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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-12

UPDATED: Woman in leap from highway overpass ID'd

A woman has died in an apparent suicide leap off Interstate 84 in Brewster.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that 69-year old Kathleen Kondrat left her car on the side of the highway and jumped off the overpass. 

 

Kondrat is a former Southeast resident who moved to Danbury about six months ago.  She was the window of Michael Kondrat, who owned Colorado Brewing & Trading Company.  He died of a brain aneurysm in 2004 at the age of 57.  He passed away the same day the restaurant closed its doors.  The couple has two children.

 

A note with her children's names and phone numbers were found along with her driver's license on the seat of the car. 

 

A man called police shortly after 10:30 Tuesday morning to report seeing a car on the right shoulder of the highway, and in his rearview mirror saw a woman walk across the road and grab the railing on the left side.  While the man did not see her go over the railing, police received calls almost at the same time of a woman lying in the road beneath the bridge. 

 

Veteran's Memorial Bridge, also known as the high bridge, is about 90 feet above Routes 6/22/202.  That road was closed for about two hours during the investigation.

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Woman Beaten By Boyfriend, Held Captive, Forced Into Prostitution At Danbury Hotel

A woman stabbed her boyfriend on Christmas as she tried to escape a Super 8 Motel where she had been held captive for days, beaten and forced into prostitution. 

27 year old Omar  Thomas of Waterbury, has pleaded not guilty to third-degree strangulation, disorderly conduct, third-degree assault, and promoting prostitution among other charges . 

Thomas was arrested on Christmas at the Lake Avenue motel after he and his girlfriend walked into the hotel's lobby covered in blood. 
A hotel worker called  Danbury Police. 

According to the arrest warrant, Thomas brought his girlfriend to the hotel a few days before Christmas and repeatedly beat her and forced her into prostitution.

 

Thomas told police that he and his girlfriend sustained their injuries while having sex and they both rolled over on an open knife while in bed. 

 

Thomas was taken to Danbury Hospital for a stab wound to the back. His girlfriend was also taken to the hospital for multiple injuries.

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2014 marred by untimely deaths, plane incients

Many pedestrian-car accidents were reported in 2014, including two fatal ones.  In March, 15-year old Emma Sandhu of Ridgefield was hit by a car as she walked home at night along Ridgebury Road.  In September, seven teens were charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, having attended an underage drinking party at a Ridgebury Road home just before the crash.  The 24-year old driver was not charged. 

 

In November, a woman was in critical condition after being stuck on Hayestown Road by a hit and run driver.  The following night, 23-year old Rachel Sak of Bethel was struck and killed by a van that fled the scene.  She was a new mother and a reward is being offered for a conviction in the case. 

 

In January, a woman was arrested for hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk on White Street in Danbury.  The man was unconscious and needed hospitalization.  Two days later in New Milford, a man was hit and injured on Route 7--the driver in that case was not found at fault.  Two women were hit in the same area in November, who reportedly were trying to catch a bus.  In October, a woman who stopped in the road by Danbury fire headquarters for an unknown reason, was hit and injured.  A Danbury woman hit a blind pedestrian on Halloween night.  He was injured and she faces charges. 

 

Just this month a woman and a child were hit while in a crosswalk on Main Street in Danbury.  The driver and the pair were injured.

 

Some other untimely deaths cast a shadow over the region in 2014. 

 

Two reports of gunfire from private residences in Redding were investigated in February.  Police responded to Simpaug Turnpike and Sullivan Drive on reports of shots fire.  Both were cases of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.  In Ridgefield a 15 month old boy, Benjamin Seitz was inadvertently left in a hot car for several hours by his father.  Kyle Seitz is charged with criminally negligent homicide. 

 

Monroe police continue to investigate the August death of Jennifer Sredzinski, who was found bleeding, with a head injury in the parking lot of her condo complex.  Last month, Bethel police investigated reports of a despondent woman at Huntington State Park.  4th grade teacher Elizabeth Teed was found dead at the park. 

 

Also this month, a Danbury woman was struck and killed by a truck on I-84 in Danbury.  She reportedly got out of her car and walked in front of the truck.

 

Some residents were scammed out of thousand of dollars this year.  Two Wilton residents were bilked out of a combined $2,700 through telephone scams.  One supposedly from the Federal Warrants Division, the other from the IRS.  Both purchased GreenDot MoneyPak cards and phoned back with the serial numbers.  Three Redding residents lost a total of $289,000 in the so-called grandparent scam.  A Monroe man was conned out of $,000 in a Las Vegas lotto winnings scam.

 

Another subject making news: three planes leaving from Danbury Airport had some troubles this year.  A small plane toured the Statue of Liberty in January and was headed back to Connecticut when engine trouble forced it to land on a highway in the Bronx.  In July a small plane crashed in a marsh by the airport.  The pilot was rescued by boat from the top of the plane.  In September a small plane crashed in Watertown while en route from Danbury to Waterbury. 

 

No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

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Woman arrested for stealing from colleague

A Connecticut woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing from a colleague.  

 

New York State Police launched an investigation into cash being stolen from an unlocked car at a home in Brewster where a housekeeper was cleaning.  Police say while the woman was going about her business, the personal property was stolen. 

 

Police say the investigation led to 48-year old Mayra Hernandez of Waterbury, the housekeeper's co-worker.  Hernandez was arrested on Christmas Eve on a felony grand larceny charge.  She will be in Southeast Town Court on January 13th.

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Conn. woman charged for roll-over crash

A roll over crash has led to drunk driving charges for a New Fairfield woman.  New York State Police responded to an accident on Lake Shore Drive in Patterson on Friday night and found a Ford Escape on its side at the edge of Putnam Lake.  Troopers determined that 51-year old Rosanna Rigiulio of New Fairfield was intoxicated.  She was the only person in the car and was uninjured.  She was issued a ticket for an appearance in Patterson Town Court on January 5th.

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Ridgefield man charged with drunk driving with minor as passenger

A Ridgefield man has been arrested for driving drunk with a minor in the car on Christmas Eve.  New York State Police responded to a one car accident on West Lane in Lewisboro late on Christmas Eve. 

 

Troopers determined that 40-year old Bryce Davies of Ridgefield was intoxicated at the time of the crash, with a blood alcohol content level more than twice the legal limit.  Davies was charged with Driving While Intoxicated under Leandra's Law because a there was a passenger under the age of 17 in the car.  No injuries were reported in the crash. 

 

He will be in court on January 5th.

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Rowland lawyers file appeal as sentencing looms, candidate seeks probation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Lawyers for former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland are making a last-ditch appeal to a federal judge, urging her to dismiss Rowland's convictions for election fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

In paperwork filed last week, Rowland's lawyers made a procedural argument for his acquittal, the Republican-American newspaper of Waterbury reported Monday. The defense attorneys cited the federal government's failure to respond to its latest motion for acquittal.

This new filing comes shortly before Rowland is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7 on seven counts related to attempts to hide work on two Republican 5th congressional district campaigns through phony business deals. It renews the defense's previously unsuccessful arguments that there was insufficient evidence to convict Rowland.

Rowland previously served a 10-month sentence after pleading guilty to a corruption-related charge in 2004.

Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to federal charges in March.  She is seeking probation.

Prosecutors say she, Foley and Rowland in 2011 conspired to hide Rowland's role in the campaign through a phony business deal. Rowland was paid about $35,000 for the unsuccessful campaign.

She and her husband face up to a year in prison.

In a memo filed Monday, her lawyers said she should get probation based on her limited role in the conspiracy, her cooperation with prosecutors, and the relatively paltry amount of money involved.

She's scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13.

Rowland faces up to three years for his part in the conspiracy.

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Danbury Teen Arrested For Threatening Students And Teachers

A Danbury teenager was arrested last week for threatening to kill students and teachers at Education Connection on Main Street. 

18 year old Jahun Danzy has been charged with second degree threatening and harassment and is being held on a $7,500 bond. He is also not allowed to have any contact with anyone who attends or works at Education Connection.

Danzy was arrested after a student told the school’s principle that he had been harassing her over Facebook messages and text messages.

According to court documents, Danzy use to be a student at Education Connection but was expelled for behavioral issues. He was also suspended from his current school for similar comments about killing people.

Including this incident, Danzy has three active cases in Danbury Superior Court. Danzy will be back in court on January 14 to enter a plea.

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Squantz Park supervisor arrested on larceny, forgery charges

A supervisor at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield has been arrested on larceny and forgery charges.  Christopher Keenan joined the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in 2007, and has served as a supervisor at Squantz Pond since then. 

 

DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain said in an emailed statement that an internal investigation was started after agency managers became concerned with Keenan's record keeping activities.  He allegedly took gasoline from state gas pumps at the park for personal vehicles and used state purchasing cards to buy gasoline and auto parts for personal use.  The total value is just over $9,800. 

 

Keenan was notified of his termination December 23th, served an arrest warrant on December 28th and is on administrative leave through next Tuesday. 

 

He was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 8th.

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Danbury Police head into new year with big changes

As 2014 closes, there are some changes coming to the Danbury Police Department.  Civilian dispatchers are being trained to fill the roles the officers currently hold.  A new records management system was put in place earlier this year.  A City Council member questioned Police Chief Al Baker about the perceived doubling of statistics.

 

Baker told the City Council this month about a new computer system that was put in place earlier this year that counts calls differently.  He says they will see regular increases in various statistics.  The computer aided dispatch system also included an automatic vehicle locator system for squad cars and electronic citation management.  He says it will adjust itself when more data is obtained.

 

The City hired IXP Corporation to train civilians to dispatch emergency responders, which includes shadowing current dispatchers.  Mayor Mark Boughton says those police officers and firefighters who are current dispatchers will return to fire service and the the streets. 

 

IXP Corporation representatives gave a presentation to the City Council in July.  Members asked for reassurance that IXP would be hiring local employees, who know the various oddities of the City including the streets that have the same name but end in road, and avenue or street and drive.

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SEEC clears Region 12 of complaint

A complaint against the Region 12 Board of Education has been dismissed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. 

 

The complaint, which also listed Superintendent Pat Cosentino, alleged that public funds were used to advocate for "yes" votes in an April referendum.  The question was about $41 million in bond money for renovations to one school and consolidating others. 

 

The SEEC determined this month that explanatory text on the Region 12 website along with architectural designs did not mean the schools were advocating for yes votes.

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Incoming Ridgefield Superintendent resigns early from current post

The incoming Ridgefield Superintendent of Schools is resigning from her current position early.  Suffield Superintendent Dr Karen Baldwin was supposed to step down from that position at the end of the school year, but at a Board of Education meeting earlier this month she supported the Board's decision to have her resign effective December 31st. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that half of the Suffield Board of Ed has resigned recently over what they see as a divided and politically motivated leadership on important issues. 

 

Ridgefield education officials say they were aware of the situation in Suffield when they selected Baldwin to take over from Deborah Low next year.

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Heritage Village Water Company seeks massive rate increase

A 73-percent increase is being sought by the Heritage Village Water Company in Southbury.  The only private investor owned sewer system in the state is also looking for a 5 percent increase in water rates to offset a government-mandated upgrade to its treatment facility. 

 

Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill says while he can sympathize with the challenge facing Heritage Village Water Company in complying with federal mandates, this is a lot to ask of residents.  He says this is an even bigger problem coupled with the recently approved flat rate fee charged by Connecticut Light & Power. 

 

O'Neill has also written to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority expressing his opposition.  He says it's based, in part, on the fact that many residents at Heritage Village are living on fixed incomes.

 

A public hearing is required, though dates have not yet been set.

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State considers stormwater changes after municipal leaders complain

Complaints from local officials are prompting state environmental officials to consider changing proposed permit rules for municipal stormwater systems.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently announced new requirements for street sweeping, cleaning of catch basins and water quality monitoring of stormwater discharges. 

 

The state proposed the changes to comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

 

Members of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton spoke out earlier this month saying that the requirements were too strict.  CCM President Matt Galligan says the state, facing a deficit, is trying to pass the buck on to cities and towns.

 

State environmental officials say Connecticut must develop ways to improve stormwater management because it's a major source of pollution in waterways.

The Connecticut Fund for the Environment is seeking even stronger regulations.

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Danbury police investigate bank robbery

Danbury police are investigating a bank robbery.  Police were called to Savings Bank of Danbury on Newtown Road around 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.  The suspect is described as an older, heavy set white man.  The robber handed the teller a note demanding cash, did not display a weapon and fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.  Police say it was a minimal amount though. 

 

The investigation is continuing. 

 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a branch in Waterbury was robbed.  That suspect was described as a tall, heavy-set black man with a scruffy beard.  No weapon was displayed in that robbery.

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Charity formed by local man to pay off two NYPD officers mortgages

A charity created in part by a New Fairfield man after the September 11th terror attacks is helping relatives of two slain New York police officers by paying off their home mortgages.  The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for former First Selectman John Hodge's cousin, announced the plan Tuesday via social media.  On Friday, the family of Officer Liu joined Tunnel to Towers for the official announcement.

 

Chairman Frank Siller says the foundation got the idea after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo noted the families were facing not only grief but such practical concerns as paying for their homes. 

 

Firefighter Stephen Siller lost his life at the World Trade Center.  Hodge says his family formed the charity to honor his memory, and support first responders and injured soldiers.

 

In two days, Tunnel to Towers raised $70,000 for the families.

 

Tunnel to Towers is seeking donations for the families of the two Officers, with a goal of collecting $800,000.  Hodge says they are planning an event to be held in the next couple of months to help reach that goal.

 

One of the primary programs by Tunnel to Towers builds homes all over the country for the most catastrophically injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The smart homes for triple and even quadruple amputees, is given to them debt free. 

 

Another program run by Tunnel to Towers stemmed from Superstorm Sandy.  Staten Island residents displaced by the storm were set up in mobile homes on the Faith Church property in New Milford.  The Siller family is from Staten Island, Hodge is a member of Faith Church.  He says there are some amazing success stories that have come from that effort.  Hodge says the mobile homes, which people could live in for up to a year, gave people the respite they needed to put their lives back together.

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Wilton father hits son with frying pan, both charged for fight

A Wilton father and son are due in court next month on charges stemming from an argument that led to the son being admitted to the hospital.  Police were called to Olmstead Hill Road last Thursday on a report of a disturbance. 

 

Police determined that 51-year old Ernest Ricco hit his son in the head with a frying pan.  23-year old Richard was transported to Norwalk Hospital where he was treated and released.  Neither man said what started the fight. 

 

The older Ricco was charged with 3rd degree assault and disorderly conduct.  His son was charged with disorderly conduct. 

 

Each appeared in court and were released for an appearance on January 21st.

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Redding man due in court for mailing marijuana

A Redding man will be in court next month on charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana after pot was found in packages he shipped to local post offices.  58-year old Robert Bridges was indicted last Thursday, with the court documents unsealed this week showing that he rented post office boxes in Wilton, Georgetown and Riverside.  One of the PO boxes was listed under the name Newport Olympia.

 

Some packages were deemed suspicious, they were mailed from California with a Greenwich return address.  Bridges will be in court on January 5th. 

 

The Redding man previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges for what prosecutors say was a scheme that defrauded investors of $5 million to pay off a debt to a New York law firm.   Bridges was sentenced to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release in 2008.  He petitioned to terminate supervised release in June, telling the court he was gainfully employed by Newport Olympia and wanted to make larger restitution payments.

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Ridgefield officials in talks for Schlumberger sale to local developers

Ridgefield officials are continuing to move forward on a proposal to sell 10 acres of the former Schlumberger site off Sunset Lane.  This comes as the Board of Selectmen accepts applications for a committee that will be tasked with studying comprehensive uses for the property. 

 

The proposal being considered is a $4.3 million sale to Charter Group Partners LLC to build 54 condo units.  The so-called coach houses would cost around $450,000.  Charter Group constructed the 120-unit Newbury Village in Brookfield and plan to create a similar development in Ridgefield. 

 

Any sale would have to be approved by residents in a referendum.

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Redding police seek dirt bike thief suspect

Redding police are searching for a person who tried to steal dirt bikes early this morning.  One person fled around 1:30am, one was caught by the homeowner.  The dirt bikes were not stolen, and the teen who was caught suffered a knife wound to his hand during the struggle. 

 

18-year old Keffry Marte of Danbury was charged with burglary, conspiracy to attempted larceny, and trespassing .  He was held on $25,000 bond for a court appearance today.  Keffry was also charged on two outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court.

 

Suspect still sought: White male, 20-25 years old, mushroom style hair cut (dirty blonde), last seen wearing a Boston Red Sox ball cap with a flat brim, blue hoodie and cargo pants. May go by the name of, "Brandon".

 

Suspect Vehicle: Black full size pick up 2 door with extended cab. Tinted windows. Racing flag (Black and White checkered) on the antenna, large and loud exhaust pipes which extend above the cab and are curved.

 

Anyone with information is being asked to call Redding police at 203-938-3400.  Calls will remain anonymous.

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Bethel to hold meeting about Clarke Park rules management

Bethel residents are being called on to attend a special town meeting on Monday night about Clarke Business Park.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's a technical meeting about extending current management of the industrial park for the next 10 years. 

 

If approved by residents, the Economic Development Commission would continue to write the rules of the business zone for the next decade.  There are currently 8 vacancies in the industrial park in downtown Bethel. 

 

The special Town Meeting on Monday is at 7pm in the Municipal Center.

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Ridgefield officials seek members for group deciding on Schlumberger future

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is accepting letters of interest until December 31st from residents for the soon-to-be-formed committee to research and review potential uses of the 30-acre former Schlumberger site.

 

Candidates must be town residents and should have the ability to meet on a regular basis for this long-term assignment. This Committee of nine will work with a Planner or Planning Company to review all potential options for the future of the property.  Expertise in land use is welcome, but not necessary. 

 

Interviews with the Board of Selectmen will start in January.  The Board has so far received 20 applications.

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Weston Police Chief defends use of Aquarion shooting range

The leader of the Weston Police Department is speaking out about the force's use of the outdoor Aquarion shooting range on Valley Forge Road.  The facility is the subject of a complaint to the town by neighbors concerned with noise at that Aquarion didn't tell them about the shooting range when they purchased a house from the company. 

 

The Weston Forum reports that Police Chief John Troxell says firing and shooting ranges are exempt from noise pollution ordinances. 

 

The facility is not marked and not open to the public.  It's used by police from Redding, Weston, Westport and Fairfield as well as regional SWAT teams.  The Forum reports that it's not currently open because of repair work to the nearby dam.

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Freshman state lawmaker receives committee assignments

Members of the state House of Representatives are beginning to receive their committee assignments for the upcoming legislative session.  Representative-elect JP Sredzinski, whose district includes Monroe and a part of Newtown, will serve on three committees after he is sworn in to office on January 7th. 

 

One appointment is to the Public Safety and Security Committee, which deals with matters relating to homeland security, the Department of Public Safety, including state police, municipal police training, fire marshals, the fire safety code and the state building code, civil preparedness and legalized gambling.  Sredzinski says as someone involved in the day to day operations of a 9-1-1 public safety communications center, he is looking forward to serving on the Public Safety committee because he can bring an unique prospective to public safety issues. 

 

Sredzinski will also serve on the legislature's Commerce committee and Internship Committee.

 

The Commerce Committee oversees matters relating to the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Connecticut Development Authority and Connecticut Innovations, Incorporated.

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Christmas tree safety tips from Danbury Fire Department

As Christmas trees have been in place for sometimes weeks now, the Danbury Fire Department is reminding people of safety tips.  Spokesman Steven Rogers says one is for live trees:  keep them well watered.  He says dried out trees become a bigger fire hazard.  But he points out that one of every three home Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical failures.

 

While the LED bulbs are often less hot than traditional bulbs, they still pose a potential fire hazard.  Rogers asks that residents turn off lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

 

Rogers says another thing to keep in mind is the electrical limitationsof the lights and one circuit.  He notes that they can create nuisances, trips and potential fire hazards.  Some lights are for indoor use only and some are for outdoor use only.  As time wears on, Rogers reminds residents to replace any string of lights with a cord that has become frayed or broken.

 

Last but not least, Rogers asks that residents never use lit candles to decorate a tree.

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Conn. police organization leader critical of NYC mayor

New York City streets have been filled with protestors since a Grand Jury declined to indict the police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.  Connecticut has been fortunate, according to the President of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police.  John Krupinsky of the Danbury Police Department says official and citizens here seem to back police officers. 

 

He says police officers across America do a fine job keeping the citizens safe each and every day.  Krupinsky says the two NYPD officers were executed because of the color of their uniforms.  A delegation of police from Connecticut will attend their funerals.

 

Krupinsky says New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio tied the hands of the NYPD throughout the protests, and America’s top cop Eric Holder turned his back on police officers across the nation. 

 

Krupinsky says the one protest scheduled in Danbury in response to the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri never panned out.

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Danbury motorist gets DUI for running red light, hitting another car

An accident that injured a woman in Danbury has ended with a DUI arrest for the other driver.  Danbury Police were called to the intersection of Main and Rose Streets early yesterday morning on a report of an accident. 

 

30-year old Marco Robles allegedly drove through a red light striking a car being driven by  61-year old Evelyn Rivera.  She was transported to Danbury Hospital, where she was treated and released for her injuries. 

 

Police say Robles had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol.  He failed field sobriety tests.  He was released on $1,000 bond for a court appearance on January 5th.

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Area lawmaker speaks out at environmental summit

A keynote address has been delivered by Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher during the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters annual Environmental Summit. 

 

Boucher said during the event that Connecticut, as a small state, is under pressure from development--and that there must be a balance with protecting the state's character.  She called for good development to occur, particularly in places near mass transit. 

 

The 14th annual summit was held earlier this month in Hartford.  During the event, State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Comissioner Robert Klee presented his goals for the coming year.

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Brookfield Craft Center hopes to revitalize the Arts

The Brookfield Craft Center has been busy this holiday season, especially the Gift shop where more than 100 artists are selling their creations.  Howard Lasser is the new executive director and says he hopes to turn around the recent bad financial times for the Center. 

 

Lasser says they are trying to broaden their appeal by working with other groups in the region.  He says some of their classes include pottery, ceramics, glass, blacksmithing and weaving.

The public sculpture that was dedicated on the campus this past summer was stolen. Lasser says while they were upset with the theft, it showed the need for beefed up security.  The Brookfield Craft Center has instituted a fund raising campaign to help offset the cost.

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Fire at historic home in Bethel

Bethel Firefighters have extinguished a fire on Blackman Avenue.  The blaze at number 13 was reported around noon Monday.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the wood was so dry, people could hear it crackling from about a block away. 

 

It was a fast moving fire, and no one was home at the time, so it wasn't reported until visible from the street.  There were no injuries to fire or EMS personnel.

 

The historic home was built with balloon construction, meaning there was no fire break between floors.  Once the fire started in the back wall, it went up to the second story and through the roof.  It was a wood shingled roof too, which was also destroyed. 

 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

Knickerbocker says this is a terrible thing to have happen at any time of year, but especially a few days before Christmas.  The Red Cross is providing assistance to the family. 

 

Knickerbocker praised the job done by the Bethel Fire Department, the Bethel Volunteer and Stony Hill Fire Departments.  Mutual aid was provided by Dodgingtown and Danbury firefighters.

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Newtown Police Search For A Real Grinch

Newtown Police search for a real Grinch . 

Police are asking residents to report any suspicious activity around holiday decorations in Newtown.

Decorations were vandalized on Saturday near Route 302 in the area of Boggs Hill Road and South Main Street. A similar incident happened overnight on Dec. 6 when ornaments and decorations were taken from several businesses in Village Square, 43 South Main St.

Thieves stole holiday wreaths, a small red Santa sleigh and two hanging baskets with holiday decorations.

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No Lit Cross Allowed over Sherman Farm Some Homewowners Take Action

SHERMAN, Conn. (AP) A Christmas cross that shined for years on the silo at a farm has gone dark now that the Sherman farm is town-owned and officials want to avoid religious messages.

Some residents are angry and have installed on their roofs crosses that they've lit for Christmas. One homeowner, Gary Albert, says he believes as many as 25 crosses, including his own, have been put on roofs.

He questions how the town can put up a Christmas tree and decorations at Town Hall while not lighting the cross at the Happy Acres farm.

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Three men arrested for thefts from parked cars in NY

A series of thefts from cars in New York has led to the arrest of three men.

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's office and New York state Police started an investigation last month into a series of larcenies from cars in Somers, Yorktown and Putnam Valley.  Sheriff Donald Smith says the suspects were apparently targeting unlocked parked cars.  The investigation resulted in the recovery of GPS systems, credit cards, cellular telephones, laptop computers and other items which police believe are stolen. 

 

18 year-old Nicholas Dellabate of Putnam Valley is charged with four counts of possession of stolen property and 20 year-old John Nikaj of Yonkers faces four counts of petit larceny.  20 year-old Rick Ortiz of Putnam Valley was charged with four counts each of Petit Larceny and Possession of Stolen Property, and one count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.

 

Police are now asking for the public’s help in identifying recovered property. Anyone who has been victimized is asked to call the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-8060.

 

In one case, thieves stole several pairs of recently purchased pajamas which were meant to be donated to a nationwide charity called “1 Million Good Nights Pajama Program”.  The organization provides pajamas to needy children. 

 

"Cases such as these are very disturbing, especially when thieves take donated clothing that has been collected to keep underprivileged children warm during the winter months.” said Sheriff Smith.

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Brookfield, Danbury renew agreement on wastewater treatment

Danbury officials have approved renewing an interlocal agreement with Brookfield.  The Danbury Treatment Plant takes in wastewater from Brookfield.  Their previous agreement, which back to 1974, had been renewed with changes in 1992 and expired in 2012.  Danbury Public Utilities Superintendent David Day says Brookfield has approved extending the agreement, with no changes, for 20 years. 

 

The Treatment plant also takes in wastewater from Bethel, Newtown and Ridgefield.  It has a capacity of 15.5 million gallons per day.  The plant overall handles about 9 million gallons per day.  City officials have estimated that the plant will deal with 11.5 million gallons per day, 30 years out.

 

Brookfield is authorized to send 500,000 gallons per day, but the currently rate is 270,000 gallons per day.

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WCSU Dean joins board of Junior Achievement

The board of an organization that strives to teach young people about how to succeed in a global economy is getting a new member.  West Conn Ancell School of Business Dean Dr. David Martin has joined the board of Directors of Western Connecticut Junior Achievement.  He previously sat on the board of the JA in Rochester New York.

 

Junior Achievement programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers who give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.  Martin says Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut helps to bring the global economy to students in K-through-12 with a special emphasis in the high schools.

 

Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut reached more than 22,600 students in over 1,000 classrooms during the 2013-14 school year.

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Danbury lawmakers raise $14k in 1 hour for Salvation Army

Danbury state lawmakers have raised thousand of dollars for the Salvation Army.  State Senator Mike McLachlan and Representatives Dan Carter and Jan Giegler volunteered for one hour Wednesday as bell ringers at Walmart on Newtown Road. 

 

They collected more than $14,000.  The store matched their collection for a total of over $28,600.  The total more than quadruples last year's $3,000 collection for the Salvation Army. 

 

Giegler says she's always impressed with the outpouring of support from the Greater Danbury community and pleased that the money will go a long way to helping local families.

 

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Neighbor complaints of drug sales lead to Danbury man's arrest

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related charges stemming from complaints of neighbors.  Police received calls from the Fairfield Ridge Road area of drugs being sold from a home. 

 

Surveillance was set up at the home of Edwin Rivera. 

 

Search warrants were issued by the court and carried out earlier yesterday evening.  Rivera was found in possession of crack cocaine and heroin packaged for sale.  Drug paraphernalia was also found.  He's been charged with three counts of possession, possession with intent to sell, and possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school. 

 

Rivera is being held on $25,000 bond.

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Tribal leader unsure of next steps after ruling

KENT, Conn. (AP) The leader of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Kent says he's unsure what legal actions can be taken following a federal court order concluding the tribe doesn't have legal standing to claim about 2,300 acres in Kent.

Chief Richard Velky said Friday that he needs to meet with attorneys to see what legal steps they can take.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Monday that the tribe did not meet all federal criteria to be considered an Indian tribe.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says the decision finally ends litigation battles and provides ``certainty and certitude to Litchfield County.''

Velky said called it ``discouraging'' that Blumenthal would take a ``victory lap'' for a decision taking tribal land.

The tribe retains its 400-acre reservation.

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Post offices to open for Sunday hours this week

To help with the hustle of the holidays, select Post Offices in Connecticut has been open on Sundays leading up to Christmas.  They including the Danbury Post Office on Backus Avenue opening tomorrow from 1pm to 5pm.  U.S. Postal Service in Connecticut spokeswoman Maureen Marion says this will help with to make busy Mondays at the facility more manageable.

 

She says this gives people an opportunity for people to pick up packages, drop them off or buy stamps for cards.  Marion notes that this helps them to get mail into the stream a day or two early, which helps them as well.

 

During Holiday 2013, the Postal Service delivered 434 million packages and 6.4 billion pieces of First-Class Mail across the nation.

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Connecticut takes first steps to reach super-fast Internet

46 municipalities in the state are joining together to develop ultra-high speed "gig" internet, including Danbury and Ridgefield. 

 

The municipalities municipalities have committed to an initiative inviting telecommunications and other businesses for ideas to build and finance Internet service of up to 1,000 megabits per second. That's more than 100 times faster than home speed now. 

 

Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz are helping to lead the state effort. They compare high-speed broadband to a critical utility, no different than electricity or home heating. They also promote it as a form of economic development to lure and keep businesses in the state.

 

But the president of the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association says the industry is already moving fast to reach what's called the gigasphere and says government is ill-suited for the business.

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Official: Danbury Airport agreement not unprecedented

Danbury's Director of Civil Preparedness is shedding some more light on the agreement made recently by the City and Entergy Nuclear, in case of an emergency at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York.  The Federal Regulatory Commission has named Danbury Airport as a back up to drop and ship needed supplies.  Director Paul Estefan says Danbury has enough area to do the cargo load and unload.

 

He says in the days of the Hubble Space Telescope, Danbury shut the roads down for about 15 minutes to get the cargo plane off the ground.  Perkin-Elmer, using a government flight, used Danbury as a partner.

 

Entergy would provide security at the airport for operations, and reimburse the airport for necessary helicopter fuel.

 

He says the helicopters are not sitting around waiting for an emergency to happen.  Estefan told City Council members that ic could be up to 48 hours before a helicopter arrives, because they move from the west coast to the east.

 

Danbury Airport is a back up choice for Indian Point, if Stewart Airfield is available that would be the first choice to airlift supplies.

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Scrooge! the Musical comes to Danbury, ARC to benefit

Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol is coming to life this weekend in a partnership between Musicals at Richter and The Palace Danbury.  Scrooge the Musical follows the story of Ebenezer and his ghostly business partner who ushers in three Christmas ghosts. 

 

Everyone on stage has performed at local theaters.

 

Richter Executive Director Bobby Bria says Christopher Basulto of Mahopac as Tiny Tim is a method actor already.  Basulto would ask the director each night after rehearsals if he could take the crutch home with him to practice.  Bria says the boy is perfect for the part.

 

In the spirit of giving, they're asking that the audience bring a canned food item to help fill ARC's food Pantry.  Last year nearly 4,000 people visited the Association of Religious Communities food pantry. 

 

There are performances today at 3pm and 8pm, and tomorrow at 3pm.

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Oxford Stockbroker ran Ponzi Scheme

A 50 year- old Oxford man has pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and operating a Ponzi Scheme . 

Robert E. Lee Jr. plead guilty in Bridgeport Thursday avoiding a jury trial. 

He has been out on bond since May of of this year. He is accused of bilking his investors of over 800-thousand dollars and placing the money in his own personal bank account. 

The stockbroker was fired from Rockwell Global capital in 2013 . He faces up to 20 years for each of the five counts .

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New Milford Man Found Innocent Of Hate Crime

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) A New Milford man who was accused of using a Nazi salute during a fight with another man has been found innocent of hate crimes and assault. A jury in Bantam Superior Court acquitted 27-year-old Chad Conway of New Milford on Wednesday.

During the trial, Nelson Zuniga testified last week that he heard Conway say "white power" several times and use a Nazi salute during their fight in May 2012. There was conflicting testimony over who started the fight and where it took place.

Defense attorney David Gronbach said the fight was not racially motivated. He said it was apparent jurors did not believe the complainant's testimony.

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Danbury Man Sentenced in Fairfield County Drug Ring Investigation

A Danbury man who federal authorities said headed a Fairfield County drug trafficking ring has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

67 year old Demetrios "Jimmy" Papadakos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, oxycodone and marijuana and was sentenced Wednesday by Senior U.S. District Judge Warren Eginton to 121 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release.

The sentencing ends a year-long investigation headed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and Norwalk Police Department into the distribution of oxycodone, cocaine and marijuana in Fairfield County. Sixteen people were charged and convicted as a result of the investigation.

Papadakos and Alfred Catino, also of Danbury, were longtime associates who headed the narcotics trafficking ring. Papadakos made the purchase and distribution of more than 6,800 oxycodone pills and more than a kilogram of cocaine.

Papadakos bought wholesale quantities of oxycodone in Florida, and in New York he got prescriptions for oxycodone from a corrupt doctor to whom he had loaned a large sum of money. Papadakos also got oxycodone from a co-defendant who had obtained pills from people with legitimate prescriptions in exchange for cash.

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Plymouth Police Want Danbury Residents Help

Plymouth police are asking Danbury residents for help locating a man in connection with hitting a juvenile with his car and then leaving the scene.

29 year old Anthony Hernandez of Waterbury has an active arrest warrant out for his arrest in connection with evading a car accident that happened on October 25. The accident has left one juvenile with serious injuries.

Police say the mother of Anthony Hernandez lives in Danbury and he could be staying with her. Police are saying if he is spotted to not approach him and to contact local authorities.
 

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Reward Set Up in Hit And Run Death of Bethel Mother

The family of a young Bethel mother, who was killed in a hit-and-run in November, is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information about the driver of the van involved in the deadly accident.

23 year old Rachel Sack was killed when a van struck her as she was crossing the road in the area of South Street and Great Pasture Road.


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

A few days after incident, the Danbury Police Department identified a car of interest in the death of Sack. The car that has been identified 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 p.m. Friday Nov. 7.

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'Green' technology training comes to Henry Abbott Tech

An E-House initiative bringing energy efficiency curriculum and training to Connecticut’s Technical High Schools is now in place in Danbury.  Considered the first green construction learning laboratories for high school students, the initiative was launched yesterday at Henry Abbott Tech.  Principal Stacy Butkus says this was supported by Energize Connecticut, with a goal to have this at all 17 technical high schools in the state.

 

The E-House gives students the opportunity to conduct hands-on field work in these various labs, preparing them for a “green” career after graduation.  Many students have obtained jobs or internships, or continued their studies in a relevant field as a result of their experience.

 

Elected officials on hand for the unveiling used iPads to view different segments of the construction project.  The state’s first E-House was opened in 2011.

 

 

Designed and built by students and faculty, each E-House incorporates solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, weatherization and energy efficiency labs in the design of the project.  Some of the state-of-the-art technology includes a Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, and energy efficient heating, lighting and insulation.

 

The Abbott Tech E-House also features an evacuated tube drain-back solar thermal system, the first one of its kind installed by students at a Connecticut E-House.

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Bond money awarded to road, building projects in Greater Danbury region

Some state funding is coming to New Milford for a road project.  At the latest state Bond Commission meeting, some funding was approved for road and bridge replacement projects across Connecticut.  One of the projects to receive funding was Mud Pond Road over Bull Mountain Brook in New Milford. 

 

Nearly $236,000 was among the more than $12.5 million allocated through the Local Bridge Program.  State funds will be matched by $13.7 million in local funding for all of the projects.  In total, they will also create or retain about 560 construction related jobs.

 

The state Bond Commission also approved funding for a variety of renovation projects to state buildings.  One of the projects is to make improvements to the Danbury Superior Courthouse.  The $2.4 million will be used for window replacements.  The work includes structural upgrades to support framing, carpentry, insulation, and joint sealant replacements, drywall and painting. 

 

State officials say 40 construction related jobs will be created or retained through this project.  Some of the funding will be used for hazardous materials abatement as well.

 

Technical High Schools in the state are also receiving Bond money.  $5 million will be split between 11 schools in the state including Henry Abbott Tech in Danbury.  The funding is for improvements to buildings and grounds, including new and replacement technical equipment, tools and supplies needed to update curricula.  Vehicle and technology upgrades at all regional vocational technical schools will also be funded. 

 

Abbott Tech's share of the bond money is $30,000.

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Architect selected for Newtown Communiy Center project

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has tapped a construction firm and an architecture group to build and design the planned community center at the Fairfield Hills Campus.  The Newtown Bee reports that at the Board meeting Monday night, the Selectmen chose Caldwell and Walsh of Sandy Hook to oversee construction management. 

 

An architectural firm from Farmington was selected to design the facility which will also serve as a senior center and a multi-pool aquatic center.

 

The project is being funded through a $10 million grant from General Electric, donated after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The grant will also pay for operating costs for the first five years that the facility is open.

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Wilton police investigating theft from unlocked car

Wilton police are investigating the theft of a backpack from an unlocked car parked in a grocery store parking lot.  Wilton police were called to Caraluzzi's on Danbury Road last Thursday night on a report that someone entered the unlocked car and took a backpack that had an iPad and school books in it.  Police say the textbooks were valued at $100, the iPad was worth $400.  Police say the owner of the car was in the supermarket for about 15 minutes and didn't think she needed to lock the vehicle.

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Danbury Music Centre's 'Messiah' performed Friday

Another annual holiday tradition for many is coming up Friday night.  The Danbury Music Centre's 57th annual performance of Handel's Messiah will be held at First Congregational Church on Deer Hill Avenue.  Danbury Concert Chorus’s Music Director Richard Price will conduct the concert.

 

Price says the musicians come from all walks of life, and it is their devotion that have made Danbury’s Messiah a unique celebration.

 

There are no tickets for the event, which is often standing room only.  There is also no admission for the performance, though Price says donations to the Danbury Music Centre are accepted.  The concert is 7:30 pm tomorrow.

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RI man arrested in NY for tax fraud, driving under the influence

A Rhode Island man has been arrested for tax fraud and other charges in New York.  State Police from the Brewster Barracks on Sunday pulled a car over on Interstate 84 in Patterson after seeing the driver operate erratically. 

 

Police say 37-year old Daniel Slader of Rhode Island was found to be driving while ability impaired by drugs.  He was also charged for criminal possession of a controlled substance and for having untaxed cigarettes in the car. 

 

Slader was ordered held at Putnam County Jail in lieu of $3,000 bond.

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Southbury man arrested for kidnapping woman

A Southbury man has been arrested for kidnapping a Watertown woman.  Connecticut State Police say 35-year old Joao Laranjeira was arrested last week on two court issued warrants.  He faces charges of assault, unlawful restraint and disorderly conduct for a September incident. 

 

He is due in Derby Superior Court on January 8th to face those charges. 

 

The Southbury man was also arrested Tuesday on charges of strangulation, kidnapping and two counts of unlawful restraint.  Laranjeira will be in Waterbury Superior Court on the 6th to face those charges. 

 

He is being held on a combined $170,000 bond.

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Father who left son in hot car allowed to travel out of CT

A pretrial hearing has been held for a Ridgefield 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.  Kyle Seitz was charged with criminally negligent homicide after her forgot to take his son, Benjamin, to day care and unintentionally left him in the car for more than seven hours while he went to work. 

 

The 36-year-old, who has two other children, will be allowed to travel out of the state to spend Christmas with his family.  A court clerk said Tuesday afternoon that the judge has temporarily lifted the travel ban.

 

Seitz's case was continued to January 20.  He remains free on bond.

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Danbury DMV open for limited hours Wednesday

The Danbury DMV office will be closed this morning for staff training.  The Department of Motor Vehicles is rolling out a new program approved by the legislature in 2013 for undocumented individuals to be able to obtain a Drive Only License. 

 

The facility on Lee Mac Avenue will be closed from 7:45am to 1pm.  But DMV Commissioner Melody Currey says 1pm is the latest possible reopening.  If the training is completed sooner, the Danbury branch could open before that time.  The office will close at its regularly scheduled time of 4 pm.

 

Currey says undocumented individuals who are 16 and older must make an appointment online only for the knowledge test--the first step for a Drive Only license.

 

Currey says more than 22,000 people have made an appointment since the application process was opened December 1st.  She urged applicants to study the driver’s manual and successfully pass practice tests on the DMV Mobile app before making an appointment. Failing the knowledge test means a required one-week delay before being allowed to take the test again and possibly longer if available timeslots fill.

 

The Drive Only license will not be valid for state or federal identification.

 

The first step to obtain this license begins with applying for a learner’s permit, which all new applicants for state driver licenses must hold for a minimum of three months.

