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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-12

New state laws start in the new year

Several new state laws take effect with the start of a new year.  Among them is a hike in the minimum wage.  It's increasing from $9.15 an hour to $9.60 an hour.  Some tax changes also take effect.  They include an increase in the cigarette tax and luxury goods tax, a cap in the mill rate for motor vehicle taxes and military retirement pay becoming fully exempt from the state income tax. 

 

The Marginal income tax rate increase for certain higher income filers, and there will be a $20 million cap on the maximum amount of estate tax imposed on the estates of residents and nonresidents who die on or after January 1st. 

 

When it comes to election law changes: any petitioning, write-in and minor party candidates for municipal or district office must live within the district in which they seek to run. This already applies to major party candidates. 

 

Some health insurance laws are changing.  Carriers must disclose specified information including cost exclusions and restrictions on covered benefits such as prescription drugs. Certain policies must cover telehealth services to the same extent as in-person visits.  Certain policies must cover mental and nervous conditions. 

 

Several of the new laws concern changes for police under an Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force.  More minority police officers have to be hired and promoted to better reflect the makeup of the community they serve.  Grants for body cameras also become available.

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2015 in Review: Scandal hit some Greater Danbury area schools

Scandal hit some Greater Danbury area schools in 2015.

 

The former treasurer of the Stepney Elementary School PTO in Monroe was arrested in May for allegedly embezzling more than $45,000 from the Parent Teacher Organization.  34-year old Sarah Chiarelli is due in court in February.  Bank account audits showed 226 illegitimate transactions, including for a trip to Disney World.

 

Two former Brookfield School employees were arrested in connection with budget overspending and questionable expenses using school funds.  Former Finance Director Art Colley and his one-time assistant Elizabeth Kerekes were charged in September.  Nearly $124,000 in questionable spending by Colley and others was uncovered in an audit.  He was previously charged with two counts of forgery for allegedly receiving a reimbursement for iPads that were never purchased.

 

A former Middlebrook teacher in Wilton was arrested for risk of injury and sexual assault in February after being found in a parked car at a movie theater with a 14-year old boy.  37-year old Timothy Leonard of Southbury was granted accelerated rehabilitation probation in November and ordered not to have contact with the boy.

 

A former Bethel teacher charged with sexual assault and risk of injury is due inc court this month.  30-year old Brian Stroh resigned from Berry Elementary in February.  The victims, 3 boys, were ages 6, 9 and 11 and reportedly not students.

 

A former Wilton preschool paraprofessional was sentenced in October to six years in prison, suspended after two years, for possession of child pornography .  More than 100 video files were found on 35-year old Eric Von Kohorn's computer.  He was an aide at Miller Driscoll School.

 

A former Stratford elementary school teacher was arrested in October on charges she sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy since he was in sixth grade.  The teen feared he might be the father of 28-year old Michelle Sulzicki's baby  The Oxford woman tutored the boy.

 

A Danbury woman was arrested in March for sexual assault and distributing alcohol to a minor.  25-year old Kayla Mooney told school officials she was being harassed by the boy's ex-girlfriend.  Police say they confirmed parts of the boy's story after obtaining emails the he and Mooney exchanged.  She was placed on administrative leave in February, but failed to maintain her certification and was let go.

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2015 in Review: Police make headlines

Police from around the region made headlines in 2015, sometimes as the victims sometimes as the suspects. 

 

A former Newtown Police Sgt. was among a dozen people charged with participating in a steroid manufacturing and distribution ring.  39-year old Steven Santucci is the alleged ring leader.  Others arrested in the investigation dubbed Operation Juice Box include 46-year old Jason Chickos, a former civilian dispatcher with the Newtown Police Department and Easton police commissioner 48-year old Raymond Martin.

 

During a four week span in November and December, five Danbury Police officers were injured.  Two were in car accidents where their vehicles were struck.  Two officers investigating suspicious activity were leaving a house onto a second floor deck, when it separated from the house and collapsed.  One officer conducting traffic was struck by a car and vaulted about fifteen feet into the air.

 

A Danbury Police officer was fired in January for use of excessive force.  Daniel Sellner was accused of injuring a man in handcuffs being escorted out of the Dollar General store on Main Street while using offense language toward people found trespassing at the skate park.  In August, the Danbury City Council agreed to a settlement with the victim in the August 2014 incident, in exchange for him dropping a lawsuit against the City.

 

A jury acquitted a former Danbury Police Officer in October of assault and threatening.  35-year old Christopher Belair was found not guilty in the March 2013 incident in which he was accused of yelling at an undocumented immigrant during a traffic stop and threatening to beat him. 

 

A Danbury Police officer was arrested in September for breaking into unlocked cars in Dutchess County and stealing items.  28-year old Anthony Ramos was immediately relieved of police duties.  The investigation is continuing.

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2015 in Review: Progress and destruction, unlikely pairings

Progress and destruction went hand-in-hand at some points during 2015. 

 

Great progress has been seen at the site of the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown.  Winter construction photos show a lot of work being done on the interior of the building to get it ready for the start of the next school year.  The Newtown Board of Selectmen recommended in January that the Yogananda Street home of the Sandy Hook School gunman be demolished, and the land become open space.  The property was deeded to the town, at no cost, by the bank which held the mortgage.  The house was demolished in March.

 

 

Two rainbow flag flying outside a Danbury church were burned.  The flags were put up outside the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriages should be legal across the country.  Initially, Danbury police said the first flag burning in July was criminal mischief, not a hate crime.  A second rainbow flag was found burned in September.  It's not known if the same person or persons burned the second flag, but police said it could be possibly considered a hate crime.

 

A service dog was credited in June with protecting his blind owner from an oncoming mini school bus in Brewster.  Audrey Stone suffered a fractured elbow and ankle, and broken ribs.  Figo's leg was cut down to the bone.  The pair were reunited in October.  The 8-year old Golden Retriever returned to the Guide Dog Foundation to ensure the bus crash hadn't made him too fearful or distracted to do his job--and the trainer didn't find any signs of trouble.

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Weston Volunteer Fire Department warns of smoke/CO detector scam

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is warning residents about a scam that's once again circulating Connecticut.  They say scammers call residents and claim to be from federal, state or local agencies.  They then say that smoke or carbon monoxide detectors need to be inspected according to state statute. 

 

Once inside, they steal items or case the house for a later burglary. 

 

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department wants residents to know that there is no such state statute.  No one can randomly enter your home to make sure you have a working smoke or carbon monoxide detector. 

 

If you receive this type of call, or someone comes to your home with this claim, dial 911 and give a description of the suspect and their vehicle.

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2015 in Review: Odd headlines from Greater Danbury

There were some unusual stories from around the region to make news in 2015.

 

A Danbury man was found naked and bleeding in a closet after a domestic dispute escalated in January.   26-year old Cordero Callands was arrested after a fight with the mother of his child.  Police found a broken window at the woman's home.  During their search, found Callands naked in her closet.

 

A Florida man wanted in New York was arrested in Ridgefield after being found buried in a snow bank in February.  27-year old Antony Vincent of Miami was being sought by New York State Police when his car was found abandoned in neighboring Ridgefield.  K-9 officer Loki searched and found Vincent had buried himself in the snow about a quarter mile away.   Cocaine, marijuana, drug packaging material and a switchblade knife were also found nearby.

 

Two Hartford women were caught in May, with a child in tow, taking security sensors off of merchandise at the Danbury Fair Mall.  The child was sent off with another adult before officers arrived.  21-year old Nashana McHaney and 22-year old Destinymarie Santiago were eventually taken into custody.

 

After being warned not to, a Danbury teen was cited for starting a food fight on the final day of school.  The boy, whose name was not released because of age, was seen by staff throwing a tray full of food into a crowd gathered in the courtyard.  School officials made announcements that day that any student engaging in questionable behavior would face the consequences of that behavior. 

 

A Danbury man was arrested after he left his kids in the car while he went to a bar on Father's Day.  The kids, aged 9, 8 and 4 months, were left in a running car outside of Copacabana.  As 40-year old Edgar Hernandez explained to police that he only stopped for two minutes to collect money from a friend, officers could smell alcohol on him.  Witnesses told police that Hernandez was in the bar for more than 10 minutes.

 

A Monroe allegedly smashed a wine glass against a restaurant wall in June and locked herself in the bathroom.  Monroe Police were called to Tula on June 6th on a report from a patron saying that a woman wearing a hoodie and pajama pants walked in, sat at their table and drank their wine.  Audra Smith told responding officers that she had a medical condition.

 

A Danbury man who told a bouncer at a Molly Darcy’s that he had just done drugs, later engaged police in a standoff at his home and was arrested for a second time in less than 24 hours.  29-year old Robert Tyrell was arrested for criminal trespass after refusing to leave the Mill Plain Road pub in July shortly before closing time.  Police were called to what turned out to be Tyrell's Danbury address shortly before midnight that same day and found a man pacing back and forth in the driveway with what looked like a gun.  It was later determined to be a fake gun.

 

A Danbury man who passed out on a stranger's porch in August was arrested on a number of drug related charges.  Police say 19-year old Marqece Murphy, had an airsoft pistol, cocaine, four iPhones and nearly $500 in cash on him.

 

A Newtown man was arrested in August for allegedly breaking into a home, stealing items and holding them for ransom.  24-year old Joshua Adams reportedly broke into a home he used to live in, stole items and then sent text messages to the owner offering them back in exchange for ransom money.

 

A Danbury man was arrested in August for grabbing a man off the street that he thought was homeless, and feeding him.  A 77-year old man told police he was pushing a shopping cart with cans and bottles down Lincoln Avenue when a man, later determined to be David Pope, grabbed him by the arm and insisted that he follow.  Pope brought the man to his nearby home.  His dog bit the victim on the leg.  Pope fed the man, who was eventually able to leave without being seen.  That's when he called police to report the bizarre incident.

 

A Brookfield couple was arrested in September for driving with their children in the back storage area of a two-seat sports car.  Brookfield Police spokesman Major Jay Purcell says an officer stopped the 1982 Chevy Corvette on Tuesday about 8pm on Federal Road for a traffic violation.  The officer noticed the blanket in the back was moving, and uncovered a 7-year old girl and an 8-year old girl.  Frederick and Sheri Horton are due in court next month.

 

In September, a judge ruled that the village of Liberty, New York must stand trial on claims it failed to properly train police officers about the First Amendment.  The case centers on the arrest of a 22-year-old Bethel, Connecticut driver three years ago for protesting a speeding ticket by writing curse words on his payment form and replacing "Liberty'' with "Tyranny.''

 

A Gaylordsville man arrested for a domestic violence incident in September set fire to the holding cell he was in at the New Milford Police station.  The blaze was put out with no injuries reported.  50-year old Gary Shott was held on additional bond money.

 

A Danbury was arrested twice in one September week, and both times he fought with officers trying to take him into custody.  22-year old Vicente Penafiel-Buenano was intoxicated and intially refused to leave El Milenio.  He was then seen trying to get in his car.  After speaking with officers, the man unzipped his pants and attempted to urinate on the floor.  Penafiel-Buenano tried to bite an officer in the leg.  Two days later, an employee of Scissorhands 2 salon said that a man, later determined to be Penafiel-Buenano, came into the business three times and refused to leave when he was told to do so.  He locked himself in a room for a time.  Penafiel-Buenano punched the employee in the face, punched the officer in the mouth and continued to wildly swing his fists.

 

New Milford Police responding to a call of a suspicious person at the McDonalds on Route 7 found a man asleep in the fast food bathroom.  When officers woke him up, 27-year old Matthew Cabral of New Milford told police he had used heroin.

 

A Newtown school bus driver was suspended because of his October arrest for stealing panties from a Bethel home.  50-year old Nelson Montalvo of Monroe admitted to entering the victim's home in March, stealing the items, damaging them and then returning the items to the house.

 

Danbury Police responded to a report of a robbery in progress at a store on Newtown Road, only to determine that an employee was trying to get his girlfriend's attention.  The woman called 911 earlier this month about a text message from her boyfriend saying Dollar Tree was being robbed.  20-year old Corey Staggers admitted that he made it up.

 

A neighbor dispute about leaf blowing ended this month with a Danbury man swinging a machete at his neighbor.  79-year old Charles Middlebrook became upset when 56-year old Frederick Underhill inadvertently got dirt his car.  According to Underhill, Middlebrook was verbally abusive and charged off his porch with a machete.  Middlebrook said Underhill pointed the leaf blower about three feet away from his face and continued to blow air at him.

 

A New Fairfield woman and her fiance was arrested for shoplifting a few days before Christmas, and she tried to avoid the arrest by faking a pregnancy and labor.  After meeting with KMart store security in Southbury, State police escorted 33-year old Giovanni Torcasio of Danbury to his car.  Troopers saw a number of stolen items on the backseat.  When 27-year old Denajia Bishop was told of an active warrant for her arrest, Bishop said she was going into labor.  As EMS checked her out, $91 worth of stolen items were found underneath her sweatshirt, making her appear pregnant.

 

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2015 in Review: A dangerous travel year in Greater Danbury

A Metro North train smashed into an SUV stopped on the tracks in Valhalla in February, killing the car's driver and five train riders including a Danbury man. 

 

In August, there were back-to-back weeks of planes misjudging their landings at Danbury Airport.  In each Friday incident the pilots were able to walk away uninjured or with minor injuries

 

In September two Colgate University students from Ridgefield were killed after the plane one of them was piloting crashed in rural upstate New York.  The 19-year olds deaths followed a Ridgefield teen being killed in a car accident by UConn the week before. 

 

In November, a South Salem couple was killed when their small plane crashed in a North Salem reservoir while heading to Danbury Airport.

 

There were at least nine incidents of pedestrians getting hit by cars in Danbury and New Milford.  Two accidents happened on White Street by West Conn.  Both people were in the cross walk, one driver fled and the other remained on scene.  There were three fatal accidents.  Two pedestrians crossing Lake Avenue near Stop & Shop were struck by a car in early July.  A 23-year old from Brookfield was the driver who struck the 17 year olds, one of whom died.  A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle in the parking lot of a Putnam County Savings Bank in Southeast.  A 24-year old man was struck and killed by a car on Route 7 in New Milford in August near John Pettibone School.

 

A 69-year-old New Milford woman was struck by a car in March on Candlewood Lake Road North when she stopped with the door open on the side of the road.

 

A High School student who was hit by a vehicle in March crossing Lake Avenue early in the morning to get to the bus stop.

 

In June, a 26-year old pedestrian was struck on Clapboard Ridge Road.  The New Fairfield man was walking with two other people and trying to cross the road.

 

A 15-year old was hit on Padanaram Road near the Subway Plaza.  The driver stopped.

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2015 in Review: High profile crimes rock the region

There were some high-profile crimes in the Greater Danbury area in 2015.  Former Governor John Rowland was sentenced in March to 30 months in prison for conspiring to hide payments for his work on a congressional campaign.  The sentencing came 10 years to the day of being sent to prison on a previous conviction for accepting illegal gifts as governor. 

 

Video from a nanny cam showed that a baby sitter beat a 3-year-old Danbury girl and burned her on a hot stove in March.  Lidia Quilligana remains in custody on several risk of injury charges among other crimes. 

 

In April, a report of a disgruntled employee pacing a parking lot caused a scare in Danbury.  22-year old Ariteigh Bailey was arrested for bringing a replica handgun to work. 

 

A judge gave a Monroe father a special form of probation after the man accidentally shot his 11-year-old son in the face this spring while putting away his handgun.  The son of Vincent Pizzolato sustained a shattered jaw. 

 

A Danbury man was charged in October with murdering Mark Rebong nearly 16 years ago.  37-year old Alex Garcia was in the Latin Kings and murdered Rebong in a case of mistaken identity as he tried to increase his position in the gang. 

 

A Danbury man set off a HAZMAT scare in October when he dropped off a package marked Ebola at a City office building.  The man wanted the crushed plant from Africa to be tested as a remedy for the virus. 

 

A Danbury man charged with running a Ponzi scheme as a 19-year old was found guilty this month on some of the charges.  Ian Bick owns Tuxedo Junction and allegedly defrauding 15 people out of nearly $500,000.

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2015 in Review: Communities mourned lives lost

2015 was marred by some notable deaths in the Greater Danbury area. 

 

A fatal fire in Ridgefield in April claimed the life of a 78-year old woman.  The fire at the Casagmo condominiums was ruled accidental.  Sandra Reyes was trapped on the second floor, and one of her sons sustained injuries as he and his brother attempted a rescue. 

 

In November, the 83-year-old wife of a millionaire McDonald's franchisee was found dead at their North Salem estate.  Police suspect foul play in the blunt force trauma death of Lois Colley.  The area was already on edge due to a series of home break ins and burglaries in neighboring Ridgefield

 

Kyle Navin, the son of an Easton couple who planned to cut him out of their will, was charged with their murders.  Jeanette and Jeffrey Navin went missing in August, their remains were found in neighboring Weston in late October.

 

Former Newtown state Representative Julia Wasserman passed away at the age of 91.  Wasserman served a decade on the Newtown Legislative Council, 13 years as an appointed to the state DEP Resource Conservation and Development Project and 10 years on the Newtown Conservation Commission. She was appointed to the state Board of Pardons and Parole after retiring from the legislature.

 

A major Wall Street Banker with ties to the local community died. James B. Lee Jr. served as chairman of the board of directors of the Berkshire Broadcasting Corporation, parent of WLAD.

 

The owner of the Matrix Center in Danbury died in a car crash on Long Island.  48-year old Glen Nelson purchased the old Union Carbide building in Danbury in 2009.  Sunday's accident happened two days before Nelson's 49th birthday.

 

Danbury's recently retired City Planning Director died this month. Dennis Elpern became Danbury Planning Director in 1988 and retired on November 1st.

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Topping off ceremony held for Greater Danbury Community Health Center

A topping off ceremony was held earlier this month for a construction project taking place on Main Street in Danbury.  The final beam for the future Greater Danbury Community Health Center was put into place.  Connecticut Institute for Communities celebrated with Verdi Construction the completion of the building's steel skeleton.  The beam was signed before being lifted into place at the top of the building.  An American flag and Christmas Tree were also placed on the beam. 

 

The building will house pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services, comprehensive women's health services, an on site-blood sample suite, a full service pharmacy, administrative offices for the health center and headquarters for the Connecticut Institute. 

 

A pharmacy will also be on site.

 

Executive Director Jim Maloney says existing staff will basically double from about 60 employees, to more than 120. Maloney expects $6 million a year in payroll for physicians, APRNs, front desk staff, medical assistants, clerical staff, billing, finance, legal, HR and front desk staff.

 

The Center is on the site of the former police station, which was torn down when a new station was constructed for police at the other end of Main Street. 

 

The project is expected to be completed next fall.

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Metro North has modified schedule, alcohol ban for New Years

Metro North is one of the better ways for revelers to get to Times Square or other festivities on New Year’s Eve, and to travel home afterwards. The MTA recommends that customers purchase their MetroCards or train tickets in advance.  Tickets will be collected at the gate before people board trains to return to Putnam and Fairfield Counties in the early morning hours of New Year's Day.

 

Metro-North will operate on a modified weekday schedule, with an extra getaway trains between noon and 4 pm today.  There will be extra New York City-bound service for the late afternoon and evening.  Alcohol is banned from Metro North trains between noon Thursday and noon on Friday.

 

To help revelers return from New Year’s Eve events, Metro-North will operate plenty of extra service from Grand Central after midnight to provide a safe ride home for everyone who has been busy ringing in the new year.

 

People can leisurely make their way back to Grand Central after midnight.

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Judge allows dig at school for evidence of child pornography

SALISBURY, Conn. (AP) A federal judge is allowing attorneys suing a private school in Salisbury to dig for possible evidence of child pornography.

Attorneys for a former Indian Mountain School student were recently granted up to six hours to conduct the dig on school grounds, the Hartford Courant reported Wednesday. The date of the dig was not specified in the order signed by U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton earlier this month.

William Brewster Brownville, the former student, filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging a former headmaster sexually assaulted him during the 1980s. Several other lawsuits alleging abuse have been filed.

A message was left seeking comment with the school's attorney.

Indian Mountain School is a private boarding and day school for students in pre-kindergarten through the ninth grade.

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Newtown Police Commission to examine flagpole intersection

The Newtown Police Commission will look into the safety of the flagpole intersection in the new year.  At their meeting January 5th, the group is slated to discuss a traffic report prepared by Frederick P. Clark Associates.  The Newtown Bee reports that the traffic engineer from the firm will present their findings to the Police Commission about the specific traffic problems and possible public safety solutions. 

 

The intersection of Main Street, Church Hill Road and West Street has seen more than 50 collisions between 2012 and 2014.  Main Street and Church Hill Road are technically state roads, and the flagpole is a state-designated landmark.  The flagpole is unprotected in the middle of the intersection and some of the accidents have involved vehicles hitting the 100-foot pole. 

 

The Police Commission meeting on January 5th is at 6:30pm.

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CityCenter decides not to hold 'First Night' event to ring in New Year

A decline in attendance and running in the red are two of the reasons cited by City Center Danbury for not holding a First Night celebration on New Years Eve.  The once popular family friendly event to ring in the new year has seen less interest at similar celebrations nationwide.  City Center has sponsored First Night since 2007, though it has been held in Danbury for 25 years.  In the past, there were events held at various venues around City Center including the Palace Theater, the Ice Arena, the Green and even the roof deck of the Patriot Parking Garage.

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Fight continues by Brookfield woman kicked out of local GOP party

There was a settlement conference Tuesday in the case of a Brookfield resident ousted from the town Republican Party.  No agreement was reached between the attorneys for Jane Miller and the GOP.  She was kicked out under a little used state statute allowing members to be booted for lack of good-faith party affiliation. 

 

The issue was initially brought up against Miller and her husband when the Republican Town Committee chairman and the Republican Registrar said that the couple backed Democrats and Jane Miller ran as a Democrat for a Board of Finance seat in 2013.  Larry Miller was allowed to remain in the party but Jane was banned. 

 

The attorneys say an appeal will be filed in state Supreme Court.

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Municipal officials remind residents, businesses to clear sidewalks of snow and ice

Some sidewalk snow clearing is not the responsibility of cities and towns.  With the first storm of winter in the books for the season, municipalities are reminding residents and businesses about laws on the books to clear the sidewalk in front of their property.  Only some towns and cities in the state have transferer the liability to abutting property owners.  Danbury is among the cities that have such an ordinance.  Failure to clear a sidewalk within four hours of daylight after the storm stops could result in a $100 fine.  Wilton has set a fine of $99 if the sidewalks aren't taken care of within the first six hours of daylight following a storm.  In Bethel, the fine is $50.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission gives update to Selectmen

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has received an update from the Chair of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Kyle Lyddy provided an update on the recently selected site for a future memorial.  He said they decided early on that the location needed come before the design.

 

The group worked with the Newtown Police Commission, the town's Director of Planning & Land Use as well as the Newtown Conservation Commission to narrow down the sites from 30 down to one.  The three- to four-acres at the High Meadow at Fairfield Hills was chosen for its accessibility and infrastructure. 

 

Lyddy also told the Board that the Commission anticipated some initial concerns, including proximity to a paved walking trail.  The trail is frequently used, including by some of the 26 families who lost loved ones on 12-14, and they may not want to be exposed to the memorial.  Lyddy says when they put out requests for proposals for a memorial, applicants should provide sight line barriers between the trail and the memorial.

 

Working with the Newtown Parks and Rec Department, Lyddy says they want to make sure the memorial and the agency's Phase III trail upgrades will work together, not against each other.  He says that's layout, parking, and access ways.

 

The main source of concern though comes from the Conservation Commission.  They want to make sure that the ecology of the land is protected.  The improvements for handicap parking and an access road would be included in requests for proposals, and bidders would know that there is some land at the location that needs preserving.

 

Lyddy says there's been a misconception that the High Meadows was a predetermined selection.  There were about 30 locations that the site committee visited.  Those were narrowed down to 8 and then 3, before the High Meadows was chosen.

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UNIT cracks down on illegal car sales in Danbury

Danbury has seen a rash of illegal car sales in the last several months.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team told City Officials this month that in the last quarter, the department has received complaints of vehicles being sold at random locations around Danbury by many of the same individuals, none of whom have permission to sell the vehicles at these locations, or who have a used car dealer license.  UNIT officials say they have been vigilant in tracking these vehicles, contacting and meeting the people who sell them, and also having these vehicles removed.  After three months, UNIT reported that the violations have dramatically decreased.

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Danbury firefighters highlight cat rescue in report to City Council

An unusual rescue was highlighted in this month's report by the Danbury Fire Department to the City Council.  Squad-1 and Car 30 worked on Tower Place, where a small cat had been stuck in a very old, brick lined storm sewer for four days. With the help of a can of cat food, and the animal snare, the cat was tricked into being captured, and released into the custody of its owner.  The cat was determined to be unharmed.  It wasn't clear how the cat got stuck in the storm sewer.

 

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New Milford attorney accused of stealing from client enters plea agreement

A plea agreement has been reached in a case of a New Milford attorney who allegedly stole $113,000 from a client.  54-year old Donald Wharton pleaded guilty last week to a felony larceny charge.  He faces little more than two years in prison when he is sentenced January 15th. 

 

Police say they received a complaint from a New Milford resident at the end of last year saying that funds intended to resolve foreclosure issues weren't used to pay off the expenses. 

 

Police say Wharton tried to take his own life after being confronted by the client. 

 

He was arrested last November after police found the money had been deposited into his work bank account, which then only had about $30 in it.  Wharton’s attorney license was suspended last December.

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Office cleaners, janitors reach contract agreement

Office cleaners and school janitors from Fairfield and Westchester Counties have a new contract following votes this weekend in Danbury, Stamford, Bridgeport and in White Plains.  The Hudson Valley-Fairfield County Contractors Association reached a four year deal with some 3,500 members.  The contract includes incremental wage increases, maintains affordable benefits, and keeps new hires at the same pay as their coworkers.  Negotiations between the SEIU division and the Contractors Association began on November 18th.

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Newtown police receive reports of items stolen from unlocked cars

Newtown Police are reminding residents to keep their cars locked when they are not in use.  There were about 20 thefts reported this weekend in Newtown from unlocked cars.  The stolen items range from cash to cell phones and GPS devices.  Police say the thefts happened around South Main Street in the area of Dogwood Terrace and Apple Blossom Lane, as well as from the Toddy Hill Road and Taunton Hill Road areas.  In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office received about 20 reports of items stolen from unlocked parked cars.  There were also two unlocked cars reported stolen in Southeast during that time.

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Danbury area schools participate in 'Poetry Out Loud' contest

A record 43 Connecticut high schools have registered to participate in the 11th annual Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest.  The Connecticut Office of the Arts, which stages the Poetry Out Loud program in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

 

Of the 43 schools, nine are new to the program this year.  Participating schools include Joel Barlow, and high schools in Bethel, New Milford, Newtown, and Ridgefield. 

 

Visiting poet-teachers are helping to prepare students for contests.  The winners advance to a state competition on March 15th. The Connecticut State Champion will advance to the National Finals in May. 

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New Board member appointed to Ann's Place

Ann's Place has a new Board member.  Ann's Place provides support services to people living with cancer and to their loved ones at no charge.  Their newest board member is Jamie Eden, who is currently Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Boehringer Ingelheim.  He has more than two decades of Human Resources experience and is a member of the BI Cares Foundation Steering Committee.  The organization as it's known today came from a merger of I Can, and the Ann Olsen fund.  38-year old Ann Olsen was a BI employee who died in 1987 after a short battle with cancer.

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Applications available soon for Danbury magnet school

Parents thinking about sending their child to a magnet school in Danbury can start applying soon.  The Danbury School District will start taking applications for the Academy for International Studies Magnet School on January 1st.  There will be a lottery held to chose students from Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown and Redding to attend the school.  The facility serves students from Kindergarten through 5th grade.  The school is located next to the Western Connecticut State University west side campus.  Links to the magnet school application can be found on the school district's website beginning on Friday.

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Winter weather headed to Conn., Danbury using new road treatment product

There is a winter weather advisory in place for tonight and tomorrow.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is using a different product this year to keep the roads safe.

 

Boughton says the initial cost to use the straight salt material that's treated with a compound will be a little higher than the old sand and salt mixture, but in the long run it will save money on clean up costs from street sweeping. 

The product is effective at lower temperatures than sand and salt combined.

 

It's been used on Main Street for the past three years, and Boughton says it's worked great there.

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Obit: Recently retired Danbury City Planner dies at age 69

Danbury's recently retired City Planning Director has died.  Dennis Elpern passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 69. 

 

He held a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.  Elpern became Danbury Planning Director in 1988 and retired on November 1st. 

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says Elpern's ideas and their realization over 27 years as planning director will stand as his memorial for many years to come.  Some of his legacy includes designing the green and Elmwood Park.

 

Friends will be received Tuesday from 4 to 7pm at Green Funeral Home on Main Street in Danbury.  Interment will occur at a later date.  Contributions in Elpern's memory are being directed to Regional Hospice and and Home Care of Western Connecticut, and to the Danbury Land Trust.

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'Buddy Bench' at Hayestown School dedicated to beloved teacher

A bench has been dedicated at a Danbury school in honor of a teacher who passed away this summer.  Students, faculty and staff at Hayestown Avenue School dedicated a so-called "buddy bench" in memory of Shawn Johnson at an assembly just before the December break last week

 

The bench is a tool designed to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground.  Kids are encouraged to include anyone who is sitting on the bench into their play time. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: Danbury Public Schools, Facebook)

 

Johnson’s family was at the school assembly. 

 

The 37-year old died in July.  He was a Newtown native who graduated from West Conn.  Johnson was an avid reader with an interest in history and science.  He had many pets and in his obituary, his family had asked that donations in his name be made to DAWS.

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Danbury man arrested for going to gun range while intoxicated

A Danbury man has been arrested for showing up to a gun range intoxicated.  State Police were called to the Wooster Mountain gun range Sunday afternoon by a manager who said there was a drunk man there.  There were about 30 people, including some children, at the Sugar Hollow Road facility at the time. 

 

Witnesses told a Trooper that 38-year old Patrick Straub was having trouble balancing and they could smell alcohol on him.  Troopers saw that Straub had glassy eyes and had trouble walking. 

 

His firearms and ammunition were seized. 

 

Straub was escorted outside for a Field Sobriety Test, which he failed.  He's been charged with illegally carrying of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and breach of peace. 

 

Straub said in a phone interviewwith the Associated Press Monday that he was not intoxicated and failed sobriety tests because of a leg problem. He called the charges ``nonsense,'' and said a man whom he upset called police on him.

 

He was released on $5,000 bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on January 15th.

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One person injured in Danbury fire on Christmas

Danbury firefighters battled an apartment fire last night on Main Street.  The fire broke out in an apartment above a shop at 276 Main Street shortly before 8pm.  It took about an hour for the the blaze to be extinguished and then firefighters searched the entire building for any hot spots. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says one person was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor burns. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: Mayor Mark Boughton, Twitter)

 

The cause of the fire was not immediatly known. 

 

The Stony Hill Fire Department covered Danbury Fire Headquarters during the response.  Brookfield, Ridgefield and Newtown also provided mutual aid.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Phoenix Hose Co. 8, Twitter)

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Sen. Murphy calls for mental health care parity

A bill to reform the country's mental health care system was discussed in Danbury this week by Senator Chris Murphy.  He met with mental health providers and advocates at Family & Children's Aid, following up on a dozen round table discussions he held across the state to get input on what should be included in the reform bill.

 

Murphy wants to break down the barriers between the mental and physical health systems.  He wants people to be able to see a behavioral health specialist just like a specialist for a heart condition or a broken leg. 

 

He is also calling for a new position to be created with the Department of Health and Human Services to deal solely with mental health. 

 

He wants more clinicians, psychiatrists and psychologists.  He says there are people waiting weeks and months when they're in crisis, which doesn't make sense.  Murphy the mental health care system is very fragmented and he wants to increase inpatient and outpatient slots. 

 

Some of the bill also involves more funding being set aside for early intervention and for research. 

 

Murphy says there is no inherent connection between mental illness and violence, in fact those who are mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.  But he says the conversation about reforms has to be careful not to re-stigmatize a group of people who have been fighting for a long time to have the stigma removed.

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Connecticut's Christmas Eve temperatures break record

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) An unusually warm Christmas Eve has led to a new weather record in Connecticut.

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts announced via Twitter on Thursday that temperatures at Bradley International Airport had reached 60 degrees at 12:08 p.m.

That broken the maximum temperature record for the day of 59 degrees at Bradley, set both in 1996 and 1990.

By 1 p.m., Danbury was considered one of the warmest spots in southern New England. Temperatures in the Hat City reached 68 degrees. Danbury joined Boston, Bedford and Norwood, Massachusetts.

The weather service said such high temperatures are more normal for this time of year in Florida.

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Continued vigilance practiced in NY counter-terrorism zones

Area residents may see more police out on patrol this weekend.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says law enforcement agencies across Putnam and Westchester Counties are part of a Counter-Terrorism zone and will be conducting periodic security checks of religious facilities, train stations, commuter parking lots, shopping malls and public parks where holiday events may be held.  The stepped up patrols are part of a strategy of continued vigilance.  With recent events, now more than ever, Sheriff Donald Smith says it's important that everyone is aware of what is going on around them and not to become complacent.

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20 car break-ins, 2 cars stolen over the past two weeks

In the last two weeks, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office has received about 20 reports of items stolen from parked cars.  The vehicles in Southeast and in Putnam Valley were left unlocked.  The items that were stolen include cash, credit cards, GPS devices and other electronics. 

 

There were also two cars reported stolen in Southeast last Monday and Tuesday.  The cars were left unlocked.  One was later found abandoned in Westchester County. 

 

Police are reminding people to lock their cars, including when they are parked at home.  Sheriff Donald Smith says thieves can be opportunistic , and items left visible in unlocked cars can be alluring.  At this time of year, especially, thieves know that people might leave Christmas presents or holiday shopping money in their cars.

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Sen. Blumenthal urges seniors in Danbury to be cautious with charitable donations

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury on Wednesday to talk with seniors about scams and steps they can take to prevent from becoming victims this holiday season.  Blumenthal told a crowd at Elmwood Hall that the holiday season often sees an increase in scams and frauds against the elderly.  Blumenthal says the criminals make it easy for generous people to squander hard earned dollars on look-alike or sound-alike charities.  He says donors should be prudent, and ask for information in writing.  He also suggested not giving out social security or bank account information over the phone.

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Matrix Center owner dies in LI car crash

The owner of the Matrix Center in Danbury died this weekend in a car crash on Long Island.  Port Jefferson Police say 48-year old Glen Nelson hit a telephone pole Sunday afternoon with his Lamborghini.  It was not immediately clear if speed was a factor in the crash.  Nelson founded the Matrix Group in 1993.  He purchased the old Union Carbide building in Danbury in 2009.  Sunday's accident happened two days before Nelson's 49th birthday.

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NY man arrested for violating protective order, fighting with cops

A domestic disturbance in Danbury last night has landed a New York man under arrest.  Danbury Police say officers responded to a Town Hill Avenue home on a report of a man with a bb gun.  

 

25-year old Joshua Rosado started fighting with them on the sidewalk, though the man was taken into custody with no injuries reported to anyone involved. 

 

The Bronx man had an order of protection banning him from contacting the victim.  The bb gun was found in the bushes. 

 

Rosado was charged with assault, breach of peace, burglary, interfering with an officer, risk of injury to a minor, threatening and violation of a protective order.  He was held on $25,000 bond.

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Sherman body-builder sentenced for his role in 'Operation Juice Box'

One of a dozen people charged in a steroid distribution ring allegedly headed by a former Newtown Police Sgt. has been sentenced. 

 

32-year old Michael Mase was in court today and ordered to three years probation, with the first three months spent in home confinement.  He must also perform 120 hours of community service and pay a $2,000 fine for his role in the manufacturing and distribution ring. 

 

The Sherman man is a registered nurse and a competitive weight lifter who purchased steroids from Steven Santucci and distributed them to others, including athletes who competed in body-building and weight lifting competitions.

 

Through WhatsApp message exchange, Mase placed an anabolic steroid order with Santucci, to which Santucci responded with a price.  At least one purchase was made in Newtown for $1,400.  Another transaction was made for $1,200.  Between April 2011 and his arrest on April 30, 2015, officials say Mase was responsible for between at least 10,000 units of anabolic steroids grams and 20,000 units of anabolic steroids.

 

Although prosecutors were initially concerned that Mase might have abused his position as a nurse to distribute other controlled substances, if only because he distributed anabolic steroids illegally, the Government found no evidence of such illegal conduct. 

 

Mase was arrested while at work at Danbury Hospital.  His conviction resulted in the loss of his job.  Mase has found gainful employment though.  

 

Prosecutors don't believe that Mase merits further deterrence and don't believe that Mase poses a danger to the community.

 

Prosecutors noted that Mase falls out of the norm of the bulk of his codefendants, public servants who abused the trust placed in them by selling controlled substances.  The Government said Mase falls near the bottom of his nine remaining codefendants in culpability.

 

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Danbury man, fiancé fake pregnancy to avoid shoplifting arrest

A Danbury man and his fiancé tried to fake a pregnancy to avoid shoplifting charges. 

 

State Police were called to KMart in Southbury this morning on a report of shoplifting in progress.  After meeting with store security, police spoke to 33-year old Giovanni Torcasio of Danbury.  He was escorted to his car where Troopers saw a number of stolen items on the backseat. 

 

Police recovered watches, magic cards and other merchandise from the vehicle valued at $268. 

 

Also shopping with Torcasio was his fiancé, 27-year old Denajia Bishop.  There was an active warrant for her arrest from the Connecticut State Police for Larceny.  When told she had a warrant, Bishop said she was pregnant and was going into labor. 

 

 

 

Bishop was transported to Danbury Hospital via ambulance, but as EMS checked her out, $91 worth of stolen items were found underneath her sweatshirt, making her appear pregnant.  Bishop faked her pregnancy to avoid arrest.  She told Troopers that Torcasio told her to hide the items under her sweatshirt because he saw the police come into the store.  

 

Each were charged with larceny and ordered to appear in Waterbury Superior Court January 5. 

 

The warrant for Bishop is on charges of welfare fraud and larceny.  She was ordered to appear in Danbury Superior Court January 12 on those charges.

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'Real Housewives' star released from prison

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- One of New Jersey's "Real Housewives" was freed Wednesday after serving nearly a year in prison for bankruptcy fraud.

 

A lawyer for Teresa Giudice said she was freed at about 5 a.m. from the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut.

 

She then traveled home to Montville, New Jersey, and will be on home confinement until Feb. 5, attorney James Leonard said, although she is expected to spend Christmas Eve at her brother's home.

 

She was seen arriving home in a black SUV later in the morning, according to ABC News.

 

Giudice was sent to prison to serve a 15-month sentence in January. She earned early release with good behavior.

She and her husband, Joe Giudice, pleaded guilty last year to bankruptcy fraud. They admitted hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony loan applications to get about $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.

 

Joe Giudice is expected to start his own 3 1/2 -year prison sentence in March. A federal judge staggered the couple's sentences in deference to their daughters.

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More progress seen at site of new Sandy Hook School

The warm weather has helped move along the building of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

More progress is being reported on the project, which is scheduled to be completed next year and ready for use by the fall start of the school year.  Painting is being completed in Wing A, windows are being installed on Wing B, weatherproofing is being done on the exterior walls of Wings C and D and some road work is being done on Riverside Road.  Photos from last month at the site show that some bathrooms are being tiled and more drywall is up across the site.  Masonry work also continues. 

 

Abatement and Demolition Phases were completed in 2013. Site Work began last October; and Building began in February.

 

 

(Photos Courtesy: http://www.sandyhook2016.com/)

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Final day for Danbury Firefighters Union food drive

Wednesday is the final day to drop off canned food and non-perishable items at Danbury fire houses.   The Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 has been holding a collection at the career fire stations since November 10th.  Lt Chip Daly says they will gladly collect any last minute donations today.

 

All of the items then go toward holiday basket programs and food pantries.

 

The collection bins can be found at fire houses on New Street, Osborne Street, Eagle Road, South King Street and Kenosia Avenue Extension.  Donations are also being collected in the Fire Marshal's office at City Hall, and Sikorsky Federal Credit Union on Main Street.

 

Local 801 has been holding this food drive annually for more than 30 years.

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Red Kettle Campaign donations down for Salvation Army

The Red Kettle Campaign in the Greater Danbury area is reporting that donations are down about 30-percent. 

 

Local Salvation Army Advisory Board chairman Geoff Herald says the decline will impact immediate social outreach efforts.  Herald says that's for things like heating assistance, clothing, rental assistance, and reaching out to families in dire financial need.  The program also supports the Right Place School Readiness Program and Family Center as well as youth camp.

 

Herald says the money raised not only helps during Christmas and Thanksgiving but also sustains vital programs and services throughout the year.

 

The Salvation Army says 82 cents of every dollar that is donated goes back to programs that serve the hungry, homeless, and frail.

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Advocates tout legislation supporting social and emotional learning

Social and emotional learning are being touted by advocates for this type of teaching.  This month, Congress approved the Every Student Achieves Act, incorporating language advocated for by Senator Richard Blumenthal in honor of 6-year old Jesse Lewis who was killed at Sandy Hook School. 

 

Scarlet Lewis showed Blumenthal a message Jesse wrote on a chalkboard at their house days before he was killed.  The message said "nurturing healing love", something that Lewis says is in every definition of compassion across every culture.  She says this bill emphasizes safe school climates and promotes strategies that have been proven effective by research to improve academic success.

 

West Conn Professor Dr. Chris Kukk is also the Director of the Compassion, Creativity an Innovation Center.  He says neuroscience has shown over the last several decades how rationality, logic and learning are based on emotion.

The legislation allows funds to be used to help all students develop the essential skills for learning readiness and academic success—with training to help children learn how to recognize and manage emotions--among other goals.

 

Kukk notes that not every child learns his or her best in a sterile environment and needs more nurturing than others.  Kukk says the training would also be in achieving positive goals, demonstrating caring and concern for others, maintaining positive relationships, making responsible decisions and handling interpersonal situations effectively.

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Wrongfully imprisoned Danbury man awarded $170,000 by the state

A Danbury man who spent 6.5 months wrongfully imprisoned has been awarded $170,000 from the state.  Michael Seri was seeking $395,000 from the Claims Commissioner having been released from prison in 2003 after the state dropped charges that he exposed himself to a young girl in a Newtown library.  Seri said that after his release, he struggled financially and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

Claims Commissioner J Paul Vance Jr said in a decision that Seri, was forced to endure suffering that is indescribable and some of the injuries continue even after the accused is found to be innocent.  Vance's decision said Seri was convicted despite "questionable evidence and a questionable identification" by the girl.

 

The Claims Commissioner's office emailed the decision Tuesday.

 

Vance's decision states that Seri recovered about $200,000 in damages from a lawsuit against the town of Newtown.  Connecticut wrongful incarceration law required Vance subtracted the Newtown judgment.

Seri was convicted in December 2001 of exposing himself to the girl at the Newtown Public Library in March 2001. At the time, Seri, a military veteran, was enrolled in school in New York and was known in the community as a poet and artist. He often did his school work at the library. 

 

The accused was described as a Hispanic male without facial hair. Seri wore a goatee and prominent sideburns at the time. 

 

A fingerprint found on a book at the library matched a convicted sex offender who had been arrested for public indecency at area libraries.  Angel Laporte fit the description from the complainant.  Seri then filed a petition for a new trial, and the case against Seri was dismissed on the grounds of innocence.

 

In September, a Connecticut man who spent more than 12 years in prison for a crime it was determined he did not commit has been awarded $4 million by the state.

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Woman gets DUI charge after nearly hitting Monroe Police cruiser

A Trumbull woman who nearly hit a Monroe Police cruiser is facing a drunk driving charge.  Monroe Police say an officer on patrol on Route 25 Sunday night saw a Honda CR-V swerve toward the center line in front of him.  The officer then turned to follow the driver. 

 

54-year old Grace Calovine was seen again crossing the center line near oncoming traffic. 

 

Calovine failed field sobriety tests and wouldn't take a breath test, which results in an automatic license suspension for six months.  The Trumbull woman was charged with DUI and failure to drive in the proper lane. 

 

She was ordered to appear in court on the 29th.

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Newtown families split $1.5M from estate of gunman's mother

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The families of more than a dozen victims of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, will split $1.5 million under settlements of lawsuits filed against the gunman's mother's estate.

A lawyer for several victims' families says the settlements were finalized Dec. 17 in documents filed in Bridgeport Superior Court.

The lawsuits said Nancy Lanza failed to properly secure her legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. Her son, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used the rifle to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He killed his mother before the school shooting and killed himself afterward.

The families of 16 people who were killed will split $1.5 million from Nancy Lanza's homeowner's insurance.

Victims' families also are suing the maker of the Bushmaster rifle.

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Danbury area state lawmakers help raise $41k for Salvation Army

Local lawmakers have helped out the Salvation Army by taking their turns ringing bells at the famed Red Kettles. 

 

Among the state lawmakers who rang bells as part of the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign was Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  He was outside Stop & Shop on South Main Street on Friday.  He said Newtown again showed its generosity and that each donation will help local Newtown families in need. 

 

The Red Kettle Campaign collects donations from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.

 

Danbury area state Representatives Jan Giegler, Steve Harding, and Dan Carter along with Senator Mike McLachlan rang bells for the Salvation Army outside of Walmart and helped the GOP caucus raise $41,000.  

 

Funds help provide holiday dinners, clothing and toys for families in need. Funding sometimes stretches beyond the holiday season and donations can provide aid for families, seniors and the homeless throughout the year.

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Sen. Murphy advocates for mental health care system reforms

A bill to reform the country's mental health care system has been introduced by Senator Chris Murphy.  He stopped in Danbury Monday to talk with mental health providers and advocates at Family & Children's Aid.  The organization provides behavioral and mental health treatment to more than 1,700 Danbury-area children and their families. 

 

Murphy was joined by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Danbury State Representative Bob Godfrey, Western Connecticut State University President John Clarke, Western Connecticut Health Network President Dr. John Murphy and FCA Board member Gene Eriquez.

 

He spoke to a crowd of about 200 people.

 

 

(Photos Courtesy: Sen. Murphy, Twitter)

 

Murphy previously held a dozen round tables across the state to get input on what should be included in the reform bill.  He says there's a lot of attention being paid to the mental health system because of the recent mass shootings, but notes that it's broken for everyone regardless of if they're connected to a mass shooting or not.

 

Murphy says a lot of people want to make sure the reform bill he's introduced is not just about what happens in the clinician's office.  He says good mental health means having a strong family, a roof overhead, and being able to stay employed.  He says a good mental health system recognizes there are all sort of supports around a family that makes their mental health more likely to succeed.

 

(Sen. Murphy, state Rep. Godfrey, Congresswoman Esty, Board member Gene Eriquez)

 

 

Murphy says he heard loud and clear Monday that this bill should empower places like Family & Children's Aid.

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State bond money approved for housing project in New Preston

The state Bond Commission has approve funding for a project in New Preston.  When the state Bond Commission met earlier this month, $480,000 was approved for a housing development project and program.  The money is being provided as a grant-in-aid to Washington Community Housing Trust.  The $480,000 will help with renovation of a four bedroom farmhouse and construction of two additional units of affordable home ownership housing known as Vincent Farm on New Milford Turnpike in New Preston.  Washington Community Housing Trust will retain ownership of the land and grant 99 year leases to the homeowners.

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Ridgefield Police Captain named Town Employee of 2015

The Ridgefield Employee of the Year is Police Captain Jeff Kreitz.  He was honored for his hard work and dedication to the community. 

 

Kreitz is the police spokesman and supervises the School Resource Officer Program, DARE, crime prevention and the Police Department's accreditation process. 

 

Among his credits in 2015, is re-starting the Citizen Police Academy and organizing a foot patrol of officers to talk with concerned residents after a string of burglaries and home break-ins.

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Routine traffic stop leads to drug charge for NY man

A routine traffic stop has led to bigger problems for a New York man.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that a motorist who committed a traffic violations shortly after midnight today was stopped in Putnam Valley.  A Deputy determined that 24-year old Christopher Betz had a controlled substance in his possession.  The town man was charged with a misdemeanor.  Betz was proposed and released for a court appearance on January 14th.

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Blue Buffalo to pay $32 million settlement

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc. has agreed to a $32 million settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by customers who alleged the Connecticut-based company made false claims about ingredients in its products.

 

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. The settlement was reached last week.

 

Blue Buffalo, in a news release, denied wrongdoing. In a statement, Blue Buffalo's chairman and founder, Bill Bishop, blamed "misconduct of a former ingredient supplier and a broker" for the mistake. He says the company works tirelessly to make pet food with the finest natural ingredients.

 

St. Louis-based Nestle Purina PetCare also filed suit against Blue Buffalo last year over advertising claims. Purina officials say their case against Blue Buffalo continues.

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Groundbreaking held for Miller-Driscoll School renovations

Ground has been broken on the Miller-Driscoll school renovations in Wilton.  Shovels went in the ground on Friday.  There was a brief speech made by First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice.  Turner Construction is in charge of the project which was approved by a narrow margin of victory.  The $50 million price tag would cover the planning, design, construction, renovation, and furnishing of the Miller-Driscoll School. The project has the unanimous support of the Boards of Education, Finance and Selectmen.

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Lawyer: 'Real Housewives' star set to be freed from prison

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) One of New Jersey's ``Real Housewives'' is set to be freed from the big house just days before Christmas.

A lawyer for Teresa Giudice tells The Record she will be released Wednesday from the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut. She will then head home to her husband, Joe, and four daughters in Montville, where she will be on home confinement until Feb. 5.

Attorney James Leonard Jr. says he will drive Giudice home from prison. But he declined to provide more specific details about her release.

Giudice has been at the prison since January. She and her husband pleaded guilty last year to bankruptcy fraud.

They admitted hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and submitting phony loan applications to get some $5 million in mortgages and construction loans.

 

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Shoppers encouraged to be aware of surroundings at ATMs

With last minute Christmas shoppers out this week, area police departments are reminding people to be aware of their surroundings.  This is especially true at ATMs. 

 

Bethel Police are searching for a man who placed a card skimming device on an ATM this summer.  The man's DNA was linked to a device placed on an ATM in Manhattan around the same time and the suspect was caught on tape.  Police do not believe anyone's data was stolen because the device stored the information locally and it was intercepted by police.

 

 

 
Suspect placing skimming device

Bethel Police are looking to identify this man. He is a suspect in the placement of a device in Bethel, CT. His DNA was matched to a device placed in NYC. Here is the footage...

Posted by Bethel Police Department on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

 

 

 

Bethel Police spokesman Lt Michael Libertini says it's tough to tell if there's a skimming device on an ATM because the criminals often match the color, shape and size of the card reader.

 

It's usually a two part device.  The skimmer captures the information off of the magnetic strip of the debit card.  Then there is a camera that would record you entering your pin number.

 

National bank chains say typical ATM skimmer devices are smaller than a deck of cards and fit over existing car readers.  The cameras can be hidden in brochure boxes attached to the side of ATMs or placed in plastic bars that would go above the screen on ATMs.  Some criminals install fake pin pads over the actual keyboard to capture the pin directly, bypassing the need for a camera.

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Esty introduces bill to support Families of Fallen Heroes

A bill has been introduced by a local lawmaker to honor families who lost loved ones while serving this country in uniform.  5th District Congress woman Elizabeth Esty says the "Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act" follows enactment of a new law to bring equity to parents of fallen heroes.  Esty previously introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act. 

 

During a veterans event, a constituent suggested that fallen soldiers be recognized on postage stamps.

 

Esty says those brave enough to knowingly put their lives on the line deserve to know that their loved ones they leave behind will be supported.

 

Esty says the Families of the Fallen Support program provides critical support services for these families and revenue from the postage stamp would be put toward the program.  It's jointly administered by the United Service Organizations and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The program supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones.

 

The organization also offers peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss.

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Former 'Waterworks' building in Danbury purchased to become nursery school

Connecticut Institute For Communities had completed the purchase of the former “Waterworks” Danbury Cadillac/Oldsmobile building located on Park Avenue.  The purchase price of $880,000 was offset by an $800,000 state grant.  The building will be turned into a comprehensive community Nursery School/Early Learning Center for pre-school children ages 3 to 5.

 

Over the next year, the building will be remodeled, with seven early learning classrooms.  The building will be able to accommodate 140 children.  There will also be a multi-purpose activity room, a warming kitchen so breakfast and lunch can be served, a nurse’s office, parent advisor’s office, and support space. The new facility will also have an exterior playscape, and on-site parking for staff, parents, and visitors.

 

CIFC President Jim Maloney says they worked with neighbors to revise the zoning rules to be able to renovate the building.  The outside will be remodeled to look as residential as possible so that it won't look like a commercial building any more.  But he says that will depend on market demand.

 

Maloney says it will be a mix of HeadStart, state-funded school readiness and potentially some private nursery school slots.

 

The physical rehabilitation work will be privately financed by CIFC. The estimated cost is about $1 million.  It is anticipated that the work will be completed in about a year.

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United Way's Imagination Library 'Reading Star' is a Danbury child

United Way of Western Connecticut recently sponsored a local contest to promote Imagination Library.  The program is for preschool children and their families.  It provides the gift of a free, specially selected book each month to children under age 5.

 

The United Way asked parents to submit a photo of their child reading to themselves or with their family. Votes were taken online, and the Reading Star this year received a personal oil portrait donated by famed artist Ed Little of Bridgewater.  The contest received more than 10,000 votes from around the world for the 46 entrants.  Aaron Panda of Danbury was selected as this year’s Reading Star winner.

 

 

Imagination Library currently serves little more than 4,000 children in the Greater Danbury area.  The United Way has mailed 231,591 age appropriate books since 2009 to nearly 10,000 children in the area.

 

Imagination Library relies on funding partners to cover the costs of purchasing and mailing the books to the children enrolled in the program. Grant funding has been provided by Connecticut Community Foundation, New Canaan Community Foundation, Pitney Bowes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Procter and Gamble (Duracell), and Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area.

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Hospital workers reject bid to break from union

Surgical and radiological technologists, licensed practical nurses and respiratory therapists at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals this week voted to retain their union representation and resume contract negotiations with their employer.  A group of about 80 employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to break the union.

 

The employees were upset because they still don't have a contract.

 

The union, formed at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals in 2014, is made up of approximately 260 caregivers.  AFT Connecticut represents the registered nurses at both acute care facilities.

 

The contract negotiating committee of techs and therapists want Western Connecticut Health Network managers to address critical issues such as chronic understaffing and the need to advocate for patients.  After the vote, the negotiating committee pledged to redouble efforts to secure a fair, first collective bargaining agreement.

 

AFT Connecticut Executive Director John Brady is a registered nurse at a hospital in the state.

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Danbury Mayor touts work by municipalities, business and unions on economic driver ideas

26 policy proposals were agreed to by groups often at odds at the state capital.  The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Connecticut AFL-CIO recently held a summit where the diverse groups found out they have more in common than they thought. 

 

Summit attendees asked officials to hold another forum so they could pick up where left off, because they feel agreement can be reached on many more items. 

 

A steering committee with municipal officials from Danbury, Newtown, Ridgefield and elsewhere was involved in coming up with common ideas for Connecticut's economic future.

 

The five areas of focus included state revenue and governance, education and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure, regional solutions and quality of life matters.  Participants agreed that the  budget implementation process should be reformed, making it more transparent.  They also want a constitutional transportation funding lockbox amendment and for the state's tax structure to be reformed.

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Esty to honor fallen soldiers with medal ceremony in New Fairfield

Military medals will be presented posthumously to the families of two army veterans who have family living in New Fairfield. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will present the medals to the families of John Rossi and Francis Moriarty during a ceremony tomorrow.  Rossi was a World War II army veteran and Moriarty served in Korea.  Neither were previously recognized for their longstanding military careers.

 

Rossi's family will be accepting several medals on his behalf: the Army of Good Conduct Medal; the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Expert Rifle Badge and; the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal.

 

Moriarty's family will be accepting the following medals on his behalf: the National Defense Service Medal; the Korean Service Medal with a Bronze Service Star; the United Nations Service Medal and; the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal.

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Barefoot Danbury man led Fairfield police on chase, later arrested in Danbury

A Danbury man who led Fairfield Police on a barefoot chase through the Jennings Beach area has been arrested in Danbury.  Fairfield Police were asked to help bail enforcement agents with the arrest of 22-year old Jevon Pegues last night. 

 

He was wanted for failure to appear in court on a number of charges. 

 

Pegues was located in a car with his girlfriend, and he was able to escape the bail enforcement agents even though his shirt and shoes came off in the process.  K9 police teams from two area towns came in to help in the search.  The man's girlfriend was placed under surveillance and was issued a verbal warning during a traffic stop. 

 

When she and 23-year old Rodney Wright of Danbury showed up at the police station later looking for Pegues, police found a warrant for Wright.  He was then arrested. 

 

Pegues was located early this morning at his brother's Danbury home.

 

Pegues pleaded not guilty to charges of operating a motor vehicle without a license and failure to obey a stop sign stemming from a May 2012 traffic stop in Danbury.  He pleaded guilty to charges of operating an unregistered motor vehicle and operating with a suspended license for a March 2013 traffic stop in Danbury.  He also pleaded guilty to two felony larceny charges for an April 2013 incident in Danbury.  He also pleaded guilty for driving with a suspended license that month.

 

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Police warn of rash of thefts from unlocked cars, stolen vehicles

New York State Police from the Brewster barracks and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office have received an increased reports of stolen vehicles and valuables stolen from cars.  Police say the crimes involve unlocked cars or cars with their keys inside.  Police are reminding residents to keep their cars locked at all times. 

 

Meanwhile New York State Police this week arrested three people, including a Carmel woman for felony burglary, criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar tools and unlawful possession of radio devices.  22-year old James Evans and 23-year old Anamile Gomez, both of Wappingers Falls were charged, along with 20-year old Stephanie Ilardi of Carmel. 

 

   

(Evans, Gomez, Ilardi)

 

Evans was released after posting bond, and Gomez and Ilardi were both released under the supervision of Probation. They were scheduled for future court appearances. 

 

The burglaries were done at vacant homes in the Wappinger area.

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Danbury roofer wins $50K on lotto scratch off, plans to buy a Harley

A Danbury man who bought a lotto ticket on a whim has won $50,000.  The Connecticut Lottery reported Monday that Robbery Durgy made a spur of the moment decision to buy an instant game ticket when he stopped for gas and a cup of coffee at J&R Shelter Rock Road. 

 

He stuck the ticket in his car visor and forgot about when he went to work.  The Danbury roofer remembered the ticket on his lunch break and started scratching it from the bottom up.  He said the moment was totally surreal. 

 

When he went to collect his prize, Durgy told lotto officials that he will fulfill his life long dream and use the money to buy a Harley Davidson Street Glide. 

 

J&R will received a $500 check for selling the winning ticket.

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NY parolee arrested for shoplifting from supermarkets

A man on parole has been arrested for shoplifting from a New York supermarket.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that an employee at Shop Rite on Route 52 in Carmel confronted a shoplifting suspect on December 10th and a dispute broke out.  The suspect fled on foot and was later spotted by a Sunoco gas station owner.  The suspect was eventually caught and identified as 48-year old Thomas McNulty of Poughkeepsie. 

 

McNulty was wanted by New York State Division of Parole for a parole violation. 

 

He was taken back to Shop Rite and positively ID'd as the shoplifter.  He was seen placing $1,100 worth of merchandise into his friend's car.  The items, along with some reported stolen from a Mahopac supermarket were recovered. 

 

McNulty was charged with felony grand larceny.  A second count is pending for the Mahopac theft.

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Man facing animal cruelty charges arrested for tampering with witnesses

A Mahopac man facing animal cruelty charges in Connecticut has been arrested again.  Danbury Police went to American Breeders on Federal Road this morning to arrest 55-year old Richard Doyle on an active arrest warrant.  He was charged with two counts of tampering with a witness and held on $10,000 bond. 

 

One of the allegations is that Doyle performed a surgical procedure, despite not being licensed to do so, and the dog was left in the back of the shop with severe bleeding.    Doyle is also accused of failing to provide a critically ill exotic kitten immediate veterinary intervention until the animal required euthanization.  Doyle was also charge for failing to provide proper care to a sick puppy in need of immediate medical care, transporting it to Danbury from one of his New York stores.

 

He is due in court in January on the three counts of animal cruelty.  An employee of his shop was also charged as part of the investigation.

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Esty calls for end to ban on federal research about gun violence

A local lawmaker plans to offer an amendment to a bill being voted on Friday to strike the federal ban on Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health research into gun violence.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says ending the “Dickey Amendment” is supported by 68 medical and public health organizations, as well as former Representative Jay Dickey, who authored the current language.

 

Esty says no other topic is off-limits for federal research.  She says Dickey has said that the ban was a mistake.

 

The Dickey Amendment was written in 1996 and in essence blocked the CDC from gaining a better understanding of how to prevent gun violence. Esty’s amendment strikes the federal ban on CDC and NIH research into gun violence.  Amendments are not being entertained so Esty says she will keep trying after Congress returns from recess.

 

She says gun violence must be treated as an epidemic.  She says studies have been done it with cars and smoking, and it must be done with guns.

 

Esty is Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

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Bethel Police say bond money for new building approved in referendum

Bethel Police have tweeted that residents approved funding to build a new police station.
 

The $13.4 million bond referendum Thursday is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.

 

Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.

 

The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.

 

The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  

 

Knickerbocker says the new building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.

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Florida Atlantic University seeks to fire professor over Sandy Hook hoax claim

A Florida Atlantic University associate professor who claims the shooting at Sandy Hook School was a hoax has been served a notice that the school wants to terminate his contract.  The school issued a statement on Wednesday.  Due to the collective bargaining agreement with the union, James Tracy has 10 days to respond to the notice after which final action may be taken.

 

Tracy made a claim less than a month after the shootings, calling it a staged event with hired actors orchestrated by the Obama administration in an effort to promote gun control.  He has made similar claims about other mass shootings that have followed.  The Florida Sun-Sentinel says Tracy wrote a blog post on the three year anniversary Monday questioning if the shootings on 12-14 actually happened.

 

The parents of one of the children killed that day wrote an op ed to the paper last week calling on Florida Atlantic University to take action against Tracy.  Lenny and Veronique Pozner, whose 6-year old son Noah was killed on 12-14, said that conspiracy theorists seek them out and accuse them of being government agents faking their grief and lying about their loss.   They said that while some torment them from anonymous online identities, others do so openly using their professional credentials in an attempt to lend credence to their allegations. 

 

The Pozners say in the opinion piece that Tracy sent them a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, and they they were his parents.  They say this comes as they are trying to keep photos of their slain son from falling into the hands of conspiracy theorists. 

 

Tracy's blog post said the Pozners were trying to use copyright claims to thwart research into the Sandy Hook massacre event.

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Truck driver cited in jack-knife accident on I-84 Wednesday

The driver of a tractor trailer that jack-knifed on I-84 in Danbury Wednesday afternoon has been cited for travelling too fast for traffic conditions.  State Police say a truck was traveling in the left lane near exit 7 westbound around 12:15pm when traffic slowed down. 

 

The driver, 57-year old Willis Hughes of New Jersey, shifted into the right lane.  He told police that a tractor trailer directly in front of him also changed lanes to the right, cutting him off.  Hughes told police he tried to avoid a collision with the other truck by swerving to the right. 

 

His truck jack-knifed and hit a light pole and an electrical box off the right side of the highway.  Neither Hughes nor his passenger were injured.

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Conn. man accused of killing parents appears in court

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut man accused of murdering his parents in August made a brief appearance in Superior Court in Bridgeport.

 

Judge Robert Devlin issued a continuance Wednesday in the double murder case against 27-year-old Kyle Navin.

 

Navin and his attorney will have until Jan. 20 to inform the court if they want a probable cause hearing. The state would be required to present some of the evidence gathered before Navin was charged in November with fatally shooting Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin.

 

Officials say Navin winked at two family members of his girlfriend while being led out of the courtroom. 31-year-old Jennifer Valiante is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the case.

 

Navin's lawyer declined to comment on the charges and Valiante denies any involvement in the killings.

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Polls open in Bethel for Police Station funding vote

There is a referendum in Bethel today about funding for a proposed police station.
 

The $13.4 million bond proposal is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.

 

Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.

 

The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.

 

The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  

 

For those who say it still could be renovated, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it would be at a cost two or two and a half times the amount that's currently being proposed.  That's if the town could get permits from federal government.  The FEMA flood plain bisects the building.

 

Knickerbocker says the new proposed building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.

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Pawling man charged with assaulting police officer

A Pawling New York man has been arrested for assaulting an police officer.  New York State Police Troopers stopped 65-year old Edward See Jr last Thursday for not using a turn signal.  The Trooper determined that See was intoxicated. 

 

While trying to take See into custody, the man actively resisted arrest and injured the Trooper.  Police said yesterday that See had been transported to the hospital for treatment and released. 

 

He was arraigned and released for a court appearance on January 14th.

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Dye water testing of sewer lines underway in Ridgefield

Sewer testing started this week in Ridgefield.  In an effort to identify and mitigate possible sources of storm water or groundwater entering the village sewer district system, dye water testing is being done.  The effort will last four to six weeks, weather permitting.  The testing is being done Mondays through Thursdays from 8am to 4pm. 

 

The test involves putting dyed water into yard and roof drains.  The sanitary sewers and storm drains in the street will be opened and inspected for the biodegradable, non-toxic dye. 

 

The testing is being done by the Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority's engineering consultant and a subcontractor.  They will carry photo ID and a letter of authorization from the WPCA.  Their vehicles will also be marked. 

 

Testing will only be done when a property owner is present, and the work is all done outside.

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Candlewood Lake Authority asking area towns to chip in for replacement Marine Patrol boat

A 13-year old marine patrol boat owned by the Candlewood Lake Authority needs to be replaced.  The CLA is asking the five towns that surround the lake to help pay for a new vessel.  The cost is estimated at about $52,000.  The old boat was taken in for repairs this summer, but by October it was deemed unsafe for use and taken out of service.  This leaves the marine patrol with one working boat. 

 

CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says the boat they are looking to purchase has a 10-year hull warranty with an estimated useful life of 20 years. 

 

CLA, through the town of Sherman, has applied for a grant from the Intertown Capital Equipment Purchasing Incentive Program.  The grant, plus matching funds from the towns, would pay for about 60-percent of the cost.  The balance is available in the CLA Capital Equipment Reserve Fund.  Marsicano says Brookfield, New Fairfield and New Milford have approved applying for the grant.  Sherman and Danbury plan to get approval within the next month. 

 

If the grant from the state Office of Policy and Management is not approved, CLA will ask the five towns to each chip in $9,500.

 

Marsicano says they would like to order the boat before the end of the year so that it will be delivered before the boating season.

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HeadStart classrooms to be added in Danbury at the War Memorial

A portion of the Danbury War Memorial will be leased to the Connecticut Institute for Communities in order to accommodate three new HeadStart classrooms.  Councilman Jack Knapp says this would provide some needed rental money to the War Memorial to bolster their bottom line.

 

About 60 pre-school aged kids would fill the three classrooms.  There would also be an approximate 4,500 square foot playground area outside for early childhood program.  It's near baseball fields at Rogers Park.  Danbury owns the land where the playground would go and the lease was approved by the City Council earlier this month.

 

The lease would be for about 90-percent of fair market value, which is approximately $1,800 per month, per classroom.

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School threats prompt proposals for tougher penalties

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Lawmakers in states around the U.S. are proposing stiffer penalties for people who make threats on schools at a time of fears over terrorism and mass shootings.

As demonstrated by Tuesday's shutdown of schools in Los Angeles, threats can cause large, costly disruptions and traumatize students even in cases that might involve hoaxes.

Michael Dorn is the executive director of the school safety nonprofit group Safe Havens International. He says there have been proposals in states across the U.S. in increase punishments, including those where school threats already can be prosecuted as felonies.

Connecticut state Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, said Tuesday that he intends to reintroduce a bill that would that would beef up the state's threatening laws. His son was locked down at his high school in October after a threat.

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Documents about fatal Valhalla Metro North collision released by NTSB

Documents about the worst crash in Metro North history have been made public by the National Transportation Safety Board.  There are 130 documents in the file about the collision between a train and an SUV in Valhalla in February.  The accident resulted in the deaths of the SUV driver and five people on board the train, including 41-year old Aditya Tomar of Danbury. 

 

The 1,100 pages with details of the investigation show that there was no alcohol or drugs in the system of the SUV driver, 49-year old Ellen Brody.  She was also not using her cell phone at the time of the crash.  The last call on her phone was at 6:11pm.  It was with her husband and lasted about 9 minutes.  The accident happened shortly after the call at 6:26pm. 

 

The NTSB says the docket is not yet complete and more information will be added at a later date.

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Two men injured in rollover truck accident in Newtown

Two men were injured in a rollover tractor trailer accident that happened Tuesday in Newtown.  State Police say the truck failed to negotiate the curve of exit 11 and rolled onto the driver side, coming to rest in the grassy median.  Officials say there was no fuel spill and the cargo remained in the truck. 

 

The driver, 41-year old Joel Guzman-guzman of Stratford was extricated from the vehicle by Newtown firefighters.  He and the passenger, 34-year old Miguel Berruecos of West Haven, were transported to Danbury Hospital.  The passenger was treated and released.  Guzman-guzman is listed in good condition. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: CT State Police)

 

Guzman-guzman has been charged for travelling unreasonably fast and failure to maintain proper lane.  The ramp was closed for about two hours.

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Conn. man charged with manslaughter, DWI for fatal wrong-way crash

A Litchfield County man has been arrested for a fatal wrong way crash that happened over the summer.   State Police say 43-year old John Fretts of Morris turned himself in to police yesterday on a charge of manslaughter with a motor vehicle.  The accident happened in August on Route 8 in Watertown. 

 

State Police say Fretts was driving northbound in the southbound lanes when he collided with a car driven by 29-year old Daniel Dziadik of Torrington who was killed as a result of the impact. 

 

Fretts was also charged with Driving While Intoxicated and driving the wrong way on a highway.

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Federal gun charged dropped against man charged with killing his parents

The federal gun charge lodged against a Bridgeport man accused of killing his parents and hiding their bodies in Weston has been dropped.  27-year old Kyle Navin was in court this morning and had his case continued to January 20th. 

 

Prior to being charged by State Police with two count of murder, Navin was charged by federal authorities with possession of firearms by a drug dependent person.   That charge has been dismissed. 

 

Navin is accused of killing his parents, Jeffrey and Jeannette Navin of Easton.  He is being held on bond. 

 

The couple was reported missing in August and their bodies were recovered in October.

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Bethel Police seek man who placed skimming device on ATM

Bethel Police are looking for the public's help in identifying a man who placed an ATM skimming device in town this summer.  The vendor who repairs and maintains the machine found the device and called police.  The item was sent to the Connecticut State Forensic Laboratory, and they were able to pull DNA off of it. 

 

The man's DNA was matched to a device placed in a New York City McDonald's on August 20th.   As of now, Bethel Police say they do not believe anyone's information was compromised.  Police discovered the device before it was retrieved by the suspect. 

 

The location of the device was not disclosed due to the ongoing investigation.

 

Police say in order to get people's information off of these types of devices, they would have had to physically recover the device from the ATM where it was placed.

 

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FuelCell Energy secures $30 million in long-term financing

A Danbury-based company has secured millions of dollars in financing for project agreements with utilities.  FuelCell Energy has secured $30 million from PNC Energy Capital, a full service capital provider to the renewable energy and demand side management segments of the energy industry.

 

Company officials say this facility provides long term financing for projects being developed under power purchase agreements.  The first project to close under this structure will be a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant which provides both electricity and heat to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. 

 

The power plant will generate about 30 percent of the facility power needs.

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Danbury Mayor elected as President of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

Members of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities have selected Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as the group's next President.  CCM is the state’s largest, nonpartisan organization of municipal leaders, with 158 member municipalities. The organization advocates at the state level for issues affecting local taxpayers.  Each year CCM elects a new slate of officers to guide the large public policy decisions and advocacy that goes on within CCM. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: Mayor Boughton, Twitter)

 

Boughton says he was fortunate enough to be nominated and elected to the one-year term.  He says he is looking forward to helping shape the new legislative session as it impacts cities and towns across the state.

 

Boughton says there are some very large, global decisions that have to be made right now as it relates to the way cities and towns do business.  CCM wants to be part of those discussions.  He says it makes no sense to leave them out of the talks.

 

Boughton says too often decisions are made in a vacuum, and nobody's really thought about the impact on cities and towns.  CCM wants to work out how best to make sure everyone is represented. 

 

Those re-elected to CCM's Board include Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and Leo Paul of Litchfield.  Former First Selectman of Newtown Herb Rosenthal is a past president of CCM, who continues to serve on the board.

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'Merry Christmas' banner removed from Woodbury town green

A "Merry Christmas" banner has been removed from the Town Green in Woodbury.  The sign was put up by a neighbor several weeks ago.  First Selectman Bill Butterly told WFSB-TV that the green is technically owned by the state Department of Transportation.  The DOT only allows signs that are transportation related, and removes those that are safety concerns or prompt complaints. 

 

Butterly said someone took exception to the banner.  The person said they are non-Christian and that the sign offended them. 

 

Some neighbors held what they called a Merry Christmas Removal protest on Sunday on the town green.  They held signs in support of Christmas.

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Former bookkeeper for Vets service group pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former bookkeeper for a veterans service organization has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $1 million from the group.  54-year old Cynthia Tanner of Darien pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud and tax evasion for embezzling about $800,000 from a Connecticut-based veterans services organization. 

 

According to court documents, Tanner worked as a bookkeeper for the National Veterans Service Fund.  The mission of the group is to provide case management and some medical services to Vietnam and Persian Gulf War veterans and their families.  They also focused on families with disabled children. 

 

Prosecutors say Tanner used the money to pay for various personal expenses and altered records to try to hide the scheme.  She falsely claimed that the stolen money was being paid to veterans in need. 

 

Tanner also failed to report the embezzled money on her tax returns resulting in a $270,000 loss to the IRS. 

 

She was arrested last June, and will be sentenced in March.

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Standoff in Southeast ends in apparent suicide

A standoff between a man in his Southeast home and New York Police on Monday ended in an apparent suicide. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says 60-year old George Bateman called his life insurance agent Monday and said he was thinking about suicide.  The man also reportedly threatened to use violence against any police officers who came to his Nichols Road home.  The insurance agent called police. 

 

Officers heard several gunshots being fired from inside the home when they arrived. 

 

During the standoff, Bateman came outside momentarily holding a handgun and wearing a bullet-proof vest.  Negotiators were unsuccessful in persuading the man to put down his weapon. 

 

A short time later, a State Police remote-controlled robot was sent inside. It was determined that Bateman took his own life.  Investigators haven't determined wether any of the shots exited the house.  An autopsy has been ordered. 

 

Police found two loaded revolvers and a number of spent bullet casings on the floor.  Three dogs were found unharmed inside the house and arrangements were made for their care.

 

Nichols Road and a nearby portion of Route 121 were closed to traffic for about seven hours during the standoff.  Authorities evacuated people from five neighboring homes, using an armored vehicle to safely transport the occupants of four of those homes.  An automated telephone mass-call was utilized to warn persons in the area to stay inside their homes during the incident.

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Monroe Police Officer fighting brain cancer

The Monroe Police Department is rallying around one of their own.  Officer Andrew Wall has been on the force for almost 20 years and has been battling brain cancer.  Wall had a tumor removed from the right side of his brain, and while the surgery was successful the biopsy confirmed the tumor was malignant. 

 

Friends from the Monroe Police Department have set up a Go Fund Me page for Wall's family.  He has a wife and 10-year old son.  The medical bills and cost of living have mounted as treatment continues.  Wall is receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Yale New Haven Hospital which is hindering his ability to return to work.

 

The gofundme.com page says that as a patrol officer, Officer Wall responded to over 9,000 calls for service and served as a Field Training Officer for new officers.  As a detective he conducted countless investigations and led the charge against illegal narcotic use and sales in Monroe.  Wall also served as Union President for the Monroe Police Union. 

 

His list of commendations include: six special recognition certificates, three meritorious service ribbons, two distinguished service ribbons and a medal of valor. Officer Wall was also nominated for Officer of the Year in 2009.

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Truck overturns on Newtown highway exit ramp

A tractor trailer rolled over on the Exit 11 off ramp in Newtown shortly before noon today.  A driver and passenger were in the truck at the time of the accident, and one was trapped inside.  The man was extricated from the truck by the Newtown Hook and Ladder and Sandy Hook fire companies.  State Police also responded to the accident on the grassy median.  Officials say there was no fuel spill and the cargo remained in the truck.  It was expected to take until about 6pm to clear the wreckage from the scene.

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Brookfield's new First Selectman settling in

Brookfield's new First Selectman has sent out his first email communication to town residents.  Democrat Steve Dunn thanked them for the opportunity and outlining what lies ahead for Brookfield.  In the next few months the development of the Town Center will be discussed.  Over 500 housing units have already been approved and are in various stages of being built.  The Plan of Development calls for a vibrant commercial destination.  Dunn says Brookfield will be finalizing plans with the state Department of Transportation and will be having a presentation soon.  He's been meeting with town employees and also started work on next year's budget.

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Teenage Ponzi schemer allowed to use Facebook

When 20-year old Ian Bick was charged last year with wire fraud and money laundering, the judge also said that the Danbury nightclub owner was not to have any contact with his victims and not to use social media.  Bick's attorney asked a judge if his client could use Facebook.  Bick, who owns Tuxedo Junction on Ives Street, was found guilty last month on about half of the charges brought against him. 

 

His attorney argued Monday that the nightclub patrons don't distinguish between his personal and business social media accounts.  The judge denied a request from prosecutors to revoke Bick's bond.  They argued that he is unwilling to comply with the conditions of his release, arguing that he posted a celebratory post after being found not guilty on some of the charges. 

 

Bick was accused of defrauding 15 people out of nearly half a million dollars by telling some that he would use their money to buy electronics to resell on the internet, and others that they could get high returns on investments in concert promotion.  Sentencing is set for March.

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Connecticut's new 959 area code being introduced

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) The new 959 area code is now being used in Connecticut.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority announced Tuesday the new code is being introduced in the calling region served by the 860 area code. The new code was needed because the supply of telephone numbers in the 860 area code is being exhausted because of continuing demand for telephone numbers.

PURA has been working with the telecommunications industry since mid-2013 to oversee an orderly implementation of the new 959 area code.

For most customers, the new code will have minimal impact. Existing phone numbers, including the current area code, will not change. Customers requesting new service, an additional line or possibly moving their service may be assigned a 959 phone number.

The new overlay of area codes won't affect prices.

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Man sentenced to 50 years after shooting during drug deal

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) A man who fatally shot a college student he had lured to New Jersey to rob during a drug deal has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Ernest Williams was sentenced Monday after he was convicted last month in the July 2012 death of 21-year-old Brian Schiavetti in Montclair. Prosecutors say Schiavetti, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, went to Williams to purchase oxycodone pills.

He was introduced to Williams by co-defendant James Pitts Jr. Schiavetti had met Pitts, the son of an Essex County undersheriff, when they attended Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia together. Pitts testified for the state and was sentenced to one year in county jail.

Lawyers for Williams had argued he was acting in self-defense and a gun simply went off during a struggle. Prosecutors say he executed Schiavetti as the victim was running away.

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Worker checking for gas leak strikes underground utility line

An underground power line was hit by a contractor Monday in Danbury.  A contractor for Eversource Energy is being treated for minor burns from electricity exposure after accidentally striking an underground utility line on White Street. 

 

There was a small explosion shortly after 12:30 Monday afternoon when the 24-year old worker was looking for a natural gas leak near Three Brothers Diner. 

 

Eversource reported about 600 power outages because of the incident, including some traffic lights in the Federal Road, White Street area.  Power was restored after about an hour. 

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was called to investigate.

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Brewster man charged for stabbing man on property owned by MTA

A Brewster man has been arrested for stabbing someone near the Brewster train station Sunday.  New York State Police responded to a wooded area in Brewster on Sunday afternoon on a report of a stabbing.  The property is owned by the MTA. 

 

The 40-year-old male victim was stabbed in the hand.  He was transported to Putnam Hospital Center for treatment. 

 

A search of the area was conducted by Troopers with the help of New York State Police Aviation, Putnam County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit and Brewster Police.  26-year old Edras Ramos-Salguero of Brewster was located nearby on property owned by the Department of Environmental Protection. 

 

Ramos-Salguero was charged with felony assault and two counts of trespassing. 

 

He was arraigned and ordered held on bond for a court appearance Friday.

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Clergy member reflects on Sandy Hook anniversary

An interfaith service at Trinity Church in Newtown for prayer and comfort was held Monday night to honor the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook School.  Newtown Congregational Church Reverend Matthew Crebbin offered these thoughts on the third anniversary.  He said it's important not to forget and not to let go of the reality that it still continues to be a significant event for many in the community.

 

Crebbin says the town is not pretending that nothing happened, or that it's "business as usual" because for many people in the community, it's not business as usual.  He called it an ongoing journey. 

 

Crebbin says it's important to pause and to recognize that the entire town is on a journey that was launched by what happened three years ago.  Crebbin called the anniversary a time to stop and remember.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Committee chairman weighs in on 12/14 anniversary

It's been about 9 months since the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Committee issued its final report with suggestions of how to improve emergency response, mental health and school security.  Chairman Scott Jackson reflected on the anniversary of the shootings.  He said it was such a significant event that everybody, every single person, had to take a moment to think about what else could be done.  He says the schools across the country are safer now than they were on 12/14/12.

 

Jackson says every day there are shootings.  As a culture and a nation, the right set of protections haven't been able to be put together to keep people safe.  Jackson says he's frustrated that more hasn't be done in the interim.

 

Jackson says Connecticut is commonly viewed as a fairly progressive state, and the impact of the tragedy is so great here, that there's been more of an effort to move forward in a cohesive approach to recommendations.

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Police responding to standoff in Southeast hear shots fired from home

There was stand off between an armed man at police at a Southeast home on Monday afternoon.  The incident started around 12:15pm after a man reportedly called someone to say he was thinking about suicide, and also threatened to use violence against and police officers who came to his house.  The person who received the call then phoned the Putnam County Sheriff's office. 

 

Deputies responded to the home on Nichols Road near Route 121.  When they arrived, gunshots could be heard coming from the home. 

 

A special weapons and tactics unit responded. 

 

Several nearby residences were evacuated as a precaution, with residents being transported by an armored vehicle.  An automated phone call warned people nearby to stay inside their homes. 

 

The incident was still ongoing as of 6pm Monday.

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NY man charged for fatal wrong-way crash on I-684

A New York man has been charged with criminally negligent homicide for a wrong-way crash yesterday on Interstate 684.  New York State Police say a car entered the highway headed northbound in the southbound lanes shortly before 6am on Sunday. 

 

Troopers determined that 23-year old Zachary Tokson of Scarsdale crashed head-on into a car driven by Elena Lopez of Mount Kisko in the area of exit 6.  Tokson's car was then hit by 44-year old Paula Pinheiro-Aloy of Ridgefield.  Lopez was the only person in her car and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Tokson and a passenger were transported to Westchester Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.  The Ridgefield woman was uninjured. 

 

Tokson will be in court on Wednesday.  Police say whether or not alcohol was a factor in the collision is still under investigation.

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Memorial Service held for slain Easton couple

A memorial service has been held for an Easton couple who were killed in August.  A service was held at United Methodist Church of Westport-Weston for Jeffrey and Jeannette Navin.  The couple was last seen August 4th and their bodies were recovered in Weston on October 30th.  One of their sons, 27-year old Kyle Navin was charged that day with murder.  He allegedly shot Jeannette Navin in his pick up truck, and killed Jeffrey Navin in his basement the same day.  Kyle Navin's girlfriend, 31-year old Jennifer Valiante, has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

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UPDATED: Explosion on White Street, power restored in part of Danbury

There was a small explosion on White Street in Danbury this afternoon.  A Utility company was working in the roadway shortly after 12:30pm and possibly struck an electrical conduit.  The Danbury Fire and Police Departments responded to the scene. 

 

Fire officials say one person is being treated for minor burns from electricity exposure.

 

 

Eversource Energy initially reported about 600 power outages because of the incident.  Spokesman Mitch Gross says a contractor struck underground utility lines.  As of 1:30pm power had been restored.

 

Some traffic lights were not working while the power was out.  Police placed stop signs at those intersections to help with traffic flow.  

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Newtown quietly marks 3rd anniversary of school shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Flags are flying at half-staff across Connecticut in honor of the 26 people killed three years ago in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

 

Monday is the anniversary of the attack in which a gunman killed 20 first-grade children and six educators after shooting his way into the school on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. The shooter also fatally shot his mother inside their home and killed himself after the rampage.

 

Houses of worship are holding memorial services, but the town is not planning any events to mark the anniversary. An interfaith community service at a Newtown church Monday evening is expected to include prayers, music and the lighting of candles.

 

Local groups are offering counseling and support services for residents who might want to use them Monday.

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States expanded gun rights after Sandy Hook school massacre

OWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- The 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a mentally troubled young man killed 26 children and educators, served as a rallying cry for gun-control advocates across the nation.

 

But in the three years since, many states have moved in the opposite direction, embracing the National Rifle Association's axiom that more "good guys with guns" are needed to deter mass shootings.

 

In Kansas, gun owners can now carry concealed weapons without obtaining a license. In Texas, those with permits will soon be able to carry openly in holsters and bring concealed weapons into some college classrooms. And in Arkansas, gun enthusiasts may be able to carry weapons into polling places next year when they vote for president.

 

Dozens of new state laws have made it easier to obtain guns and carry them in more public places and made it harder for local governments to enact restrictions, according to a review of state legislation by The Associated Press. The number of guns manufactured and sold and the number of permits to carry concealed weapons have also increased, data show.

 

The trend has been discouraging to some gun-control advocates, even as other states have adopted stricter background checks. Other gun-control supporters say their movement is emboldened by the recent rise of Everytown for Gun Safety, a well-funded group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is becoming influential in some state capitols.

 

The debate over gun rights moved to states after Congress rejected a bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the Internet. The arguments are expected to intensify next year as legislatures convene in the wake of the mass shooting of county government employees in San Bernardino, California, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

 

Recent mass shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, a community college in Oregon and a church in South Carolina have also reignited passions on both sides.

 

"Most of our churches are just wide open," said Mississippi Republican Rep. Andy Gipson, who plans to file a bill next year allowing congregations to designate people who could carry guns.

 

The pro-gun legislation reflects a growing public sentiment that "gun-free zones are magnets for bad guys," said David Kopel, a gun policy expert at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Colorado. He said that concept was not popular after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, but the frequency of mass shootings since then has made the idea of having a trained, law-abiding gun owner present more appealing.

 

"We've gone from, 'You can't even say that out loud' to it being an evenly divided issue, with the pro-gun side having an advantage on that," he said. "I would expect that we will see continued movement on that in the coming year."

 

Even before the Dec. 2 shooting at the office holiday party in San Bernardino, gun purchases and permit applications were on the rise.

 

On the day after Thanksgiving this year, U.S. gun sales approached a single-day record. More than 185,000 federal background checks were initiated, the most in the 17-year history of the program, according to FBI data.

 

"Everybody is swamped," said Mike Conway, a salesman at Bullseye Sport in Riverside, California, near San Bernadino, which has run out of most guns. "A lot of first-time buyers. A lot of people that realize that they have to be responsible for their own safety."

 

From 2007 to 2014, the number of concealed-carry handgun permits in states nearly tripled, from 4.7 million to 12.8 million, according to a recent report by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a group whose research is often cited by gun-rights supporters. Meanwhile, several states have passed laws shielding the identities of permit holders to protect privacy and prevent potential harassment.

 

Instead of limiting access to firearms after Sandy Hook, states such as Indiana and Mississippi passed laws to beef up the presence of police officers in schools. Kansas adopted a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in many public buildings. Georgia and Arkansas, among others, allowed concealed weapons in bars and some churches. Tennessee made clear that permit holders can carry concealed weapons in vehicles and parks.

 

Several states also passed reciprocity agreements recognizing gun permits approved by other states, reduced permitting fees and loosened requirements. Wisconsin, for instance, eliminated a 48-hour waiting period to buy handguns.

 

And then there are new laws designed to thwart gun-control measures. States have prohibited authorities from seizing guns during emergencies, moved to ban the use of taxpayer funding for government gun buyback programs and banned the destruction of firearms seized by law enforcement. Some Republican-controlled states have pre-empted local governments' ability to pass stricter firearms laws by declaring that it's a matter for the state.

 

Everytown President John Feinblatt said many of the measures that expanded gun rights were passed when the NRA faced little opposition in statehouses, but that is starting to change. He said his group succeeded this year in opposing bills in several states that would have allowed concealed weapons on college campuses and permitted people to carry without obtaining permits.

 

Since Sandy Hook, six states have expanded background checks, and two more such measures are expected to be on statewide ballots next year in Nevada and Maine, