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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-03

Danbury High School teacher arrested for sex assault, giving liquor to a minor

A Danbury woman has been arrested for sexual assault and distributing alcohol to a minor.  The incident was first reported to Danbury Police by Danbury High School administrators on February 10th.  The investigation led to a warrant for 24-year old Kayla Mooney.  She turned herself in Tuesday afternoon.  Mooney was released on a written promise to appear in court on April 14th.

 

The Police Public Information Officers could not confirm, and Mayor Mark Boughton would not comment on if the woman is a High School employee.  A message was left for Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella.

 

Mooney was placed on administrative leave after the report to police, but her name was not released because she was not yet charged with a crime.  She was a first year science teacher.

 

An automated message was sent out to parents Tuesday night by the Superintendent informing them of the arrest saying that the incident occurred off campus with a boy late last year.  No other details were provided.

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Former Bethel teacher accused of sex assault released on bond

A former Bethel teacher charged with sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor has been released after posting $250,000 bond.  30-year old Brian Stroh was in court today. 

 

The judge denied a motion to release the former Berry Elementary School first grade teacher on a promise to appear in court.  The Clerk's office didn't immediately have a date for the next scheduled appearance for the New Fairfield man. 

 

Stroh's attorney had filed a motion seeking release saying his client couldn't access mental health treatment.  The victims, 3 boys, were ages 6, 9 and 11.  Stroh was placed on leave February 19th when Bethel school officials learned of a State Police investigation into inappropriate contact with minors.  He resigned shortly after. 

 

In letters to parents, Bethel officials said there was no reason to believe the crimes happened on school grounds.

 

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Monroe Police investigate possible embezzlement of PTO funds

Monroe police are looking into suspicious transactions from a school PTO account. 

 

Officials with the Stepney Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization alerted administrators March 18th, who then turned the matter over to Police.  Monroe Police say the PTO noticed discrepancies in their bank account showing personal and non-PTO expenses. 

 

PTO members are questioning more than $10,000 in expenditures, but police have not determined how much might have been misappropriated. 

 

A letter was sent to parents by the Stepney PTO yesterday about the investigation.  Police obtained a search warrant for a Monroe resident's home and seized a computer and bank statements.  Police did not identify the person's home that they searched.  Bank records from a financial institution have also been requested and a forensic audit will be done to determine wether money has been embezzled or if the expenses were legitimate PTO purchases.

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Conn. man sent to prison for leading mail-theft ring

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Bridgeport man has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for running a mail-theft ring that raided mailboxes around Fairfield County for checks and credit cards.

Dayquan Jackson was sentenced Monday in New Haven federal court to four years and seven months in prison.

Authorities say he and others used the stolen checks to purchase cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles listed for sale on the Internet. The losses to financial institutions and individual victims amounted to more than $170,000.

Jackson was arrested in August and he pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud.

Police in Greenwich, Fairfield, Wilton and Bridgeport aided federal authorities in the investigation.

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Newtown Commnuity Center info meetings cancelled

Planned informational sessions about the proposed Communtiy Center project have been called off.  At the latest info session, residents were critical of the plans for Phase 1 to be a senior center and aquatics center, saying children and other sectors of the community were left out. 

 

Newtown's attorney says the $15 million donation from GE doesn't need voter approval from residents.  Newtown Patch reports that there's no technical requirement for the acceptance of the gift, except that a financial contract statement be filed. 

 

David Grogins said in the report that the only required step is for the town to enter into a donor agreement, which was done last November. 

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Improvements to Newtown Road in Danbury proposed by DOT

Proposed improvements to Newtown Road in Danbury have been discussed during an informational meeting.  The state Department of Transportation gathered public input last night on the proposals to widen Newtown Road and to realign some intersections among other work. 

 

The project is in the preliminary design phase and would not be started until 2017. 

 

Project Manager Michael Calabrese says the four lane section that ends at Plumtrees Road would be continued to Old Newtown Road.  The shoulder would also be widened by the Public Works Complex to allow drivers to bypass people waiting to make a left turn there.  A new driveway providing access to the Public Works Complex and future commercial development is proposed on its south side. 

 

A raised median is planned for a section of Newtown Road running from Old Newtown Road to Industrial Plaza Drive. 

 

Designated left turn lanes would be added at a realigned Old Shelter Road Road.  The intersection would form a "T"-shape.  Traffic signals would also be installed.

 

The estimated construction cost for these projects is approximately $11.3 million.  This project is anticipated to be undertaken with 80% federal funds and 20% state funds.  The targeted start time will be based on funding availability.

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Projects in Brookfield, New Milford receive state Department of Housing grants

More than $60 million in state funding is being distributed to 14 affordable housing projects across the state.

 

One is the Brookfield Village project at Route 202 and Station Road.  Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein says a 48-unit mixed-use, mixed-income development will be created with 43 of the units restricted as affordable housing.  The project will consist of two three-story buildings.  The site is also adjacent to a local HARTransit bus stop with service to New Milford and Danbury.

 

The Department will provide up to $4.5 million and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will provide $4.6 million in tax exempt bond financing to Brookfield Village, LLC.  43 of the 48 units will be restricted as affordable housing in this community and will be targeted to families with 25%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. 

 

New construction and renovations at East Street Apartments in New Milford will receive some funding.  Dakota Partners will work with National Park Service historic guidelines to create 38 apartments.  30 of the units will be available to people with incomes less than 60-percent of the area median income.  Sustainable design features include measures to reduce impact on the town's storm drains and make use of new natural gas infrastructure. 

 

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority has awarded $6.2 million in 9% LIHTC equity and the Department of Housing will provide up to $4.2 million in state capital funds.

 

After 15 years, the development will be converted to condominiums and tenants will have rights of first refusal to purchase their units.  Relocation assistance will be provided for tenants who choose not to purchase.

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Bond set at $1 million for babysitter accused of burning child

Bond has been set $1 million for the Danbury woman who allegedly intentionally burned a child in her care.  Danbury Police were called late Friday night by a woman who said her 3-year old daughter had been assaulted by the nanny that day.  When the woman arrived home from work, she saw 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her daughter's hands and leg. 

 

The nanny, 31-year old Lidia Quilligana, said the child accidentally touched the hot stove while she was tending to the other children.  The girl was treated by her doctor. 

 

That night, the mother watched video from a hidden nanny camera which was recently installed.  The mother saw that the injuries were intentionally inflicted on the child by the nanny. 

 

Quilligana was charged with assault, criminal mischief and risk of injury to a minor.  The investigation is ongoing, and has been referred to the Special Victims Unit for follow up.

The case has been continued to April 22nd.  WVIT-TV reports that if Quilligana is able to post bond, she will have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and surrender her passport.

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Ridgefield lawmakers gather for meeting with constituents

Ridgefield lawmakers are getting together for a meeting with town residents Tuesday.  The meet your legislators event is being held at Ridgefield Library. 

 

State Representative John Frey and Senator Toni Boucher will be in attendance.  The lawmakers say this is their chance to hear what's happening locally.  They often hear a variety of issues from residents during these get togethers and also about resident's concerns.  The lawmakers will also tell residents about what's happening at the Capital. 

 

Tuesday night's event at the Ridgefield Library is from 7 to 9pm.

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United Way starting social service grant review process

Volunteers are being sought by the United Way to serve on a grant allocation committee.  The committee run by the United Way of Western Connecticut is for Danbury's social services grant review process. 

 

There is a lump sum of funding in the Danbury budget each year for social service agencies and the committee vets which organizations receive how much funding.  The volunteers must be over age 18, a Danbury resident and willing to volunteer approximately 20 to 25 hours from the beginning of April through early June. 

 

Presentations are made by various groups, agency proposals are reviewed, and then discussions are held about funding recommendations.  There will be a Volunteer Training/Orientation held on April 6th from 9am–10:30am at United Way of Western Connecticut's conference room on West Street in Danbury.

 

The recommendations are also approved by Danbury officials. 

 

Contact Melissa Hannequin at Melissa.Hannequin@uwwesternct.org for more information on how to become a volunteer for this process.

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Regional Hospice launching Veterans program, seeks volunteers

Regional Hospice and Home Care is looking for volunteers.  The nonprofit agency is hosting Training Sessions for New Volunteers this week and next.  Regional Hospice is starting a new program called We Honor Veterans, which will match the Veteran volunteers with Veterans in the care of the hospice.

 

Some positions are located in the new Center; others include visiting some patients in their homes or other residences, such as assisted-living facilities and hospitals. 

 

Some of the attributes the organization says suit the candidates are being a good listener, the capability to brighten someone's day and enjoys being around people.  Training includes information on the hospice philosophy in general, as well as the specific services provided by the Regional Hospice team. The death and dying process is also reviewed in detail.

 

Volunteers are needed in a number of capacities, including Family Support, Pet Partners, Pet Peace of Mind, Lobby Greeters at the new Center, Community Bereavement Volunteers, Children’s Bereavement Volunteers, Kitchen Volunteers, Administrative Volunteers and Fundraising/Chapter Volunteers.

 

Anyone interested should contact Mary Beth Hickey, volunteer manager, at 203-702-7415 or by email at mhickey@regionalhospicect.org for an interview and to fill out an application.

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Zero tolerance for school threats legislation advances

A legislative committee has advanced a bill to increase the penalties for threatening when the threat involves a preschool, school or an institution of higher education.  The legislation was introduced by Newtown Representative JP Sredzinski, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher and freshman State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes a part of Newtown.

 

Hwang says he understands the long-term effects the Sandy Hook tragedy had on the community, and he wants certain school threats treated as felonies.

 

Hwang says they are trying to ensure that post-traumatic fallout from the Sandy Hook shootings is not continually exacerbated by individuals who initiate threats resulting in lock-ins, evacuations, and other disruptive reactions at local schools, as well as in other school districts across the state.

 

The Judiciary Committee on Friday voted 35 to 7 to send the bill to the next step.  Among those voting in opposition was New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor.  Greater Danbury area lawmakers on the committee voting in favor of the measure include Boucher, Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey, Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan, Redding Representative John Shaban and New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith. 

 

Sredzinski says this bill will send a powerful message to those who seek to traumatize Connecticut children.  Representative Mitch Bolinsky says each threat represents a serious setback to his community's healing.  He says not only is there an emotional toll, but each one hits the municipal and school budgets.

 

Testimony was submitted to the Committee by Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi.  He says there's been an uptick in frequency and intensity in threats over the past several years.  Erardi has been a Superintendent in Connecticut for the last 16 years.  He feels the perpetrators have a "catch me if you can" attitude.

 

Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said in written testimony that because of the hypervigilance of school communities, these threats activate security plans, notification and response.  He says that activation has caused fear, anxiety and disruption that lasts long after it's determined to be a threat or not an actual event. 

 

MacNamara added that as the threats continue, it makes it more difficult for first responders and teachers to discern what is a real event, and overtime the doubt will slow their ability to react appropriately to identify when a true emergency is happening.

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Bullet hole found in 3rd parked, unoccupied car in Ridgefield

A 3rd car with a bullet hole in it has been reported to Ridgefield Police.  Officers increased their presence in the Bennetts Farm Road neighborhood since the first report Monday that bullet holes were found in two cars parked in a driveway. 

 

A resident on the street called police Thursday night about a possible bullet hole after checking their vehicle following reports Monday of the other incident.  Authorities believe the third car was also hit on the 23rd.  

 

The first cars struck on Bennetts Farm Road were located near Old Stagecoach Road.  This one was near the intersection with Bates Farm Road. 

 

Police are asking residents to call police at 203-438-6531 if they notice suspicious activity.  Anyone with information or who lives in the area and has outside surveillance cameras is urged to call Ridgefield police detectives at 203-431-2794 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 203-431-2345.

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Police body camera bill clears Connecticut committee

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bill that could lead to Connecticut police officers wearing body cameras is moving through the General Assembly.

The Judiciary Committee on Friday narrowly passed a bill, 22-to-19, requiring various police officials to determine when body-worn recording equipment should be used by officers and in what manner. The bill awaits further action in the Senate.

Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven said having such a law on the books will help build trust between public and police departments, especially in Connecticut's cities.

But Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford said mandating body cameras across the state would be ``an overreach of the state.'' She said it should be left up to individual municipalities.

Some lawmakers also raised concerns about people's privacy rights potentially being violated if they're caught on camera.

 

Among the 19 on the committee voting against the bill were Buck-Taylor, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan, Redding Representative John Shaban, and New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith.  Among the 22 in support of the bill was Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey.

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Connecticut bill protects people who rescue kids in cars

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are considering new legal protections for people who try to rescue children from hot or cold vehicles.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee on Friday approved a bill unanimously providing civil and criminal immunity to people who forcefully enter vehicles to remove children from imminent danger. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Cromwell Rep. Christie Carpino says there was a case in February when a child was left unattended inside a car in freezing temperatures. The incident was reported by employees of a business, but the child remained inside the vehicle until authorities arrived. She says the bill would help avoid such situations.

A 15-month-old Ridgefield boy died last summer after being left alone in a hot car. His father took a plea deal and awaits sentencing.

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Danbury officials to study ACE school improvements

There are many challenges at the Alternative Center for Excellence on Locust Avenue in Danbury, one of which is a constant waiting list.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton's proposed bond package initially included $12 million to $15 million to construct a new building for ACE at the High School campus.  Several school officials felt ACE would be better separated off the grounds of DHS, that's part of the reason the kids enroll in ACE.  It's so they're not in a big building.  There is money in the new proposed bond package to study ACE and how to accommodate the 30 or so kids on the waiting list.

 

Boughton says ACE currently represents a transportation challenge.  All of the students go to DHS and there's a second bus that then transports them to ACE.  If an ACE student wants to take a program at DHS, they have to be transported up to Clapboard Ridge somehow.  Boughton says they want to encourage students to take programs that can't be offered at ACE because of computers and other logistics.

 

If DHS sends a staff member to ACE to teach one period, they have to be offered a travel period to do that.  He says there are efficiencies created if ACE was located 50 feet from DHS.  Just that piece of the puzzle is $70,000 to $80,000 a year.

 

Boughton says there are also some issues with the Locust Avenue building itself,  It burns a lot of oil and takes a lot of maintenance.  It's also on the National Historic Registry so there are some restrictions on improvements.

 

When moving ACE from Locust Avenue up to DHS was taken off the table, the plan changed to turn the current autoshop area into a blackbox theater.  Boughton says the small performance and digital arts space will better serve the one person plays, poetry readings and small recitals.  Currently the whole High School has to be opened up no matter the scale of the performance because that's the only stage that's really available.  The autoshop program would move to a new building to be constructed at the High School.

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Team 26 bikes from Newtown to D.C. for gun control reforms

Team 26 is riding from Newtown to Washington DC to call attention to the need for federal gun violence reform.  They are leaving from Newtown on Saturday at 8am.  The kickoff point is Edmond Town Hall.  There are stops in Ridgefield and elsewhere in Connecticut.  The event, now in it's 3rd year, is organized by Newtown resident and avid cyclist Monte Frank. 

 

He says they will ride until Congress passes stronger gun safety legislation.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes again rides with the group from Newtown down to a rally in Greenwich.

 

There are several rallies being held along the 400 mile route to the U.S. Capital.  Franks says they want to to build bridges to the urban environment because gun violence is a problem in inner cities and the suburbs.

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Man charged for allegedly punching person on Ridgefield street

A Ridgefield man has been charged for allegedly punching a random person on Prospect Street this week.  Ridgefield Police charged 20-year old Chase Lasswell with assault.  Court records show that Lasswell was arraigned and released without bond for an April 23rd court appearance. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the victim called police who said a person, later determined to be Lasswell, walked up to him and hit him in the head with a fist.  The suspect was described as a young white male who left after the assault.

 

After canvassing the area, Lasswell was spotted and confirmed by the suspect as the man who punched him.

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Danbury teen charged for pot possession in Tarrywile Park

A Danbury teen has been arrested on drug possession and sale charges after police investigated reports of a suspicious vehicle.  Officers were called to Tarrywile Park in Danbury Tuesday afternoon and could smell marijuana coming from the car where 18-year old Carlos Espinal was a passenger. 

 

Police say packaging material and a scale were also found in the vehicle during a search. 

 

Espinal was charged with possession of a controlled substance, intent to sell, possession within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court on April 6th.

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West Hartford man arrested by Danbury Police for sexually assaulting juvenile

A Connecticut man has been arrested by Danbury Police for sexually assaulting a juvenile.  Danbury Police Special Victims Unit Detectives travelled to West Hartford this morning to arrest 52-year old Pedro Souza. 

 

He was taken into custody without incident. 

 

Souza was charged with four counts of 1st degree sexual assault and eight counts of risk of injury to a minor.  He was held on 200-thousand dollars bond.  No other details about what led to the charges were provided. 

 

Souza is being arraigned today.

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Construction project slated for I-84 exits 5 and 6 in Danbury

Signs will be going up next week along the highway saying that a construction project will be starting soon in Danbury.  The work is scheduled both east and westbound on I-84 by exits 5 and 6, on North Street and Second Avenue.

 

Eastbound, the bridge over Kohanza Street will be widened so the exit 5 off ramp can be lengthened.  Expanding the bridge over Tamarak Avenue will allow the exit 6 on ramp to be lengthened before merging into highway traffic.

 

Westbound at exit 6, the off ramp will be lengthened.  State Department of Transportation Supervising Engineer Matthew Cleary says the whole design of that intersection will be realigned.  I-84 will also be widened headed into the exit 5 off ramp.

 

Route 37, North Street, will be widened so there will be two through lanes in each direction.  Various exclusive turning lanes will also be added.  Two retaining walls will be built along the North Street Shopping Center and the traffic signals will be re-timed.

 

Utility work and drainage on Second Avenue will be done.

 

Construction schedule:

  • Exit 5 eastbound off-ramp 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Exit 6 westbound off-ramp 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to  6 a.m. 
  • Exit 5 westbound off-ramp and exit 6 eastbound on-ramp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. 
  • Route 37 from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • On Saturdays and Sundays, work will be limited to 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. on all project roadways.

 

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Music teacher accused of sexually abusing 2 students

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) - A Connecticut man is accused of sexually abusing two girls at a Long Island music school where he taught.

 

Nassau County police say the alleged abuse occurred "on numerous occasions" at the Burt School of Music in Hicksville.

 

They say it happened between January 2012 and March 2015 during private lessons.

 

The girls' instructor, 62-year-old Kenton Burt, of Kent, Connecticut, was arrested at the school on Thursday. He faces two counts of first-degree sexual abuse.

 

He was set to be arraigned Friday in Hempstead. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

 

The investigation is continuing.

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State Regents raise tuition, fees at colleges, universities

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The state Board of Regents has increased tuition and fees by 4.8 percent at Connecticut's community colleges and regional state universities.

Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, said Thursday his staff discussed ``40 or 50 scenarios'' to grapple with a $48.6 million budget gap next year before agreeing on a tuition increase he called ``appropriate and necessary.''

The Hartford Courant reports that for Connecticut residents, the average increase will be $186 more for community college students and $440 more for university students.

A group of students protested the increase, urging Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature to increase funding.

On average, state residents pay $3,786 in tuition and fees annually at the state's 12 community colleges and $9,169 in tuition at the four state regional universities.

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Danbury High School improvements discussed by City officials

A bond package totalling $53.5 million is being considered in Danbury for a new wing at the High School.  A committee of the City Council met this week to talk about the plan to accommodate an increase in enrollment.  The full City Council takes up the idea on April 7th.

 

The proposed design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy.  Part of the plan calls for enclosing the current canopy at the cafeteria to accommodate the increased student population.  A redesigned front entrance along with parking and bus expansions are also planned.  The bond proposal also includes a new roof, which will be outfitted with solar panels.

 

The cost covers the addition, reconstruction of the current autoshop building and construction of a new facility to house the autoshop program.  62-percent of the project will be paid for by the state.

 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the proposed autoshop replacement building would include enhanced equipment.  He says the existing building and equipment are antiquated based on what's currently being taught based on some of the electronics cars today have.

 

Alternative proposals to accommodate increased enrollment were more costly.  One option was split sessions, similar to those held in the 70s, but that required a lot of buses and more logistics to organize.  Another option was to bus students to other towns where there is declining enrollment, but no one district could take 100 to 150 students in one grade level without having to hire more staff.

 

Vision 2020 Committee Phase One work was to renovate the elementary schools and open the new middle school.  The next phase is to accommodate increased enrollment at the high school level.  There are 3,000 students currently enrolled at DHS, and that's anticipated to grow to about 3,450 over the next five years.

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Lawmakers urge more study of US tribal recognition changes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Several congressional members called on the U.S. Interior Department Thursday to slow down an overhaul of the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, saying more study is needed of problems that could result from lowering the bar for the coveted status.

 

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican who recently became chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter with four other lawmakers outlining their concerns to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

 

"We do not support the sweeping changes that have been proposed to the criteria," the lawmakers wrote.

 

Federal recognition has been granted to 566 American tribes, and is sought because it brings increased health and education benefits to tribal members in addition to land protections and opportunities for commercial development.

Tribes have been pushing for years for Congress or the Interior Department to revise the process. The overhaul would be the first in two decades.

 

In Connecticut, the governor and the entire congressional delegation have spoken out against the rule changes, which could make it easier for three small tribes to win recognition and revive long-simmering land claims. Two Connecticut Democrats, Rep. Joe Courtney and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, are among the lawmakers who signed the letter.  The Kent-based Schaghticoke Indian Tribe has been seeking federal recognition for years.

 

The lawmakers say other states may not grasp the significance of the changes proposed for the recognition process that has been criticized as slow, inconsistent and overly susceptible to political influence.

 

"We are concerned that the Department's proposed rules fail to address many of the issues that have been identified and could create new problems that lead to unintended and unjustifiable outcomes," the lawmakers wrote.

 

One of the more controversial changes is a new requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934, where they previously had to show continuity from "historical times."

 

Supporters of the rule change say it helps to remove unfair burdens. Advocates say that some tribes have been denied recognition because records were lost or burned over hundreds of years, and any tribe that was still together by 1934 had overcome histories of mistreatment.

 

The letter urges the Interior Department to hold off on putting out final regulations until issues with recognition can be evaluated more thoroughly. The other congressional members who signed the letter are Rep. Don Young, an Alaska Republican, and Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat.

 

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said the agency is reviewing the letter.

 

The Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed the new rules in 2013 to make tribal acknowledgment more transparent and the process more efficient. The department, which has held hearings around the country and received hundreds of comments from the public, proposed formal changes last May that were expected to be finalized soon.

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Wanted Danbury man apprehended in New York

A Danbury man has been arrested in New York for being in violation of his probation.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office was advised by Connecticut authorities that 38-year old Marc De Benigno was believed to be in New York.  He was located in the Peach Lake Road area of Southeast on Tuesday and taken into custody. 

 

De Benigno is awaiting extradition to Connecticut. 

 

The Danbury man was convicted on charges of Burlary, Larceny, Possession of Narcotics, Illegal Possession of a Weapon, and Credit Card Theft, and had been sentenced to probation.  De Benigno was prohibited from leaving Connecticut without written permission from his probation officer.

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Local lawmaker fights for more Alzheimer's services in Connecticut

A bill to allow more state residents to participate in Alzheimer's respite care program services is moving through the legislative process. 

 

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky voted in the Aging committee to approve the bill.  It would increase the annual income limit for participants in the Respite Care Program, which provides respite for caregivers who care for people with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders.  The annual income limit for participants in the Respite Care Program would increase from $43,846 to $50,000.

 

The Legislature's Appropriations Committee, another committee on which  Bolinsky serves, will be the next to consider the measure.

 

The asset limit is $116,567. Current income and asset limits are set by Department of Aging policy. The law requires the department to annually increase these limits to reflect social security cost of living adjustments.

 

Last year, the Connecticut Statewide Alzheimer's Respite Program provided direct services for 713 Alzheimer's patients. Services included nursing, home health aides, companions, Adult Day Centers and Meals on Wheels. Sometimes, a family caregiver was not available.  Almost 1,000 families received information, referrals and counseling to help them with the difficult job of family caregiving.

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Two Danbury residents arrested for shoplifting from Walmart

Two Danbury residents have been arrested for shoplifting from Walmart.  Video surveillance showed 32-year old Jose Raul Sandoval and 28-year old Danielle Barto removing items from the shelves of the Danbury Walmart on Tuesday, then leaving the Newtown Road store without paying for the merchandise. 

 

Police say while the pair was in store custody, Sandoval tried to get rid of 30 packets of heroin.  He's been charged with larceny and possession of a controlled substance.  He was held on $10,000 bond. 

 

Barto was charged with larceny and held on $2,500 bond.  She was also wanted on two other active warrants.  Court records show the charges include failure to insure a motor vehicle and failure to appear.  One of the case records is sealed.

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Newtown Community Center meeting draws opposition

Another informational session has been held in Newtown about the proposed Community Center.  GE donated $15 million  to the town, with a proposal that $10 million be spent to build a facility and $5 million be used to operate it for several years after completion. 

 

There was some strong opposition voiced during the meeting on Tuesday.  Several residents objected to the idea that it would basically be a senior center and aquatics center, feeling the rest of the community was left out.  Several people spoke about kids not being served by the center. 

 

A vote is slated for April 28th on accepting the donation.  There are now questions on if the item will remain on the ballot.

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Case continued against Monroe man who accientally shot son

A father accused of accidentally shooting his 11-year-old son in the face while putting away his handgun has had his assault case continued in Court.  44-year old Vincent Pizzolato appeared in Bridgeport Superior Court Wednesday and the case was continued to April 28th.  Pizzolato was also charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge.  

 

His lawyer said his client is disappointed that charges have been filed. He called the shooting a "terrible accident."  The bullet from the 9 mm gun shattered the boy's jaw, knocking out many of his teeth. 

 

Pizzolato has not yet entered a plea.

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Danbury prostitution sting nets 4 arrests

A prostitution sting in Danbury has landed four women under arrest.  The sting was part of an ongoing effort to curb prostitution.  effort was carried out in the Elm Street, Stevens Street, Spring Street, Beaver Street area.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says an undercover officer was offered sex for money Wednesday.

 

50-year old Donna Walker, 33-year old Patricia Gibson, 29-year old Jodi Davenport and 23-year old Paige Kummerer were all charged with prostitution and held on $500 bond. 

 

Gibson, Davenport and Kummerer were also charged for possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

     

(Donna Walker,    Patricia Gibson,    Jodi Davenport,    Paige Kummerer)

Photo Courtesy:Danbury Police

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Connecticut man charged in fatal hit-and-run in New York

AMENIA, N.Y. (AP) Police say they've charged a Connecticut man in the hit-and-run death of a 36-year-old mother of two who was struck while getting into her vehicle after attending an in-home merchandise party in eastern New York.

The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says Wednesday that 57-year-old Randy Miles of Kent, Connecticut, turned himself in to detectives on Tuesday, a day after investigators tracked him down. His vehicle was found Saturday.

Miles was charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Deputies say Miles hit Concetta Eastman of Copake in Columbia County last Thursday as she was leaving a product-selling party held at a home in the town of Amenia, on the Connecticut border. She later died at Sharon Hospital in Connecticut.

Miles is being held in the county jail. Police didn't know if he has a lawyer.

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Man locked out of bar, breaks window

Breaking a window at a downtown Danbury bar has landed a City man under arrest.  Police say 31-year old Wilson Yuqui was arguing with another patron at Fajitas & Margaritas on Main Street late Sunday night when they took the dispute outside.  In an effort to prevent the pair from coming back in as the bar was trying to close for the night, employees locked the door.  Police say Yuqui tried the door and when he couldn't get in, punched out a glass window.  He was treated at Danbury Hospital for minor injuries.  Yuqui was charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief.

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NY man beats, robs victim at South Salem condo complex

A South Salem man has been arrested for beating a robbing another New York resident.  New York State Police were called to Oak Ridge Commons Condo complex in South Salem on Monday night. 

 

The 27-year old victim told police that he was dropped off at his home by a friend and the suspect, identified as 21-year old Wyatt Gilchrist, forcibly pulled him from the car.  The victim told police that he was punched several times and then Gilchrist took off his leather belt to continue assaulting him.  Troopers determined that Gilchrist also took the victim's wallet before driving off. 

 

He was charged with assault and robbery, arraigned and held in jail on 50-thousand dollars bond.  Gilchrist is due back in court on Monday.

 

The victim was transported to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of cuts to his head and face.

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Brewster man on parole arrested for selling drugs

A Brewster man on parole, who has a long criminal history, has been arrested on a number of felony drug charges.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office launched an investigation into 42-year old Daniel Durden in January on a tip that he was selling prescription medication, cocaine and heroin from his residency at a local motel. 

 

Controlled drug purchases were made by deputies. 

 

Last week, members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit arrested Durden.  A search of his motel room turned up narcotics and drug transaction records.  The Brewster man was charged with four counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and three counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance. 

 

He was arraigned and is being held without bail.  Durden was on parole for a 2011 drug sale conviction.  If found guilty, he could face up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to 30-thousand dollars for each charge.

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State plans roundabout in Monroe at Routes 110, 111

An informational hearing was held last night in Monroe about a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Route 110 and Route 111.  The state Department of Transportation made a presentation about the project to address operation and safety concerns at Shelton Road and Monroe Turnpike. 

 

The proposed project includes removing the existing flashing light and constructing a roundabout.  Hurd Avenue would be turned into a cul-de-sac and sidewalks would be installed in the area. 

 

Construction on the estimated $4.1 million dollars project could begin in the spring of 2017.  80-percent of the construction would be covered by federal funds.

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Brookfield Finance Board backs Meadowbrook Manor flood relief plan

The Brookfield Boards of Selectmen and Finance are recommending that the town appropriate $2 million to fund a drainage and flooding mitigation plan in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood.  The proposed project was reviewed by the Board of Finance last week as part of a capital items to be funding in the coming fiscal year. 

 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has approved a request to divert the brook in order to alleviate flooding conditions in the 128 home neighborhood. 

 

There were back-to-back 100-year level floods in 2011, which prompted homeowner Jean Hartnett to push for a solution to the problem that's existed for decades.  In the meantime, Public Works crews have cleaned catch basins to reduce some of the flooding.  Neighbors have waded out in water up to their knees, many have had flooded basements in the last several years.

 

A number of other capital items were approved by the Board of Finance for the budget referendum. 

 

They including roof replacement at the town library and at town hall, road paving and money for the volunteer fire companies.  Also among the items is acquisition of a dump truck, fuel storage tank replacement at the Highway Garage and miscellaneous repairs to Brookfield High School and Whisconier Middle School.

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Belimo holds grand opening of new Danbury headquarters

A grand opening is set for today for Belimo Air Controls.  The U.S. headquarters of the Switzerland-based company is now located on Turner Road in Danbury.  The company produces control valves used by the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry in the United States, Canada and Latin America.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says a seven year tax deferral was offered to Belimo.

 

Belimo moved from Old Ridgebury Road.  The new, energy-efficient 200,000 square foot building is located on 34 acres at the former Novo Laboratories property. 

 

The building features a space for hands-on training for Belimo University courses and an improved space for employees from Ability Beyond.  Company officials say this new building has expanded production capabilities.  Belimo says this new building has one of North America's largest H-VAC control valve design and testing labs.

 

Boughton says 85-percent of the employees live in Danbury.

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Newtown home of Sandy Hook school shooter is demolished

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The Newtown home of the man who carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school has been demolished.

Several neighbors had asked that the 3,100-square-foot Yogananda Street house be taken down, saying it was a constant reminder of the tragedy in Newtown.

The home was demolished Monday, and plans call for leaving the property as open space.

Newtown took ownership of the home last year when the deed was turned over at no cost to the town by the bank that held the mortgage.

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UPDATED: Torrington bank robbery suspect caught after Rt 7 crash at Brookfield/New Milford border

One lane in each direction of Route 7 at the Brookfield/New Milford border have reopened.  The remaining lanes are still closed for a police investigation.  The accident near Faith Church stemmed from a police pursuit.  There were police scanner reports that the driver had a gun pointed out the window. 

 

The man had to be extricated from the vehicle.  He was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.

 

The suspect robbed a bank in Torrington around 8:45am before heading south.  The suspect was identified as Chris Basigalup, who walked into the TD Bank on High Street in Torrington and implied he had a weapon.  Police say the 46-year old has been arrested in the past and is known to them.

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Ex-candidate Wilson-Foley sentenced to 5 months in prison

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley was sentenced Tuesday to five months in prison for a scheme to hide the role played in her campaign by former Gov. John Rowland, a man regarded as talented politically but tainted by a federal corruption conviction.

 

Wilson-Foley apologized to anyone hurt by her actions and said she should not have run for Congress. "I do take full responsibility for having that ship veer far off course," she said.

 

Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, both pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions. Prosecutors say the couple created a sham contract between Foley's nursing home company and Rowland to hide the $35,000 they paid the former Republican governor for help on Wilson-Foley's failed 2012 campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat.

 

Rowland was sentenced last week to 2 1/2 years in prison and is expected to appeal his conviction. Foley was sentenced in January to three years of probation.

 

Wilson-Foley's attorneys had argued that hiding the payments for Rowland's work was a record-keeping violation that could have been handled in a civil enforcement by the Federal Election Commission. Rowland's lawyers argued same thing and said the former governor did legitimate work for Foley's company.

 

The payments originated with Foley and constituted campaign contributions but were not reported to the FEC, a violation of federal campaign finance laws, prosecutors said.

 

Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland to work on the campaign but believed that because he had previously been convicted of a felony, disclosure of his paid role in the campaign would result in substantial negative publicity for her candidacy, prosecutors said.

 

Federal prosecutor Christopher Mattei said transparency was vital to the integrity of the election system.

 

"This court's sentence should absolutely send a message to other candidates ... that if you try to cheat the voters ... there's a price to pay, regardless of all the good you have done in your life," he said.

 

Wilson-Foley's lawyers also suggested the criminal prosecution was driven by sensationalism due to the involvement of Rowland, and the government's dissatisfaction with the 10 months Rowland served in prison for his 2004 corruption case for accepting illegal gifts while governor - a scandal that forced Rowland to resign from office.

 

Prosecutors denied those claims. They said in their pre-sentencing request to U.S. Judge Janet Bond Arterton that had Wilson-Foley been elected, she would have taken office "as a criminal who had won election by criminal means."

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Two Danbury residents arrested for drug sale charges

Neighbor complaints of drug sales from a Park Avenue apartment have resulted in the arrest of two Danbury residents.  The investigation started weeks ago and revealed that 35-year old Terrence “Ratchet” Walker was involved in activity consistent with drug trafficking. 

 

Search warrants were carried out Monday evening as Walker parked at a business on Germantown Road.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says Walker was found in possession of heroin and crack cocaine packaged for sale.  Walker was found in possession of heroin and crack cocaine packaged for sale. 

 

A woman who lived at his apartment, 31-year old Sonya Henry, was also arrested after more drugs were found in the home.  Two school aged children were also there.  The children were placed in the care of a suitable adult until DCF arrived. 

 

Walker and Henry were charged for a number of drug related offenses and also risk of injury to a child.  Walker was held on $250,000 bond, Henry was released on a written promise to appear in court.

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Lottery open for DHS Early College Opportunity program

The lottery is open for Danbury High School students interested in the Associate Degree program.  The Early College Opportunity program begins this fall.  Freshmen could start earning an Associate Degree in Information Technology simultaneously with their high school diploma.  

 

The degree would be from Naugatuck Valley Community College.  Freshmen will begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. 

The lottery is open until April 10th. 

 

There is no cost to complete the program while at DHS, through there is some attendance at NVCC required after graduation. 

 

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says every students will be paired with an industry mentor from New Oak Capital or Pitney Bowes.  They will have in person and over-the-internet meetings.  Students will discuss concepts learned during “Workplace Learning,” a class period during their day.  The students can also see strategies in action during one-on-one meetings with their mentor in the workplace. 

 

To apply to the program, visit http://www.danbury.k12.ct.us/ and click the link for Danbury Early College Opportunity.

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Redding lawmakers hold office hours tonight

Redding state lawmakers are holding office hours in the district tonight.  The Town Hall meeting will feature Representatives John Shaban and Dan Carter along with state Senator Toni Boucher.  Carter says they often hear a variety of issues from residents during these get togethers.

 

Carter gave the example of a bill proposed by a Redding resident that's working its way through the committee process.  It would ban products with microbeads from the state to prevent the small pieces of plastic from ending up in streams and rivers. 

 

Carter, Boucher and Representative Stephen Harding held office hours in Bethel last night.  The office hours tonight start at 6:30pm at Redding Town Hall.

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Danbury residents fall victim to real estate scams

The Danbury Police Department has received a number of complaints recently about real estate scams.  At least four people in the past week contacted Danbury police about this, one victim sent money to a scammer. 

 

Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says the scammers have posted existing for-sale properties as rental listings.  Another involves scammers copying existing listings and posting them with new, lower prices.  If the listing is significantly less than nearby similar properties and too good to be true, it probably is.

 

Any resident who comes across these types of scams is asked to contact The Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. If you have become a victim by sending money, then you should contact the Police Department.

 

Some tips to avoid becoming a victim include avoiding wiring money to someone who asks for a deposit or first month's rent before even seeing the property.  If the ad says the owner is out of the country on a mission, job opportunity ot military service, meet the landlord or agent in person at the property.  If the person can't meet you there or show you the property, it's possibly a scam. 

 

Police are advising people to research the email address or phone number of the landlord or owner on Google in case someone else has already posted a report.  Confirm the property manager has the legal right to rent the property.  Renters are also advised to not fill out an application with personal information until verifying the property actually exists.

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Metro North announces schedule changes effective next month

Metro North service on the Danbury branch will be changed next month.  The state Department of Transportation has announced that the 4:29pm direct train from Grand Central Terminal to Danbury will be eliminated.  The service was added last May to replace a shuttle train that ran from Stamford to Danbury.  But the DOT and Metro North says very few customers are using the service. 

 

Of the 220 customers boarding in New York, 200 get off at Stamford and only 20 customers on average travel east of there.  The train will go back to being a shuttle and customers will leave on the 4:33 New Haven Line train. 

Metro North will be adding a through train to Danbury leaving Grand Central at 8:01pm, replacing the 9:18pm shuttle from South Norwalk.

 

Metro North is announcing more upcoming schedule changes to the trains on the Harlem line.  A new train from Grand Central to Southeast will be added and five trains that currently begin or end at Mount Kisko will be extended to Southeast. 

 

In an effort to reduce crowding , the 6:51am train from Southeast will now originate at Goldens Bridge.  Approximately 220 customers normally board at Southeast, Brewster, Croton Falls or Purdys.  The 7:01 train from Southeast will make fewer stops, including getting rid of the stop at White Plains, and will get in to Grand Central two minutes after the 6:51am train.  The 6am from Wassaic will depart eleven minutes earlier, at 5:49am.

 

Metro North's new train schedules will be effective Sunday, April 26.

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Police investigating bullet holes in cars parked at Ridgefield house

Ridgefield Police are investigating bullet holes found in cars parked at a home on Bennetts Farm Road.  Police were called around 7:30 this morning by the homeowners and officers determined that the unoccupied parked cars were struck overnight. 

 

It's believed the incident happened around 2am, and that a single bullet passed through both vehicles.  The house is located near the intersection with Old Stagecoach Road.  The case remains under investigation. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ridgefield Police at 203-438-6531.

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Brookfield man charged with arson for fire at his own home

A Brookfield man is facing an arson charge for a fire earlier this month at his home.  Police arrested 49-year old James Masullo of Junction Road last Tuesday on a warrant.  He was charged with felony arson, reckless endangerment and failure to grant the right of way on a private road or driveway.  The arrest stemmed from an investigation of a fire at his home on March 11th.  Masullo was released on bond after arraignment at Danbury Superior Court.  He is due back in court on April 8th.

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Brookfield road closure today, tomorrow

There's a road closure planned in Brookfield.  Police say Laurel Hill Road will be closed to through traffic from 7am to 5pm both today and tomorrow.  This is being done so that Dakota Partners can set the units for the final buildings in a housing project. 

 

The 72 unit development known as Residences at Laurel Hill features modular units, which will be staged and set by a crane.  Brookfield police say the road is being closed to make things safer along the roadway and at the construction site.  The closure is from Old Route 7 to Station Road. 

 

The project is one of the first residential projects approved as part of the Four Corners revitalization.

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Danbury High School renovations considered by City officials

A committee of the Danbury City Council leadership is meeting tonight to vet a proposal for a Danbury High School redesign.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton submitted the $61 million proposal for a Danbury High School redesign, along with program and facility upgrades to the Alternative Center for Excellence (ACE).  A new wing at the High School would be created to accommodate the projected increase in the high school population in the coming years according to a presentation made by Boughton during his State of the City address. 

 

A summary of the projects will be provided to a committee of the Council and during a public hearing session.  Boughton expects greater than a majority of the cost to be reimbursed by state or federal dollars. 

 

Boughton says he's been in around the clock meetings with Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella, staff at ACE and students.  There's not a strong consensus on whether building a new building is the right way to go.  The staff has pointed out some intangibles about the current facility, the feel of the building, and he wants to take more time to consider those issues. 

 

The ACE side of the bond package has been tabled for now.  There's a waiting list every year for ACE of about 25 students.  The faculty had some concerns about relocating up to the high school, so he wants to look at whether the space on Locust Avenue can be reconfigured.  Some renovations inside the building would be required.

 

He anticipates a June 2nd referendum.

 

The matter will next be placed on the Council agenda for the April 7th meeting.  During the budget hearing, a public hearing about the High School will also be on the agenda.  A special meeting for the high school project will be held after the hearing in order to meet statutory deadlines for the vote in June.

 

The proposed high school project would include the new Freshman academy, a solar power farm, new entrance and a reconfigured cafeteria.  If ACE does move to the High School campus, it would replace the current free-standing auto shop.

 

The DHS principal, students, staff, Pascarella, the Board of Education, and the 2020 Committee have seen the concept of the plans and signed off on them.

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Public hearing in Bethel tonight on budget proposals

There is a public hearing in Bethel tonight about the municipal and education budget proposals.  Combined, it's about $70.9 million.  There will also be a question on the budget ballot about 14 capital items totalling just shy of $2 million.  The budget process is starting about a month earlier this year because of Charter changes. 

 

There's also a new state statute in place that says if a public notification system is used to contact people about a referendum date, all taxpayers, not just a subset, must be notified.  The Board of Ed recently sent out notice to those who subscribe to their system about a change in venue and a date reminder for the hearing.  Bethel Action Committee Chairman Cynthia McCorkindale says while it's not technically a violation, it is going down a slippery slope.

 

There are some signs up around town with the information, it's on the town's website and also the Bethel Town Clerk official Facebook page. 

 

The town and school spending is voted on separately.  The proposed municipal budget is $27.6 million.  The proposed education spending is $43.28 million.

 

Tonight's public hearing is at 7:30 at Bethel Middle School.

 

The capital items are as follows:

$50,000 for the 2017 revaluation work

$30,000 for a new air compressor for the Bethel Fire Department

$52,000 in structural repairs to the Highway Garage

$285,000 for an emergency generator for Bethel High School

$35,000 for a Building Department vehicle replacement

$20,000 for a fuel maintenance system

$118,000 for a backhoe/loader replacement

$170,000 for a Highway Department vehicle replacement

$15,000 for two funnel plows

$12,000 for a trailer for the Parks and Recreation Department

$18,000 for a top dresser for the Parks and Recreation Department

$30,000 for construction of Rubino Property Fields

$50,000 toward the 2017 Plan of Conservation and Development

$1 million in road reconstruction

 

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Danbury man arrested for sexually assaulting two girls

A Danbury man has been arrested on sexual assault charges. 

 

The Danbury Police Special Victims Unit launched an investigation into 37-year old Juan Garcia-Perales in February.  Allegations were made that Garcia-Perales was sexually abusing two 9-year-old females that were known to him. The alleged abuse reportedly took place between February 2012 and February 2015.  Danbury Police did not provide details of how Garia-Perales knew the girls.

 

He was arrested Saturday afternoon on two counts of Sexual Assault and five counts of Risk of Injury to a Minor.  He was held on $200,000 bond.

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Library at former Schlumberger site slated for demolition

The library at the former Schlumberger site is slated for demolition.  The Board of Finance and Selectmen have approved using $221,000 for the work.  The matter will now be sent to residents for a vote at a Town Meeting. 

 

The date for that has not yet been set. 

 

The building has fallen into disrepair and there is asbestos that needs removing.  A proposal from an art collector to buy the land that includes the library was rejected by voters last November.  Since there is no longer that interest, town officials decided it's not worth fixing up and preserving.

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Man sentenced for kidnapping person who owed him drug debt

A Bridgeport man has been sentenced on a kidnapping charge in Danbury.  25-year old Paul Whitehurst, known as Juice, was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison followed by five years supervised release. 

 

Danbury Police started an investigation in 2013 into a narcotics trafficking network.  Officials say Whitehurst oversaw two in a series of so-called trap houses in the City, rented hotel rooms to package and distribute the drugs and sold narcotics.  Police also learned that leaders of the drug ring organized and carried out armed home invasion robberies of marijuana dealers. 

 

That summer, Whitehurst and a co-defendant told a man who owed a $100 drug debt to get in their car, physically and verbally assaulted him and then pushed the victim into a reservoir.  Whitehurst also threw rocks at the man.  They drove the man to a liquor store, purchased a liter of vodka and forced the victim to drink it all in 15 minutes.  The victim lost consciousness and was driven to a trap house where he was locked in a bathroom overnight. 

 

The man was ordered to sell heroin to customers to work off the drug debt.

