicensed massages at NY spa

Two women have been arrested for performing massages without being licensed in that profession.  The compliance check was carried out Monday by New York and Somers police at Ya Ya's Nail and Spa on Route 202.  44-year olds Xiomei Zheng and quimei Zhang, both of Flushing New York, are employees of the Somers business.  Zhang was also charged with promoting prostitution for an incident with a customer just prior to the compliance check.  Each will be in court Monday night.

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Danbury man arrested for selling drugs from city home

A Danbury man has been arrested for selling drugs from his Mill Ridge Road home.  An investigation into 30-year old Jason Jones was started when neighbors complained that he had been selling drugs in the area. 

 

Danbury Police conducted surveillance of Jones which revealed activity consisted with drug trafficking.  Warrants were then issued by the court.  The warrants were carried out for Jones at his home Tuesday afternoon. 

 

Jones was found in possession of crack cocaine packaged for sale.  He was charged with possession of narcotics, possession within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing, possession with intent to sell and possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school or public housing. 

 

Jones was also charged with Risk of Injury to a Child because there was an 11 year old living in the Mill Ridge Road home. 

 

Jones was held on $5,000 bond.

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Turkey drive a success, Thanksgiving message

As Connecticut continues to recover from the economic downturn, non-profit groups and others have stepped up their efforts to help those in need.  That goodwill shines at this time of year.  This Thanksgiving, Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says when the agencies, like Jericho Partnership, raise the flag for help, the community rushes in with support.

 

McLachlan says he's always impressed with the community's generosity.

 

A number of groups, including the Danbury Fire Department, continue to host food and toy drives throughout the end of the year.

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Firefighters urge Thanksgiving cooking safety

This Thanksgiving, firefighters are hoping not to be asked to your house for dinner.  There are some annual reminders coming from the Danbury Fire Department about cooking safety.  With many more people in the home and more distractions, Fire Department spokesman Steve Rogers says it's important to pay close attention to what's happening in the kitchen.

 

Another potential from burns comes from people who try deep fryers for the first time tomorrow. Rogers says turkey fryers that use hot oil can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property.  Splatters and spills of cooking oil, and the ignition of its vapors if overheated, are serious risks. 

 

With a lot more people in the home, Rogers says it's also a good idea to keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

 

Firefighters are also reminding cooks not to leave food unattended on the stovetop and check the turkey frequently.

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WCSU president to retire in July

The President of Western Connecticut State University has announced his retirement.  After more than 10 years leading West Conn, James Schmotter announced Tuesday  that he will retire on July 1st. 

 

In an email to the university community, Schmotter said that it's been an honor and a joy to work with everyone over the past decade.  Schmotter said that the enthusiasm, commitment and accomplishments of this university’s faculty, staff and students is beyond words.  He added that stakeholders have consistently provided support that has been both materially valuable and emotionally inspiring, that he'll always treasure the memories he has made in Danbury. 

 

He joined West Conn from Western Michigan University, where he was dean of the business school and a professor of management.  Schmotter has overseen tremendous growth at the university including the newly opened School of Visual and Performing Arts Center and the west side campus center.

 

His teaching career started at Northwestern University and he first became an administrator at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

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Ridgefield forms committee on what's next for Schlumberger

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will be creating a 9-person group to handle discussions about the future of the Schlumberger site.  The Ridgefield Press reports that at the Board's special meeting earlier this month, the Selectmen decided the 9-member group and a Town Planner would be needed. 

 

Residents rejected a plan to sell 12 of the 45 acres to an art collector, many saying that more comprehensive planning needed to be done.  Residents also rejected a sale of 10 acres to a developer for housing. 

 

The town had already sold 5 acres to a developer for a hotel, office space and self-storage facility.

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Court upholds conviction of ex-Donovan aide

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A federal appeals court has upheld convictions against a former aide to ex-Connecticut House Speaker Christopher Donovan in connection with illegal contributions to Donovan's failed congressional campaign in 2012.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of Robert Braddock Jr., who was sentenced to three years in prison last year. He argued there wasn't enough evidence and his prison sentence was unreasonable.

Braddock was finance manager for Donovan's campaign for the U.S. House seat now held by fellow Democrat Elizabeth Esty. Prosecutors say Braddock and seven other co-defendants were involved in a scheme that funneled nearly $28,000 to Donovan's campaign through straw donors in an effort to get Donovan to kill state legislation raising taxes on roll-your-own cigarette shops.

Donovan wasn't charged.

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Ridgefield native, army Lt, killed in Tennessee crash

A Ridgefield native and Army 1st Lieutenant has been killed in Tennessee after being hit by two cars on Sunday.  24-year old James Garvey graduated from Ridgefield High School in 2008 and UConn in 2013.  He recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. 

 

Nashville Police report that Garvey was on foot when he was hit shortly before 4am on Interstate-40.  It's unknown why he was on the roadway.  Police say one driver hit the 1st Lieutenant and didn't stop, another driver tried to avoid him, but was unable to. 

 

Garvey's family is setting up a foundation in his name to help fund the UConn ROTC program.

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New Developments In New Milford Students 2008 Murder

There is a update in the murder of  Rebecca Payne of New Milford . 

Fears that the man suspected of killing the Northeastern University student would never face trial because the key witness in the case died have been eased because of the suspect's own words.

There's no physical evidence connecting Cornell Smith to the May 2008 shooting death of 22-year-old Rebecca Payne, of New Milford.

The witness who could link Smith to Payne's apartment died in May, and prosecutors feared they would have to drop charges.

The Boston Globe Reports that Smith ties himself to Payne's death in a rambling, sometimes incomprehensible, six-page letter to a judge.

Prosecutors say Payne's shooting was a case of mistaken identity and Smith was after another woman who lived in the same building.

 

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Danbury Hospital Workers Approve Union

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Danbury and New Milford hospital workers have voted to unionize.

About 260 radiology technologists, respiratory clinicians and licensed practical nurses have joined 600 nurses at Danbury Hospital and 125 nurses at New Milford Hospital to be represented by AFT Connecticut.

Workers had complained to the National Labor Relations Board that administrators tried to hinder organizing by intimidating workers.

The health network denied the accusation.

Health network Chief Executive Officer John Murphy said the hospitals are committed to working with the new union. He said the company is disappointed with the outcome of the vote but respect the choice employees have made.

Union officials did not release the vote tally.

The union vote also affects technical employees who work in hospital satellite sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Southbury.

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DHS wins another 'Celebrate My Drive' grant

Danbury High School has won another "Celebrate My Drive" grant.  Danbury High School students in various leadership clubs once again worked to raise awareness of the dangers of reckless and distracted driving.  They are receiving $25,000 from State Farm Insurance for their efforts. 

 

Last year Danbury High School was one of the first place winners with the most safe driving pledges and received a $100,000 grant.  Principal Gary Bocaccio says all top 10 schools are ineligible to win a top prize two years in a row. 

 

With some of last year's winnings, an electronic sign was installed outside of Danbury High School to tell the community about events happening at the school.  Some of the funding put toward safe driving initiatives.  The students have also paid for benches to be installed outside the school among other projects. 

 

Glastonbury High School was one of the top winners this year.

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WWI 100th anniversary commemoration held at Danbury Library

The second in a three part series commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One is being held at Danbury Library tonight.  A lecture entitled "Pandora's Box" will be held by Mark Albertson.  He is an author, teacher and researcher.  Danbury Library Reference Librarian John O'Donnell says the war changed the world profoundly.

 

O'Donnell says one of his better known books is about the USS Connecticut, the state's only battleship.

 

The final program in the series will be a unique film showing of “America Over There: The United States in WWI, 1917-18” on Tuesday, December 2.

 

The programs are free of charge; light refreshments will be served.  Registration is requested online at danburylibrary.org, click on “Events” or call 203-797-4527.

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Ridgefield announces new Superintendent of Schools

The Ridgefield Board of Education has the appointment of a new Superintendent of Schools on the agenda for their meeting  Mondy night.  Suffield Superintendent Karen Baldwin announced on her district's website Friday that she was a finalist in the Ridgefield search and was meeting with members of the community Monday. 

 

Baldwin continued by saying she anticipates appointment to the position tonight with employment starting in Ridgefield on July 1st. 

 

She touted progress made in Suffield in the announcement.  She also said that she will continue to work with their Board of Education during the transition period.

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Easton, Redding residents asked for input on new Superintendent

A survey is now posted online for the Easton and Redding communities to weigh in on qualities they'd like to see in a new Superintendent of School for Region 9.  Dr Bernard Jsephsberg announced that he will be retiring at the end of the academic year.  The survey will be available through December 8th with results posted shortly after on the Region 9 school website.  The online survey asks about different attributes and ranking of qualities that a new school leader should have.

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Two pedestrians stuck by car in Danbury

Two pedestrians were struck by a car in Danbury Saturday night.  Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says two men were out running when they were hit.  The call came in shortly after 10pm about an accident at the intersection of Osborne Street and Balmforth Avenue.

 

Police say 22 year old Rosalee Blacker of South Salem New York tried to avoid the men by taking evasive action, but was unable to.  She hit 19-year old Aldair Salazar and 21-year old Christian Jones, both of Danbury. 

 

The men were treated  at Danbury Hospital and released early yesterday morning.

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4 men charged for string of fraud schemes

The seven-count indictment Thursday charges 41-year old Ryan Geddes of Litchfield, 43-year old Jason Calabrese of Watertown, 41-year old Richard Geddes of Bethlehem, and 31-year old Dustin Whitten of Thomaston, with multiple conspiracies involving bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice.  The charges stem from an alleged series of fraudulent real estate and insurance transactions, and an alleged arson of a vacation home.

 

The four defendants were arrested Friday morning and were released on bonds of varying amounts.

 

According to the indictment, by 2005, Ryan Geddes had incurred several debts, including a business debt of more than $490,000 for which he was being sued.  Geddes and the other defendants then commenced a series of schemes to conceal his assets from creditors and to defraud various banks and insurance companies.

 

The indictment alleges that they prepared three false mortgage loan and mortgage refinancing applications for two properties in Morris and Torrington.  The first transaction was to hide Geddes' ownership of the Morris property, another created after the start of the federal investigation, backdated documents to portray the first mortgage transaction as legitimate.

 

The indictment also alleges that they conducted a straw sale of another Geddes property in 2010 from which they obtained title insurance after conducting a fraudulent title search.  The property had over a million dollars of liens against it.

 

Geddes also allegedly transferred to Whitten a New York vacation home property, got an insurance policy on the home, and the alleged arson of the home led to an insurance claim of more than $600,000 on the destroyed home.

 

If convicted, Ryan Geddes faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 90 years, Calabrese faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years, Richard Geddes faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, and Whitten faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

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New Milford woman honored for work with invasive plants

A New Milford woman has been recognized for her invasive plant management work.  Kathy Nelson was presented with the 2014 Leslie Mehrhoff Award at a symposium held last month. 

 

The award recognizes individuals that have made significant or commendable contributions toward awareness, prevention, control, or management of invasive plants in Connecticut.  Nelson received the award in recognition of her work battling ‘Mile-A-Minute’ plant.

 

The opening speaker of the symposium was New Milford state Senator Clark Chapin.  Chapin says Nelson is continuing to promote botanist Les Mehrhoff's legacy through her work in the community. 

 

She is a member of the New Milford Inland Wetlands Commission.

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Area students to participate in water monitoring projects for Long Island Sound

Some area students will be spending time tracking down pollution sources that flow into Long Island Sound.   "Earthplace- the Nature Discovery Center" has received a $34,149 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund.  Students from will monitor pollution sources and remediate concerns in Monroe, Darien and Ridgefield. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says the Fund is providing 14 grants to Connecticut and New York to support projects in local communities that aim to protect and restore the Long Island Sound. It unites federal and state agencies, foundations and corporations to achieve high-priority conservation objectives.

 

The project will track down pollution sources and work with municipalities to remediate the problems.  It identifies pollution sources such as compromised septic systems and failed infrastructure.  Blumenthal says high school science students traditionally do not have the chance to practice science in class, but this project will give them opportunities to participate in detection work and to deliver practical, applied scientific monitoring.   The project will teach high school students to conduct river, estuary, storm drain system, and fisheries monitoring programs with EPA-approved protocols. 

 

The activities include training 35 students from 10 schools to monitor eight waterbodies for five water quality parameters; identify one pollution hot spot for each waterbody and address with municipal partners.  The students will also present their monitoring data at an annual Water Quality Symposium.

 

Some of the funding will also be used for an internship program with nine students working at a job site on activities like laboratory maintenance, research on impaired waterways etc.; and deliver summer volunteer program with 15 college and high school student scientists to assist with monitoring.

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State report released on Sandy Hook gunman's history

A 114-page report has been released by the state Office of Child Advocate about the mental health and education history of the man who carried out the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The report said the school system unwittingly enabled his mother to "accommodate and appease'' him as his mental health problems worsened.  Education advisor Dr Penny Spencer says they concluded that the gunman's homebound placement was inappropriate and non-therapeutic. 

 

Homebound status had limited monitoring.  She says it's important for the state to consider more review and monitoring of decisions which result in a child being removed from the educational setting.  Child Advocate Sarah Egan says a needs assessment should be done about what is not being met by the school system.  She says that will allow schools to be able to implement the right supports and modifications.

 

The report indicated that the gunman's severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems were combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence.  Dr Julian Ford of the UConn Health Center says that was evident at least since he authored the "Big Book of Granny", a school assignment filled with images and narrative about child murder, cannibalism, and taxidermy.

 

"His feelings of violence were completely disconnected from an awareness of other people as people.  I think that's part of what happens in the cyberworld where mass violence becomes a matter of intellectual discussion, completely distinct that these are people we're talking about."

 

"According to the present-day statement of the co-author (an individual who as an adult was diagnosed with mental illness and is purportedly living in a residential setting), the book was created following a class assignment to create a comic book-style creative writing project. The co-author claims that the book was bound in school and submitted for a grade. Other reports indicate that the gunman may have attempted to sell the book to peers for 25 cents and that a school administrator spoke to his mother about the matter. "

 

The report said they recognized the "significant role" that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines played and said the young man's easy access to them "cannot be ignored as a critical factor in the tragedy".

 

The advocate's office investigates all child deaths in the state for lessons on prevention.

 

Dr Harold Schwartz says the gunman appears to have been on a path to violence for some time and the more rigid he became, the harder he was to reach.  He says there is no clear indication in the educational records that school staff carefully reviewed or were otherwise explicitly aware of the contents of the "Big Book of Granny". 

 

Ford says there's no evidence that anyone observed him committing acts of violence before December 14th 2012.  Ford also says there was no evidence he was the victim of violence even though he could have been subjected to bullying as so many other youths are that have difficulties with peer relationships.

 

The Office of the Child Advocate report identified missed opportunities to provide more appropriate treatment.

 

In the three months before the shootings, the 20-year old had not left his room in his mother's spacious colonial-style house, where he lived surrounded by an arsenal of weapons and spent long hours playing violent video games. His parents were divorced, and he had not seen his father for two years.  The report also provocatively asks whether a family that was not white or as affluent would have been given the same leeway to manage treatment for their troubled child.

 

"Is the community more reluctant to intervene and more likely to provide deference to the parental judgment and decision-making of white, affluent parents than those caregivers who are poor or minority?" the report said.

 

"This report raises, but cannot definitively answer, the question as to whether better access to effective mental health and educational services would have prevented the tragic events at Sandy Hook," the authors wrote.

 

Ford says the gunman's mother was trying to keep him sheltered, and when medical officials offered a comprehensive approach to pull him out of the downward spiral, she ignored the recommendations.  He says youth not in favor of being in treatment need to have a coordinator message of the benefits and that the team is working on their behalf, not compelling them to participate.

 

Documents released by police in December 2013 included descriptions of sporadic treatment for his mental health troubles. At one point, experts at the Yale Child Studies Center prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but Nancy Lanza discontinued the treatment and never scheduled follow-up visits, police reports said.

 

A Connecticut judge last year ordered Newtown school officials to give Lanza's records the Office of Child Advocate for its investigation. The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for the office's report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future mass killings.

 

The report pointed to the gunman's mother planning to move him out of Sandy Hook in 2012, as a likely turning point.  The report says that he was perhaps stimulated by fears of leaving the "comfort zone" of his home, AL planned and carried out the shooting.  But the authors conclude that there was not one thing that was necessarily the tipping point driving the gunman to commit the shootings.

 

Rather, they say there was a cascade of events, many self-imposed.  Those included: loss of school; absence of work; disruption of the relationship with his one friend; virtually no personal contact with family; virtually total and increasing isolation; fear of losing his home and of a change in his relationship with his only caretaker and connection; worsening OCD; depression and anxiety; profound and possibly worsening anorexia; and an increasing obsession with mass murder occurring in the total absence of any engagement with the outside world.

 

Joseph Erardi Jr., who became superintendent of schools for Newtown this year, said the report will have great meaning if "there is one school leader, one district, one mental health provider or one set of parents who reads this work and can prevent such a heinous crime."

 

He also said wealth and race will never be a factor when deciding how to treat a child in his school system.

 

"There will never, ever under my watch be a decision made based on race, color, creed, or wealth index....never," he said. "I feel very strongly about this and would never allow this type of influence in any way."

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Woman arrested in connection with Danbury shooting death

Danbury Police have made another arrest in connection with the shooting death of a Bridgeport man in Danbury earlier this year.  22-year old Tysheema Franklin of Bridgeport was arrested by Danbury Police and the U-S Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force Friday morning.  She was charged with Hindering Prosecution for the May 3rd death of 23-year old Jeiel Kingson. 

 

There was a large fight outside of Mambo Cafe.  Officers were called around 2am on reports of shots fired.

Franklin is being held on $100,000 bond.  It was later learned that she is also wanted by Milford Police on unrelated charges.

 

23-year old Garfield Sanderson of Bridgeport was charged about a week after the shooting with felony murder.  He is being held on $1 million bond and due in Danbury Superior Court on December 17th.  He has plead not guilty.

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Swastikas found spray painted at Ridgefield High School

Two swastikas have been found at Ridgefield High School.  Officials have not disclosed where the graffiti was found spray painted.  A statement on intolerance was released by school officials Friday morning.

 

The school principal sent a letter home to parents saying that those who create such illustrations offend everyone in the Ridgefield High School community and that this will never be considered acceptable behavior.  The principal's letter went on to say that this type of behavior does not represent the type of school they strive to be or a school where every student and staff member receives the benefits of human kindness.  Stacey Gross said in the letter that the acts were an attempt to “weaken our conscience, poison our spirit, and destroy the freedom of all of us.” 

 

It is unknown whether or not the school has identified a person of interest.

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Antiques marketing effort runs into local flag ban

WOODBURY, Conn. (AP) Plans to fly flags along the state-designated Antiques Trail in Woodbury have run into zoning regulations that ban flag signs.

The Republican-American reports that Karen Reddington-Hughes, president of the Woodbury Antiques Dealers Association, paid for a flag displaying a logo created by the state Office of Tourism for the trail.

She had planned to place an order for any of the 15 businesses that appear on the antiques trail website.

Zoning Commission Chairman Robert Clarke proposed withholding enforcement of flag violators while considering a change to the regulations. He says any approval of flag signs would likely not apply solely to antiques trail members.

The antiques trail began in 2009 as a pair of signs on Interstate 84 and has grown into a statewide marketing effort similar to the Connecticut Wine Trail.

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Ridgefield man pleads not guilty in son's death

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut father charged with causing his 15-month-old son's death by leaving the boy in the car for hours on a hot July day has pleaded not guilty.

 

Kyle Seitz entered his plea to a charge of criminally negligent homicide Friday.

 

Authorities say the 36-year-old Seitz forgot to take his son, Benjamin, to day care on July 7 and unintentionally left him in the car for more than seven hours while he went to work. Temperatures that day hit the upper 80s.

 

The toddler died of hyperthermia, or extremely high body temperature, the medical examiner found.

 

Seitz, who has two other children, has been free on bail. His lawyer has not commented.

 

He faces a year in jail if convicted.

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Officials release ID in untimely death at Huntington State Park

State officials have released the name of the woman who was founded dead at Huntington State Park Thursday afternoonDepartment of Energy and Environmental Protection spokeswoman Cyndy Chanaca says the woman 50-year old Elizabeth Teed of Bethel.  Teed was a 4th grade teacher in Bethel.  Parents were notified yesterday.

 

Bethel police received a call in the morning from a family member saying that she was despondent and in need of urgent medical attention.  An initial search was not successful and State and Redding police were called to help in the search of the endangered missing woman. 

 

DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain says the woman was found dead of an apparent suicide.

 

The state park spans Bethel and Redding.  Redding Police say all of the district schools were notified of police activity in the area, but that at no time was there a danger to the public.

 

Bethel school officials say there will be counselors at Johnson School today.

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Jay Leno cancels gig at Vegas firearms trade show

LAS VEGAS (AP) Comedian and television talk show host Jay Leno has canceled a scheduled appearance at a large firearms trade show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Dick Guttman, a publicist for the former NBC ``Tonight Show'' host, said Leno made the decision after learning that a group representing victims of gun violence was gathering petition signatures urging him not to attend.

Guttman said Thursday that Leno didn't understand the show is hosted by a lobbying group for gun owners and manufacturers.

Newtown Action Alliance leader Po Murray says Leno told her he thought the National Shooting Sports Foundation was a sporting group.

The foundation, based in Newtown, says it advocates firearms safety and Second Amendment rights. It expressed disappointed that Leno won't perform at its show in January at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

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Civil Air Patrol conducts training drill from Danbury Airport

The Civil Air Patrol's Connecticut Wing has conducted a statewide search and rescue exercise.  The mission on Sunday was to enhance the proficiency of the cadets and senior members.  The 399th Danbury Composite Squadron worked out of Danbury Municipal Airport on training drills to track and locate emergency locator transmitters, ELT, sending out simulated emergency signals. 

 

The cadets had to plot their findings and direct a ground team to the transmitter.  One of the distress beacons was located in the hills of Redding. The aircrew then successfully directed the cadet ground teams in to silence the ELT.

 

Danbury Mission Base provided training to 22 cadets with 12 senior members providing support, training and aircrew.

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Putnam County Sheriff warning of IRS phone scam

The Putnam County Sheriff's office is warning residents of an IRS phone scam circulating the region.  Sheriff Donald Smith says his office has received calls from a few people saying they may have been defrauded. 

 

Callers have said they are from the IRS and tell the victim that they owe taxes, which must be paid off or they face arrest, deportation, business forfeiture or loss of a driver's license.  Smith says the IRS does not ask for credit card information over the phone and does not request pre-paid debit cards or wire transfers. 

 

According to the Inspector General, the callers who commit this fraud often use common names and fake badge numbers, know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number and make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.

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NY police ID 7 injured in Route 6 crash

As the investigation continues into a car crash that injured seven people, they have been identified. Six of the people injured in the minivan versus car crash have been treated for minor injuries and released from Danbury Hospital.  

 

A passenger in the car, 60-year old Magdalana Guzman, is in critical condition at Westchester Medical Center. 

 

The driver, 40-year old Samuel Valasquez Giron of Duchess County, was trying to make a left turn from Route 6 onto Route 22.  The car was struck broadside by a minivan Wednesday afternoon.  42-year old Elva Mejia, and a 4-year old boy Christian Velazquez, were also in his car and sustained minor injuries. 