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Praxair seeks assessment deferral from Danbury for new HQ

Praxair, a company dealing with industrial gases and applications, announced in October that it would maintain its world headquarters in Danbury and invest $65 million to build a new 100,000 square-foot corporate facility. 

 

A committee of the Danbury City Council will be meeting soon to discuss a tax deferral application on assessment increases for the property that will be developed.  Praxair is seeking a seven year deferral of 100-percent of the estimated improvement to the land.

 

The company holds some 4,000 patents.  Globally, Praxair employs more than 27,000 people and operates in 50 countries.  Praxair supplies atmospheric, process, and specialty gases.

 

The company will retain 535 positions statewide, and is incented by the state to grow up to 120 new jobs over the next five years.  The Department of Economic and Community Development is providing a $10 million forgivable loan, with the company eligible for up to $20 million in tax credits and up to $2.5 million in Sales and Use Tax Exemptions.

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Municipal leaders oppose state regulation that could boost property taxes

Mayors and Selectmen from municipalities large and small are sounding off in opposition to a proposed regulation from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that would deal with storm water clean up.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the rule is an unfunded state mandate, costing millions, that would put pressure on the property tax. Boughton called DEEP a runaway state agency. 

 

The regulations would cost Danbury $5 million each year.  Some municipal leaders say the state, facing a deficit, is trying to pass the environmental buck on to cities and towns.

 

The regulations would require municipalities to street sweep eight times a year, something he says the state doesn't do that often.  More frequent leaf collections and catch basin clearance would also be required.

 

Boughton says the state-maintained underpasses and overpasses in Danbury are the most embarrassing, dirty places he's ever seen.  He added that if the state wants to clean up groundwater runoff, they should start with their own property first.

 

The Connecticut Fund For the Environment supports the proposal, saying it will protect state waters.

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Father who left son in hot car due back in court

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A pretrial hearing has been set for 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.

Kyle Seitz of Ridgefield is back in court Tuesday, charged with criminally negligent homicide.

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

Seitz, who has two other children, has been free on bail since pleading not guilty in November.

He faces a year in jail if convicted.

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Connecticut jury awards $7M in scouts abuse case

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut jury has issued a $7 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America in a lawsuit by a man who says he was sexually abused by a scout leader in the mid-1970s.

Lawyers for the man say the decision handed down Friday in Waterbury Superior Court was the largest verdict for compensatory damages against the Boy Scouts of America. The jury also found the Boy Scouts liable for punitive damages, with the amount to be determined by a judge.

A Boy Scouts spokesman says the organization disagrees with the verdict and will review the decision.

The man alleges he was sexually abused by New Fairfield scout leader Siegfried Hepp. A message seeking comment was left Monday at phone listings for Hepp in Connecticut and Florida. He wasn't a defendant in the lawsuit.

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Danbury Airport to help Indian Point in case of emergency at the plant

A letter of agreement signed recently by City officials allows Entergy Nuclear to drop and ship needed supplies from Danbury Municipal Airport to the Indian Point Nuclear plant in the event of an emergency at the New York facility.  The Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requiring the plant to have an airport outside of their area to bring needed supplies in the event of an emergency.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets the parameters of what airports they can move the supplies in and out of. 

 

If Stewart is available, that airport will be used.  Danbury Airport is the one that the NRC has identified as a back up if everything fails on that side of the Hudson.  The supplies would be airlifted from Danbury to the plant in New York, and would not be brought back once they are airlifted.

 

The types of emergencies outlined in the agreement include tornado, flooding, earthquake and the like. 

 

Danbury Airport would be notified of an emergency through the Connecticut State Emergency Operations Center.  Entergy would provide security at the airport for operations, and reimburse the airport for necessary helicopter fuel.  Any damage done to the airport by truck traffic in the staging area would be paid for by Entergy.

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State Senate Republicans announce committee assignments

State Senate Republicans have held a caucus to determine committee membership for the new legislative session.  The next General Assembly session gets underway in little less than a month.  Senate Republicans have chosen their leadership and announced committee assignments. 

 

New Milford area Senator Clark Chapin will be the ranking member of the Environment Committee; chair of the Regulations Review Committee and a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

 

Danbury area Senator Mike McLachlan has been named ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee; and will serve on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding and also Judiciary committees.

 

Wilton area Senator Toni Boucher will once again be the ranking member of the Education and Transportation committees; and serve as a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding and also the Judiciary committee.

 

Newtown area Senator Tony Hwang has been tapped as the ranking member of the Housing Committee and of the Labor and Public Employees committee.  He previously was a member of the State House of Representatives.  He will now also serve as a member of the Commerce and the Veterans Affairs committees.

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'Honor Flight Act' praised by area lawmaker for helping veterans

Senator Chris Murphy is touting a bill he introduced that's been approved and headed to the President's desk.  Senator Chris Murphy introduced the Honor Flight Act after hearing from some older veterans that they were reluctant to take part in the Honor Flight program because they feared having to deal with the hassle of the TSA process. 

 

The organization arranges free trips for U.S. military veterans to visit the DC memorial of the war in which they served. 

 

Currently, the TSA works with the Honor Flight Network to expedite the pre-flight screening process, but the partnership is not written into law and can change at any time.  Murphy says that would force Honor Flight veterans to endure a cumbersome screening process. 

 

Murphy says he is pleased the House and Senate worked so quickly to ensure that veterans will be able to visit the memorials constructed in their honor with dignity and pride.

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Candlewood Lake Authority receives grant to fight milfoil

The state has approved a $50,000 grant for the Candlewood Lake Authority as they try to slow the growth of an invasive species. 

 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has awarded the funding for a program that would stock the lake with grass carp.  CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says the species feeds on the non-native Eurasian Milfoil that clogs the lake.

 

The DEEP grant requires at 50-percent match.  The five towns that surround the lake have agreed to contribute toward that funding.  The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s annual weed mapping, funded by FirstLight Power Resources, will also be used toward raising the necessary funds.

 

CLA officials hope to stock the grass carp by the spring.  The project includes monitoring the water quality and Eurasian watermilfoil coverage in 2015 and 2016, to determine changes over the two year period.  Marsicano says the project also includes starting a fund for supplemental stocking of grass carp in the future.

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Newtown families to continue Congressional lobbying

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Parents of two victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting say they will continue to fight for stronger laws to combat gun violence.

 

Nicole Hockley, the mother of 6-year-old Dylan, and Mark Barden, the father of 7-year-old Daniel, appeared at a news conference Monday with three members of the Connecticut congressional delegation to mark the two-year anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of 26 students and educators on Dec. 14, 2012.

 

Both say they believe they are making progress in pushing for new laws and programs to improve mental health care, and strengthen gun laws.

 

They declined to comment on a lawsuit they and other Sandy Hook families have filed against the maker, distributor and seller of the gun used to kill their children.

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Families of Newtown victims sue gunmaker, seller

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A law firm representing the families of nine of the 26 people killed and a teacher injured at the Sandy Hook Elementary School says it has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the shooting.

 

The negligence and wrongful death lawsuit asserts that the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle should not have been made publicly available because it is a military weapon unsuited for civilian use.

 

In addition to Bushmaster, the families have named Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the store where the Bushmaster rifle was purchased in 2010. Messages seeking comment from the defendants were not immediately returned.

 

The 40-page complaint was filed in superior court in Bridgeport.

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Newtown victim's mom speaks out about gun violence

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The mother of a first-grader killed in the Newtown school shooting rampage spoke out against gun violence Sunday on the second anniversary of the massacre, saying it has broken the hearts of other mothers across the country.

 

"And just like our hearts were broken and we can't breathe, the hearts of the mothers in Ferguson, in Bridgeport, in Hartford, in Florida, in New Haven, in Danbury, they can't breathe," said Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost her daughter, Ana Grace, on Dec. 14, 2012.

 

"And we should care. We should care when our children are lost to gun violence."

 

Marquez-Greene, speaking at The First Cathedral's church service in Bloomfield, recalled the moment two years ago when she and her husband were in the Newtown firehouse, where officials were informing parents of the 20 children slain along with six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She and her husband found their son, now a fifth-grader, but not their daughter.

 

"But in that same firehouse," she said, "my husband and I knew Ana was with Jesus and that we would see her again."

 

A troubled 20-year-old gunman had shot his way into the school. He shot and killed his mother before driving to the school, and he committed suicide as police arrived.

 

Marquez-Greene asked anyone feeling despair and the desire to commit "a senseless act of violence" to ask for prayer and "to know that we love you." She said she went to Washington to speak out against gun violence but felt that change would come not from the leaders there but "from us."

 

Greene's husband, Jimmy Greene, a saxophonist and composer who has dedicated a new album to their daughter, also spoke and played at the service.

 

Other churches across Connecticut remembered the victims Sunday as the Newtown community quietly marked the anniversary. At Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, bells rang out and the victims' names were read.

 

The town held no official public memorial events Sunday. Officials said would be for private reflection and remembrance.

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra and school Superintendent Joseph Erardi said in a public letter that the community's recovery has been a "challenging journey, filled with days of joyful hope and occasional dips of despair."

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Newtown faith community provides support, prayers on 12/14 anniversary

The Newtown faith community offered a number of gatherings yesterday to offer remembrance , comfort and counseling on yesterday's second anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association also held a prayer service marking the day. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal made remarks on the Senate floor last week about 12-14.  He says it was a day of good and evil.  Out of the tragedy, he says came actions that should continue to inspire the nation.

 

Blumenthal says what he saw that day at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse, was through a parent's eyes, not just from his position as an elected official.  The cries of grief, the faces and voices filled with tears and longing, those images are ones he says he will never forget.  They are also ones Blumenthal says have led him to redoubled his determination to try to make America safer and better. 

 

Speaking to his colleagues in the Senate, Blumenthal said the families have demonstrated unrelenting resolve and so should they.  But he acknowledge that it took more than 10 years for the Brady Law to be approved, even after a President of the United States was almost assassinated and his Press Secretary, Jim Brady, was severely injured and paralyzed.

 

No formal ceremony was held by the town or in the schools to mark the day, with leaders saying it would be spent in quiet reflection.

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Buck to delay land development while turf field constructed

Plans to develop a 13-acre parcel of land in Danbury are on hold.  Mayor Mark Boughton announced Friday that Peter Buck, founder of Subway restaurants, has agreed to not yet construct  a small building for warehouse storage of cars on the land that he purchased from the City in September.  The 13 acres off Old Ridgebury Road sold for $3.2 million, but has been used for the last several years by Youth Soccer. 

 

Buck agreed to wait until a replacement field can be built.  His plan calls for leaving most as open space free of development, but Buck's representative told the City Council at an earlier meeting that the family would not want hikers and others walking through the property. 

 

Danbury has selected the field between Mill Ridge Primary School and the Westside Middle School Academy to be renovated into an artificial turf field that will accommodate soccer, lacrosse, and other sports. 

 

Some $750,000 from the sale was set aside for recreational uses.  Boughton also announced Friday that new basketball courts and hiking trails on the Farrington Property would be added using this funding.  Some of the Open Space Bond approved by voters several years ago was also set aside for an artificial turf field.

 

Boughton says Buck's proposed use of the land is less intensive so the development doesn't require state approvals. 

 

The land was a donation from the WCI Group, who went into bankruptcy and their assets sold to Toll Brothers.  There have been several proposals in the past.  One, to build a minor league baseball park, went to referendum and was rejected.  In 2012 there were two tries to have a mixed-use development built on the site.  The most recent was a proposal from the nearby Matrix Corporate Center.  They provided an approximately $35,000 non-refundable deposit, but decided to opt out of the sale.

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AARP: 'Grandparent scam' expands in Connecticut

State officials are urging older residents not to fall victim to a grandparent scam which has resurfaced in Connecticut.  AARP Connecticut the scam usually involves getting a phone call from someone claiming to be a relative who is in distress and in need of money because they've been in an accident or arrested.  They says that some of the con artists will also tell the person that they shouldn't call their parents.

 

AARP recommends seniors hang up, and call the loved one directly or call other relatives to verify their whereabouts and their safety.  Police have said the best advice for anyone receiving this type of phone call is to hang up and call police. 

 

AARP says this scam has been so successful because the victim is in an emotional state and not thinking rationally.  Many people's first reaction is to help their loved one, and that's they how become a victim.

 

In Redding recently, three residents were bilked out of nearly $200,000.  The AARP says con artists have scammed residents in other parts of the state as well.

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NYC man arrested in suspected child abuse case

A New York City man has been charged for a reported child sex abuse case in Mahopac.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office received a complaint in late October from the parents the child that a neighbor inappropriately touched their 5-year old. 

 

An investigation led to the arrest of 74-year old William Kilichowski, who has since travelled to Florida and relocated to New York City.  On Tuesday, Kilichowski turned himself in to police.  He was charged with first degree sexual abuse, a class D violent felony.  He was released without bail for a future court appearance. 

 

The case remains under investigation.

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Danbury firefighters host food drive

The International Association of Firefighters, Danbury Firefighter’s Union Local 801 is once again conducting a canned food drive on behalf of the Salvation Army's holiday basket effort.  Lt Chip Daly says they will be accepting items through Tuesday the 23rd.

 

All non-perishable food items will be accepted.  They can be dropped at the Fire Marshal's Office during normal City hall operating hours.  Daly is reminding people that firehouses are open 24-7, so items are being collected at all hours.

 

They have been hosting the food drive for well over 25 years.

 

Food drive collection sites are at the following Danbury career fire stations:

  • Fire Headquarters, 19 New St.
  • Engine Company 23, 208 Osborne St.
  • Engine Company 24, 36 Eagle Road, Commerce Park
  • Engine Company 25, 171 S. King St.
  • Engine Company 26, 75 Kenosia Ave. Extension.

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Two initiatives unveiled in Danbury Mayor's 'State of City' address

A State of the City Address has been delivered by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  He told business leaders yesterday that Danbury is growing and adding jobs.  Boughton touted the completion of some major projects including the Army Reserve Center, West Conn's Performing Arts Center and the Danbury Hospital expansion.

 

Naugatuck Valley Community College will be expanding its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Certificate program at Henry Abbott Tech, through an evening program.  Boughton says he would like to create a similar program with Danbury High School, giving students real world experience through internships with local companies.  An associates degree and a high school diploma could be earned at the same time. 

 

He also unveiled two new initiatives, one called the DHS2020 plan.  It's a 110,000 square foot addition off the back of the High School for a Freshman Academy.  The roof will be replaced and outfitted with solar panels.  The bottom floor of the building will be a new gym and locker room complex, the cafeteria will be enclosed to accommodate separate dining for the 9th grade.  The front of DHS would be redesigned to accommodate security needs and create a new school store for the marketing students. 

 

The auto shop which sits outside the main building will be redesigned as a venue to accommodate both visual arts and performing arts.  Boughton says this will make it so the entire building won't have to be opened up for a performance.

 

The other initiative has been dubbed ConnectHatCity.  Boughton wants to convert street lights to LEDs.  During the replacement, technology would be installed to create free wifi zones for access by students at Naugatuck Valley Community College and WestConn, library patrons and downtown business.

 

During his address, Boughton also discussed the City's efforts to revitalize downtown.  A full time Main Street Enforcement Officer for the Unified Neighborhood Taskforce has been hired to focus in on quality of life issues and police foot patrols have been brought back to Main Street on a permanent basis to provide a security presence.  He also touted completion of the innovation center--attached to the Library, which hosts a business mentoring center staffed by SCORE.

 

Greystar started construction of 347 luxury apartment units on the Kennedy Avenue site. The developer believes that they will be ready for occupancy by 2016.

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Himes alone in delegation to back US budget bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) U.S. Rep. Jim Himes was the sole member of Connecticut's all-Democratic House delegation to vote for the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill.

The vote was criticized by a liberal interest group that said Himes, a former Goldman Sachs banker, supported a contentious element in the bill that weakens rules on trading risky financial products known as derivatives.

Himes said in a statement he backed what he called imperfect legislation because it's ``extremely important'' to avoid another government shutdown.

The legislation passed 219 to 206, with 57 Democrats voting in the majority. The measure is now before the Senate.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which backs the populist, anti-big bank message of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said in an email that Himes favored the legislation for ``deregulating Wall Street,'' even though the bill contained numerous measures.

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New state Troopers graduate, given barracks assignments

Nearly 60 new Troopers have graduated from the State Police Academy.  The 58 members have trained in water rescue, driving,  physical conditioning and other specialized areas of police work.  They have all taken assignments in barracks across the state including 5 in Southbury and 6 in Litchfield.  The new trooper class includes residents from Bethel, Bethlehem, Easton and Kent.  Of the 58 graduates, 12 have military experience and 8 have prior law enforcement experience.

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In Newtown, mental health problems still emerging

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Anxiety, depression, guilt, sleeplessness, marital strife, drug and alcohol abuse - two years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scope of the psychological damage to children, parents and others is becoming clear, and the need for treatment is likely to persist a long time.

 

With the second anniversary of the shooting rampage approaching Sunday, agencies have been working to set up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years, as the youngest survivors approach adulthood.

Mental health officials say the demand for treatment is high, with many people reporting substance abuse, relationship troubles, disorganization, depression, overthinking or inability to sleep, all related to the Dec. 14, 2012, attack in which a young man killed 20 children and six educators before committing suicide.

 

And some of the problems are just now coming to the surface.

 

"We've found the issues are more complex in the second year," said Joseph Erardi, Newtown's school superintendent. "A lot of people were running on adrenaline the first year."

 

Newtown has received about $15 million in grants from the U.S. Education Department and the U.S. Justice Department to support its recovery.

 

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, which oversees the biggest pot of private donations made to Newtown, has about $4 million left after paying out more than $7 million to the families of the 26 victims and other children who were in the same classrooms but survived.

 

Newtown Youth and Family Services, the main mental health agency, has quadrupled its counseling staff, adding 29 positions in the months following the shootings, Executive Director Candice Bohr said. She said the federal grant money that recently came through will help cover its costs.

 

Jennifer Barahona, director of the foundation overseeing the private dollars, said the group has been spending about $60,000 a month on one-on-one counseling for people who have no insurance or whose insurers won't cover such treatment. She said more people are reaching out for help every day.

 

The Newtown school system is starting a long-term program to teach young people from kindergarten through high school how to handle their feelings. It is also setting up a mental health center at the middle school in January to help those who were affected by the tragedy while in elementary school. Teachers have been trained to identify students who might have mental health problems.

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Flags to fly at half-staff for Newtown anniversary

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The governor of Connecticut is calling for flags to fly at half-staff to mark the second anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office says flags are to be lowered Sunday from sunrise until sunset in honor of the 20 first-graders and six educators killed at the school Dec. 14, 2012.

 

The gunman killed his mother inside their home in Newtown before driving to the school and shooting to death 26 people with a semi-automatic rifle. He committed suicide as police closed in.

 

The town of Newtown is not holding any public commemorations Sunday. Local officials say the day will be marked through personal reflection and remembrance.

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Ex-US attorney quits bar amid money accusations

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A former U.S. attorney has resigned from the bar rather than face disciplinary action on accusations he took money from a former client.

The Connecticut Post reports that H. James Pickerstein waived his right Thursday to ever be a lawyer again as part of a settlement with the state Disciplinary Counsel.

The 68-year-old Pickerstein, who served as a federal prosecutor for 16 years until 1986, is under investigation for allegedly taking more than $700,000 from former Danbury trash hauler James Galante, his client.

Court papers say Pickerstein wrongly withheld the money that was to be returned to Galante.

Pickerstein said in court papers he denies some or all of the facts alleged in the investigation but acknowledges sufficient evidence to prove he violated rules governing client funds.

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Bethel man charged for Workers Comp fraud

A Bethel man has been charged with Workers’ Compensation fraud for collecting disability benefits while still coaching youth hockey. 

 

32-year old Michael Schneider suffered a work-related injury in September of last year while employed as a grounds worker for the Weston Board of Education.  He was placed on temporary total disability and received $9,777  in Workers’ Compensation benefits.  During that time, Schneider was seen on surveillance video coaching youth hockey on a number of occasions.  When asked at a deposition if he exceed his work restriction, he gave false testimony.  The arrest warrants says the Schneider was paid for the coaching. 

 

He is currently laid-off on as a seasonal employee of the Town of Weston.  He will be in court on the 19th.

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New study finds support for gun rights has increased

Pew Research Center is out with a new study that shows support for gun rights has increased since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago.  The study released Wednesday by Pew found that 52-percent of survey respondents said it was more important to protect the right to own guns, while 46 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership. 

 

The Hartford Courant reports that gun control advocates find the Pew survey results misleading because questions about specific policy were not asked.  Southbury resident Stephen Barton, who was injured during the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012, is quoted as saying the Pew study sets up a false choice between 'control' and 'rights'.

 

Barton told the Hartford Courant that background checks on all gun sales has become activists' top priority, as anything more restrictive has little chance of passage. 

 

According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans think that gun ownership does more to protect people, while 38 percent think that it does more to endanger personal safety.  Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased by 7 percentage points while support for gun control has fallen by 5 percentage points.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce presents business award

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce Previdi Award is being presented tomorrow.  This year's recipient of the award for entrepreneurship is being given to Jeff Levine.  Chamber President Stephen Bull says it's hard not to know Levine Auto and Truck Parts with his fleet of yellow cars seen around the region.  His business has grown to 160 employees with 8 facilities in Connecticut and New York.

 

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon is being held tomorrow at the Crowne Plaza.  Mayor Mark Boughton will also deliver his State of the City address during the event.

 

The award recognizes someone who has demonstrated progressive business attitudes, vision and leadership skills.  It has been awarded since 1988.

 

Levine's father started the business in 1955, peddling auto parts out of a truck.  He then opened a small store on Keeler Street in Danbury.  Two uncles came into the business to help.  In the mid-60s, the company moved to South Street.  Levine joined the business in 1977, when he got out of college.  He grew the company from one location to eight. 

 

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Regional planning group elects officers

The newly formed Western Connecticut Council of Governments came from the merger of the South Western Regional Planning Agency and the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials.  The 18 town group held its second meeting at Wilton Town Hall on November 20th.  The group plans to rotate meeting places among the 18 member towns until a permanent centralized location is found.

 

At the November meeting in Wilton, the new organization elected its first officers.  The vote was unanimous.  Matt Knickerbocker of Bethel will serve as Chair; Jayme Stevenson of Darien will serve as Vice-Chair; Gayle Weinstein of Weston will be Treasurer, and Susan Chapman of New Fairfield will be Secretary. 

 

The officers will serve an initial one year term, through December 2015.  The next meeting of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments is scheduled for January 22nd in Sherman.

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Sandy Hook Promise touted by area lawmakers

Newtown officials previously said that this weekend's anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School would not be marked with an official ceremony.  On Wednesday, Senator Chris Murphy acknowledged the day by touting the good works that have stemmed from the tragedy.  They include Sandy Hook Promise, a group led by several parents whose children were killed on 12-14.

 

Sandy Hook Promise is asking kids to become good bystanders by looking for the first signs of trouble and speaking out.  He says that small act can make a big difference, and did as recently as last week.  In Utah, a student admitted to bringing a gun to school with the intention of shooting a girl he had a falling out with, and then opening fire on others.  Another student heard about the plan and told authorities.

 

Murphy says the man was stopped before he could carry out that plan.

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Danbury Music Centre's 'Nutcracker Ballet' returns this weekend

A tradition in Danbury since 1967 is back again this weekend.  The Danbury Music Centre’s Nutcracker Ballet has performances Friday and Saturday.  Sunday's show is already sold out.  Executive Director Mary Larew says this has become a holiday staple for many. 

 

Some 200 dancers from various dance schools across the region come together  for the show.  They have been rehearsing since October.  The Danbury Symphony Orchestra is playing live during the shows at Danbury High School.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton will reprise his role as Mother Ginger at two of the performances.

 

Tickets are available for purchase from the Danbury Music Centre, 256 Main Street, Danbury, CT  06810.  For the first time, people can also purchase tickets online at www.danburymusiccentre.org.

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Fire burns through vacant house in Danbury

Danbury firefighters have battled a blaze on West Wooster Street.  Fire officials say two units responded to 47 West Wooster around 1 o'clock this morning. 

 

Danbury Fire Department spokesman Steven Rogers says the fire broke out on the second floor of the house and was coming through the roof.  Neighbors told firefighters that the building has been vacant for some time and was uninhabitable.  There were no injuries. 

 

The fire remains under investigation.

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Man expected to plead guilty in Newtown threats

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Venezuelan man charged with making threatening phone calls to Newtown residents after 2012 school shooting is expected to enter a guilty plea Thursday.

Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman has been detained since his June arrest at Miami International Airport, where he stopped in route to Mexico from Venezuela.

A court filing says Cardenas is due in court in Hartford to waive indictment and plead guilty. His attorney says in a court filing that as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said they won't oppose a sentence of no more than time served.

Cardenas is charged with transmitting threats in interstate commerce. His lawyer has indicated Cardenas will receive care in Venezuela for psychiatric diagnoses.

Prosecutors say Cardenas made several threatening calls two days after the shootings that killed 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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Danbury school receives award for closing achievement gap

A Danbury school is being recognized for improving student performance.  ConnCAN, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, has presented Shelter Rock Elementary School with the Success Story Award.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says the award is for closing the achievement gap.

 

Shelter Rock was included among schools with a minority population achieving at above the state average, and all students achieving at least at a C average. 

 

The award was presented at a ceremony yesterday at the school.

 

ConnCAN tracks school systems and their achievement levels by going through state reports.  ConnCAN is a movement to improve education outcomes for Connecticut’s kids.  The group brings advocates, policy makers, parents and educators together to change the system and give all kids access to great public schools.

 

Shelter Rock was recognized, among other things, for its academic progress, contributions to the community and 100 percent parent participation in attendance at parent-teacher conferences.

Shelter Rock was one of 30 schools in the state to qualify for the award.

Before starting the presentation, Principal Julia Horne directed the students in kindergarten through fifth grade in singing the school song, which started: “Our personal best, the most that we have to give is just what we’ll give…”

Acknowledging the school’s success, Horne explained that 70-75 percent of students at the schools are English Language Learners (ELLs) and that the school has implemented strategies to close the gap. The strategies align with the “four Rs”: rigor, relevance, relationships and results.

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Local lawmaker touts bill advocated for by Danbury family

Recent House passage of the ABLE Act is being praised by a local lawmaker.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill helps individuals with disabilities and their families.  She cosponsored the bill after hearing from the Hickey family in Danbury.

 

Esty says families of children with disabilities face enormous costs for basic transportation, housing, health care and education.  She says right now, they are unfairly discouraged from working and saving for those needs.

Esty says passage of the ABLE Act will allow the Hickey's 13 year old son and others like him to earn and save money for himself.  She says current law would penalize him for working and saving money because he could lose public assistance such as housing and Medicaid.  Esty says its expected to pass the Senate and become law.

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Danbury-based health center receives ACA funding

Danbury-based Connecticut Institute for Communities is among the health centers in the state to receive federal funding.  More than $500,000 is coming to the 12 centers from the Affordable Care Act. 

 

The CIFC is receiving $8,000 for clinical quality improvers and $28,000 for health center quality leaders. 

 

The clinical quality improvers is an award for demonstrating at least a 10-percent improvement in the health of patients they serve over the past year.  The health center quality leaders funding is for being among the top 30-percent of all health centers to achieve the best overall clinical outcomes and demonstrating overall quality of care.

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RVNA breaks ground on new building

The Ridgefield Visiting Nurses Association has broken ground on their new facility on Governor Street. 

 

The group says that the new RVNA Center for Exceptional Care will offer a full spectrum of home and community-based care, including services necessary for people to stay healthy, to recuperate and to avoid rehospitalization. 

 

Ridgefield Visiting Nurses Association is current fundraising for the new building, with about $1 million still needed to complete the project.  More than $8 million has been raised by the organization in less than two years.

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Documents: Newtown victims' parents intend to sue

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The parents of another first-grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 have filed court documents that could pave the way for a wrongful death lawsuit.

The parents of James Mattioli filed the forms Tuesday in Connecticut probate court, joining parents of 10 other children killed at the Newtown school. The documents seek to establish estates for the children a move required before lawsuits on behalf of the children could be filed.

A court clerk says most of the parents indicated in the documents that they intend to bring wrongful death actions, although the filings don't disclose any potential defendants.

Sunday is the second anniversary of the school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed.

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Bethel Voters Reject New Police Station

Bethel's taxpayers last night rejected a proposal to spend $14.1 million to build a new police station.  It was rejected by 69 votes.

Taxpayers did agree to foot the initial $2.4 million bill to construct a water tank in the Long Ridge neighborhood, a health and fire safety project that ultimately will be paid through state grants, loans and water-rate increases for 10,000 users over several decades.

Residents voted to spend $4.3 million for a new energy-services contract expected to save the town as much as $30,000 in annual energy costs.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said he was disheartened by the 926-857 vote to defeat the proposed police station, and by the low voter turnout. More than 2,000 fliers opposing the new police station were distributed to residents over the weekend.

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Some Sandy Hook families file notice of wrongful death claims

10 families are filing notices of wrongful death claims on behalf of their children, who were killed at Sandy Hook School nearly 2 years ago.  The Courant reports that the this is the first step in creating estates in the children's names so a lawsuit can be filed. 

 

The filings do not indicate against whom a lawsuit would be filed.

 

One notice was filed last week, another is in the process of being reopened in Probate Court.  The Fairfield County probate judge still must approve the eight filings made yesterday.  The probate filings do not automatically lead to further legal action.  The Courant reports that a potential lawsuit against North Carolina-based Bushmaster is possible, the estate of the gunman's mother and the town over security issues.

 

According to probate court records, the eight estates that were opened Monday are in the names of Benjamin Wheeler, Jessica Rekos, Jack Pinto, Grace McDonnell, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Ana Marquez-Greene and Avielle Richman.  Last week, the parents of Dylan Hockley were approved as administrators. The 10th will be the estate of Jesse Lewis, which previously had been filed and closed.

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Bethel residents voting on three projects

Polls are open in Bethel for residents to decide on three projects.

 

Bethel's Police Chief has said in the past that the Department has outgrown the 8,500 square foot building that currently exists, and that they need 25,000 square feet.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says $14 million in bonding would pay for the design and construction of a police station at Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. 

 

The other two questions are what Knickerbocker called "no tax impact questions". 

 

A water storage tank, paid for in part by grants, is on the ballot.  Knickerbocker says the Eureka water storage tank would allow for more development at Clark Business Park.  $2,400,000 is needed to construct the water storage tank on Long Ridge Road in Danbury.  The Eureka project would be bonded.  Payment for the appropriated sums shall be made by the water account users of the Bethel Public Utilities Commission. 

 

Lastly a $4,305,492 energy contract with Ameresco Inc, paid for in part through energy savings, is also eligible for nearly $600,000 in incentives from Connecticut Light & Power.  Funding will be in the form of a Tax Exempt Lease Purchase and Security Agreement.  Knickerbocker says the project includes replacing failing boilers, HVAC system improvements, updated building controls systems, extensive lighting upgrades and other improvements. 

 

Poll are open until 8pm.

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Online petition launched to fight CL&P rate hike request

Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher has launched an online petition for those opposed to Connecticut Light and Power's latest rate hike request.  Boucher says area residents can't afford higher electricity rates and she wants to deliver that message to state utility regulators. 

 

CL&P filed a request last month that would increase the flat service rate from 9.96 cents per kilowatt hour to 12.45 cents.  The increase would take effect January 1st.  CL&P is also seeking to increase it's delivery rates by more than 20-percent.  Boucher says that could add another $150 a year to resident's bills. 

 

The petition is on her website, senatorboucher.com.

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Sherman residents approve Happy Acres Farm lease

Sherman residents have voted in favor of Full Circle Farming to take over the lease at Happy Acres Farm.  During a vote on Saturday, residents voted 452 in favor, 264 opposed. 

 

John Motsinger and Adam Mantzaris plan to continue raising grass-fed beef while slowly improving management practices, diversifying the number of crops that are grown and the business as a whole.  They said in their proposal that the pair hope to restore the farm's financial health, enhance its environmental sustainability and create a central hub for community engagement. 

 

Sherman owns the 90-acre property and will enter into a five year lease with the tenants.

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Ridgefield students organize 'Die-In'

Some students at Ridgefield High School held a so-called "Die In" Monday afternoon.  The organizers said in the student newspaper that they and others would lie down on the floor at the entrance to the student center for five minutes before the first lunch period in an effort to initiate a conversation about racial inequality in the country.  School officials said that students and staff were not blocked by the demonstration, which was done in an orderly fashion.

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Danbury renames Veterans Hall for former Veterans Affairs Director

Danbury is renaming Veterans Hall at Rogers Park for the former Director of Veterans Affairs.  The City Council last week approved naming the building located on Memorial Drive as "Patrick R Waldron Veterans Hall".  Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, their widows and dependents for almost three decades prior to his death in October at the age of 81.  Council President Joe Cavo says Waldron was a Korean War Veteran who was dedicated to helping others.  He called it a great testament to all Waldron has done for the City.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says renaming Veterans Hall would serve as a fitting memorial to Patrick and will honor and remember him for for his great service.  Boughton says renaming Veterans Hall represents a lasting tribute and will continue to serve as such for future generations.

 

City Councilman Tom Saadi says Patrick R Waldron Veterans Hall will be a great way to continue his legacy of his patriotism and service to veterans, and that he could think of no other person more deserving of this honor.

 

A ceremony has been held at the Danbury War Memorial to mark the 73rd anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor.  A number of World War II veterans attended the ceremony Sunday.  The remembrance service was led by Cavo, with remarks from Army reservist Saadi, along with 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  The Japanese attack on the U.S. launched the country into World War II.  The attack killed about 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers.

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Esty, Blumenthal to join children for Newtown remembrance

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) Two U.S. lawmakers from Connecticut are helping launch a week long remembrance of the 20 children and six adults fatally shot at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Sen. Richard Blumenthal are joining Newtown Action Alliance Monday in launching #HonorWithAction Week to remember those who were killed on Dec. 14, 2012.

Immediately following a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday at the YWCA in New Britain, Esty and Blumenthal will volunteer with children and participate in classroom activities. Throughout the week, Esty, Blumenthal, and their staff will be volunteering in Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Newtown Action Alliance has coordinated more than 180 vigils and events across the country to commemorate the anniversary and honor victims of gun violence. A national vigil in Washington, D.C. is set for Thursday, Dec. 11.

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Area companies receive award for green practices

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has recognized 16 Connecticut businesses and individuals for their efforts to protect the environment and natural resources.  Danbury-based Cartus and Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim were among those presented with GreenCircle awards to honor the work they do serving as role models for others to follow.

 

Since the Agency launched the GreenCircle Award Program 16 years ago, 1,000 individuals, businesses, schools and organizations have been recognized for making a real difference in preserving natural resources and protecting the quality of the state’s air, water and lands. 

 

GreenCircle award winners have had a positive impact on the environment by focusing on reducing energy and water consumption, increasing recycling at their businesses, promoting conservation efforts and offering educational programming for students and families.

 

Cartus:  The Cartus Conservation Committee sponsors monthly site visits from its transit vendor to inform employees on the benefits of ride sharing and promotes a yearly Cartus Ride Share Day to encourage employees to share a ride to work for one day.  More than 600 employees signed up for the Nu-Ride ridesharing program and more than 350 actively use the service on a weekly basis.  Cartus employees participate in Danbury’s Adopt-A-Street program and are involved in an ongoing street cleaning program in that city.  At Cartus, there is also an active recycling program in the workplace and a focus on the purchase of office supplies and paper made from recycled materials.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc:  Began implementation of its BE Green program to conserve energy, reduce CO2 emissions, reduce the use of natural resources, and increase the level of recycling at the company. Through the BE Green Team, employees were encouraged to identify ideas and opportunities to improve environmental performance. Ideas that have been suggested include purchasing simulation software to calculate the most efficient way to perform solvent distillation and extraction protocols; using recovered solvents instead of virgin materials for cleaning operations; replacing paper towels with hand dryers; and replacing water coolers with water bottle filling stations that have a digital counter that shows how many plastic bottles are saved from the landfills.  Several suggestions that have been implemented have reduced the environmental impacts of discovering and developing effective medications.

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Seminar on grief and the holidays to be held

While it seems like the rest of the world is celebrating, it's challenging to feel out of sync because you're grieving.  The Healing Hearts Center for Grief & Loss is hosting a gathering tomorrow night for people who are coping with the loss of a loved one this holiday season.  Program Manager Joanna DeNicola says they recognize that while many look forward to the holidays, for those who are grieving it can be a tough time.

 

DeNicola says tips for how to cope will be offered.

 

Healing Hearts is located on Stadley Rough Road in Danbury.  The free workshop is from 6 to 7:30pm.  Registration is requested.

 

Healing Hearts is a program of Regional Hospice and Home Care.  The Center has received national recognition for its unique bereavement programs and services to the community, including numerous support groups, workshops and programs provided to the public throughout the year.

 

For more information and to register, please contact Healing Hearts at (203) 792-4422 or email healingheartsinfo@regionalhospicect.org.

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WCSU professor, jazz artist debuts new album honoring daughter

Jazz saxophonist, composer, and West Conn professor Jimmy Greene has released a new album entitled  "Beautiful Life".  The album is a remembrance and celebration of the life of his daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, who was among the first-grade victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The Jimmy Greene Quartet performed music from "Beautiful Life" at a sold-out gala concert on Friday, marking the opening of the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall at the new WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center.

 

All of the songs were specifically written for this recording.  Greene says the musicians and artists chosen, were those who would most honor his daughter's memory.  "7th Candle" and other songs reflect a bit of his journey through grief and the aftermath of Ana's murder.  He says the focus is on conveying these complex and often painful emotions.  But the album also reflects the way she lived--generous and loving and joyful, for six-and-a-half years. 

 

He says music is an amazing language and can do things words can't.  He called it a way to communicate when words fail.

 

Greene says any recording that was going to honor Ana's memory had to have singers and lyrics.  Greene felt it was important because Ana loved to sing and had a beautiful singing voice.  Greene also wanted to include songs that Ana loved, including "Maybe", from the musical Annie.  The album also features family recordings of Ana singing a Latin American Christmas melody and a spiritual hymn.

 

What took a long time, he says was to make sure that all of the elements that needed to be included on the album were there.  The album cover is a photograph of Ana and her brother Isaiah taken at their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the family lived prior to moving to Newtown in 2012.   Greene says that photograph finds musical expression on the album in “Last Summer”.  He flew up to Winnipeg to record the children's choir from Ana's former school.

 

This was the first album he's done since his daughter's murder at Sandy Hook School, and his collaborators were friends and former classmates, including Javier Colon.  “Little Voices” includes a soliloquy recited by Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose.  Rose, who attended Bloomfield High School with Greene, won his daughter’s heart as the voice of Princess Tiana in one of Ana’s favorite animated films, “The Princess and the Frog.”

 

A portion of proceeds from sales of "Beautiful Life" will benefit the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers in New Britain and the Artists Collective in Hartford.

 

The Ana Grace Project was founded in October 2013 in a collaboration between the Greene family and the Klingberg Family Centers to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through research, professional development and public policy aimed at building community efforts to prevent violence and foster recovery. The Artists Collective, founded by McLean in 1970, is an interdisciplinary arts and cultural institution that has served the Greater Hartford area for more than four decades.

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Marijuana falls from glove compartment during traffic stop

Several charges are being brought by wilton Police against a 17 year old following a routine traffic stop.  Police report that the juvenile was pulled over on Route 7 early last Friday morning for a defective exhaust system. 

 

The teen, whose name was not released because of age, was then issued a ticket for a license restriction violation.  The traffic stop happened around 2am, but teens are not allowed to drive by themselves between 11pm and 5am.

 

The teen,  from Stamford, was also charged for possession of marijuana because as he took his insurance information out of the glove compartment, a baggie of marijuana fell out.

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DOT traffic counter reported stolen in Wilton

Wilton police are investigating the theft of some Department of Transportation equipment in town.  A DOT worker installed a vehicle counter device near Wolfpit Road and Poplar Plain Road last Tuesday morning, but found it missing several hours later.  Police say a box was chained and padlocked to a telephone pole with black cables laid across the road to record traffic volume.  When the DOT worker returned to check it, the chain and padlock were also gone.  The investigation is ongoing.

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Community forum in Region 9 in Superintendent search

The Easton, Redding, Region 9 school district is hosting a community forum next week about the search for a new Superintendent.  Dr Gary Richards, Wilton's former Superintendent of Schools, will be the search consultant for the appointment committee. 

 

Dr Bernard Josefsberg will be retiring at the end of the academic year.  Josefsberg said that making the announcement in October--gives the Boards time to act on future leadership.  He was hired to lead Easton, Redding and Region 9 in 2011. 

 

The forum Wednesday is from 7 to 9pm in the Joel Barlow High School auditorium.

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Teacher union presents artwork to Newtown Board of Education

The Newtown Board of Education this week accepted a framed collage from the American Federation of Teachers honoring the 6 educators killed nearly two years ago at Sandy Hook School.  The presentation to the Board came after a day of meeting between union officials and teachers at the elementary school about what services are still needed for them and for students. 

 

Newtown Federation of Teachers president Tom Kuroski recently returned from the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Kansas where a memorial to fallen educators has been established.  He says it was an extremely emotional experience when the memorial was unveiled.  It contains the names of over 100 educators that have fallen in their classrooms for whatever reason.

 

Union officials say educators are not normally viewed as first responders, but too often they have had to be first responders.

 

AFT President Randi Weingarten says the meetings she had with teachers this week showed the indomitable spirit of people who want to make a difference in children's lives.

 

 

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Cell tower for Richter Park far from a done deal

The Richter Park Authority in Danbury will be looking for cell companies to bid on a communications tower on the 180-acre property.  The Connecticut Siting Council will also have a say on where a tower can be located.  After those steps have been taken, a public hearing will have to be held in Danbury about the proposal.  The City Council will also have to vote on the tower. 

 

The Authority is looking to put a cell tower near the golf course to improve service in case of emergency and also to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the Richter Park Authority has done a number of things to bring in more revenue to keep the property active with recreational uses.  But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.  Boughton says there aren't enough golf revenues to improve the park, and they don't want to raise fees because that would chase more people away leaving the Authority with less money.

 

The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range.

 

Boughton says the Richter house needs a new roof and other maintenance work.  The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed.  He says there are so many other needs in the budget, including a big high school proposal coming up.  He did not elaborate on what that might be.

 

In making the case for approval, Boughton noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding.  He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue.

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Animal hospital to host event benefitting animal sanctuary in Newtown

Quarry Ridge Animal Hospital in Ridgefield is holding a benefit event today with proceeds going to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown.  Quarry Ridge will be giving behind the scenes tours of the hospital and demonstrations of acupuncture, laser therapy and other procedures.  The animal sanctuary is named for a 6-year old avid animal lover, who was killed at Sandy Hook School.

 

ROAR will have some animals looking for a good home with adoption information available.  There will also be pet photos with Santa.  

 

There will be a butterfly theme today, Catherine's parents have said that their daughter used to chase butterflies, and whispered to each one when they arrived “tell your friends that I am kind”, so more would pay her a visit.  Visit CVHfoundation.org for more about Catherine and the sanctuary.

 

The event at 30 Old Quarry Road in Ridgefield is today from noon to 3pm.

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New Milford housing group receives federal grant

A New Milford-based housing group is receiving grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  "Rebuilding Together of Litchfield County" is an affiliate of the national non-profit volunteer organization, Rebuilding Together.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says the group will used the $50,000 Housing Preservation Grant to revitalize low income homes.

 

The focus will be on the households of the elderly, disabled, and those supporting young children.

 

The group plans to use this grant to fix roofs on several seniors’ houses and build a ramp for an individual with physical disabilities.  The grant will be used for repairing and renovating the homes of older, single family homes, people 60 and over and who have very low or low incomes.

 

“We are very thrilled with the announcements of these funds. This is a huge benefit to us to be able to have funds which can be used in Litchfield County in the rural areas. The grant will be used for repairing and renovating the homes of older, single family homes, people 60 and over and who have very low or low incomes and who are Litchfield county residents,” said Ceia Webb, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together of Litchfield County.

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Outreach worker new member of Newotwn Legislative Council

A new member of the Newtown Legislative Council has been sworn in to office.  Eva Bermudez is filling the open seat in District 2, left vacant by the resignation of Lisa Romano.  Bermudez is an outreach worker with Access Health CT, the state's online health insurance marketplace.  She is also an organizer for the Service Employees International Union.  She was sworn in at the Legislative Council meeting Wednesday night.  The term in office runs until next December.

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Road closures, paving in Brookfield and Newtown

Some road work next week will be closing portions of Federal Road.  There will be milling and paving work done in Brookfield from Candlewood Lake road to the Danbury city line.  Weather permitting the work will take place Tuesday through Friday.  Various lane closures will be in place. 

 

Tonight in Newtown, there will be a road closure for the 30th annual Ram Pasture Tree Lighting .  Elm Drive between Sugar Street and Borough Lane will be closed at 5pm.  There are parking restrictions in the area as well.  The tree lighting ceremony is at 6:30pm.

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Woman, boy struck by car on Main St in Danbury

The driver and pedestrian involved in an accident on Main Street in Danbury last night have been released from the hospital.  Police responded to the intersection with Robinson Avenue shortly after 6pm last night.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says a 25-year old woman, a 6-year old boy and a 4-year old girl were in a cross walk.

 

68-year old Estelle Schneider of Danbury was operating North on Main Street in her 1994 Oldsmobile near Laurel Gardens housing complex.

 

Schneider struck Cindy Espinal of Danbury and the boy.  The girl who was with them was not struck by the vehicle.  Schneider said that she did not see anyone in the crosswalk, but immediately stopped after striking them.  The boy has also been released from the hospital.

 

She was issued an infraction for failure to grant right of way to a a pedestrian at a crosswalk.

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Danbury Woman Killed on I 84 Is Identified

The 58 year old Danbury woman struck and killed by a truck on Interstate 84 Tuesday night has been identified as Gayle Difalco, of Mill Plain Road. She was killed after she was hit by a truck owned by Timberland Trucking.

According to the accident report, Difalco’s vehicle was parked on the right shoulder on I-84 west, about a half-mile from Exit 6 in Danbury.

The truck, driven by Michael Hess, 47, of  Maine, struck Difalco as she exited her vehicle.

Difalco sustained serious injuries and was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital.

The truck driver was not injured.

The truck stopped after striking the pedestrian.

The accident remains under investigation and no arrest has been made.

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Home of Sandy Hook shooter transferred to Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Newtown has taken possession of the Colonial-style home where school shooter Adam Lanza lived with his mother in a deal with a bank that prepared the house by removing and incinerating all personal effects.

 

The Newtown Legislative Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept the house at no cost. The appraised value of the 3,162-square-foot home was $523,620.

 

Llodra told The News-Times that the process of acquiring the property began about six months ago with a call from a real estate agent hired by Hudson City Savings Bank.

 

Details of the negotiations and terms of the transfer were not available, but she said the bank demonstrated an extreme degree of "compassion and generosity."

 

Llodra told the council that the acquisition began with a call from a real estate agent who specializes in properties linked to tragic events. She said he was hired by the bank to help negotiate a possible acquisition.

 

She met with bank officials before presenting the offer for a closed-door discussion with the Board of Selectmen last month.

 

Adam Lanza's parents, Nancy and Peter Lanza, moved from southern New Hampshire and bought the new house in 1998.

 

Bill LaCalamito, senior vice president at Hudson City Savings Bank, said Thursday that by deeding the house to Newtown, it was trying to help the community just as others donated money, time and labor immediately after the massacre.

 

"We wanted to do what was right for the community," he said. "We told the town, `You've been through enough. Tell us what you want us to do."

 

Because of its notoriety, the house had little or no value. "Obviously no one wanted the property," LaCalamito said.

 

LaCalamito would not disclose the cost to the bank for the remaining mortgage and work done on the house. For example, the bank had the house stripped of rugs, furniture, lighting fixtures and other effects and incinerated the belongings, he said. The bank also paid for new locks, repaired or replaced doors that were "compromised" by police who entered the house in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings, installed a security system and hired a landscaper to maintain the property.

 

Randall Bell, founder of Real Estate Damage Economics, a Laguna Beach, California, company that specializes in property damage, said he proposed nine or 10 choices to the bank on what it could do with the Lanza house. Among the options were selling it in foreclosure, selling it conventionally or bulldozing it.

 

"The agenda was very simple: Lay out all the options," he said. "The bank was very concerned about being very sensitive to the town. My job was not to steer them in any particular direction."

 

The future use of the house and property will be decided later. Several residents said the home should be demolished and the property restored to woodlands. One resident said putting the house on the market might have drawn the merely curious and even conspiracy theorists.

 

Real estate experts say properties known for crimes or violence are usually tough to sell and state law requires disclosure of homicides and similar events.

 

The 20-year-old Lanza fatally shot his mother at the house before killing 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. He killed himself at the school as emergency responders approached the school.

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Two men involved in check fraud ring plead guilty

39-year old Benjii Carr, also known as Rodrick Lawon Davis of New Haven and North Carolina, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  37-year old Langston Xavier Neal of North Carolina, pleaded guilty to the same charge.

 

Between July 2010 and May 2011, Carr, Neal and 31-year old Brandon Key Bentley obtained stolen checks and altered the recipient name to those of so-called "runners" they recruited.  The three also drove the runners to several Connecticut bank branches to cash the checks.  The runners were paid a small part of the cash proceeds.  39 checks totaling $114,102 were presented to banks, and 37 of those checks, totaling $104,070 were cashed.

 

Bentley, of New Haven, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  The three will be sentenced in February 2015.  Each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

 

The New Milford and Southbury Police Departments were among those that helped in the investigation.

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Redding police to start carrying Naloxone

Beginning next week the Redding Police Department will be deploying Narcan.  Each officer will be  issued a Naloxone kit and will be carrying it on patrol with them.  Narcan is used by first responders to treat and reduce the injury and fatality associated with opiate overdoses. 

 

Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says this program is being done with the support and assistance of Danbury Hospital. 

 

All Redding Police Officers are certified EMRs or EMTs and currently the Redding Police Department deploys Oxygen and Defibrillators in all police cruisers.  Since January 2013, the Redding Police Department has responded to over a thousand assist Fire and EMS calls for service.

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Coalition: Connecticut must close institutions, end waitlist

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A coalition of disability rights groups wants Connecticut to close six state-run institutions, including Southbury Training School.

Representatives from the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities and other organizations on Wednesday said savings from the closures should be used to provide residential services to an estimated 2,000 people waiting for community housing. Some have been on the Department of Developmental Services' waiting list for up to 20 years.

The groups unveiled a public relations campaign to close Southbury and five regional centers, as well as end the waiting list, by 2020. About 500 people reside in the six facilities.

While the coalition contends private nonprofit groups can provide community services less expensively, a union representing state employees at the targeted facilities argues both public and private sector services are needed.

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Items from Bethel Town Meeting sent to referendum

A special Town Meeting has been held in Bethel.  Bethel residents accepted $290,149 in state grant funding for Bethel's Town Commercial Center Improvement Plan.  The town's share of the project, consisting of in-kind/contribution-services and cash expenditures, is $38,938.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says new sidewalks and other safety features will be installed in the village district downtown.  He says the town spending won't impact the budget, it's staff time being devoted to making the project happen.

 

The three other items considered at the Special Town Meeting are being sent to a machine vote.  The referendum will be hled on Tuesday, December 9th.

 

One is to approve $2,400,000 to construct a water storage tank on Long Ridge Road in Danbury.  The Eureka project would be bonded.  Payment for the appropriated sums shall be made by the water account users of the Bethel Public Utilities Commission. 

 

Bethel residents are also being asked to approve $4,305,492 for an energy contract with Ameresco Inc. for town and school buildings.  Funding will be in the form of a Tax Exempt Lease Purchase and Security Agreement. 

 

Lastly, residents are being asked about $14,100,000 in bonding for the design and construction of a police station at Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. 

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Hat City Day marked in Danbury, statue unveiled

Hat City Day has been marked in Danbury to celebrate the city's hatting past.  During a ceremony Tuesday night, Councilman Andrew Wetmore said this stemmed in part from his unsuccessful advocating for a Hat Day in high school.  He says he is proud to be among those who brought the day to all residents, noting that pays tribute to Danbury's roots and celebrates where the City is going.

 

A small-scale statue was presented at the ceremony of a hatter and his tools. 

 

 

 

The committee will be fundraising privately for this throughout the year and hope to have a monument unveiling in the early spring of 2016.  The sculpture may have hats on the side of the structure, with names of those who donate large sums. 

 

Committee chairman John Jowdy says in his travels he went to Pittsburgh, the Steel City and Detroit, the Motor City.  He wanted to bring the same name recognition to Danbury.

 

No location has been determined.  Mayor Mark Boughton says areas like the green, Kennedy Park or somewhere along the Main Street median have been discussed as possible locations.

 

   

City Council President Joe Cavo,    Councilman Warren Levy,    Councilman Andrew Wetmore

 

Danbury schools have been provided with historical background information about the day, and encouraged to use slide shows, puzzles, word searches and activity suggestions from the Danbury Museum and Historical Society.

 

Danbury once known as "The Hat Capital of the World"; and lived by its motto: "Danbury crowns them all";  In the 19th Century hats were a staple in every man’s wardrobe, men wouldn’t leave their house without one, and the Hatting industry in Danbury began to thrive, partly because of our large supply of water and fur. 

 

By 1800, Danbury was producing more hats than any place else in the United States.  By 1887, some 30 factories were manufacturing 5 million hats a year.  After decades, things began to slow down, by 1923 only six hat manufacturers were left in Danbury. Costly labor disputes, changing fashion trends, and less profit resulted in many factories closing or moving, and the last hat factory in Danbury closed in the 1980’s. 

 

City officials say even though the hatting industry in Danbury has completely vanished, its impact on the City’s history will last forever.

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58 Year old Danbury woman killed on I-84 By tractor trailer

The identity of the 58-year-old Danbury woman, who was fatally struck and killed Tuesday night by a tractor trailer, will not be released yet.  According to a police report, the woman's next of kin is out of the country.  There is no word on when the relative will be reached.

Around 8 pm last night state troopers responded to Interstate 84 westbound in Danbury on reports of a woman being hit by a tractor trailer.

47 year old Michael Hess of Maine was driving in the right lane, half a mile before exit 6.  Another car was parked on the right shoulder of the road way.  As Hess approached, the woman got out of her car and was hit by his tractor trailer.  Hess pulled over and cooperating with police.

The woman was taken to Danbury Hospital where she was pronounced dead. 

 

The case remains under investigation and no charges have been filed.

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State Police release sketch of 2012 New Fairfield assault suspect

State police are seeking help in an assault case in New Fairfield from 2012.  The assault ocurred on Newfane Road.  A woman came home and interrupted a burglary in progress around 10:15am September 25th, 2012, and found an unidentified male in her home.  The woman was assaulted and the suspect fled.

 

State police now have a sketch of the suspect and need help in finding him.  He is a clean shaven black man with a medium complexion and brown eyes. The suspect is about 30 years old, 5'8 to 5'10.  He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, black sneakers and low -riding blue jeans .

 

 

 

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Western District Major Crime Squad at 203-696-2569.

 

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Newtown teachers want continued mental health funding

Teachers and other school employees in Newtown have met with local and national union leaders to discuss issues stemming from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met privately with educators on Tuesday.

 

The Newtown school district has received more than $6 million in grants from the federal Department of Education for counseling and other services for parents, students and staff members.  The Education Department says post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students' performances in and out of the classroom.

 

AFT Connecticut vice president Steve McKeever says some teachers are worried what will happen once funding for mental health services runs out by the next school year.  The union plans to revisit proposed Connecticut legislation requiring workers compensation coverage for mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress.

 

At a school board meeting Tuesday evening, Weingarten presented a collage as a tribute to the six educators killed on 12-14.

 

AFT represents 470 educators district wide and held the meeting to determine how the union can be a continuing presence in a community, still shook to its core because of what happened almost two years ago.

 

In announcing the latest grant in September, the Education Department said an assessment by the district shows a belief that school is unsafe "still pervades the community." Severe post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students' performances in and out of the classroom, the agency said.

 

Newtown education officials have said half the students in the Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of the shootings have moved on to middle school, which now requires attention for possible counseling and other services.

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Bethel man arrested for alleged thefts from two supermarkets

A Bethel man has been arrested for alleged thefts from two supermarkets.

 

Bethel Police arrested 22-year old Steven Vlash last Monday on a court issued warrant.  According to court records, he's been charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny for the October 28th incident.  Police say the produce manager of A&P noticed a man and woman acting suspiciously and when he approached them, they took off.  Court records show that Vlash loaded the contents of his shopping cart into a Chevy Colorado and drove off.  Police contacted A&P loss prevention and learned of a similar incident in Brewster that day. 

 

A Connecticut license plate on the same type of car led to Vlash's mother.  He told police that he forgot his debit card in the car and accidentally walked out with the merchandise.  The 22-year old was released on $5,000 bond and will be in court on the 15th.  The mechandise was valued at $1,500. 

 

Danbury Police say a Patterson woman was also arrested.

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NY woman drove to probation meeting drunk, with child in car

A New York woman who drove under the influence to a probation appointment with her child in the car is facing new charges.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that the Putnam County Probation Department informed them that a woman arrived for an appointment last Monday under the influence of both alcohol and a controlled substance. 

 

24-year old Samantha Clifford of Putnam Valley also had her 1-year old daughter in the car.  She has a suspended license and was found in possession of a variety of controlled substances.  Clifford was arrested for three misdemeanors and a felony under Leandra's law for drunk driving. 

 

She was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, aggravated unlicensed operation, four counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and felony aggravated driving while intoxicated.

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Carmel man breaks into woman's home, threatens her

A Carmel man who threatened a woman with a gun has been arrested. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's office was called on Sunday by a Mahopac woman saying that 37-year old Alex Sanchez-Calix phoned her, was drunk and had decided to move into her basement.  When she told him that he was not welcome there, he reportedly said that he was already inside, had a gun and would shoot her and any police officer who responded. 

 

The woman fled and called police who could see Sanchez-Calix through a basement window.  The woman told police that the man previously did work on the house and that she had no other relationship with him.

 

Police took him into custody without incident.  It was then learned that Sanchez-Calix didn't have a gun and he said he was only making a threat.  He was charged with criminal trespass and aggravated harassment.

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Connecticut performing arts groups win $290,000 in US grants

The National Endowment for the Arts has announced 11 grants totaling $290,000 for a range of performing arts and literary publications in Connecticut.  Litchfield Performing Arts, Inc. is receiving $20,000 for residential and day students of different ages and skill levels to participate in a multi-week program held at the Canterbury School in New Milford. 

 

While the focus is on collaborative and improvisational music-making and performance, the core curriculum may include combo coaching, music theory, composition, as well as electives such as ear training and sight reading.  All students are expected to participate in jam sessions, weekly concerts, and perform at the festival. Instructors include as many as 40 internationally renowned musicians.

 

The grants were among 1,118 awarded nationwide and selected from 3,455 applicants.

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Monroe man bilked out of $5k in lotto scam

A Monroe man has been scammed out of $5,000 in a phone scam.  Monroe Police told the Monroe Courier that a 64-year old resident received a call on November 20th saying that he won nearly a million dollars in the Las Vegas Megabucks Lottery, but in order to claim the winnings he would have to send a $5,000 lotto and processing fee. 

 

The man was told to send the money via Western Union to a location in Alabama and one in Florida.  Monroe police say the man believed the caller and sent the money even though he knew he had never played the Las Vegas Lottery. 

 

Monroe police say they should be contacted if someone receives a suspicious phone call asking for money.

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Leader of teacher union in Newtown to discuss recovery progress

The President of the American Federation of Teachers is coming to Newtown today to meet with school employees.  A commemorative piece of art will be presented later tomorrow at the Board of Education meeting.  AFT President Randi Weingarten, Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski and AFT Connecticut Vice President Steve McKeever will discuss their impression of progress among teachers and other school staff in their recovery since the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  They will also discuss issues that remain concerns, including greater access to mental health services in the community.

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Community Center planning discussed by Fairfield Hills Authority

A $15 million donation from General Electric to Newtown for a community center has been discussed by the Fairfield Hills Authority.  According to minutes from their meeting last Monday, the group said the facility would also serve seniors and be located next to Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center. 

 

The first phase would be to construct a senior center, then a connector to the NYA building followed by a possible purchase by the town of NYA. 

 

Funding in the town's Capital Improvement Plan for the project was also discussed.  There would be $9.5 million available next fiscal year for phase one and a $10 million request the following year for Phase two.

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State lawmaker touting Mental Health First Aid training sessions

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky is touting Mental Health First Aid training sessions being held next month in Newtown.  The sessions are for anyone 18 and older who are looking to learn about mental health challenges and how to respond to someone who is experiencing one. 

 

The classes are being held by Northwestern Connecticut Area Health Education Center.  The training certification sessions will be held January 10th and 17th from 8:30am to 12:30pm, and interested participants must attend both.  The sessions will cover risk factors and warning signs, a 5-step action plan, mental health resources and both crisis and non-crisis situations. 

 

The training is free with support provided by The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

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First annual 'Hat City Danbury Day' to be held

The first annual Hat City Danbury Day celebration is being held tonight.  The proposal came from Councilmen Tom Saadi and Andrew Wetmore, and then backed by other City officials.  Danbury schools have been provided with historical background information about the day, and encouraged to use slide shows, puzzles, word searches and activity suggestions from the Danbury Museum and Historical Society.

 

Saadi says the goal is to have a day that will honor the past, while teaching future generations about Danbury's story.  The City will recognize the first Hat City Danbury Day with a ceremony at 7pm at City Hall.

 

The community is asked to participate by wearing a hat today, taking a photo and sharing it on social media.  Photos can be emailed to info@danburymuseum.org.  Avid Twitter user Mayor Mark Boughton is posting a hat picture with #Hatcityday, and calling on City residents to do the same.

 

Danbury once known as "The Hat Capital of the World"; and lived by its motto: "Danbury crowns them all";  In the 19th Century hats were a staple in every man’s wardrobe, men wouldn’t leave their house without one, and the Hatting industry in Danbury began to thrive, partly because of our large supply of water and fur. 

 

By 1800, Danbury was producing more hats than any place else in the United States.  By 1887, some 30 factories were manufacturing 5 million hats a year!  After decades, things began to slow down, by 1923 only six hat manufacturers were left in Danbury. Costly labor disputes, changing fashion trends, and less profit resulted in many factories closing or moving, and the last hat factory in Danbury closed in the 1980’s. 

 

City officials say even though the hatting industry in Danbury has completely vanished, its impact on the City’s history will last forever.

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3 Redding residents scammed out of $189,000

Three Redding residents have been bilked out of $189,000 by phone scams. 

 

Redding police are investigating the three incidents where a caller claimed to by the victim's child or grandchild, or someone holding the relative in jail.  The victim is instructed to send cash to a specific location, or to make a wire transfer to a bank account. 

 

The first victim was defrauded of $18,000, the second sent $60,000 and the last victim sent $111,000 to the scammers.  While banks will usually question large sums of cash being withdrawn by seniors, Police say the victim is given instructions as to what to say to the teller if questioned. 

 

Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says the scammers are using search engines to do research about their victims, some of the sites have a small monthly fee and provide more information than a general search would come up with.  He says they can then provide information about the person or make it seem like they are that relative.  Fuchs says the callers are also using poor phone connections to make their voice hard to hear. 

 

If someone receives this type of call, he suggests calling local police to confirm.  Police can look up whether or not a relative is under arrest, or if it's a scam.

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Man shot, woman assaulted in Danbury home invasion

One person has been shot and another assaulted in a weekend home invasion in Danbury.  Danbury Police were were called to Irving Place around 9:45pm Saturday.  Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says two men wearing ski masks kicked in the front door. 

 

A 70-year old woman was tied up and assaulted.  A 25-year old man was shot in the leg and then tied up.  An undisclosed amount of cash was taken from the home before the suspects fled. 

 

The woman was treated and released from the hospital.  The man remains hospitalized.

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New Milford Man Uses Different Method of Fighting

This New Milford man allegedly used a different type of weapon. 

The 26-year-old resident is facing assault charges from an incident Saturday morning.

William David Butts, of  New Milford was arrested Saturday about 12:14 a.m. at his home after police responded to a woman and man who were  hit in the face with .......ice chunks. 

Butts was charged with disorderly conduct, first degree assault and first degree threatening.

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New Milford Man Due in Court On Kidnapping And Other Charges

In New Milford ..a 23 year old resident is due in Bantam Superior Court after he was arrested early Sunday   on charges of robbery and kidnapping.

Maurice Collier of  New Milford was arrested on a warrant at the East Street Citgo gas station. Collier was charged with robbery,  first degree kidnapping and criminal possession of a fire arm. There is  no info on who was kidnapped .

He was held on $200,000 bond with a court date  at Superior Court in Bantam.

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New Milford Police Evacuate Kohl's After Black Friday Threat

Its Cyber Monday... some shoppers in New Milford wont soon forget Black Friday..  

New Milford Police are investigating a bomb threat sent to Kohl's department store that evacuated shoppers and closed a portion of Route 7 and surrounding roads for hours early on Black Friday.

New Milford Police evacuated the store at 169 Danbury Road at about 12:10 a.m. Friday after receiving information about an emailed threat to the store. Customers and employees were evacuated and a perimeter was set up around the shopping plaza.

The store was checked by police and state police and then re-opened

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Update given on Gilbert & Bennett site

An informational meeting has been held in Redding about the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site.

 

The vacant 55-acre site in the Georgetown section on Redding has been left untouched since a 2002 proposal for redevelopment.  Parties came back to the table for further negotiations, with the last meeting being held in September.  During the recent presentation, First Selectman Julia Pemberton said the Master Plan special permit expires in July of 2018, but the site plan expires next May.  The owner of the property can apply for an extension through the time when the special permit expires. 

 

Pemberton said an architectural firm working on the feasibility study completed its review of the buildings conditions and an evaluation of what it will take to stabilize them.  There is an understanding that additional subsidies will have to come into play to make it economically viable. 

 

The Georgetown Special Taxing District was awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development for infrastructure work.  But the grant came with contingencies including that the developer has at least $60 million in capital investment to start constructing housing. 

 

The redevelopment calls for commercial buildings, 416 residential units, a community theater, retail space and a commuter rail station.

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Plumtrees Road Bridge project can now go out to bid by state

Now that Bethel residents have agreed to sell a 2,700 square foot strip of land to the state, the Department of Transportation can do necessary construction for a new Plumtrees Road Bridge. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's a technical reason it's advantageous for the state to own the land.  It has to do with maintaining the waterways under environmental protection law during construction.  He says this sale will allow the project to go out to bid, which will happen soon.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance previously approved accepting $3,737 from the State.  The piece of land is located at the corners of Plumtrees Road, Whittlesey Drive and Walnut Hill Road.

 

The state will deed the land back to the town after construction is complete, so Knickerbocker says the sale is just a technical formality than anything else.  He called it an insignificant piece of land, part of a steep slope that leads down to the water.  There's nothing that the town could do with the parcel.

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Danbury police receive grant for DUI enforcement effort

The Danbury Police Department is getting a little help from the state in patrolling this holiday season.  Danbury has applied for funding for their driving under the influence enforcement program.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says they will be able to substantially increase the number of officers on the roads in the high visibility enforcement effort.

 

Connecticut's Impaired Driving Program to stop drunk drivers is done to duce the number of alcohol related crashes. 

 

It's a cost-share-program for activities that include a combination of extra DUI patrols and sobriety checkpoints.  The state portion of the grant is 75%, or $37,500.  The City is responsible for 25% of the cost, $12,500.  The funds are available in the Police Department's 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.

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