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Comedy show to benefit DHS girls' lacrosse team

A comedy show fundraiser is being held tonight for the Danbury High School Girls' Lacrosse Program.  The Laugh for Lax at the Palace Danbury features comedians Johnny Lampert and Sherry Davey.  Lacrosse parent Carrie Kaplan says their fundraising will help the girls develop their skills in the off season.

 

An hour of turf time costs more than $300.  Kaplan says they recruit volunteer coaches, often former players, to help during the off season.  Kaplan says there are some very competitive schools in the region and have opportunities for their teams during the off season.  DHS parents are trying to do the same thing. 

 

Kaplan says the funding will help the team foster commitment, dedication and athleticism.

 

Tonight's comedy show is at 8pm, tickets are $35.

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Free dental clinic in Danbury today

Expect some traffic on Lake Avenue in Danbury today.  The Connecticut Mission of Mercy annual free dental clinic is once again being held at West Conn's O'Neill Center on the Westside campus.  There are 136 dental chairs and more than 1,500 volunteers.

 

The clinic provides a full range of dental services.  When the City hosted in 2012 there were about 3,000 people served.

 

Last year's clinic served nearly 2,300, 460 of whom were repeat patients.  Those taking advantage of the free clinic came from 161 municipalities across the state.  The total value of donated services is more than $1.5 million.

 

The clinic is run on a "first come first serve" basis.

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New Milford man sentenced for death of Weston bicyclist

A New Milford man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, suspended after eight years for the hit and run death of a Weston bicyclist.  23-year old Alexander Lee was also sentenced Friday to five years probation.  He was charged with misconduct with a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and evading responsibility leading to death. 

 

Thomas Steinert-Threlkeld of Weston was killed after he collided with the passenger side of Lee's car. A second car hit the 59-year-old as he was on the ground. 

 

Authorities say the second driver stopped, but Lee drove away.  Authorities say he tried soon after the accident to get a dent in the car repaired.

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Brakes fail, driver crashes through fence

There is an accident at the intersection of New and Elm Streets in Danbury.  Eyewitness reports say the car was being backed out of a nearby Techno Motors Geberal Repair and Auto Shop, when the brakes failed.  The car kept going in reverse over the sidewalk and through a fence at Igreja Pentecostal Filadelfia Assembly of God church.  There were no apparent injuries.  Police say a few cars were damaged by debris.

 

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Free concert in Danbury Sunday by U.S. Air Force Heritage Brass Band

There's a time change to the free concert being performed in Danbury Sunday by the United States Air Force Heritage Brass Band.  The show at the Palace Theater Danbury has been bumped back an hour to 3pm, to accommodate the St Patrick's Day Parade in the same area that afternoon. 

 

Technical Sgt Mark Nixon is part of the 11 member brass group who are all full time musicians within the Air Force.  They play patriotic music,  jazz standards, and new compositions.

 

The free concert Sunday is at 3pm at the Palace Danbury.

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Newtown transfers funds to Highway Department for snow removal

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has added money into this year's budget for snow removal operations.  $300,000 in material and overtime was needed to respond to all of the ice and snow this winter. 

 

Officials told the Newtown Bee that the funding comes from state revenue that was more than the Governor's original budget called for.  That $300,000 was slated to go into the town's fund balance.

 

It's about $2,000 more than what the highway department needed, so the excess money was used for additional sand.

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Redding now enforcing senior tax benefit ordinance provision

A little known provision in the Redding senior tax benefit ordinance is now being enforced.  Seniors must apply for tax relief under any state statutes for which they are eligible.  If the Redding senior is not eligible for state tax relief, they must file a form with the Redding Tax Assessor certifying that they continue to be ineligible. 

 

Redding residents last year rejected proposed changes to the tax ordinance.  After that, town officials asked that the form be filed each year during the application period between February 1st and May 15th. 

 

A letter has been sent to all Redding residents who have applied for the Local Senior Benefit in the past.

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Man stumbles through Wilton store, drives off and is charged with DUI

A Wilton man who appeared to be drunk while in a shopping plaza has been arrested.  Police responded to Outdoor Sports Center on Danbury Road Saturday on a report of a man stumbling and smelling of alcohol.  32-year old Brian Pepin of Wilton tried to drive away as police officer pulled up. 

 

Wilton Police says Pepin was pulled over a short distance away to check on his well being, and he failed field sobriety tests.  His blood alcohol content level was more than twice the legal limit.  Pepin was charged with driving under the influence, drinking while driving, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle. 

 

He will be in court next Thursday.

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Bus blows tire, catches fire on I-84 in Danbury

About 50 passengers on a Megabus headed to New York City made an unexpected stop in Danbury this afternoon because of a fire.  The left rear tire sustained a blow out, the bus hit a sign post and the wheel caught fire.  The accident happened shortly after noon today on the westbound side of Interstate 84 by exit 4.  Danbury Fire officials say it then grew into a large fire, but was extinguished quickly. 

 

    

(Photos: State DOT cameras)

 

The passengers waited on the grassy area between the highway and the exit ramp for HART buses to pick them up to transport them to a replacement bus at the nearby McDonalds.  The Megabus was towed from the scene shortly after 3pm.


The Danbury Fire Department also responded to a truck fire in a parking lot off Triangle Street around the same time

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Electronic tolling bill clears Connecticut committee

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bill that could lead to electronic tolls on Connecticut's highways has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The General Assembly's Transportation Committee voted 18-to-13 on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would require the Department of Transportation commissioner to develop a program for tolling.

The commissioner would be required to report back to lawmakers with details of the plan no later than Jan. 1, 2016.

Lawmakers amended the bill to ensure toll revenue would only be spent on transportation. More changes are expected.

Sen. Scott Frantz of Greenwich opposed the measure, saying tolls are just another tax and wouldn't raise enough revenue to deal with the state's massive transportation infrastructure needs.

Rep. Antonio ``Tony'' Guerrera, the committee's co-chairman, challenged the tolling opponents to come up with alternatives for generating revenue.

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NY man convicted of rape, assault

A Kent, New York man has been convicted of rape, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.  The Putnam County District Attorney's office reports that 43-year old Victor Cruz Garcia violently assaulted a woman while her 5-year old son was in a nearby room. 

 

He threatened her family if she called police.  The woman hid behind a door with her son, trying to comfort him, as Cruz Garcia threw bottles of alcohol and food at the door. 

 

The woman was able to call 911. 

 

Cruz Garcia faces up to 50 years in jail as a result of Friday's conviction for the November 2013 crimes.  Sentencing is set for May 13th.

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U.S. Senator blasts First Light for Candlewood Lake Authority funding cut

Another person is joining the fight to get First Light Power Resources to continue funding the Candlewood Lake Authority at historical amounts.  Senator Chris Murphy has written to First Light's parent company, GDF Suez Energy North America, blasting the 80-percent reduction in funding.  Murphy says finding a way to preserve the historical, collaborative nature of the relationship between the owner of the lake and the Candlewood Lake Authority will help bolster and improve goodwill.

 

The lake's owner wants to more equitably distribute the funds it contributes in the 23-town Housatonic River region. 

 

Murphy says while he appreciates First Light's effort to more broadly and equitably distribute the funds, this should not come at the expense of the equally worthy safety, shoreline, and lake management activities on Candlewood.

 

Murphy called Candlewood a regional treasure and said the local caretakers need to be able to rely on consistent partnership with First Light in order to adequately manage the mutual benefit.  He added that the total funding, less than $100,000, is a pittance compared to the revenue GDF Suez generates from this asset.

 

CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says what was $50,000 is now $10,000 annually.

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Connecticut priest who ran meth ring pleads for leniency

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A suspended Roman Catholic priest who authorities say dealt pounds of methamphetamine and bought a sex shop to possibly launder his drug money is asking a federal judge for leniency when he is sentenced next week.

Monsignor Kevin Wallin's public defender filed a sentencing request in federal court in Hartford on Monday. It cited Wallin's three decades of charitable service as well as more than 80 letters of support, including one from the late Cardinal Edward Egan.

The 63-year-old Wallin pleaded guilty in 2013 to a methamphetamine conspiracy charge and agreed to a possible prison sentence of 10 to 11 years. Sentencing is scheduled for March 24.

Wallin is now asking for four years in prison and 500 hours of community service.

Prosecutors want at least a 10-year prison sentence.

 

Wallin once served as a pastor at St. Peter's in Danbury.

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Lawmakers share personal stories about assisted suicide bill

Past and present Connecticut legislators are sharing personal stories about how their loved ones dealt with the final days of their lives as the Judiciary Committee considers a bill allowing physicians to prescribe medication to help terminally ill patients end their lives.  One of the emotional accounts came from former Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who represented a district that includes Newtown.

 

McKinney says he doesn't like to talk about his private life, but he felt he had to after his mother's death in May.  Her bladder cancer metastasized into other organs and she was also diagnosed in February with breast cancer.  McKinney's mother declined surgery and tried one round of chemo.

 

McKinney says he understands her need for control over medical treatment.  He touted the hospice and palliative care his mother received .  He urged the lawmaker to make sure that type of care is available to anyone who may need or want it.

 

The Director of Nursing at Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut submitted testimony in opposition to the bill.  Robin Viklund has been a nurse for more than 30 years, the latest 10 in palliative care.  She says hospice care is available to patients so they can lead the rest of their natural life as comfortable as possible with dignity.  She says hospice and palliative care support's the patients right to participate in all decisions, expert symptom management and emotional support.  Viklund also pointed out that hospice care provides bereavement services for the family.

 

Danbury resident Lynn Taborsak submitted written testimony in support of the bill.  She talked about modifying her house so that she can age in place, but says that life-sustaining measures are not something she would want in the case of a terminal disease.  At it's core, Taborsak called the bill a way to give terminally ill patients a choice between suffering end to life or a peaceful death. Taborsak says the bill is loaded with definitions, safeguards and requirements to prevent abuse.  She called the Oregon bill it's modelled after, one that has been abuse-free for 17 years.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill citing statistics in Oregon.  That state passed an assisted suicide bill in 1997 and McLachlan says the rate of suicide among Oregon residents has increased each year since 2000.  In 2012, the suicide rate was 41-percent higher than the national average.  McLachlan worries that this bill would open the door to abuse of the elderly and disabled.  He said in written comments that those around them could influence the decision to commit suicide for personal gain.  McLachlan says a weakness in the bill is that there are no safeguards to know if the lethal drugs were administered voluntarily.

 

State Attorney General George Jepsen emailed testimony to the committee.  Five states currently allow terminally ill patients to seek aid in dying.  His testimony pointed to specific safeguards in the bill: a person must be mentally competent, have a defined terminal illness and a diagnosis of less than 6 months to live.  He pointed to the Oregon law and said 59-percent of those who obtain prescriptions, don't end up taking the lethal drugs.  Jepsen says aid in dying is not a replacement for continued treatment, hospice or other services. 

 

Other provisions of the proposal include that there must be two independent diagnose made.  His testimony detailed that written requests must be witnessed by two people and sent to the primary physician in the case.  Witnesses can't have a familial or financial connection to the patient and must not by the owner, operator or employee of a health care facility providing care to the patient.

 

The public hearing drew so much interest an overflow room had to be set up at the state capitol to accommodate everyone.

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Ex-Connecticut Gov. Rowland sentenced to prison a 2nd time

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiring to hide payments for his work on a congressional campaign.

The 57-year-old Rowland was sentenced in New Haven federal court on Wednesday, 10 years to the day after he was sent to prison on a previous conviction for accepting illegal gifts as governor. That scandal led Rowland to resign from office and serve 10 months in prison.

A jury convicted Rowland in September. He was also fined $35,000.

Prosecutors say Rowland was paid $35,000 to work on the failed 2012 campaign of Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and conspired to hide those payments through a consulting contract with her husband's company.

They say he knew his role would bring unwelcome publicity.

Rowland is expected to appeal his conviction.

 

Rowland, wearing a dark gray suit with a purple tie, declined to comment during the sentencing hearing and as he left the federal courthouse in New Haven on a sunny but cold and windy day. He hugged his wife and daughter in the courtroom after they testified about his good deeds and commitment to public and community service, but he showed little emotion for the most part.

 

Federal prosecutor Liam Brennan argued that Rowland's sentence needed to send a strong message, especially with this being his second conviction. Rowland was sentenced to a year and a day in prison in 2005 for taking illegal gifts when he was governor, including trips and improvements to his lakeside cottage in northwestern Connecticut.

 

U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton agreed with Brennan, saying Rowland's crimes threatened to undermine the integrity of America's election system and its laws.

 

"What is striking and disturbing is Mr. Rowland's total contempt for those laws," Arterton said. "It is really not clear ... what his motivation was to ... be involved in this sort of activity. Perhaps it's lust for influence, but it nonetheless cannot be tolerated."

 

Wilson-Foley and her husband pleaded guilty in the case. Wilson-Foley awaits sentencing, while Foley was sentenced to three years of probation.

 

Rowland, a Waterbury native, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1980 at the age of 23, then won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984 at the age of 27 and served six years. He served as governor from 1995 to 2004, when he resigned amid his corruption scandal.

 

Rowland was chairman of the Republican Governors Association from 2001 to 2002 and was mentioned in political circles as a possible vice presidential candidate and cabinet member.

 

But while he was governor, Rowland was fined $2,000 and ordered to donate $1,919 to charity in a 1997 ethics case for taking concert tickets from subordinates. He also was fined $9,000 in 2003 for accepting cut-rate or free vacation lodging from state contractors.

 

Rowland's wife, Patricia, and his daughter, Julianne, testified at the sentencing hearing that Rowland was a caring husband and father who selflessly volunteered for numerous community causes and helped people in need. Patricia Rowland said her husband had lost everything he had worked for, and they lost all their life savings over the past two years, suggesting that was punishment enough.

 

"He is a loyal and kind friend and he treats people equally and he is respectful to everyone," Patricia Rowland said. "He has never shied away from a request for help."

 

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Monroe Father Arrested In Son's Accidental Shooting

MONROE, Conn. (AP) A father in Monroe accused of accidentally shooting his 11-year-old son in the face while putting away his handgun has been arrested on assault charges.

Vincent Pizzolato surrendered to police at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.

He was charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge. He was released on a promise to appear in court and is due to be arraigned March 25 in Superior Court.

Pizzolato's lawyer said his client is disappointed that charges have been filed. He called the shooting a ``terrible accident.''

The bullet from the 9 mm gun shattered the boy's jaw, knocking out many of his teeth.

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Danbury's St. Patricks Day Parade March 22nd

In Danbury .. the 17th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade winds its way through the city on Sunday. .

The Parade steps off from St. Peter Church on Main Street at 2 p.m.  Bands, floats and marchers will make their way up West Street and on to the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center at 6 Lake Ave.

Four bands, a variety of floats and Irish step dancers will be among those participating in the parade.

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Danbury Hosts Free Dental Clinic

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) More than 2,200 dental patients may receive a range of free services in Danbury this weekend .The eighth annual Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic is set for the O'Neill Center on the Westside Campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury March 20th and 21th.

 

It will feature 136 dental chairs and 15-hundred volunteers. All dental services will be offered. Anyone interested in attending may call  860 863 5940 .

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New Milford Pedestrian Hit By Car Still Serious

A 69-year-old New Milford woman remains in serious condition after she was struck by a car over the weekend on Candlewood Lake Road North.

Anne Kisver of New Milford, was outside her car when she was struck shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday.

According to New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash, Kisver's car was stopped on the road with the door open at the time of the accident. The driver of the other vehicle, 62 year old Peter Pfeifer also of New Milford struck the open door and then hit Kisver.

Kisver was taken to Danbury Hospital where she remains in serious condition.

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Public hearing on 'physician assisted suicide' bill

The legislature is once again considering a so-called physician assisted suicide bill, with a public hearing being held Wednesday.  The Judiciary is holding a hearing on the bill which would permit doctors to legally prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients with less than six months to live. 

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan called it a dangerous precedentfor the way life is treated in Connecticut, saying the bill would essentially make assisted suicide legal in Connecticut.

 

He says residents who want to voice their opinion on the matter can testify in person at the state capital, or submit written testimony.  The email subject line should contain Bill 7015.  Comments can be sent to JUDtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

 

A Quinnipiac Poll out last week showed those surveyed support allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives.  It was a 63 - 31 percent margin.  All party, age and gender groups support the idea, including voters over 55 years old, who support it 59 - 34 percent.

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Funeral for Brookfield Father Who Tried To Save Auto Shop

The funeral for a 48 year old Brookfield father of four was  held today.

State troopers say the man was trying to save his South Salem  New York auto body shop from catching fire. He died from burns and smoke inhalation.

Brookfield  resident James O’Connor got trapped inside a vehicle  as he attempted to push the burning vehicle away from the business.

The 48-year-old first tried to put the engine fire out Friday night with a fire extinguisher but wasn’t successful.

That’s when Investigator Joseph Bacerra says the Brookfield  man tried to push the car from the driver’s side away from the building, sideswiped a parked car and was pinned inside.

There are reports the O'Connor family suffered another tragedy..they lost a daughter in the past few years.

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New Milford Pedestrian Hit By Car

In New Milford... Police say there was a car versus pedestrian accident on Candlewood Lake Road- North Sunday at 7:33 p.m. The road was closed off.

Police say it was a woman who was hit and taken to  Danbury Hospital with serious injuries... there are no other details.

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Danbury Student Hit By Car On Lake Ave

Danbury Police say it was a High School student who was hit by a vehicle Monday morning crossing Lake Ave. around 6:44am . The student was trying to cross the street to get to the bus stop.

 

The Honda, operated by 59 year old Maria Romero from 3 Abbott Ave, struck a Student in the intersection of Lake Ave and Westville Ave.

 

The Student  was transported to Danbury Hospital by ambulance for non- life threatening injuries sustained

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Informational meeting in Danbury on Early College Opportunity program

An informational session is being held tonight in Danbury about an Associate Degree program. 

 

Freshmen entering Danbury High School next fall and their parents are being called on to attend the session on the Early College Opportunity program.  Beginning next fall, freshmen entering DHS could earn an Associate Degree in Information Technology simultaneously with their high school diploma. 

 

The degree would be from Naugatuck Valley Community College.  DHS Freshmen who register for the program in the 2015-16 school year will begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. 

 

DHS assistant principal Dan Donovan, who also serves as administrator of the Freshman Academy, is helping orchestrate the program.  He calls the initiative a game-changing idea in high school education. 

 

Tonight's informational session is at 6:30 in the DHS auditorium.

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Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut seeks volunteers, students

Junior Achievement strives to teach young people about how to succeed in a global economy.  The Western Connecticut branch of the group held a High School Business Challenge at Fairfield University on Friday where students from 16 high schools from the Danbury-Bridgeport-Valley regions competed to win scholarships.  Junior Achievement of Western Connecticut President Bernadine Venditto says another part of the program involves companies going into the classroom to teach financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.

 

Junior Achievement also have after school and outside activities to provide a deeper impact experience for kids.  The programs run from Kindergarten through 12th grade. and address personal finances and budgeting in practical, fun and age-appropriate ways.

 

Volunteers from local businesses are needed to positively impact the future financial success of area youth.  Those interested can contact the organization by calling 203-382-0180.

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New School-Based Health Center opens in Newtown

The newest School-Based Health Center in the Greater Danbury region has opened in Newtown.  A ribbon cutting was held Friday at Newtown Middle School by the Connecticut Institute For Communities.  The center is funded by a grant award from the state Department of Public Health.  There are more than 90 DPH-funded health centers statewide.  The SBHC is staffed by a licensed nurse practitioner, licensed clinical social worker and medical assistant.

 

 

A Newtown community planning group determined that the middle school would be the best place for the new location.  The group says this takes a long-term approach to addressing the need for medical and behavioral health services.

 

Their decision was based on an increase in student visits to the nurse's office, and a reported waiting list of mental health services requested by middle school aged children in Newtown.  It's projected that the grant funding for a variety of services available in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook school will diminish or end over time, but the need for services will continue. 

 

The new services will not replace existing nursing or social work services currently offered by the school system.

 

The SBHCs in Danbury are located at Henry Abbott technical School, Danbury High School, Broadview Middle School and Rogers Park Middle School.

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Boost in retirement age considered for Governor's Horse Guard volunteers

Members of the Newtown delegation have introduced a bill that would extend the retirement age for the horse guard commandants.  The Second Company Governor's Horse Guard has been based in Newtown since 1808 and is one of the last active-duty cavalry militia units in the United States.  State Representative JP Sredzinski says this measure will help the Horse Guard continue the good work it has been doing under their current leadership.

 

The current retirement age is 64.  Sredzinski says if the bill is approved, the Unit can continue under the command of Major Gordon Johnson.

 

Troopers perform mounted military drill and ceremonial musical rides, in addition to State forest mounted patrols, search and rescue, special needs riding programs.  Sredzinski says the unit is a part of Newtown's rich history and does a tremendous amount of work to keep that history alive.

 

Former Major Commandant of the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard Michael Downes in written testimony said he believes this proposed change is one that will have a positive impact on the volunteer service rendered to the state by its horse guard companies. He continued to say that this change will help preserve the institutional knowledge and capacity of these companies, and will ultimately improve morale and volunteer retention.

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Brookfield receives state grant for Four Corners improvements

Brookfield has received a state grant for streetscaping in the Four Corners area.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley says the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program funding totals $798,000.  Intersection improvements at the corner of Routes 25 and 202 will also be done with this state Department of Transportation grant.  Construction is anticipated to begin this year.  Tinsley says the grant will significantly help the town start to transform the Four Corners into a Town center District.

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Local lawmaker concerned with Malloy's 'second chance' bill

Governor Malloy's so-called "Second Chance Society" bill to lower the prison population was the subject of a public hearing yesterday by the legislature's Judiciary Committee.  The plan would lower the penalty for simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor and a chance to change their lives for the better rather than to be saddled with a felony conviction. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher is concerned that this would be applied to all drugs.

 

The bill also eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.  Some lawmakers questioned whether adequate treatment is available for these offenders and whether drug-addicted offenders are truly non-violent.

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Lawmaker, emergency responder, backs PTSD worker's comp bill

The Connecticut General Assembly is again debating whether to require workers' compensation insurance to cover post-traumatic stress for first responders.  Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski is currently a 911 center Dispatch Supervisor, has been in the field since 1999 and previously worked as a volunteer on the ambulance. 

 

The police officer, firefighter or emergency medical worker would have had to witness the death of a person or the immediate aftermath of such a death while in the line of duty.  Sredzinski says the diagnosis would have to be certified, and made by a Board approved mental health professional. 

 

The Public Safety Committee has approved a version of the bill.

 

A similar bill is being considered in the Labor and Public Employees Committee.  Committee leaders say there will likely be negotiations in the coming weeks about which employees to ultimately cover under such legislation and whether the state and municipalities will pick up the tab.

 

Organizations representing municipalities are opposing the bill, arguing claims could range from thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars, depending on the duration and scope of treatment.

 

Last year, Newtown police Officer Thomas Bean appeared before lawmakers and spoke about experiencing depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts since responding to Sandy Hook School on 12-14.  He said he couldn't return to work and was receiving about half his base pay through Newtown's long-term disability insurance plan. If he were receiving workers' compensation benefits for his PTSD, he'd receive more than 66 percent of his net pay, including an average of overtime pay, tax-free.

 

The issue of workers' compensation coverage for PTSD also came up in 2010 when a police officer who responded to a brutal chimpanzee attack in Stamford described experiencing "a depression beyond depression." Frank Chiafari told lawmakers his supervisors filed a workers' compensation claim on his behalf for post-traumatic stress the night of the attack. But five days later, he was notified the claim had been denied because state law only applies to police shootings of people.

 

Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, the committee's co-chairman, said he will support the legislation "no matter what the cost is to our municipalities." He spoke about working as a first responder and having to pull a friend's dead son from a car that had struck a telephone pole.

 

"I still see that in my mind, years later," he said.

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Second teen arrested for December attempted burglary in Redding

Redding police have arrested the second person involved in an attempted theft of dirt bikes in the early morning hours of December 24th.  A 17-year old from Danbury was arrested February 24th on a charge of conspiracy to commit burglary.  The juvenile was held on $1,000 bond.

 

One teen was caught by the homeowner and the dirt bikes were not stolen.  The 18-year old suffered a non-life threatening knife wound to his hand during the struggle. 

 

Keffry Marte of Danbury was charged with burglary, trespassing, conspiracy and attempted larceny.  He was also charged on two outstanding warrants from Danbury Police and will be in court on the 26th to answer all counts.

 

Marte was charged by Danbury Police for assault, breach of peace, robbery and interfering with a police officer/resisting arrest.  The other warrant was for interfering with a police officer/resisting arrest.  Marte was also arrested by Danbury Police for an incident that happened on January 21st involving felony criminal violation of a restraining order. 

 

He was released on a combined $16,500 bond.

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Families of 9 Newtown victims sue estate of shooter's mother

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The families of nine of the people killed in the Newtown school shooting have filed lawsuits against the estate of the gunman's mother.

The Connecticut Post reports the lawsuits contend that Nancy Lanza failed to properly secure the rifle that her troubled adult son, Adam Lanza, used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. The lawsuits seek to collect on Nancy Lanza's homeowner's insurance.

Eight of the suits were filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport and one was filed in Danbury.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother before carrying out the school massacre and committing suicide.

Newtown officials voted in January to raze the Lanzas' home after the town was able to purchase it from the Lanza estate for $1.

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Brookfield man killed in fire at South Salem Auto Repair

A Brookfield man has been killed at South Salem Auto Repair in New York.  State Police were called to the business in Lewisboro late Wednesday night and determined that 48-year old James O'Connor had become pinned between two vehicles. 

 

The Brookfield man owned the business and was working on a Volkswagen Golf next to the shop when the engine compartment ignited.  O'Connor tried to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but couldn't.  In order to save the building from damage, he pushed the car away, sideswiped a parked car and became pinned. 

 

He died of injuries sustained in the fire. 

 

A neighbor across the street reported to New York State Police that he heard a loud noise, and then saw flames.  Several vehicles were damaged in the fire. At this time, the fire has been deemed accidental in nature.

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Separate incidents lead to two DWI arrests in NY Saturday

Two drunk driving arrests have been announced today by New York State Police that were made last weekend. 

 

On Saturday, Troopers responded to a vehicle stuck in a snow bank near Somers Library.  An investigation revealed that the driver, 31-year old Michelle Baron of Pawling had a Blood Alcohol Content level more than two times the legal limit.  She will be in court on the 23rd for the DWI charge. 

 

Also last Saturday, Troopers pulled a car over on Deans Corners Road for weaving in and out of the lane.  21-year old Luis Perez-Rodriguez of Danbury also had a Blood Alcohol Content level more than two times the legal limit.  He was in court yesterday for the DWI charge.

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Tribe weighs options for gambling on Kent reservation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- With his tribe left behind by a plan for up to three more casinos in Connecticut, the leader of the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe says it may pursue a gambling hall on its small, nearly empty reservation alongside the Appalachian Trail.

 

The Schaghticokes are among several Connecticut tribes that for years have been pursuing federal recognition, and a shot at casinos of their own, in the face of opposition from the state.

 

Some of them saw hypocrisy in the announcement this week that legislative leaders want to authorize new casinos to be operated by the tribes behind Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Alan Russell, the Schaghticoke chief, said he may take up investors on proposals to bring a bingo hall to the state reservation in the Berkshire Mountains town of Kent.

 

"This is war now," Russell said in an interview. "It surely is."

 

Connecticut's two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, would jointly run the new, smaller facilities under the proposed legislation. Elected leaders have cast the proposal as a way to protect jobs - and the state's share of gambling revenue - as competition in neighboring states hurts Connecticut's existing casinos.

 

For the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the new casinos could also be a way to undercut the ambitions of tribes seeking federal recognition. On a Washington visit last month, Malloy lobbied Vice President Joe Biden in a private, 45-minute meeting on rule changes proposed by the Interior Department that he opposes because they could make it easier for more Connecticut tribes to win recognition. Malloy and other officials have argued that recognition would legitimize tribal land claims and bring about more Connecticut casinos.

 

The chairman of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation, Dennis Jenkins, said state Sen. Cathy Osten, a supporter of the new casino plan, appeared before his tribal council several months ago and said she would support their recognition bid as long as they were not planning to open a casino.

 

"She stated that she was adamantly opposed to any new casinos in the state and those were not the kind of jobs we needed," said Jenkins, who described the new proposal as hypocritical.

 

Osten said Thursday that she still has doubts about whether another casino is needed.

 

"The issue today is about Massachusetts stealing our jobs," she said.

 

The Schaghticokes could face significant obstacles, including the state compact that gives the Mohegans and Pequots exclusive rights to operate slot machines and commercial casinos in Connecticut in exchange for the 25 percent of slot revenue it gives to the state. The office of Connecticut's attorney general declined to offer an opinion on whether the Schaghticokes could offer gambling on their reservation.

 

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams said it is "entirely inappropriate" to consider such a facility for his small Litchfield County community.

 

Russell, who lives on the wooded Schaghticoke reservation, said he felt blindsided by this week's announcement. He said the tribe has some autonomy on the reservation that now has little more than a few dilapidated homes and there is nothing stopping them from building a small-scale gambling hall to provide for members.

 

Bill Buchanan, a business consultant for the tribe, said the new casino proposal is like "putting a hot stick in our eye." He said the tribe would prefer to build a casino in an urban area along a highway, which would be more realistic if it could gain recognition and swap some land, but in the meantime it could pursue a bingo hall.

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Danbury Mayor wants residents to phone in pothole reports

It's been a rough winter on the roads.  Potholes are opening every day and Danbury's Public Works Department is following them with a temporary fix of Cold Patch.  Asphalt plants open next month, and in the mean time Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is asking resident to report potholes to the City’s 311 Information Line.

 

Boughton says crews try to get to all of the complaints on the same day they are reported.  The potholes are prioritized on the busiest roads and then crews continue down the list.  Boughton says drivers can also help by being extra cautious. 

 

Motorists are being cautioned that when driving over a puddle of water, it might be a particularly deep pothole in hiding.  If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down before you hit it. But don’t brake directly over a pothole, which can actually cause more damage.  Leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle so you can avoid potholes without getting into an accident.

 

Residents can click on the CityLine 311 icon on the City's website or by calling 203-744-4311.

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Connecticut revisits comp for first responders with PTSD

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut General Assembly is again debating whether to require workers' compensation insurance to cover post-traumatic stress for first responders.

Recent tragedies have prompted the legislation, including the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The legislature's Public Safety Committee on Thursday forwarded a more limited bill that would only provide coverage for a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical worker diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the death of a person or the immediate aftermath of such a death while in the line of duty.

The bill passed 22-3 and awaits further action in the state Senate.

Some lawmakers voiced concern about the bill's potential financial implications for cities and towns.

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association supports the bill, saying PTSD can be long-lasting and devastating for officers.

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Danbury roommates arrested after fight over money

An assault between roommates has landed two Danbury men under arrest. 

 

Danbury Police were called to South Street early Wednesday afternoon.  They approached one man involved, who then fled.  Police Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says 19-year old Felipe Carmo was at the house when 22-year old William Estevez came home and accused him of taking his money from their shared house. 

 

Carmo allegedly struck Estevez in the head with a pipe and charged with assault and disorderly conduct.  Estevez was treated at Danbury Hospital and then charged with interfering with an officer, assault and disorderly conduct.

 

One of the Bethel warrants charges Estevez with Interfering with a Police Officer, Failure to Appear, Disorderly Conduct, Assault and Strangulation.  The other charges him for Possession of Marijuana, Failure to Pay or Plead and Failure to Appear.

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Man charged with sexual assault of minors worked for Redding Parks and Rec

Redding officials have sent a letter to parents in town alerting them that a former Parks and Recreation Department employee was arrested for sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor charges.  30-year old Brian Stroh of New Fairfield was a former Berry Elementary School teacher in Bethel.  Stroh resigned on February 21st amid the allegations. 

 

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton said in the letter that that allegations are disturbing regardless of no indication at this time that any of the alleged activities took place in Redding or during his employment from June 2013 through the summer of 2014.  Redding police have been asked to be informed of the State police and Department of Children and Families investigations. 

 

Included in the information from Redding officials was that Stroh had no disciplinary actions in his personnel file and no reports from staff claiming to have witnessed any inappropriate behavior.  Redding officials asked that if families have any specific concerns to contact Police Chief Douglas Fuchs.

 

Bethel Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Carver said in a letter to parents that weekend that there was no reason to believe anything inappropriate took place at the school itself.

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Connecticut panel delays adding medical marijuana ailments

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A panel of doctors is waiting to decide whether to add more ailments to the list currently eligible for medical marijuana treatment in Connecticut.

The state's Medical Marijuana Board of Physicians is weighing whether to add ALS, Fabry disease and ulcerative colitis to the list of 11 diseases and afflictions that can be treated with the drug. The panel decided Wednesday to keep the record open until March 25, providing time for additional written testimony to be submitted.

 

The group agreed to reconvene April 15 to vote on the three conditions.

 

There are six medical marijuana dispensaries licensed in the state.  One is in the Stony Hill neighborhood of Bethel.

In January, the group voted to add sickle cell disease, a condition known as failed back syndrome, and severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis to the current list, which includes afflictions such as cancer and Parkinson's disease.

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Oxford man sentenced for Ponzi scheme

An Oxford man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for stealing more than $1 million through a Ponzi scheme.  51-year old Robert E Lee was sentenced yesterday to 63 months in prison, ordered to pay full restitution and a $10,000 fine. 

 

Lee was a broker and financial advisor at several financial investment firms between 2010 and 2013.  He defrauded individuals of $1.1 million dollars by claiming to invest their money, when in truth he deposited the money into his own bank account and created fake paperwork. 

 

He used the money to pay off other investors or for personal expenses.

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NY officials challenges sex offender 'Risk Assessment' level

A Putnam County man who is about to be released from prison following a nine year stint for a sex-abuse conviction, will be classified as Risk Level Three for registration and notification purposes.  Christopher Manstrelli was convicted in 2006 of several felony sexual abuse counts. 

 

The District Attorney's office challenged the Board of Examiner's report that called for a lower classification as a non-violent sexual offender.  The D.A.'s office argued that because of the serious of Manstrelli's crimes, a lack of remorse, unwillingness to accept responsibilty for the crimes and refusal to take part in sex offender treatment meant he had a higher likelihood of reoffending . 

 

Manstrelli argued he was forced to skip treatment because of disputes he had with prison guards. 

A Putnam County Supreme Court Justice issued the ruling March 4. 

 

The Level III Sexually Violent Offender designation means Manstrelli will be subject to more intensive monitoring upon his release, and for the rest of his life. In addition to his exact home and work addresses being available for public reference, Manstrelli will have to report his home and work address, in person, every 90 days. Failure to report is a felony.

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Brewster man convicted for 2013 rape

A Brewster man has been convicted for a 2013 rape and sexual assault of a woman.  37-year old Julio Soto was convicted Monday on a number of felony and misdemeanor charges. 

 

Putnam County District Attorney Adam Levy says the assault was violent and repeated, commending the victim for having the bravery to come forward to ensure Soto doesn't have the opportunity to commit similar crimes.  Soto faces up to 50-years in prison and a lifetime sex offender registration when he is sentenced April 21st. 

 

Advocates from the Women’s Resource Center accompanied the survivor to trial each day, and continues to counsel her for trauma.

 

Soto was arrested in January 2013 and charged with Rape in the First Degree and Criminal Sex Act in the First Degree, B Violent Felonies; two counts of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, D Felonies; and Rape in the Third Degree, and Criminal Sex Act in the Third Degree, both E Felonies. He was also charged with Forcible Touching, a Class A misdemeanor.

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Official: State police probe missing $1.8M donated to town

OXFORD, Conn. (AP) Oxford's top elected officer says Connecticut State Police are investigating a Woodbury attorney after the disappearance of $1.8 million left to the town for scholarships, a new library and acquisition of open space.

The Republican-American reports that First Selectman George R. Temple said Wednesday much of the money is gone and the town is trying to recoup it. It was left to the town by resident Miriam Strong, who died in 2010 at age 85.

He says attorney Peter Clark, one of the executors of Strong's estate, is being investigated.

Clark's lawyer, William Stevens, says his client self-reported an incident of impropriety to the probate court. He said he could not discuss the matter because it's being investigated.

A retired probate court judge has been appointed executor and directed to determine how much money is left.

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NY woman due in Court on drug charges stemming from car crash

One of three people injured in a chain reaction crash in Brewster will be in court today.

 

Three people were injured in an accident on Route 22 in Brewster February 27th.  New York State Police say the accident happened near the Department of Transportation truck yard shortly after 6pm in slow moving traffic

 

61-year old William Carey of Poughquag rear ended the car of 22-year old Christina Bond of Yorktown Heights, who then hit the back of 85-year old Albert Pignatello's vehicle.  Carey was extricated from his vehicle and transported to Danbury Hospital with spinal injures.  Pignatello, from Kent, was also transported there for treatment of pain.  Bond, in the middle car, suffered a concussion and was transported to Putnam Hospital. 

 

Following an investigation, it was discovered that Carey was intoxicated at the time of the crash.  He was issued traffic tickets ordering him to appear before the Town of Southeast Court on March 26th.

 

Bond was charged with four counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of Marijuana.  She was in possession of marijuana, hashish, and controlled substances without proper prescriptions. She was issued appearance tickets ordering her to appear in Town of Southeast Court today.

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Danbury Men Arrested After Vandalism At Police Headquarters Parking Garage

Two Danbury men actually vandalized cars at the Danbury police station . 

Two men entered the Danbury police department lobby just after 2 p.m.  Monday.  

Danbury residents 23 year old Daryl Mourning and 18 year old Jahun Danzy were seen coming into the Main Street side of the building by a civilian dispatcher who works in the lobby.

Mourning reportedly entered a car on the upper deck of the parking garage, while Danzy stood outside and kicked it.

The car belonged to one of the civilian dispatchers. 

Mourning also damaged the console, the steering column and broke some controls. Danzy was later found with property from the car.

 

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Fomer Bethel Teacher Attempted Suicide Before Sexual Assault Arrest

DANBURY -- A former Bethel elementary school teacher charged with sexually assaulting three boys made his first appearance in court Tuesday after an 11-day hospital stay following what authorities said was an apparent suicide attempt.

30 year old Brian Stroh of New Fairfield made a brief appearance in state Superior Court.

The former Berry School first-grade teacher was placed on leave Feb. 19 after police told administrators he was being investigated by the state Department of Children and Families for inappropriate contact with minors.


Stroh resigned the same day the allegations arose. . Later that evening, he drank diesel fuel and crashed his car in a commuter parking lot in Katonah, N.Y. He had to be extricated from the wreck by firefighters.


Stroh was not charged in that incident, but he was taken to the emergency room at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., where he was treated for 11 days.

On Monday night, he was arrested on felony charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. The alleged victims, all boys, were 6, 9, and 11 years old.

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Regional planning agency backs transportation improvement proposals

A local official has provided testimony on several bills being considered by the legislature’s Transportation Committee.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi submitted testimony on several bills, noting that the newly formed Western Connecticut Council of Governments has listed transportation infrastructure improvement as their number one priority. 

 

One bill deals with the electrification of the Danbury Branch line, which has been ongoing for several years.  Now that the switches have been automated, Marconi is calling for the electrification to continue.  He says that will lead to smoother and quicker acceleration and stops. 

 

Another bill being considered would add performance guidelines to the next contract with Metro North.  Marconi wants Metro North to be held accountable to those standards as well.

 

A bill that would expand Metro North service to New Milford was introduced by Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle.  Marconi wrote as a member WCCOG that the extension is critical.  As the population continues to increase in the Greater Danbury area, he says rail service will continue to play a greater role for moving employees along the Route 7 corridor.  The regional planning agency covers municipalities from Sherman down to Stamford.

 

A freight rail company that operates in the region also submitted testimony in support of two transportation bills being considered this legislative session.  Housatonic Railroad sent written testimony to the Transportation Committee in support of bills that would extend passenger rail service from Danbury to New Milford, and one that extends the service to Kent. 

 

The company cited a study done for the state Department of Transportation in 2010 that projected more than 520 new boardings daily as a result of the New Milford expansion.  When it comes to an extension of service to Kent, Housatonic Railroad said that Litchfield County and the Litchfield Hills has long been neglected in terms of public transportation and rail service.

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Ridgefield Father Makes Alford Plea in Death of Toddler In Hot Car.

 The Ridgefield father charged in the hot-car death of his son entered an Alford plea Tuesday in state Superior Court.

36 year old Kyle Seitz was charged in November with criminally negligent homicide after he left his 15-month-old son, Benjamin, in his car all day last July.

An Alford plea, also known as a “best-interest plea,” is a type of no-contest plea.

Seitz is scheduled to be sentenced on April 9.

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Former Bethel Elementary School Staff Member Charged With Sexually Assaulting Three Boys

A staff member at the Frank  Berry Elementary School in Bethel who resigned over allegations of engaging in "inappropriate activities with minor children" has been charged with sexually assaulting three boys. 

30 year-old Brian Stroh of New Fairfield, is accused of inappropriate touching and has been charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and three counts of risk of injury. One victim is a 6-year-old boy, another is a 9-year-old boy and the third is an 11-year-old boy.. 

Stroh was arrested on Monday and is due in court Tuesday.

Bond for Stroh was set at $250,000.

Stroh was initially placed on paid administrative leave, but then resigned from Bethel Public Schools.

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Brookfield Former Finance Manager Is Arrested

Brookfield's former school finance chief Art Colley has been charged with larceny and forgery stemming from an attempt to claim reimbursement for three iPads he never purchased.

Colley resigned from the district in February 2014 amid reports that he vastly overspent the district's budget. He  submitted an invoice for $987 bearing his name and signature, accompanied by forged receipts.

 The 57 year- old Colley was charged with second-degree larceny and third-degree forgery.

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Danbury Firefighters Battle Overnight Blaze at House and RV

Danbury Firefighters fought a blaze overnight that displaced that displaced some 7 people three adults and four children. 

Firefighters fought the blaze at a home and a nearby RV for several hours. The fire ocurred at 24 Hilltop Manor.

There were no injuries  and the fire is under investigation.

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Information meeting on proposed Newtown Community Center

An information session is being held in Newtown tonight about the proposed Community Center.  The proposed facility has a senior center and an aquatics center.  The funding comes from a $15 million grant donated by General Election last year.  $10 million of the grant is for development and construction of a community center, with the balance to be spread out over five years for operational programming. 

 

An April 28th referendum is being held to gain taxpayer approval to spend the grant.  The April referendum coincides with the annual budget referendum. 

 

Tonight’s information session is at 6 pm, in the lower conference room at Town Hall South.

 

The aquatics center would have a multi-lane pool with a diving component .  The other pool would be for lessons, therapy and a play area for kids.  The pools would be different temperatures.  Men's and women's locker rooms and separate family facilities would be built into the center.  A room for team meetings and events, a cafe, vending machines and lobby are also in the plans.

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra said at the meeting that projected revenue would go up even though there is no plan to increase the fee to belong to the senior center, based on new programming and more members.

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Monroe Father May Be Charged In Sons Accidental Shooting

In Monroe.. the state’s attorney will decide whether or not to charge a Dad who accidentally shot his 11 year-old son in the cheek. 

44 year old Vincent Pizzolato was putting the gun away in a safe when it fired a round that passed through a wall, striking the boy in the cheek. The boy is being treating for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound at yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

Pizzolato had a valid permit for the 9 mm. pistol and the weapon is being sent to the State Police foreensics lab for analysis. 

A  Monroe police spokesman confirmed the parents’ names as Vincent and Jacqueline Pizzolato, of Partridge Lane, and said that there was at least one other child in the house when the incident occurred.

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Monroe Boy Shot By Father Accidentally

MONROE, Conn. (AP) Police say an 11-year-old boy has been shot in the cheek after a gun his father was handling accidentally fired.

Officers responded to a home on Partridge Drive around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. A man told them he was securing his 9mm handgun when he accidentally fired it, shooting a bullet through a wall and striking his son

The boy was taken to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. He later was transferred to Yale New Haven Hospital.

An investigation is continuing.
No charges have been filed yet against the father .

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Flooding concerns latest Winter woe as Spring takes hold

It's going to take a while for the snow to disappear, but as the temperatures warm up the concern turns to flooding.  New Milford officials will be keeping an eye on street flooding and also how high the Housatonic River rises. 

 

Until that melting happens, area fire departments continue to ask residents that if there is a fire hydrant located on your property, to dig out a 3-foot radius around the hydrant. 

 

(Photo Courtesty: @IAFF801 Twitter)

 

Homeowners and businesses are also required in many municipalities to clear the sidewalk along their property.

 

In Danbury, City Councilman Paul Rotello praised the public works crews for their work this winter.  Rotello notes that at the first signs of snow flakes, smaller plow trucks have been out and keeping even dead-end streets clear.  He says they even found places to dump the snow.

 

Rotello also commended police for their efforts to get cars off the streets so plowing could happen during storms.  He says police went door to door, at least to his tenant's door, asking them to move their cars off the streets, rather than just towing vehicles.

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Regulators to police: Issue more tickets at rail crossings

Spurred by fatal accidents last month in Valhalla and in California, the Federal Railroad Administration is starting a safety campaign and asking police departments to issue more tickets to drivers who ignore warnings at crossings.  The Federal Railroad Administration says it's the first step in a safety campaign, though it is not providing any new funding. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal previously called for more information from the National Transportation Safety Board about the Metro North Valhalla crash, which killed 6 people including a Danbury man.   The train was on the Harlem Line headed to Brewster.  These types of grade crossings are also along the Danbury branch.

 

The FRA is also calling for greater police presence at grade crossings. 

 

FRA spokesman Kevin Thompson said his agency will provide materials to groups to pass on to their members.  They include the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

 

The MTA, which oversees Metro North, issued fines to two drivers in as many days last week to drivers who were injured in collisions with Long Island Rail Road trains.  One motorist drove onto the grade crossing while warning lights were flashing and bells were ringing.  The other drove around a downed crossing gate.

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Congresswoman introduces bill to close background check loopholes

New legislation has been introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty that would expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads.  Esty notes that she's been pressing for gun control legislation since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

She says the background check legislation closes loopholes of allowing people to purchase weapons at gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad with no questions asked.  The bill provides exceptions for family and friend transfers. 

 

It also strengthens the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by incentivizing states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grant funds toward better record-sharing systems.  The bill will reduce federal funds to states that do not comply. 

 

Esty says it's time for Congress to listen to the voices of over 90 percent of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, and expand background checks to cover every commercial gun sale.

 

Esty quoted studies showing that every day where background checks are used, the system stops more than 170 felons, some 50 domestic abusers, and nearly 20 fugitives from buying a gun. However, she says there's no system in place to prevent these same prohibited purchasers from going online or to gun shows.

 

The bill, officially known as the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015, was also touted Wednesday by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission delivers final report

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has released its final report on the school shooting that happened on December 14th 2012.  Governor Dannel Malloy commended the group and said their report can change lives, and that some of the recommendations have already saved lives.  Malloy says he doesn't believe there's an appetite in the General Assembly to pass more significant gun control, beyond the sweeping legislation approved in 2013.

 

Malloy says this should not be seen as a starting point, it's a continuation for the state where millions of dollars in school safety grants have been allocated to 1,000 schools.

 

He says this is not about who, what, when, where and why things happened.  He called it a report about the future, something that is a better honoring of the lives of those lost than any report on what transpired could possibly be.  He says there's a lot of common sense in the recommendations, and common ground can be found on so many of the changes proposed. 

 

Former Newtown state Representative Chris Lyddy hopes state lawmakers and others across the country take time to read the information.  He says this is a thoughtful , meaningful, and impactful report that keeps communities and children safer.  Lyddy also had a message for the General Assembly.

 

"Determine what recommendations you can get behind, and then get behind them."

 

Lyddy said yesterday that change must happen.  He says Connecticut and every other state must start thinking much differently and more boldly about systemic and complex issues.  He called status quo unacceptable, saying that the report challenges that status quo.

 

Commission chairman Scott Jackson says Connecticut can do something different and can do something better.  He knows there are controversial recommendations, and ones that will achieve universal accord.  The panel's final report includes recommendations that every firearm be registered in Connecticut and serial numbers be etched on shell casings for ammunition.

 

Jackson says there is no singular solution to violence in community spaces.  He says their recommendations weave themselves into a tapestry in which a combination of threads offer the best opportunity for systemic and lasting improvements for the safety of schools.  Jackson says schools should be sanctified places, but are not. 

 

"Not when once a week shots ring out somewhere in a school somewhere across the country."

 

One of the recommendations is that an enhanced focus on the mental health implications of crisis events be incorporated into all disaster preparedness and response protocols.

 

To help victims regain a sense of control, the Commission recommends communication and engagement with victims of crisis events not follow a one-size-fits-all approach but instead should be calculated to enhance each individual's capacity to control his or her own recovery process.

 

A central clearing house for information relevant to disaster response and recovery is also called for in the report.  The recommendation is that there by clearly identified channels of access ti help mitigate the sorts of communication barriers that can impede recovery and risk re-traumatizing vulnerable members of the community.

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Area lawmaker calls for Transportation Lockbox

Several transportation improvement bills are currently being considered by the state legislature.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan supports a bill that would guarantee funding meant for those projects, goes to those projects.

 

He says the so-called lock box must be tight and not "pickable".  He recommended restricting all of the spending to capital improvements, not salaries and not the DMV.

 

The bills are still in the committee vetting phase.

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UPDATED: Two cars towed from railroad tracks in Ridgefield

Two cars had to be towed from the railroad tracks in Ridgefield Friday.  Metro North reported the first car to police around 5 o'clock in the morning.  The vehicle was unoccupied at the Depot Road crossing and stuck in the snow.  MTA Police say there doesn't appear to be damage to the tracks or to the car. 

 

Ridgefield police say the driver turned off of Portland Avenue onto the train tracks thinking it was the roadway. 

 

The second car was reported on the tracks at the Branchville Station around 10pm.  In that case the train was already at the station, and police were assisting a passenger with a medical concern.

 

This comes a few days after an empty car was found at the Triangle Street railroad crossing in Danbury.  Danbury police say a driver followed her GPS, turned the wrong way and ended up on the railroad tracks Monday afternoon.  The woman's car got stuck and had to be towed.  There were no injuries reported.

 

If your car does get stuck on railroad tracks, Metro North officials urge drivers to abandon the vehicle, move away from the tracks and call 911.  Railroad officials also reminded motorists to never drive around downed crossing gates, obey flashing lights and bells, and to never stop on the tracks.

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Danbury City Council approves nomination of new member

The Danbury City Council has approved the nomination for an at-large Council member.  The position was vacated by Republican Colleen Stanley who is moving out of the City and therefore no longer able to serve. 

 

The Danbury Republican Town Committee nominated Christina Chieffalo to fill the vacancy. 

 

She is currently a member of the Zoning Commission, a brand manager at Boehringer Ingelheim and holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Western Connecticut State University.  The Council approved her appointment at their meeting on Wednesday.

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Small plane skids off runway in Oxford, no one hurt

OXFORD, Conn. (AP) Emergency responders say a small plane skidded off a runway at an airport in Oxford and slid into some snow, but no one was hurt.

Officials with the Oxford Ambulance Association say the mishap occurred Friday afternoon at Waterbury-Oxford Airport.

State police say the pilot was the only person aboard the single-engine plane. Information posted on FlightAware.com shows the Mooney M-20 is registered to Atlas Aviation in Darien.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

The plane didn't appear to sustain any major damage.

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Danbury man wins $1 million Powerball prize

A Danbury man has won a $1 million Powerball prize.  Jose Medrano of Danbury played the lotto on February 21st, purchasing a ticket at Ed's Cigar Box on Main Street.  Medrano's first five “Quick Pick” ticket numbers were a perfect match, but he missed the Powerball number. 

 

The odds of winning a Powerball Match 5 prize are 1 in more than 5,000,000. 

 

Store owner Pritesh Patel says this is their biggest win so far, and they are very happy for Medrano--a regular customer in the shop.  For selling the million dollar prize winning ticket, Ed's Cigar Box will receive a $2,500 check from the Connecticut Lottery.

 

CT Lottery officials say Medrano did not want to be photographed or interviewed.

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Winter taking a toll on Greater Danbury area towns

The super-freezing weather has done a number on the roads and there are new potholes opening up every time the temperature fluctuates.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says a product called Cold Patch can be put down, but it's only a temporary solution until the asphalt plants open in April.

 

New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy says they are paying attention to the snow load on municipal and school roofs.  She says it doesn't appear to be a threat.

 

Murphy says sand and salt supplies are good, but there is a request for more money in the overtime account for snow clearing.  She called the Public Works employees a dedicated group who take pride in their work and have put in a lot of hours.

 

Danbury's 311 info line in February had more than 50 reports sidewalks not being cleared.  There were more than two dozen calls about snow removal.

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Danbury City Council considers school bond proposal

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has submitted a proposal to the City Council that contains about 61 million dollars for a Danbury High School redesign, along with program and facility upgrades to the Alternative Center for Excellence (ACE).  A new wing at the High School would be created to accommodate the projected increase in the high school population in the coming years according to a presentation made by Boughton during his State of the City address. 

 

A summary of the projects will be provided to a committee of the Council and during a public hearing session.  Boughton expects greater than a majority of the cost to be reimbursed by state or federal dollars. 

 

For the past week or so, Boughton says he's been in around the clock meetings with Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella, staff at ACE and students.  There's not a strong consensus on whether building a new building is the right way to go.  The staff has pointed out some intangibles about the current facility, the feel of the building, and he wants to take more time to consider those issues. 

 

The ACE side of the bond package has been tabled for now.  There's a waiting list every year for ACE of about 25 students.  The faculty had some concerns about relocating up to the high school, so he wants to look at whether the space on Locust Avenue can be reconfigured.  Some renovations inside the building would be required.

 

He anticipates a June 2nd referendum.

 

Boughton hopes that the leadership committee looking into the bonding will meet this month, and that most members of the Council will attend.  The matter will then be placed on the Council agenda for the April 7th meeting.  During the budget hearing, a public hearing about the High School will also be on the agenda.  A special meeting for the high school project will be held after the hearing in order to meet statutory deadlines for the vote in June.

 

The proposed high school project would include the new Freshman academy, a solar power farm, new entrance and a reconfigured cafeteria.  If ACE does move to the High School campus, it would replace the current free-standing auto shop.

 

The DHS principal, students, staff, Pascarella, the Board of Education, and the 2020 Committee have seen the concept of the plans and signed off on them.

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Wilton police charge man for practicing massage without a license

A Stamford man is due in Court Friday on charges of sexual assault and practicing massage without a license for an incident in Wilton. 

 

Wilton Police say 36-year old Jan Adamovic failed to comply with state licensing laws, does not have a company and is not incorporated as an LLC.  Wilton Police say Adamovic allegedly made unwanted sexual contact with the victim while providing a massage to the woman, who he has had appointments with in her home in the past. 

 

He posted $5,000 bond and will be in Norwalk Superior Court Friday.

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Monroe house fire not believed to be suspicious

The fire this week in Monroe on Settlers Farm Road does not appear suspicious according to the town's Fire Marshal.  The Monroe Courier reports that while the Fire Marshal's office is still investigating, it appears the blaze began in the upstairs master bedroom .  The American Red Cross is helping the family of four – two adults and two children.  They were able to make alternate arrangements for housing.  More than 40 firefighters responded to the fire and there were no injuries.  The family was not home at the time.  Residents reportedly dug out two nearby fire hydrants as firefighters arrived.

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Ethan Allen CEO donates $1 million to WCSU

Western Connecticut State University has received a $1 million donation from a local CEO.  Farooq Kathwari of Ethan Allen Interiors, and his wife, Farida, gave the gift to create an endowment that will support the University’s Honors Program. 

 

Western President Dr James Schmotter says the program will be renamed the Kathwari Honors Program.  The building that will house the program, formerly Alumni Hall, will be named the Irfan Kathwari Honors House, in memory of the Kathwaris’ son.  Alumni functions, along with development, communications and related departments, will be relocated to another building on campus.

 

Kathwari said he decided to support WCSU with this gift in part because Ethan Allen has been involved with the university ever since Nathan Ancell moved the company headquarters to Danbury in 1972. The Ancell School of Business is named for the former Ethan Allen CEO.

 

The Board of Regents for Higher Education acknowledged the gift and approved renaming the program the Kathwari Honors Program.  The Honors Program serves more than 200 high-performing students with extra instruction and service opportunities. With this gift, the program is expected to grow to 500 students.

 

A celebration of the gift and a building dedication is planned for the spring.

 

Kathwari emigrated to the United States at age 21 to attend graduate school, at night, at New York University, where he earned his MBA.  While working on Wall Street for Rothschild Inc., where he became CFO at the age of 27, he met Ancell, and they agreed Kathwari would join Ethan Allen, which today has annual sales exceeding $750 million.

 

Kathwari is a member of the WCSU Foundation Board of Directors.  His first gift to the university in the 1990s was put to use to help students who intended to teach in inner-city schools.

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Cardinal Egan, retired archbishop, dies at age 82

Cardinal Edward Egan, former head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and of Bridgeport, died at a hospital today at the age of 82.  Egan was pronounced dead after going into cardiac arrest.  In 1988, he was appointed the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport by Pope John Paul II.  That Dioces oversees parishes in Fairfield County.

 

He was appointed Archbishop of New York in 2000 and made a cardinal in 2001.

 

Egan was archbishop during the Sept. 11 terror attacks during which he anointed the dead at a lower Manhattan hospital and presided over many funerals for victims.

He was a scholar of church law and spoke Latin fluently. John Paul chose him to help with the massive job of reviewing a revised canon law code for the global church.

A native of Illinois, Egan retired as New York archbishop in 2009.

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Conn. man arrested as fugitive from justice

A Connecticut man wanted in New York on outstanding warrants have been arrested.  New York State Police say 46-year old Michael Holt of Ansonia was initially arrested in September 2014 for allegedly stealing more than $2,00 from the Delancy Street Foundation in May 2012.  Southeast Town Court issued a warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court. 

 

Connecticut State Police arrested Holt as a fugitive from justice and turned him over to police from the Brewster barracks on Monday.  He is being held at Putnam County Jail without bail for a court appearance on the 19th. 

 

Holt was featured on the New York State Police Facebook Page late in January as part of their "Warrant Wednesday".

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Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation makes 'sunset plan'

A sunset plan has been announced by the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.  The organization was formed after 12-14 as a place to receive and distribute donations from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  The foundation has come up with a timeline that would close the group down in 10 years. 

 

There is a 13 year mark in their sunset plans which corresponds with the high school graduation of the youngest children enrolled at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.  Part of the plan is to partner with various other organizations to sustain long-term recovery needs. 

 

The Foundation also announced three new board members, including Christopher McDonnell.  His daughter was among the children killed on 12-14.  Isabel Almeida, a Sandy Hook resident who works at the United Way, and Gavin Arneth, a Newtown soccer coach and VP at People's United Bank, were also named to the board.

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Danbury police reporting spike in fake tax returns being filed

The Danbury Police Department has seen an increase of fraudulent tax filing being reported.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says it's been at least 10 a day since the filing season started. 

 

Police are offering some reminders to residents if they suspect they are a victim, in addition to filing a report with them.  The steps include going to the IRS in Danbury to file an identity theft affidavit, filing a Paper Tax Return and contacting the FTC to file a complaint.  Another step that should be taken is contacting one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. 

 

The company that is contacted will then alert the other two.

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UPDATED: Tractor trailer hits house in Danbury, driver gets warning

A verbal warning has been issued to a truck driver who crashed into a house in Danbury overnight.  The tractor trailers slid down Wilson Street around 5:30 this morning and hit the front corner of a house on Grand Street. 

 

The driver, 48-year old Devron Sargent of Pennsylvania was uninjured.  The verbal warning was for speed too fast for conditions.  There was structural damage to the house.  The residents and the building department were notified. 

 

There was no one inside the home at the time.

 

 

(Photos: Twitter, @IAFF801)

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Danbury Mayor Declares Level One Snow Emergency

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has announced a Level 1 snow emergency as of 10 a.m. today  calling for all cars to be removed from the streets.

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Two men sentenced for scheme to bribe FBI agent

Two Greater Danbury area men have been sentenced for a bribery scheme to get confidential information form a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains.  51-year old Johannes Thaler of New Fairfield was friends with Special Agent Robert Lustyik, and an acquaintance of 36-year old Rizve Ahmed of Danbury. 

 

In pleading guilty, Thaler admitted that he and the FBI agent solicited money from Ahmed in exchange for the internal law enforcement documents. 

 

Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh, wanted information about a prominent citizen of his home country who was affiliated with a political party opposing Ahmed’s views.  He wanted to locate and harm his political rival and others associated with the intended victim. 

 

Ahmed has been sentenced to 42 months in prison while Thaler must serve 30 months.  Lustyik pleaded guilty to all five counts against him in the indictment and he is scheduled to be sentenced April 30th.

 

As part of the scheme, Lustyik and Thaler exchanged text messages about how to pressure Ahmed to pay them additional money in exchange for confidential information.  For example, in text messages, Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . .  I will talk us into getting the cash . . . .  I will work my magic . . . .  We r sooooooo close.”  Thaler responded, “I know.  It’s all right there in front of us.  Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .”

 

Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information.  In response, Lustyik sent a text message to Thaler stating, “I want to kill C [Ahmed] . . . .  I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? . . . .  Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. . . .  I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to [the victim].”  Lustyik further stated, “So bottom line.  I need ten gs asap.  We gotta squeeze C.”

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New Milford house sustains significant damage in afternoon fire

Firefighters have put out a blaze in New Milford that's left a family homeless.  The fire on Grove Street was reported shortly before noon and caused serious damage.  Water Witch Hose Company Number 2 responded to reports of heavy smoke, and put out the fire in less than half an hour.  Volunteer firefighters from three other companies responded with mutual aid.  The Red Cross is helping the two adults and five children with temporary housing, food and warm winter clothing.

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Municipal advocate agency spots flaw in state aid formula in new budget

Governor Malloy's overall proposed budget holds towns harmless, but The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says there's a shift in some grant distributions that could cause 70 municipalities to get less state aide.  CCM spokesman Kevin Maloney says this is an issue for both small and large towns.  Newtown could lose about $45,000.  Redding stands to lose $11,000 while Sherman could miss out on $1,200 the town receives in the current formula.  CCM is calling on state lawmakers to address the issue.

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Feds approve Spectra pipeline expansion

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a natural gas pipeline expansion project in the region.  Spectra Energy received approval Tuesday and opponents have a month to file an appeal. 

 

Spectra plans to replace a pipeline segment with a larger one, starting at the Southeast Compressor Station and extending into Danbury near the Still River and Mill Plain Road.  It would end at an existing Algonquin site located east of Clapboard Ridge Road. 

 

The proposed construction work area would be located within 50 feet of 337 residential structures and 95 non-residential structure.

 

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Partial roof collapse reported in Bethel

There was a partial roof collapse this afternoon in Bethel at the Clarke Industrial Park off Route 53.  A man was on the roof attempting to clear snow when the structure gave way.  He declined medical attention.  The collapse happened shortly after noon.

 

According to White Pages, Gymnastics Revolution, Handyman Connection and Contractor Services are also among the businesses at that address.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it was over a business that houses a moving and storage area and there was some equipment damaged.

 

Everyone was safely evacuated from the building.  Structural engineers must certify the building to be safe before people are allowed back in.

 

(Photo Courtsey: Matt Knickerbocker, Twitter)

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Danbury Public Works asks for more money for snow response

The Danbury City Council is set to act on an emergency appropriation request by the Public Works Department.  Mayor Boughton says the City is racking up overtime in snow response because of the timing and duration of the storms.  The Department needs $160,000 from the contingency account.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the storms have taken a toll on vehicles, completely depleting several vehicle maintenance line items. 

 

Additional funds that are required for snow and ice related line items will come out of a state of Connecticut road grant.  Boughton says the below zero temperatures followed by above freezing has caused a lot of  ice control materials to be used.

 

Boughton adds that the timing of the storms has not been good.  Most of the snow has been on weekends and overnights. 

 

A balance of more than $280,000 would be left in the Contingency Fund after this appropriation.

 

Iadarola says because of the bitter cold, the schools and public buildings HVAC equipment has been impacted, $45,000 of the request would go toward that.  $90,000 of the request will be to maintain and repair snow removal equipment, $13,000 is for tires, $10,000 for lubrication and $2,000 for equipment communication.

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Newtown lawmaker hopes to add highway signs to quiet trucks

A bill is being considered by the state legislature that would allow the Department of Transportation to install signs along portions of the highway in an effort to alleviate a noise and vibration problems.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky introduced the bill on behalf of a neighborhood with no sound barriers.

 

Bolinsky says two bridges in the last three years were recently replaced in the Riverside section of Sandy Hook creating loud construction noise.  He's also been trying to put sound barriers in that area for years, but there's no state or federal program right now to do that.

 

Bolinsky's bill would give the DOT the authority to place yellow warning signs in downhill stretches of the highway that display a message such as “Residential Area - Do Not Engine Brake".  "Jake-Braking” is a common transportation term for the use of a supplemental brake retarder which Bolinsky says can be quite loud and accompanied by heavy compression-wave vibrations.  

 

Bolinsky called it a quality of life issue.

 

"Jake Brake" is a genericized trademark of Jacobs Vehicle Systems, used to describe many such truck braking systems.

 

DOT Commissioner James Redecker testified that the company has told him the noise often associated with so-called Jake Braking results when trucks have modified and often illegal exhaust systems.  He expressed concerns with a ban and suggested better enforcement of existing state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and state Department of Motor Vehicles regulations.

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Natural gas leak reported at Danbury business

Workers at Honeywell Incorporated in Danbury were briefly evacuated Tuesday afternoon because of a natural gas leak reported in the boiler room of their Eagle Road facility.  Some employees reported feeling ill from the odor.  Eversource Energy, formerly Yankee Gas, sent a mechanic to the scene.  Members of the Danbury Fire Department also responded.

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Family of 4 helped by Red Cross after Monroe house fire

The American Red Cross is helping a family of four after a fire Monday in Monroe.  The Red Cross is providing help to two adults and two children with emergency food, clothing and household needs to the Settlers Farm Road family.  They were able to make alternate arrangements for housing.  There were no injuries in yesterday's fire.  More than 40 firefighters responded to the second floor blaze.  Residents reportedly dug out two nearby fire hydrants as firefighters arrived.

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New Milford man charged by Danbury Police with murder

A New Milford man has been arrested for criminal attempt/murder.  Danbury Police arrested 36-year old Johnny Cruz Sunday night at his New Milford home.  Bond was preset by a judge at $500,000.  Cruz was held at Danbury Police Headquarters for arraignment in Danbury Superior Court on Monday.  Members of the Bridgeport Police Detective Bureau assisted in the investigation.  The warrant is sealed and Danbury police say no further information is being made available.

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U.S. Senate honors cop who prevented Metro North tragedy on Danbury branch

The young Norwalk police officer who prevented a tragedy involving a Danbury branch Metro North train and a car caught between the crossing gates last week, has been presented with a citation from the U.S. Senate.  Officer Neil Robertson was recognized by Senator Richard Blumenthal on Sunday for rushing to cars stopped in traffic to have them move forward so the SUV could get off the tracks. 

 

Blumenthal says there are over 2,000 accidents at grade crossings each year, with over 200 people killed annually nationwide.

 

Following the fatal Metro-North collision at the Valhalla grade crossing last month, Blumenthal introduced the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015.  The legislation focuses on engineering, education and enforcement.  He says those are the factors that experts have identified as the most effective means of reducing such collisions.

 

Blumenthal says the bill provides new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration, states and communities to make critical engineering and safety upgrades at rail crossings, like installing new lights and signals, particularly at accident-prone crossings. It would also provide grant funding to strengthen education and public awareness of grade crossing dangers, and for law enforcement to reduce violations of traffic laws at crossings.

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Redding state lawmakers to hold town hall office hours

Redding state lawmakers are holding office hours in the district tonight.  The Town Hall meeting will feature Representatives John Shaban and Dan Carter along with state Senator Toni Boucher.  Carter says they often hear a variety of issues from residents during these get togethers.

 

Carter gave the example of a bill proposed by a Redding resident that's working its way through the committee process.  It would ban products with microbeads from the state to prevent the small pieces of plastic from ending up in streams and rivers. 

 

The office hours at Redding Town Hall are from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

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100,000 free books sent to Danbury children since 2008

100,000 free books have been mailed to Danbury children in the past 6 years.  The United Way of Western Connecticut's  Imagination Library program has sent out a new book per month to each enrolled child from birth to age five at no cost to families.  Program coordinator Monet Chartier says this gives families the opportunity to own children’s books, many for the first time.  She notes that this eliminates the financial barrier of book ownership that low-income families often face.

 

The United Way brought Imagination Library to the state in 2008.

 

There are now 10 towns in the Greater Danbury area that participate in the program, which has an overall enrollment of more than 8,600 children.  About 2,000 children receive a book each month in Danbury alone.  4,100 books are sent across Connecticut each month.  The additional communities are: Bethel, Bridgewater, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Stamford, Warren, and Washington.

 

Connecticut has the widest education achievement gap in the country. Currently, 46% of children do not have the skills they need to start kindergarten.  Chartier says programs like Imagination Library can help fight the educational achievement gap before it starts by ensuring that children have access to quality reading materials and cultivate critical reading skills.

 

Although there is no cost to a family to enroll, every $33 donation sponsors an annual 12-volume set of high-quality, age-appropriate books delivered to each child by name.  A $165 gift sustains a child from birth until their fifth birthday. To enroll or sponsor a child, please visit www.uwwesternct.org/ImaginationLibrary.  Children can also be enrolled at local libraries.

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Bethel man, 2 others arrested on prostitution related charges

A Bethel man is among three people arrested for an incident Wednesday in West Hartford involving a prostitute.  Bethel Patch reports that police were called by a resident about a suspicious vehicle parked in her driveway and found 30-year old John Erdman of Bethel.  He allegedly told police he was picking someone up, and 26-year old Raechelle Carmona of Cromwell approached the vehicle.  She is wanted on an outstanding warrant. 

 

Police say when pressed further, Erdman admitted that he drove the woman there to provide sexual acts to a certified nurse's aide, and that he would receive some of the money for driving.  The nurse's aid, 27-year old Richard Sarpong of East Hartford, was arrested for patronizing a prostitute, Carmona was charged with prostitution, and Erdman was charged with promoting prostitution. 

 

All three were held on bond.

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Drug sweep nets several arrests at Newtown High School

A planned drug sweep at Newtown High School has resulted in three students being arrested and a fourth being issued an infraction.  Parents were notified that there would be a stepped up police presence on Friday for the effort, which took about 40 minutes and was done in the building and the surrounding parking lots. 

 

Newtown High School's principal sent a letter to parents Saturday saying that five hits were made leading to various arrests and school disciplinary action. 

 

The Principal said that recent headlines of substance abuse at Wesleyan University has focused their attention on the issue of drug use in young adults.

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Car found on Metro North tracks in Danbury due to GPS directions

An empty car was found at the Triangle Street railroad crossing in Danbury.  Danbury police say a driver followed her GPS, turned the wrong way and ended up on the railroad tracks.  The woman's car got stuck and had to be towed.  There were no injuries reported.  The incident did cause delays of up to 45 minutes southbound on the Danbury branch of Metro North, which were resolved before 5:30pm.

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Newtown panel to finalize recommendations to Malloy, some parents upset

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The panel of experts reviewing the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown is officially wrapping up its work after two years.

Members of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission were scheduled to finalize their report to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday. The group of experts released a 256-page draft report in early February, calling for new gun control measures, detailed school building standards and a new approach to mental health care.

Malloy created the panel following the shooting, which left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

Malloy said he is unsure sure which recommendations might be considered this during this legislative session. The timing is awkward, considering the General Assembly has already been meeting for two months and the deadline to submit bills has passed.

 

Some Connecticut parents who home-school their children believe some recommendations from the Commission could infringe on their parental rights.

They're particularly worried about language that references individual education programs, or IEPs, for home-schooled kids.

The parents believe the proposal could lead to mandatory IEPs for all home-schooled children. But commission members said they're only recommending that such plans for students needing special education services be followed for home-schooled students if they previously had an IEP in public school.

Various parents' rights organizations recently joined forces to form the new Parental Rights Coalition. They oppose other measures, including proposals for mandatory mental health screenings of schoolchildren.

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Brookfield budget proposal holds taxes even

A proposed budget has been sent to the Brookfield Board of Finance from First Selectman Bill Tinsley.  The combined education and municipal budget is proposed at $61.3 million, a 1.8 percent increase in spending.  But Tinsley says the budget holds property tax rates at the current level. 

 

The $39.5 million for education, a year over year increase of 2.4 percent, takes into account a declining school-aged population.  The $21.98 million for municipal operations is a year over year increase of .75 percent.  Tinsley says the plan replenishing the fund balance for the 1-point-2 million dollars overspent by the Board of Education in 2012 and 2013.

 

There are still some questions on state funding.

 

Tinsley hopes that Capital projects can be voted on during the budget referendum.  There's funding for roads and reserves for fire/ambulance.  The four year proposal calls for replacing some Highway Department trucks, converting the Board of Education financial system to MUNIS, and a police vehicle replacement program.  The long term debt is for school roofs, the Town Hall roof, a library room and flood abatement fixes in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood.

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Two public hearings scheduled tongiht in Brookfield

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is meeting tonight to set a date for the budget vote.  One of the items on the agenda tonight is to schedule a Town Meeting and referendum on the budget for the coming fiscal year. 

 

The Board has proposed holding a Special Town Meeting on April 1st in anticipation of the Board of Finance taking action on the 2015-2016 Capital Projects.  That meeting would be when a referendum date is set. 

 

Also on the agenda tonight in Brookfield is a public hearing about the 2015 Community Development Block Grant Program, and about creating a post-Employment Benefits Trust Ordinance.  The hearings start at 6:45pm with the Selectmen's meeting scheduled to start at 7:30.

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Workplace fight involving knife lands two under arrest

A workplace fight involving a knife has resulted in the arrests of two men.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reported on Thursday that a Yonkers man and one from New Jersey were involved in an altercation at a Patterson business earlier in the month. 

 

Deputies responded to R and V Flooring on February 9th.  Two workers fought over how a truck was being unloaded and one man displayed a knife, both said they feared for their personal safety.  48-year old Garfield Barnett of Yonkers was charged with 2nd degree menacing for brandishing the knife.  47-year old Noel Rivera of New Jersey was charged with 3rd degree menacing. 

 

Each were processed at the Putnam County Correctional Facility and held pending arraignment.

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Driver without valid license causes crash in Patterson

A New York man driving without a valid license has caused an accident, and was charged.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office responded to a report of an accident, with property damage, at the intersection of Route 311 and Interstate 84 in Patterson on Wednesday afternoon. 

 

Deputies determined that 43-year old Arsenio Ortiz of Putnam Valley had a suspended license. 

 

He was charged for that misdemeanor, processed at the scene and released without bond for a future court appearance in Patterson.  If found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, Ortiz could face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

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Civilians now in charge of 911 dispatching in Danbury

A group of civilians have moved into the Danbury Police station. 

 

Today is the first day that dispatching at the 911 center will be handled by someone who is not a police officer or firefighter.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says the civilians have all been trained by the state of Connecticut Emergency Medical Dispatching, so there will be a smooth transition.  A certified dispatcher and certified police supervisor will be monitoring things for the first two weeks.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says civilian dispatching represents a $1 million-per-year increase of proactive policing for the community. He says residents will see quicker response times by police, more traffic enforcement, and a greater emphasis on quality-of-life enforcement.  Danbury Police foot patrols on Main Street are also making a comeback because of this change.

 

(Photo Courtesy: @MayorMark)

 

Financially, after an initial two-to three-year up-front investment, Boughton says taxpayers will see a significant savings.  That will be driven by a reduction in overtime, and a reduction of staffing through attrition.

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