 

The minivan was driven by 34-year old Christi Browne-Sibrizzi of Carmel.  her passengers were 60-year old Joan Brown and 2-and-a-half month old Jack Sibrizzi.

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New report on Newtown shooting out Friday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A report being released Friday is expected to provide new information into the events that led up to the December 2012 shooting that took the lives of 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The Office of Child Advocate and the state's Child Fatality Review Panel investigate all child deaths in the state, with a focus on preventing future tragedies.

The office has said this report will focus on the gunman, Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old with a history of mental-health issues. The office looked at his mental health and educational history and how those intertwined.

The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for this report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future incidents.

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7 people hospitalized in Route 6 crash

Seven people have been hospitalized because of a two-car crash in Brewster.

 

The accident on Route 6 happened around 12:45pm Wednesday when a car tried to make a left turn onto Route 22 and was struck broadside by a minivan.  Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith says a passenger in the car was critically injured and airlifted to Westchester Medical Center. 

 

Two other adults and a 4 year old boy in the car were transported to Danbury Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

 

Two adults and an infant in the minivan sustained minor injuries and are also being treated in Danbury.  Smith says the 2 1/2 month old was reportedly ejected from the child safety seat, but not ejected from the vehicle.  

The road was closed well into the evening commute because of the investigation.

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Bethel residents approve open space land purchase

Bethel residents have approved three proposals presented at a special Town Meeting this week. 

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance previously backed a purchase of land located between Maple Avenue and Hickok Avenue.  The 12.89 acres would be purchased by the town for no more than $675,000 from MH Development, LLC and Ellis A. Tarlton, III for use as open space.  Officials say the town may have some grant funding for this purchase or may receive grants in the future.  Most of the cost would be bonded.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's a steep and environmentally sensitive piece of land.  Various developers proposals over the years have been rejected because of the endangered species nearby.  But he says a proposal for affordable housing, which could overrule local zoning regulations, has been presented to the town.  Knickerbocker says it would require a significant amount of blasting, hundreds of trees would be removed and it would create a traffic nightmare for the winding road leading up to the site.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have approved accepting $3,737 from the State Department of Transportation for a 27,644 +/- square feet of land.  It's located at the corners of Plumtrees Road, Whittlesey Drive and Walnut Hill Road.  It's needed for the proposed construction of the new Plumtrees Road Bridge.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have also approved an expense of no more than $36,534.60 for a replacement motor vehicle known as fire vehicle 69BL, to be funded from the capital non-recurring account.

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State-mandated election audit taking place in Redding and elsewhere

Redding is among the towns where polling precincts were selected at random by the state for a post-election audit.  The results from machines at the Redding Community Center, District 2, will be counted today between 9am and 1pm.   Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says 77 precincts were chosen, representing 10-percent of all polling places used on November 4th.

 

Three positions on the ballot are also chosen at random, this year it was Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller.

 

From the Greater Danbury area, Bethel Municipal Center district 1, Danbury High School Ward 1, Park Avenue School Ward 6, Schaghichoke School in New Milford, and Weston Middle School were chosen. 

 

Merrill says if there are errors, they're usually human error.  Whether it's hand counted absentee ballots or ballots not read by the machines.  She says the audit is done to make sure Connecticut voters have continued confidence that their votes were recorded accurately and that’s why these independent audits are so vital.  "We don’t just take the machines’ word for it," said Merrill.

 

The post-election audits must be completed by November 24th.

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State Bond Commission approves Sandy Hook School allocation

During the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly authorized up to $50 million for a replacement school to be built at the site of the former Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Wednesday, the state Bond Commission voted to release $5 million of that funding for continued planning and design work. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra says the vote today reminds the town of the generosity and support of the state.  She noted that the new new Sandy Hook School will become a reality in 2016 because of that generosity.  Llodra says Newtown is humbled and thankful for the continuing kindness of state partners.

 

Demolition was completed in November 2013.  Architectural plans for construction of the new school were approved last week. Newtown will be posting bid notices shortly and anticipates breaking ground in March 2015.

 

There will be funding requests throughout the course of the construction project.

 

The new school will be all-new construction and will be approximately 87,000 square feet of space in a two-story structure. It will feature 23 classrooms for pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. There will be dedicated spaces for music, art, a library, computer education, a cafeteria with kitchen and a gymnasium. It will be a fully accessible building for persons with disabilities and fully compliant with all current building codes and standards. It will be on a reconfigured site of the former school, located at 12 Dickinson Drive, Newtown.

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Lounsbury House renovations backed by split Board of Selectmen

Interior renovations are being made to the Lounsbury House in Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Board of Selectmen approved the renovation project on a 3-to-2 vote this week after a long debate. 

 

The plans call for removing walls and mahogany pocket doors.  A structural engineer must confirm that the building won't be weakened by the renovation.  The Community Center rents the facility and told the Press that the building would be more marketable for weddings and similar events if there's an open floor plan. 

 

The Selectmen were told that they are short on funds in maintaining the building almost every month, so even though renovations would be costly, in the end more revenue will come in.

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Brookfield Board of Ethics to meet next week on complaints

The Brookfield Board of Ethics has met again this week to look into travel expenses incurred by First Selectman Bill Tinsley. 

 

The group will be looking into policy changes in the future about better monitoring personal expenses by people who hold the position of First Selectman.  The complaint about Tinsley using a town-owned vehicle to travel to Tennessee for a trip he says was about economic development research, was brought by Democratic Town Committee member Ray DiStephan, who said the Republican visited family. 

 

The Ethics Board will meet again on Tuesday.

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26 Days Of Kindness Begins Today

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A former Sandy Hook Elementary School student is launching a second annual series of remembrances to honor the 20 children and six educators who were fatally shot in December 2012.

Based on last year's success, Ashley Petersen and supporters are launching the second annual 26 Days of Kindness beginning today and ending Dec. 14, the second anniversary of the shootings.

One Sandy Hook shooting victim will be remembered each day. Wednesday is dedicated to Lauren Rousseau, a teacher at Sandy Hook who was also a Danbury resident. .

Petersen will post details of the event on the Facebook-page  "26 Days of Kindness"

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Brookfield man sets off sprinklers at Danbury police station

A Brookfield man being held at the Danbury Police station set off the sprinkler system.  Danbury Police pulled over 21-year old Ryan Berry after witnesses said he hit a mailbox and drove off.  Police smelled alcohol in the car and the Brookfield man failed field sobriety tests.  He was charged with driving while intoxicated, evading responsibility and failure to drive right. 

 

Police say while Berry was in a holding cell, he tampered with the sprinkler system, setting it off.  The Danbury Fire Department responded to the police station as a result. 

 

Berry now also faces a charge of criminal mischief.

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New Fairfield house added to State Register of Historic Places

A property in New Fairfield has been added to the State Register of Historic Places. 

 

The Creamery was added to the Register by the Connecticut Historic Council on October 1st, making it eligible for a Federal Historic Preservation Enhancement Grant and several supplemental grants.  The federal grant is up to $10,000 and does not require a matching grant.  At the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, it was noted that if the town applies in January, they should know by February.

 

A feasibility study will tell what can be done with the building on Route 37.  It was suggested at the meeting that an architect should look at the building to see whether or not it is financially feasible to keep the Creamery. 

 

The house, later a blacksmith shop, is thought to have belonged to one of the first families to settle in New Fairfield in the 19th century.

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Play in NYC based on interviews after Sandy Hook shooting

NEW YORK (AP) A new play about the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in will have a benefit reading in December in New York City to commemorate the second anniversary of the tragedy.

Eric Ulloa's "26 Pebbles,'' which was adapted from transcripts of interviews with people touched by the shootings, will have a staged reading Dec. 15 at the Culture Project's The Lynn Redgrave Theater. The director will be Igor Goldin, and prices range from $50-$150.

The play's producers are R. Erin Craig, La Vie Productions, James E. Cleveland, Randy Donaldson and Wolfstone Productions.

 

Proceeds from the event will benefit three charities, the Avielle Foundation, named for one of the children; Classes4Classes, founded by Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis; and the My Sandy Hook Family Foundation.

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Danbury Deputy Police Chief retires; firefighter promoted

Danbury's Deputy Police Chief has retired.  Captain Terry Shanahan's last day on the job was November 7th.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Shanahan joined the Danbury Police department in 1987 and has a master's degree in justice and law administration from West Conn.

 

Shanahan graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2002.  The year prior, he was named Danbury Exchange Club officer of the year and received the department's medal of bravery.  He is a former hostage negotiator with the Police Department's Emergency Services Unit. 

 

Boughton says he hopes to have a new Deputy Police Chief appointment ready for the December City Council meeting.

 

The Danbury Fire Department has a new Lieutenant.  Shawn McGee was promoted this month from firefighter to the position.  McGee started his career with the Danbury Fire Department in 2005, having previously served in a volunteer company.

 

McGee holds a number of Fire Service certifications including as a fire service instructor, rescue technician, hazardous materials technician and aerial and pump operator among others.  He received the Educational Achievement Award and the Exceptional Duty Award among other unit citations.

 

Boughton says McGee worked hard for the promotion, and did a phenomenal job in the interviews.  He says each time McGee came in, he demonstrated how much he knew about the firefighting industry.  Boughton also praised how technically proficient McGee is in his job.

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Wetlands Commission approves project at future animal sanctuary site

The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission has approved a 24-foot-by-24-foot concrete pad on a parcel of land on the Fairfield Hills property.  The concrete was put down before formal approval was given to The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary project. 

 

The 6-inch concrete pad is meant for a sculpture at the animal sanctuary named for one of the children killed at Sandy Hook School. 

 

During the Commission's meeting last week, members were told that whatever water would run off from the concrete pad, would trickle through vegetation before hitting the wetland.

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Erratic driving leads to DWI charge for NY man

An erratic driver has been charged with DWI in New York.  State Police say troopers stopped 41-year old Brian Tiller of Brewster shortly before 3am on Sunday for weaving in and out of the lane of travel on Route 6.  Troopers determined that the man was intoxicated.  He was charged with Driving while intoxicated with a previous conviction, and unlicensed operation because he driving privileges were previously revoked in New York for his 2009 DWI conviction.

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Rehearsals to start for Danbury Music Centre's 'Messiah'

An annual December tradition in Danbury is coming up soon.  Rehearsals are starting tomorrow for the Danbury Music Centre's performance of Handel's Messiah.  All area singers are invited to participate, but Executive Director Mary Larew says they must attend the dress rehearsal plus at least four of the five prior rehearsals.

 

The rehearsals are on Tuesday nights at the Danbury Music Centre.  The performance will take place on December 19th at First Congregational Church on Deer Hill Avenue.  Singers may borrow Messiah music from the Danbury Music Centre, which will be loaned on a first-come, first-served basis. 

 

Rehearsals are scheduled for the following Tuesdays, 7:30-10 pm, and are at the Danbury Music Centre unless otherwise noted:
November 18, 25
December 2, 9
December 16 at First Congregational Church


Mandatory dress rehearsal Thursday, December 18 at First Congregational Church

 

Participation is free to financially contributing members of the Danbury Music Centre.  There is a $25 charge for all other singers.  Pre-registration is requested.

 

Richard Price, Music Director Emeritus of the Danbury Concert Chorus, will direct the Danbury Concert Chorus and members of the Danbury Symphony Orchestra.  Joining the chorus and orchestra are soloists Erin Windle, soprano; Kirsten Solleck, mezzo; John Howell, tenor; and Thomas Woodman, bass.

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United Way to screen HBO documentary 'Paycheck to Paycheck'

The United Way of Western Connecticut is hosting a film screening and discussions of an HBO documentary made in association with The Shriver Report called “Paycheck to Paycheck".  United Way Spokeswoman Isabel Almeida says the film highlights a report released Sunday about an overlooked segment of the population called ALICE, or the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.

 

Paycheck to Paycheck follows 30-year old Katrina Gilbert, a certified nursing assistant, who chooses daily between purchasing her own medication and paying for the needs of her three children, which often leaves her struggling to make ends meet.

 

The screening is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the West Conn Science Building on the Midtown Campus, in Room 125.

 

The first statewide ALICE report, a study of financial hardship in Connecticut, raises awareness about all those who work hard every day, but still struggle to make ends meet.  35-percent of Connecticut households are at this ALICE threshhold.

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Hunter accidentally shoots fellow hunter in NY

A man shot accidentally by a fellow hunter over the weekend in New York is being treated for injuries at Danbury Hospital. 

 

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that a Dutchess County man killed a deer in Stormville and was using a cart to remove it when he was shot in the hand and buttocks.  The report says that another Duchess County man saw the deer moving, thought it was alive and fired. 

 

The other hunter's injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.  The incident happened shortly before 10:30am Saturday, the first day of the regular big game season.

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Blood collection lab owner fined $200,000 by state

A New Jersey company has been fined $200,000 by the state Department of Public Health for operating blood collection centers in the state without licences. 

 

On Wednesday, the DPH released a consent order signed by BioReference Laboratories earlier this month agreeing to the fines and also to a probationary period for the three labs that do have state issued licenses.  One of those blood collection clinical laboratories is on Hospital Avenue in Danbury.  The other two are in Westport and Greenwich. 

 

For the first year of the five years probation, a supervisor must visit the three licensed centers every other week to monitor services.

 

On August 29, DPH shut down eight BioReference blood-collection centers that had been operating without prior approval in Fairfield, Ansonia, Milford, New London, Norwich, Waterbury, Wallingford and North Stonington

 

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Newtown receives federal grant for DUI patrols

Newtown Police have received a grant from the federal Department of Transportation to enforce safety on the roads this holiday season.  The Highway Safety Office is providing more than $47,000 to Newtown for three DUI checkpoints in 2014 and to have extra officers on the roads looking for drunk drivers. 

 

The stepped up enforcement will run from Thanksgiving through New Years.  More of the funding will be used in 2015.

 

25-percent of the cost of the DUI enforcement will be picked up by the town with the balance paid for through this grant.

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Danbury Whalers up to date on public safety payments to City

Danbury officials say The Danbury Whalers are up to date on payments for the security and public safety presence at games so far this hockey season.  City Finance Director David St Hilaire was asked at the most recent City Council meeting about the Whalers putting a sizeable down payment on the debt owed.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says he does not expect a change in the number of police needed at each game, but the fire marshal presence will be decided on a game-by-game basis, based on attendance and other factors.

 

City officials say they received payments for the public safety service for October and November's games.  The team will take part in a payment plan to pay off the back monies owed to the City.

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Informational tonight about Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment

An informational meeting is being held in Redding tonight about the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site.  The vacant 55-acre site in the Georgetown section of Redding has been left untouched since a 2002 proposal for redevelopment.  A master plan to clean up and revitalize the site in the Georgetown section of Redding was approved about 10 years ago by zoning officials.  The project stalled in the bad economy.

 

The Board of Selectmen will host an informational meeting prior to their regularly scheduled Board meeting to discuss the history of the project, state grant funding and the possibility of foreclosing on the developer over millions of dollars in back taxes owed. 

 

The plan calls for 150,000 square feet of commercial development with 416 residential units, a 20,000 square foot community theater, 135,000 square feet of retail space and a commuter rail station.

 

The state grant money was awarded about a year ago. 

 

Some of the state funding would by used by the Georgetown Special Taxing District to reconstruct the Norwalk River Flood Walls as part of the redevelopment.  The work will keep potentially contaminated soils from eroding downstream during severe flooding conditions. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7pm at the Redding Community Center.

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NY Police ID two people killed in Route 22 head-on crash

New York State police are investigating a fatal two-car crash that happened Friday afternoon in Brewster. 

 

Police say a Hyundai driven by 47-year old Kathleen Bassick of Danbury was travelling southbound on Route 22 near Deans Corner Road when she crossed the double yellow line and struck a Subaru.  She and the passenger in the other vehicle, 56-year old Douglas Cable of Brewster were transported to Putnam Hospital Center where they succumbed to injuries and were pronounced dead. 

 

Police say it's unclear why Bassick crossed into the northbound lanes. 

 

The driver of the other vehicle, 55-year old Joseph Ruffalo of Mahopac was treated for minor injuries at Danbury Hospital and released. 

 

Route 22 was closed for four hours during the investigation.  Assisting at the scene were the Brewster Fire Department, Putnam County Emergency Services and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.  Any witnesses are asked to contact State Police in Brewster at 845-279-8656 or (845)677-7300.

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Newtown victims' parents say need still unmet

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The parents of two of the 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School say confusion and poor communication have left families of victims without services they need and unaware of resources they could tap nearly two years after the massacre.

 

It was just a few weeks ago that the family of one victim learned a caseworker had been assigned to work with them following their daughter's death, the parents told an advisory commission Friday.

 

"It's like pulling teeth to be able to get some information," Jennifer Hensel, the mother of 6-year-old Avielle Richman told the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. "What is available to us? We have to go knock on doors to ask."

 

Hensel and her husband Jeremy, and Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, expressed frustration over the communication problems they say have experience since losing their children in the mass shooting that also claimed the lives of six educators.

 

Marquez-Greene said she and her husband, Jimmy, have been relying on their personal health insurance to cover their family's mental health care costs.

 

"We feel as though we've fallen off a cliff with no safety net," Hensel testified.

 

Hensel complained that too many decisions were and continue to be made for the victims' families without their input. She said it is her understanding that grants awarded to the town include help for the families, but the details have not been communicated well.

 

The 16-member commission was created in January 2013 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting. The panel is in the final stages of piecing together its recommendations for mental health, school safety and gun violence prevention. Scott Jackson, the group's chairman, said the panel redoubled its efforts to communicate with the victims' families after some complained not enough information was reaching them.

 

A subcommittee helped to arrange Friday's meeting, held at the public library in Newtown, to gather additional input from the families. Some have testified previously in Hartford.

 

The parents said better protections need to be in place for victims' families when such incidents occur and asked the commission to recommend a victim-focused, "triage-based protocol" be developed for future events, ensuring families are kept well-informed and shielded from the media in a secured staging area. They also spoke of the need for counseling from trained mental health professionals with experience in trauma situations. Jeremy Richman said his family went through multiple counselors who couldn't emotionally handle the situation.

 

Marquez-Greene, a licensed marriage and family therapist, said her family would have benefited more from someone spending time in her home getting to know them and their needs. Instead, she said might get an occasional phone call from someone asking if she needed anything. But considering she was so traumatized that she couldn't remember her phone number for the first six months after Ana's death, Marquez-Greene said she didn't know what to tell the counselor.

 

"What we needed was presence, people to be there," she said.

 

Each parent stressed were grateful for the police officers assigned to them for protection and said they've remained close with the officers.

 

They also urged the commission to consider the My Sandy Hook Family Fund as a model for future tragedies. Unlike other organizations, they said this one acts as a singular place of contact and communication with all the victims' families.

 

Jackson said he expects his commission will finish its report to the governor by the end of December or January.

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3 Newtown schools placed in Lock-In following phone threat

Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi says Friday afternoon St Rose of Lima School received a threatening call. That school was placed on a "Lock-In Closed" status. Newtown Middle School and the Hawley School were placed on "Lock-In – Open" status because of their proximity to St Rose.  No threat was received at the Middle or Hawley schools. 

 

Officials determined that the threat was not credible and lifted the Lock-Ins.  School dismissal occurred at the regular time. 

 

This comes on the heels of a threat phoned in to Newtown High School earlier this week.  The FBI is assisting in that investigation and has been called on to help in this case. 

 

Erardi says any threat must be taken seriously.

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Route 7 on ramp to I-84 being reconstructed

The state Department of Transportation is starting roadwork on a bridge that carries Route 7 onto the highway.  The bridge is the exit 10 off Route 7 southbound to I-84 eastbound in Danbury. 

 

The DOT says there will be substructure repairs, blast cleaning, new bearings, paving and painting done as part of the project.  The state says there will also be minor safety improvements. 

 

During the day there will be shoulder closures.  When there are lane closures in the evening and overnight, drivers will be directed onto I-84 westbound to exit 6, a left onto North Street and a left onto I-84 eastbound.

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Wilton police investigate report of man in van offering candy to kids

Wilton Police are investigating an incident in which two young girls say they were approached by a man in a van who offered them leftover Halloween candy.  The Hour reports that the 9 and 10 year olds were riding their bikes last Wednesday afternoon when a middle-aged white nam with dark hair drove his white commercial van up to them on Rivergate Drive asking if they wanted candy. 

 

The girls rode off and told an adult, who then phoned police.  The girls said there were dry cleaner advertisements on the van.

 

A suspect van belonging to a dry cleaner was identified and the owner interviewed, but the girls failed to positively ID the van or the driver. 

 

The investigation is ongoing.

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Police: Father tried to shake son left in car

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) An arrest warrant says that when Kyle Seitz realized he had left his 15-month-old son in a hot car for hours last July, he shrieked and tried to shake the child awake.

``Oh, my God,'' he said, returning Benjamin Seitz to the car so he could rush to Danbury Hospital. The child died after being left in the car.

The News-Times reports that the warrant cites eyewitness accounts and records from July 7 when authorities say a confused Seitz forgot to take Benjamin to day care and left him in the car for more than seven hours.

The warrant says the 36-year-old Seitz told police he remembers passing the child to emergency staff and then collapsing.

He was arraigned on a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge Wednesday. He didn't enter a plea.

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Social media threats against school prompt arrest

BETHEL, Conn. (AP) Police say a juvenile has been arrested in connection with making social media threats that caused a brief lockdown of district schools.

The juvenile, whose name and age have not been released, is accused of making online threats directed at students and staff at Bethel High School.

The threats prompted a 15-minute ``lockout'' of all district schools at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. All doors to the schools were locked and students were unable to leave the buildings.

Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker the school system handles situations such as this with an abundance of caution. He said it not a credible threat, but officials took it with the most seriousness.

Police began patrolling the schools and discovered the threat was from a juvenile who was not in the school.

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Danbury has decent stockpile of road salt for winter season

With the first snow of the 2014-2015 winter here, Danbury officials say the City is starting the season with a lot of road salt.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola informed him that Danbury has about 75-percent of what they City will typically use in a winter season stockpiled.  But he says that's 150-percent of what any other community would have on hand because Iadarola likes to be prepared.  Iadarola says as it's used, he will order more. 

 

Iadaroal says after what happened last year, they are sensitive to purchasing in advance.  Cities and towns had a hard time getting enough road salt because of the numerous snow and ice storms, which came in colder than normal temperatures.  The Department had to use an extensive amount of materials during the extreme cold. 

 

The state had a lot of road salt, however.  More than half of Connecticut’s municipalities benefitted from the state Department of Transportation's salt distribution program in March.  More than 17,000 tons of salt was delivered to nearly 100 towns and other entities across the state.  In February Iadarola said he heard the state almost mandated that suppliers provide material to Long Island, where communities had trouble getting salt before providing the materials to Connecticut municipalities.

 

A sand and salt mixture is used on Danbury roads to help with traction and to melt the snow, something more communities are moving back to from a liquid solution.

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STEM project in Danbury awarded funding

A project in Danbury intended to peak students interest in science has been awarded a scholarship. 

 

The Westside Middle School Academy has been awarded $2,000 to fund its Lego robotics “Mars Landing Rover” project.  Danbury School District officials say Voya Financial, formerly known as ING, awarded the money as part of its “Unsung Heroes” program recognizing 100 educators a year. 

 

Westside Middle School Academy Principal Dr. Frank LaBanca applied for the scholarship with the Mars Rover Landing Module project in mind.  Voya presented the check to the school at its September 30th staff meeting. 

 

The project increases student knowledge about Mars through structured inquiry activities and digital media production, and helps develop engineering practices skills through the design process involved in creating a functional model of a rover.  Students learn about the geological and chemical factors associated with Mars to develop an understanding about the project.

 

Students will be responsible for both construction and programming of their devices using Lego Mindstorm kits. The project is a collection of interdisciplinary inquiry-based activities.  Their designs will be tested and their successes documented with notes for areas of improvement. Teachers and students will collaborate with local engineering experts who will work with the school on a regular basis.

 

Students will showcase their work and learning at the school’s annual Innovation Expo that is attended by parents and the community.

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Sherman School names entryway for former student, Airman killed in Afghanistan

A 22-year old killed in Afghanistan is being honored by his former school.  The Sherman School has renamed the entryway after Staff Sgt TJ Lobraico.  The renaming was done on Veteran's Day Tuesday.  Lobraico was born in New Milford, was a graduate of New Fairfield High School and attended Western Connecticut State University.  He was serving on his second deployment with the New York Air National Guard when he was killed last September in Afghanistan.

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Southbury fire destroys Berkshire Road home

Southbury firefighters battled a blaze Thursday on Berkshire Road.  Mutual aid from Sandy Hook and Oxford also responded.  Fire officials say the house was destroyed and several family pets are believed to have perished in the fire.  No injuries were reported.

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Two Pedestrians Hit by Jeep In New Milford

New Milford Police are investigating a collision between a gray Jeep Cherokee and two female pedestrians just outside Arby’s Restaurant on Route 7.

Police dispatch says the two women were taken to Danbury Hospital.  There are reports that one is seriously injured. The driver of the jeep stayed on the scene.

The  two women may have been crossing the street to catch a bus.

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Ridgefield Father Ordered To Stay In Ct And Only Have Supervised Visits With Daughters

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Ridgefield man whose 15-month-old son was left in a hot car and died in July has been ordered to surrender his passport, stay in the state and to only have supervised contact with his two other children. Kyle Seitz  was arraigned on a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge yesterday.

Seitz's wife, Lindsey Rogers-Seitz, was not in court with him Wednesday because she had taken their two daughters out of state. She apparently did so without the knowledge of the guardian appointed by the state Department of Children and Families after the toddler's death in July. 

Danbury Sates Attorney Stephen Sedensky  said he  tried to get orders of protection issued for the girls in court on Wednesday, which would have increased the level of supervision, but the judge declined.

Seitz did not enter a plea to the misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. He was ordered to appear again in court Nov. 21.

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Danbury Police Search For White Van In Fatal Hit And Run

Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says police have meticulously gone over physical evidence and video evidence in the fatal hit and run of 23 year old Bethel mother Rachael Sack.   Police are looking for a vehicle of interest.

 

The vehicle is a white van with a ladder rack and passenger side windows. The van was going south on South Street at Great Pasture Road at approximately 11:57 PM on Friday November 7th.

 


Anyone with information on the van is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRoccco at 203-797-2157.

 



 

A reward fund has been set up to help encourage witnesses of the accident to come forward. Donations can be made in care of Union Savings Bank, Attn: Main Office, 226 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810. Currently the reward is over $1,000

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Danbury woman in court for striking blind pedestrian with car

A Danbury woman is due in court today on charges she hit a blind pedestrian with her car.

 

21-year old Stacie Quinones turned herself in to police about an hour after fleeing the scene on Halloween night.  The Danbury woman was charged with evading responsibility, failure to yield the right-of-way to a blind pedestrian, operating a motor vehicle with registration or license suspended and criminal violation of a protective order. 

 

Police say Quinones struck Jairo Abreu of Danbury while the 22-year-old man was standing at the intersection.  He was hospitalized for more than a week.

 

She was released on bond.  She will also be in Court on a prior disorderly conduct charge.

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Social Media Threat Forces Newtown High School Lock In

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A threat on social media prompted authorities to bar visitors from Newtown High School yesterday afternoon..its near the site of the sandy hook tragedy two years ago. Schools Superintendent Joseph Erardi sent an email to parents notifying them of the lock-in at Newtown High School.

In a forum with 60 or more parents last night, Newtowns Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi, Newtown High School Principal Lorrie Rodrigue and Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe talked  about the threat and security protocol. They assured the audience this incident and last month's bomb threat at the temporary home in Monroe of Sandy Hook Elementary School are being investigated,  both locally and by national law enforcement authorities.

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Ridgefield Father Whose Young Son Died In Hot Car Is Arrested

The Ridgefield father of a 15-month-old boy named Ben who died after being left in a hot car in July will be in Danbury Superior court Wednesday. Kyle Seitz turned himself into Ridgefield police yesterday after learning there was a warrant for his arrest.He was released on a promise to appear in Danbury Superior Court today.

Quinnipiac University law professor Gerald Dunphy says the father is charged with criminally negligent homicide, which is a misdemeanor in Ct.

 

Neighbors say the couple has sold its Ridgefield house and will be moving West.

The Ridgefield mother , Lindsey Seitz, has been on a crusade to get car manufacturers to install some type of warning device when a young child is left in a car.

She has a blog called "the gift of Ben" and recently tells how she was injured about a week ago. She took a very bad fall while trying to prevent her computer from breaking in two. The computer held all her son Bens pictures and videos .

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Lawmaker honored by MADD for second year

An area lawmaker is being recognized today by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith is being honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving as a “Community Champion”.  He will be presented with MADD's Public Policy Award for his work both in the legislature and in the community to curb intoxicated driving. 

 

This is the second consecutive year that Smith has been named a “Community Champion” by Connecticut’s MADD chapter; he was recognized nationally, too. 

 

During the last legislative session, Smith supported a proposal requiring an immediate ignition interlock device for anyone arrested for driving intoxicated who had their licenses suspended, along with harsher penalties for anyone refusing to use the required devices.  Smith says MADD is trying to make the roads safer and educate drivers and he was pleased to have used his voice in the legislature to make an impact.

 

Smith was unopposed in last week's elections.  His district also includes a portion of New Milford, Sherman and Danbury.

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Reward Set Up in Hit And Run Death of Bethel Mother

A 23-year-old Bethel mother is being remembered by family friends and co-workers . She is the  pedestrian killed Saturday by a hit-and-run driver.

Rachel Sack was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital on Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV while crossing the road in the area of South Street and Great Pasture Road.

 Sack had a nearly  3-month-old son, Jackson, and was in the process of buying her first home.

She  worked at the Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut in Danbury as a certified nurse's assistant.

The Regional Hospice is  setting up a scholarship in Sack's name and is creating a fund for Jackson.

A reward fund has been set up to help encourage witnesses of the accident to come forward. Donations can be made in care of Union Savings Bank,  226 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.

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Danbury officials have moment of silence for Veterans Affairs Director

Danbury officials have paid tribute to the City's Director of Veteran's Affairs, who passed away recently.  Patrick Waldron died at the age of 81 on October 28th.  During the City Council meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mark Boughton called for a moment of silence to honor the more than 30-year city employee.  Waldron was a Korean War Veteran, honorably discharged from the Navy. 

 

Boughton says the City suffered a major loss with the passing of the 37-year Director of Veterans Affairs.  Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, serving generations of veterans.  Boughton says Waldron help generations of veterans, their widows and dependents. 

 

Waldron was a member of American Legion Post 60, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 25, and Korean War Veterans.

 

In his obituary, Waldron's family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Wounded Warrior Project or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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Young Bethel Mother killed in Danbury Hit and Run

The Bethel Patch reports that multiple classmates of the victim in Saturday’s fatal hit-and-run accident in Danbury identify her as 23-year-old Rachel Sack, of Bethel.

According to eyewitness accounts, Sack was struck by a dark colored SUV while walking near the South Street and Great Pasture Road intersection in Danbury, near Michaels II Cafe. The driver fled the scene.

Sack leaves behind a 3-month-old baby boy, the baby’s father and numerous family members and friends.

Danbury Police are asking eyewitnesses to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco from Danbury Police Department’s Traffic Division. 

 

The accident was the third hit-and-run in Danbury since Oct. 31.
 

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Emergency Shelter provides update to Danbury officials on operations

The Danbury City Council on Thursday was given an update on the Social Services Department casework.  The Danbury Housing Caseworker is managing approximately 60 active cases. 

 

The Day Center, located at the Emergency Shelter, had approximately 872 visits from homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless, which includes weekend service meetings. 

 

There were six initial assessments for new clients and 43 action plans developed for others.  The Day Center handled 61 Veteran Referrals during the reporting time period.  Five people came in looking for Case Management Services and two people made employment inquiries.  The Department of Social Services says there were also two people who did searches through the computer access provided in the emergency shelter for job placement and availability.

 

201 visits were for showers, more than 400 were for lunch.  10 housing related issues were address, there were two medical referrals made and 18 other inquiries made, including a one-day dental clinic. 

 

The report also said there were 87 visits for Substance Abuse Referrals/Case Management in the last reporting period.

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Healing Hearts playground dedicated to kids who funded construction

There's a dedication ceremony today for the newly completed playground at the future home of Regional Hospice and Home Care Center for Comfort Care and Healing.  A group of kids raised $50,000 for the purchase of the one-of-a-kind playground for the Healing Hearts Center.  Regional Hospice Foundation Executive Director Paul Sirois says this is the culminating event of a two year process.

 

12-year old Ryan Patrick was inspired to do good following the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  He wanted to help a group helping Newtown.  Several of his friends joined him formally founding KIDOs, which stands for Kids In Deed Organization.  The playground is being named for them.

 

The playground has ropes and heart-shaped arches creating a heart-shaped tunnel for children to climb through, around, and up and down. 

 

Healing Hearts provides free grief counseling to families throughout Connecticut and nearby New York.

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Monroe's new state Representative weighs in on issues

The new state legislative session starts in January, and there will be some new faces in the Chambers.  Republican JP Sredzinski this week won election to the open House District of Monroe and Newtown.  During a Newtown Bee forum he introduced voters to his thoughts on the job.  He says there are three main pillars to state government: public safety, education and infrastructure.

 

During this legislative campaign season there was one thing many of the candidates agreed on, that Common Core education standards need to change.  Sredzinski says the teachers and administrators should have been involved in the implementation process.

 

Stefan Pryor, who has served as the state’s education commissioner for nearly three years, announced in August that he would not seek a second term, should Governor Malloy win re-election. Pryor has been a source of controversy as he oversaw the rollout of Malloy’s education reform efforts, including teacher evaluations and education standards

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One of the items on the General Assembly's agenda in January will be the recommendations from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.  Sredzinski is a 911 dispatcher in Stratford.  In that role, he says he sees every day the struggles that people with mental health have.  He would have liked to have seen last year's legislation go even farther on mental health care reforms.  Sredzinski says the state has a tendancy to send down unfunded mandates to towns, but he hopes the state would come through with funding for this area.

 

The new legislative session opens on January 7th.

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Two pedestrians struck by cars in Danbury in two days, one fatal

For the second time in as many days, Danbury Police are investigating an accident involving a pedestrian.  Police say a 23-year old Bethel resident was struck by a car shortly after midnight on South Street at the intersection with Great Pasture Road.  Witnesses told officers that a dark colored SUV fled the scene.  The victim was transported to Danbury Hospital, where they were pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the collision.  The person's name is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

 

A pedestrian is in critical condition after being struck by a hit and run driver in Danbury.  Police were called to the area of Hayestown Avenue around 8 o'clock Thursday night about the accident.  Police say Sharon Cera of Danbury was attempting to cross the street when she was struck by a dark colored SUV vehicle.  The vehicle then left the scene.  Cera remains in critical condition at Danbury Hospital.

 

Any witnesses to either accident are asked to contact police at 203-797-2157.

 

These accidents come about a week after a 21-year old woman hit a blind pedestrian on Halloween.  21-year old Stacie Quinones turned herself in to police about an hour after fleeing the scene on October 31st.  The Danbury woman was charged with evading responsibility, failure to yield the right-of-way to a blind pedestrian, operating a motor vehicle with registration or license suspended and criminal violation of a protective order. 

 

Police say Quinones struck Jairo Abreu of Danbury while the 22-year-old man was standing at the intersection.  Abreu was listed in good condition at Danbury Hospital as of November 6th.

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FuelCell Energy technology powering a Microsoft datacenter

Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy has unveilled a new power plant installation powering a Microsoft datacenter in Wyoming.  The Governor of that state praised the Danbury company's zero carbon footprint for the power plant.  Wyoming's Governor also praised the innovation for locating the datacenter near a renewable fuel source that the fuel cell cleanly converts to power. 

 

The fuel cell power plant began operating on clean natural gas in early 2014 and is now operating on renewable biogas.

 

This project is being evaluated as a template for future potential megawatt-class data center applications utilizing renewable biogas.

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Thanksgiving turkey drive in Danbury

With Thanksgiving three weeks away, the Connecticut Food Bank is working to make sure needy families have a traditional holiday meal.  With many families still struggling to make ends meet, Connecticut Food Bank spokeswoman Mary Ingarra says it seems every year requests for assistance increases.

 

The Connecticut Food Bank says hunger remains a problem in Connecticut with one in seven households having a hard time putting food on the table and one in five children hungry.  Spokeswoman Mary Ingarra says that's according to a just completed study on hunger in Connecticut.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan and Jericho Partnership will host a turkey drive at Stop & Shop on Newtown Road today.  Turkeys donated between 9 am and noon will benefit the homeless and area families in need.

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Connecticut gun law leads to federal conviction

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man who prompted a lockdown at the University of New Haven when he brought guns to campus has pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge.

William Dong, a former UNH student, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to transporting a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle into a state where that gun is banned. Connecticut outlawed the weapon after a similar gun was used in December 2012 to kill 26 people inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Dong was arrested Dec. 3, 2013, after a bystander alerted police and authorities found handguns and the Bushmaster in his car. At his home, they later found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings about the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting.

Dong already faces prison time after being convicted of state charges.

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Fairfield state Rep. elected to Senate

The new state legislative session starts in January, and there will be some new faces in the Chambers.  Fairfield Republican state Representative Tony Hwang this week won election to the open Senate District which includes a part of Newtown.  During the campaign, he was critical of Governor Malloy's budgeting tactics.

 

House Republicans won 10 more seats on Election Day Tuesday, bringing their number to 64 in the 151-member House.

 

During this legislative campaign season there was one thing many of the candidates agreed on--Common Core education standards need to change.  Stefan Pryor, who has served as the state’s education commissioner for nearly three years, announced in August that he would not seek a second term, should Governor Malloy win re-election. Pryor has been a source of controversy as he oversaw the rollout of Malloy’s education reform efforts, including teacher evaluations and education standards.

 

One of the items on the General Assembly's agenda in January will be the recommendations from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.  Hwang voted for the Gun Bill in 2013.

 

The new legislative session opens on January 7th.

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Fatal accident closed I-84 in Newtown for 6 hours

A fatal accident in Newtown is being investigated.  The accident between exits 10 and 11 shut the highway from 4:20am until about 10:30am Friday.  State Police spokesman Lt Paul Vance says two tractor trailers collided and at least one lost its cargo on the highway.

 

Police say 49-year old Warren Leroy Jerfferson of Pennsylvania crashed into the back of another tractor trailer that was stopped in the center lane of the highway in heavy traffic.  He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

The other driver, 65-year old John Krupskas also of Pennsylvania, is being treated at danbury Hospital for minor injuries.

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Newtown officials issue statement in advance of 12-14 anniversary

Newtown's First Selectman and Superintendent of Schools have issued a joint statement in advance of next month's two year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The letter from Pat Llodra and Joseph Erardi says like last December 14th, the day will be recognized through personal reflection and remembrance.  There are no formal or official ceremonies being held by the town or the schools. 

 

They thanked people in advance for respecting school children and residents with privacy and gentleness of spirit.

 

The Superintendent says each school may recognize the anniversary in ways that are appropriate for their age group.  Town organizations such as Parks and Rec, the Library, Edmond Town Hall and the Senior Center may remember the anniversary in ways that are within their scope of service. 

 

Llodra and Erardi said in their note that there are days of joyful hope and occasional dips of despair, but that Newtowners are grateful for the continued support of those beyond the town's borders.  Newtown officials thanked neighboring towns, the state, nation and world for the kindness and support as the town continues on a journey of recovery.  Newtown officials continued to encourage others to create long-lasting and sustainable good in order to honor those who lost their lives in the senseless act of violence. 

 

Llodra reiterated that no one can undo what happened, but they can chose to respond to it.

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Habitat for Humanity holds informational for applicants

There is an informational session being held by Housatonic Habitat for Humanity this weekend at St James Episcopal Church in Danbury.  The informational will provide details about the application process for an affiliate's recently completed condo project in Danbury. 

 

People must attend the session Saturday morning in order to obtain an application.  There are three qualifications.  People have to live or work in one of the 15 towns Housatonic Habitat serves, have a minimum family income between $45,000 and $50,000 and have demonstrated need for simple, decent and affordable housing. 

 

The weekend session is at 10am.

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Redding woman faces trial on animal cruelty charge

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Redding woman accused of neglecting two horses is headed to trial after a judge denied her request to enter a special probation program.

Lisa Lind-Larsen is charged with animal cruelty and faces two years in prison if convicted. She has pleaded not guilty in Danbury Superior Court.  The case was continued to December.

Judge Susan Reynolds said Larsen is not eligible for the rehabilitation program because she was charged with a crime in 1992.

The 75-year-old Lind-Larsen is fighting a lawsuit by the state Department of Agriculture, which is seeking permanent custody of the horses.

The state seized the animals from Lind-Larsen's property in July after finding them fly-bitten, dehydrated and emaciated.

The horses are at a state facility in Niantic and officials say they are doing well.

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Incumbents reelected in Greater Danbury area legislative races

Election Night Greater Danbury 2014

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

 

Town/District/Position Candidate/Party Total
24th Senate: Danbury, Bethel, Michael McLachlan* (R) 13,536
                         New Fairfield Theodore Feng (Working Families) 2,219
     
26th Senate: Bethel, Redding, Toni Boucher*(R) 23,885
                   Ridgefield, Wilton Phil Sharlach (D) 12,943
     
28th Senate: (portion of Newtown) Tony Hwang (R) 20,505
  Kim Fawcett (D) 16,225
     
30th Senate: New Milford, Brookfield Clark Chapin* (R) 19,021
  William O. Riiska (D) 13,674
     
2nd House: Danbury, Bethel, Dan Carter* (R) 4,413
                      Redding, Newtown Candace Fay (D) 3,287
     
67th House: New Milford Cecilia Buck-Taylor* (R) 4,361
  Gale Alexander (D) 2,603
     
106th House: Newtown Mitch Bolinsky* (R) 4,660
  Matt Cole (D) 3,753
     
107th House: Brookfield, Bethel David Scribner* (R) 5,934
  Dan Smolnik (D) 2,532
     
108th House: New Fairfield, Danbury, New Milford Richard Smith* (R)  
     
109th House: Danbury David Arconti* (D) 1,364
  Josh Stanley (R) 754
     
110th House: Danbury Bob Godfrey* (D) 1,900
  Frank Goncalves (R) 857
     
111th House: Ridgefield John Frey* (R) 6,511
  Sky Cole (D) 2,257
     
112th House: Newtown, Monroe Jen Aguilar (D) 3,578
  JP Sredzinsky (R) 4,601
     
135th House: Redding John Shaban* (R) 5,575
     
138th House: Danbury, New Fairfield, Jan Giegler* (R) 4,096
                         Ridgefield Henry Hall (D) 2,290
     

 

In Brookfield, residents voted in support of separating the municipal and education budgets into two votes.  There will also be advisory questions of "too high", "adequate", or "too low".  Brookfield residents rejected other Charter revision proposals. 

 

Bridgewater voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure clearing the way for restaurants to serve alcohol.  The last dry town in Connecticut is giving up on Prohibition, taking up the issue for the first time since the 1930s. Two developers have proposed opening restaurants - as long as they can serve alcohol.  The vote was 660 in favor, 246 opposed.  The town had more than 73% voter turn out.

 

In Ridgefield five of the seven proposed Charter revisions were approved.  The two that were rejected by residents would have made the positions of Town Treasurer and Tax Collector appointed positions.  The jobs will remain elected offices.

 

Ridgefield residents rejected a proposed land sale.  A portion of the former Schlumberger site, 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, would have been sold for to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The vote was 56-percent opposed, 44-percent in support of the sale.  The land sale has 3,601 'Yes’ votes to 4,676 ‘No’ votes.  Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A five acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

 

Danbury had nearly 39% voter participation.  New Fairfield had a 48% voter turn out.  Redding had a 55% voter participation in the Election.  Sherman's voter turn out was 57%.

 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty fended off a challenge from Republican businessman Mark Greenberg, winning a second term representing the 5th Congressional District in northwestern Connecticut. The seat was considered to be one of the GOP's best chances for victory this year. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee appeared to like its chances and canceled television advertising in the district, diverting $500,000 for ads in Iowa in the final two weeks.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also been reelected.

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Sandy Hook Promise touts background check support in WA.

Two Sandy Hook parents who recently travelled to Washington State to lend support backers of a background check referendum in that state are touting the victory there.  Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed on 12-14, says the trip was particularly hard given the shootings that happened recently in Marysville, Washington.  Barden says the victory in Washington is a clear sign that if people come together, a safer world can be created.  But he added they are far from finished.

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Monroe man sentenced for rental fraud scheme

A Monroe man has been sentenced for his role in a $275,000 rental income fraud scheme.  67-year old Anthony Testo was ordered to serve five months in a halfway house, and then six months of home confinement for the start of his three years of probation.  U.S. Attorney spokesman Tom Carson says Testo and his company were hired as property manager for an apartment complex and several homes in Bridgeport to fill vacant rental units and collecting rent to deposit in the owner's bank account. 

 

Authorities say Testo also hired subcontractors for maintenance and submitted false invoices to the property owner.  Testo doctored the rent rolls some units were vacant, when in reality rent was being collected or that rent on certain units was lower than the amount of money actually collected.

 

Testo deposited rental income that was due to the property owner into both his personal bank account and the ACT Builders bank account.

 

Testo was also ordered to a pay an $18,000 fine.  ACT Builders was sentenced to five years of probation.  Testo and his company must pay restitution, and also $71,000 in penalties and interest to the IRS for failing to report the rental income that he kept for his own use.

 

Thomas Ragonese provided accounting services and prepared the rent rolls.  Ragonese pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting the preparation and filing of a false tax return. The Trumbull accountant was sentenced Tuesday to three years of probation, the first six months in home confinement on electronic monitoring.  He was also ordered to perform 60 hours of community service.

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Trail extension completed connecting Saugatuck and Aspetuck Trails

A new five mile trail extension is completed connecting the Saugatuck Trail and Aspetuck Trail in Redding, with an overlook of the Saugatuck Reservoir in Weston.  The extension was completed last week.  The Redding Pilot reports that the entire 18 mile trail system is part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking TRail system.  The entire trail network runs from the Devil's Den Preserve in Weston to Huntington State Park in Redding.  The trail extension was officially opened last Tuesday.

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Touchless car wash approved for Newtown gas station

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has approved an application by Newtown Mobil to install a car wash on their Church Hill Road Property.  According to minutes of their most recent meeting, the applicant said they were looking to install a touchless car wash on their property, using about 40 gallons of water, compared to a standard car wash that uses 100 gallons.  None of the water would be recycled.  The proposal does need state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection approval.

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Detours in Danbury for road paving

Some road work is being done in Danbury this week.  Milling and paving work will take place on Farview Avenue, Robinson Avenue and Glen Hill Road beginning today and continuing through Friday.  Some road work will also need to be done on Monday.  This is all weather permitting.  Drivers should plan for detours and road closures throughout this time period, and should use alternate routes whenever possible.

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Bethel appoints new Public Works Director

Bethel has appointed a new Public Works Director.  Douglas Arndt has been named the new Director of Public Works. 

 

He joined the staff last Monday, having previously served Director of Public Works for the City of New Haven.  Prior to that assignment he held numerous supervisory positions with the City Stamford and later served as Director of Public Works for the town of Monroe.  Arndt is a Stratford resident who holds a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology.

 

He has assumed responsibility for all of Bethel’s public works departments, which include Engineering, Highways, Fleet, Transfer Station, Building Maintenance, Tree Warden and Water-Sewer Utilities. 

 

Arndt and his family live in Stratford.

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Election Night Greater Danbury 2014 results

Election Night Greater Danbury 2014

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

 

Town/District/Position Candidate/Party Total
24th Senate: Danbury, Bethel, Michael McLachlan* (R) 13,536
                         New Fairfield Theodore Feng (Working Families) 2,219
     
26th Senate: Bethel, Redding, Toni Boucher*(R) 23,885
                   Ridgefield, Wilton Phil Sharlach (D) 12,943
     
28th Senate: (portion of Newtown) Tony Hwang (R) 20,505
  Kim Fawcett (D) 16,225
     
30th Senate: New Milford, Brookfield Clark Chapin* (R) 19,021
  William O. Riiska (D) 13,674
     
2nd House: Danbury, Bethel, Dan Carter* (R) 4,413
                      Redding, Newtown Candace Fay (D) 3,287
     
67th House: New Milford Cecilia Buck-Taylor* (R) 4,361
  Gale Alexander (D) 2,603
     
106th House: Newtown Mitch Bolinsky* (R) 4,660
  Matt Cole (D) 3,753
     
107th House: Brookfield, Bethel David Scribner* (R) 5,934
  Dan Smolnik (D) 2,532
     
108th House: New Fairfield, Danbury, New Milford Richard Smith* (R)  
     
109th House: Danbury David Arconti* (D) 1,364
  Josh Stanley (R) 754
     
110th House: Danbury Bob Godfrey* (D) 1,900
  Frank Goncalves (R) 857
     
111th House: Ridgefield John Frey* (R) 6,511
  Sky Cole (D) 2,257
     
112th House: Newtown, Monroe Jen Aguilar (D) 3,578
  JP Sredzinsky (R) 4,601
     
135th House: Redding John Shaban* (R) 5,575
     
138th House: Danbury, New Fairfield, Jan Giegler* (R) 4,096
                         Ridgefield Henry Hall (D) 2,290
     

 

Bethel residents have approved four of the six Charter revision proposals.  One of the two that were rejected were to increase the Board of Selectmen membership from three to five and increasing their term of service from two years to four years.  The other rejected proposal was about the way the Board of Finance handles revisions to the Board of Selectmen’s budgets.  The town had a 56% voter turn out.

 

In Brookfield, residents voted in support of separating the municipal and education budgets into two votes.  There will also be advisory questions of "too high", "adequate", or "too low".  Brookfield residents rejected other Charter revision proposals. 

 

Bridgewater voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure clearing the way for restaurants to serve alcohol.  The last dry town in Connecticut is giving up on Prohibition, taking up the issue for the first time since the 1930s. Two developers have proposed opening restaurants - as long as they can serve alcohol.  The vote was 660 in favor, 246 opposed.  The town had more than 73% voter turn out.

 

In Ridgefield five of the seven proposed Charter revisions were approved.  The two that were rejected by residents would have made the positions of Town Treasurer and Tax Collector appointed positions.  The jobs will remain elected offices.

 

Ridgefield residents rejected a proposed land sale.  A portion of the former Schlumberger site, 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, would have been sold for to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The vote was 56-percent opposed, 44-percent in support of the sale.  The land sale has 3,601 'Yes’ votes to 4,676 ‘No’ votes.  Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A five acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

 

Danbury residents have approved $20 million in bonding for public improvements.  Mayor Mark Boughton says residents know that if something is brought to them for a vote, the City Council and he have thoroughly vetted the issue.  He says they look at things like cost and the impact of the budget.  The money would go to road paving, bridge repairs, school roof replacements, Public Works equipment and equipment to finish the civilian dispatch center in the Police station.  The vote was 6,245 in favor and 3,352 opposed.  Danbury had nearly 39% voter participation.

 

New Fairfield had a 48% voter turn out.  Redding had a 55% voter participation in the Election.  Sherman's voter turn out was 57%.

 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty fended off a challenge from Republican businessman Mark Greenberg, winning a second term representing the 5th Congressional District in northwestern Connecticut. The seat was considered to be one of the GOP's best chances for victory this year. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee appeared to like its chances and canceled television advertising in the district, diverting $500,000 for ads in Iowa in the final two weeks.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also been reelected.

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Sample ballots for Greater Danbury area towns posted

Area residents are at the polls today to chose candidates for a variety of offices.  There is a hotly contested 5th Congressional District race, a rematch in the 4th Congressional District, a gubernatorial contest, contested races for Secretary of the State, Attorney General and Treasurer.  Judge of Probate and Registrar of Voters positions are also being voted on.

 

Bethel Charter revisions are also on the ballot.  Ridgefield residents are also voting on Charter changes.  Brookfield also has proposed revisions to the town Charter.

 

Sample Ballots can be found by clicking on each of the municipalities names:

 

Bethel

 

Bridgewater

 

Brookfield

 

Danbury

 

New Fairfield

 

New Milford

 

Newtown

 

Redding

 

Ridgefield

 

Sherman

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State legislative candidates up for election Tuesday

The 26th state Senate district includes parts of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  Two Wilton residents are vying for the post, a three term incumbent, and a businessman.

 

Two veteran lawmakers are seeking to get out of the state House of Representatives and into the state Senate.  With the retirement of Senate Minority John McKinney from the 28th Senate District, there is an open race.  Republican Tony Hwang and Democrat Kim Fawcett, both from Fairfield, are looking to fill the role, which represents a part of Newtown.

 

The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012.  Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.

 

The only other State Senate seat in the region is the 24th District currently represented by Republican Mike McLachlan.  He is being challenged by Working Families Party candidate Theodore Feng.

 

A Danbury lawyer is looking to unseat a two-term incumbent in the 2nd House District race.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown.

 

Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor was elected in 2012 to the 67th district House seat, having prior experience serving as vice-chair of the New Milford Town Council.  Democrat Gale Alexander has been on the Board of Finance for the past 12 years, has run mayoral and state senate campaigns and holds a teaching certification.

 

A freshman lawmaker is being challenged by a political newcomer in the 106th state House District.  Mitch Bolinsky is the Republican incumbent.  He is being challenged by Matt Cole, a recent Western Connecticut State University graduate and social worker.

A Danbury lawyer is looking to unseat a two-term incumbent in the 2nd House District race.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown. - See more at: http://wlad.com/local-headlines/118995#sthash.wnJvCuTK.dpuf

 

A tax attorney is looking to unseat an 8-term incumbent in the the 107th state House District, which includes Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury near Candlewood Lake.

 

Two young men are running to represent Danbury's 109th state House District.

 

Tn the 138th state House District of Danbury, Ridgefield and New Fairfield, six-term Republican incumbent Jan Giegler is seeking reelection.  She is being challenged by Democrat Henry Hall. 

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Conn.'s last dry town considers allowing liquor sales

Today is Election Day and several towns, including Bridgewater, are voting on questions as well as candidates. 

 

Bridgewater is taking up the issue of allowing alcohol sales in restaurants and cafes in town following proposals from two developers to open restaurants if they could have liquor permits.  Bridgewater is the last dry town in the state. 

 

Residents are being asked a yes or no question on the November ballot.  A yes vote would allow restaurants to sell alcohol between 11 am and 11 pm Monday through Thursday, from 11 am to midnight Friday and Saturday and from noon to 10 pm Sunday.  It would also allow for the sale of alcohol from 11 am to 1 am on New Year's Eve. 

 

The issue was going to be voted on in February, but town officials wanted to reexamine so-called Blue Laws. 

 

This would not allow for package stores.

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Danbury residents asked to approve $20 million in bonds

Danbury residents are being asked to approve $20 million in bonding on today's ballot.

 

The $20 million in bond money would be used for public safety improvements.  $1 million of the funding would be used for equipment upgrades and replacement in the Public Safety Communications Network. Mayor Mark Boughton says this is the last of the equipment needed to outfit the Police Station for civilian dispatch. 

 

$6.5 million is for the Road Reconstruction program.  Boughton says the last several years of harsh winter weather and wet springs have wreaked havoc on the roads.  $3 million would be used by the Public Works Department for equipment and vehicle replacement.  $4 million would go to the Engineering Department for the bridge repair-replacement program. 

 

The remaining $5.5 million would be for roof replacements and repairs on City-owned buildings. Boughton says a revolving account is going to be created for the schools because many of them are nearing 20 years in age.

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Ridgefield land sale on ballot

Today is Election Day and several towns, including Ridgefield, are voting on questions as well as candidates. 

 

In Ridgefield, residents will be asked about a land sale next week.  It's 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, the former Schlumberger site.  The land and some of the buildings would be sold to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The Philip Johnson building and three other buildings would be restored and retained at buyer’s expense. 

 

 

The deed prohibits resale for development outside current zoning. 

 

Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A 5 acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

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Danbury officials authorize purchase of land for pocket park

The Danbury City Council has authorized the purchase of 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 land was bought for $120,000. 

 

It will be 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.

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Visconti drops out of Connecticut governor's race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti dropped out of Connecticut's gubernatorial race Sunday and threw his support behind Republican Tom Foley in a last-minute effort to defeat Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in Tuesday's election.

 

Visconti announced his withdrawal from the race during a campaign stop with Foley in Brookfield. He later said he made the decision Saturday afternoon after seeing a poll showing Foley trailing Malloy by three percentage points, and he met with Foley on Saturday evening to discuss the move.

 

"I had to make a decision to help Tom rather than Gov. Malloy being re-elected," Visconti said in a phone interview Sunday. "If it can't be me, I'd rather have it be Tom."

 

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Malloy and Foley deadlocked with each receiving the support of 43 percent of likely voters, while Visconti was favored by 7 percent.

 

Visconti says he didn't receive anything from Foley for dropping out of the race and supporting him.

Visconti, a contractor and gun rights activist from West Hartford, ran on a platform that included repealing Connecticut's wide-ranging gun control bill, which was approved after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six adults in December 2012.

 

Originally a Republican candidate for governor, he had to submit the signatures of 10,000 registered voters to petition his way onto Tuesday's ballot.

 

Visconti said recently that high-level Republicans were pressuring him to withdraw from the race, even though polls showed him pulling voters equally from both major parties. He said he worried about being a spoiler.

 

Foley said he believed Visconti's withdrawal will help him on Election Day, although he said his internal polling showed him beating Malloy by four or five percentage points before Visconti's announcement.

 

"It's uniting everybody who's interested in change in Connecticut and getting rid of Malloy and moving the state forward," Foley said about Visconti's move.

 

Malloy campaign spokesman Mark Bergman released a statement Sunday saying: "Tom Foley just doubled down on his plans to repeal Connecticut's strict smart gun law that has made our neighborhoods, our schools and our streets safer. Make no mistake, Tom Foley is in the pocket of the right wing extreme gun lobby and today's announcement is further proof."

 

Foley declined to comment about the statement.

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Danbury Woman Strikes Blind man With Car

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Danbury woman has turned herself in after police say she struck a blind pedestrian with her car and fled the scene. Stacie Quinones turned herself in and was charged with several offenses including failure to yield the right-of-way to a blind pedestrian. Police say Quinones struck Jairo Abreu of Danbury at about 10:20 p.m. Friday. The 22-year-old  man was standing at the intersection. Abreu was taken to Danbury Hospital.

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Brookfield Charter revisions on the ballot Tuesday

Brookfield is one of three area towns that will have Charter Revision questions on the ballot tomorrow.

 

The proposed changes in Brookfield are broken into three questions.  One proposed Charter change is to have the budget separated into education and municipal votes along with advisory questions.  Another proposal is that the Town Meeting moderator be an elected position. 

 

The last question would be about whether the remaining charter revisions be approved. 

 

Among those revisions are removing agencies that no longer exist, increasing the membership of the Library Board of Trustees from six to nine, updating special appropriations levels, making the Town Attorney parliamentarian of all Town Meetings and clarifying ethics provisions.  The proposal also allows all Boards and Commissions to fill vacancies as they occur.

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Ridgefield residents asked to aopprove Charter changes

Ridgefield residents will be deciding on Charter Revisions when they cast ballots tomorrow. 

 

There are 7 Charter questions on the Ridgefield Ballot, including one asking about technical changes to the document.  The next two are about whether the Town Treasurer and Tax Collector should become an appointed positions.  Another question is about whether the Board of Selectmen have discretion for an environmental review of open space property donations. 

 

Residents are also being asked whether the Parks and Rec Superintendent and related staff be placed under the town's purview. 

 

The next question is about whether any town agency, including the Board of Education, which requires money for capital expenses seek Board of Selectmen approval.  The last question is about the Selectmen having responsibility for the town budget with some oversight from the Board of Finance to eliminate or reduce capital items, but to increase items only in concurrence with the Selectmen.

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Changes to Bethel Charter on ballot Election Day

Three area towns have charter revision questions on the ballot tomorrow.

 

In Bethel there are six questions being voted on when it comes to proposed changes to the town's Charter.  One question is about increasing the Board of Selectmen membership from three to five and increasing their term of service from two years to four years. 

 

Another question is about increasing the amount of money that requires a bid, transfer between town departments and special appropriations for Town Meetings.  The next question is about changing the Board of Finance's ability to make line item cuts in the Board of Selectmen budget.  Residents are also being asked if they want to move the Annual Town Budget Meeting from May to April.  Another question would increase the threshhold for bonds and other appropriations requiring a town meeting. 

 

The final question is about technical changes to the Charter.

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Tax attorney challenging 8-term incumbent in Brookfield

A tax attorney is looking to unseat an 8-term incumbent in the the 107th state House District, which includes Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury near Candlewood Lake.  Republican incumbent David Scribner says he’s running for reelection to continue exercising fiscal restraint. 

 

He is the longest serving leader on the Transportation Committee.  He says there have been tremendous improvements to the Metro North Danbury branch, noting there is a long way to go.  He touted a $2 million grant to expand the Bethel train station, getting the long stalled Route 7 bypass project completed under budget and on time, protecting funds for an environmental impact study to expand I-84 from the New York line to Waterbury and opposing border tolls.  He says there’s been no stronger more vocal voice in Hartford in opposing putting tolls on the border of Danbury and Brewster.  He says that’s targeted every session.

 

Democrat Dan Smolnik is a local tax attorney, former Democratic Town Committee chairman and a member of the Charter Revision Commission. 

 

Scribner says education is critically important, calling it an investment in the future.  He cited too many mandates being placed on schools including Common Core, which he says was never voted on by the legislature.  He says teachers should be able to do their jobs because they are properly educated, chose the profession for a reason and shouldn’t be restrained by paperwork driven goals on someone else’s checklist.  He says it was a shame that the GOP had to petition for a public hearing on Common Core to listen to the practical experience of educators.

 

Smolnik said in an interview with Danbury Patch that officials should get more feedback from educators before implementing the Common Core standards.  He says while the basic structure is a good idea, the execution is a disruptive change.

 

Smolnik has questioned Scribner's initial "no" vote on the 2013 bill that banned large capacity magazines.  Smolnik says the legislation provides an excellent start in identifying people with mental health disabilities.

 

Scribner says the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s findings will need to be thoroughly examined.  He says when three issues were combined into one bill last year, commonly referred to as The Gun Bill, school security and mental health issues were virtually ignored.  But he says those two portions are critically important.  He hopes the SHAC findings are reviewed over time.  He thinks all three components should have been addressed and gotten right, as opposed to doing it in haste in an emergency certified manner, which didn’t get a public hearing.

 

Smolnik is largely focused on fiscal issues, supporting the increased minimum wage.  Smolnik said the increase over time from $8.70 to $10.10 an hour raises the standard of living and won't hurt small businesses.  Smolnik says he largely supports the governor’s First Five program, which has provided grants and forgivable loans to companies, most recently Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy and Praxair.  Smolnik says he hopes the looming $1.4 billion budget deficit can be largely erased by small business expansion.  But he did not rule out a tax increase.

 

Scribner says there is nothing more paramount on a statewide basis than things that effect the economy.  He says the state government should be cleaned up first.  While he respects state employees, there are ways to appropriately over time, streamline government.  He wants to identify areas where efficiencies can be created, while still providing quality services to Connecticut residents and businesses.  Scribner says before more spending or hikes in taxes and fees should be looked at, fiscal restraint should be adhered to.

 

Scribner, a one-time Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut board member, says improving quality of life for their clients was a priority for him.  He helped change state regulations to allow for them to build a new in-patient facility to serve all of Western Connecticut.  Over a million dollars in state grant money to help build that facility, which is slated to open in early January.  He also participated in working with Western Connecticut Health Network to establish a cardiac care unit at Danbury Hospital a few years ago.  He says people who need care at a moments notice, can now receive that close to home.

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Danbury Fire Department applies for FEMA grant

The Danbury Fire Department is applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.  If awarded, the Department will use the money for equipment, including air packs to help the Volunteer Department finish their replacement program, and the "jaws of life" tools. 

 

Air packs cost a few thousand dollars a piece. 

 

The funding request is not exceeding a million dollars, with FEMA picking up a majority of the costs--leaving Danbury's share at 10-percent.  The Fire Department's budget will be reviewed to see if there is funding that can be used toward the City's share.

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Praxair to build new world headquarters in Danbury, gets state assistance

Praxair, Inc. will maintain its world headquarters in Danbury by building a $65 million new 100,000 square-foot corporate facility.  The global leader in industrial gases and applications is currently housed at the Matrix Corporate Center on the City's west side.  The plan calls for retaining 535 positions statewide, and is incented to grow up to 120 new jobs over the next five years.

 

Praxair plans to build at the Berkshire Corporate Park on the Bethel-town line.

 

A Fortune 250 company holding some 4,000 patents, Praxair employs more than 27,000 people and operates in 50 countries, supplying atmospheric, process, and specialty gases as well as high-performance coatings and related services to a wide range of industries including metals, health care, food and beverage, energy, aerospace, chemicals, electronics, manufacturing, and others.

 

Connecticut was competing with proposals from both New York and Texas.  Governor Dannel Malloy made the announcement Friday at the Danbury Chamber of COmmerce offices.  He said the state competes to attract and retain globally recognized corporations like Praxair at every opportunity because of the direct and indirect benefits they bring to Connecticut’s economy, and because their presence enhances Connecticut’s reputation around the world as a great place for these companies to call home.

 

The state Department of Economic and Community Development is supporting the Praxair project with a comprehensive package, including a $10 million forgivable loan.  Praxair will also be eligible for up to $20 million in tax credits through the state’s Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credit Program, as well as up to $2.5 million in Sales and Use Tax Exemptions.  The exemptions are subject to approval from Connecticut Innovations.

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Man causes disturbance in Halloween store

A Danbury man has been arrested after refusing to leave a Halloween store and swearing in front of children.  Danbury Police say Spirit Halloween on Newtown Road called officers Thursday night about 53-year old Kevin Peroski. 

 

The manager told police that the man was begging for free items, bothering employees and refusing to leave.  When officers asked the man to leave, he refused and started to swear.  He resisted officer's attempt to arrest him, but was eventually placed in handcuffs. 

 

Peroski is being charged with breach of peace, criminal trespass and interfering with an officer.

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Edmond Town Hall no longer a polling location in Newtown

Some voters in Newtown will be casting ballots in a different location this year.  Edmond Town Hall has been deactivated as a polling location.  While the building is ADA compliant for general use, it does not meet stricter ADA standards for a polling location.  District 3-2 voters will cast ballots Tuesday at the Reed Intermediate School cafetorium.  That is also District 2 polling location in Newtown.  Districts 1 and 1-5 vote at Newtown Middle School, Districts 3 and 3-5 vote at Head O' Meadow School.

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30th state Senate District race a repeat of 2012

The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012.  Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.

 

Chapin previously served 12 years in the state House.  He touted work to bring back some sale tax exemptions in the latest session, including the sales tax free week on back-to-school shopping.  There was also a tax free prescription drug exemption that he fought to bring back.

 

Riiska has held local office and been on many boards and committees such as the United Way, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber, Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation, and the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health now Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates.  He spent 12 years as chairman of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Government Relations Committee, and has been a member of that group for twenty years.

 

Chapin says the best way to grow jobs is to spend less and tax less.  He wants to continue working on pro-business legislation.  He’s been endorsed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, The National Federation of Independent Business and the Connecticut Realtors.  Municipalities get a share of the Real Estate Conveyance Tax, the legislature increased it on a temporary basis several years ago and it was supposed to sunset.  But it became a permanent tax.

 

Riiska says Chapin's votes reflect national corporate interests rather than the interests of the people and small businesses of Northwest Connecticut.  He was also critical of what he called Chapin's stock response to inquiries from constituents on issues.  Riiska says there are only 36 senators, and the one representing the northwest corner of the state should be an advocate, an educator, a shaper of opinion.

 

This year the legislature created a new aquatic invasives program.  Chapin says while there hasn’t been too much funding for invasive plants, there was a renewed effort to create a program within DEEP to give grant money to municipalities to fight invasive aquatic plants.

 

Riiska says if elected, one of his main goals is to get the state's economic house in order by passing realistic budgets that reflect rigorous long term planning.  His plan for creating and retaining private sector jobs is by creating a fair and stable tax and regulatory system.  He says in order to grow manufacturing jobs, community college and technical school programs need to be supported. 

 

Chapin says mental health reforms will need a large pool of money to address it properly.  But he says it’s something that needs addressing and is something most legislators would agree on.

 

Riiska says there will be economic growth if the road, rail, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure are maintained.  He also made a pledge to fight for the towns in the District to get their fair share in eduction funding, and to protect open space.  Riiska wants to address what he called long neglected mental health issues.

 

Chapin says almost $190 million has been taken out of the Transportation Fund for other costs.  He notes that if the gas tax, which goes into that fund, was used to fix roads and bridges the state would be better off.  He says if the state Department of Transportation has too much on their plate and is just collecting too much money, the legislature should think about lowering the tax.

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Area schools receive matching grant funds for security improvements

Some local school districts are among those receiving matching grants from the state to beef up security.  An additional 380 public schools and 65 private and religious schools will receive funds as part of $22 million in School Security Grant Program. 

 

Among them is Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury and Newtown. 

 

State funding is used to reimburse a portion of the costs associated with school security infrastructure improvements.  The state has made a total of $43 million available for school security upgrades at over a thousand Connecticut schools. 

 

Three Bethel schools will be upgraded.  One Brookfield school will be improved.  Eight schools in Danbury will be sharing in some state matching dollars to perform upgrades.  Improvements are planned at 10 schools in Newtown with matching funds.

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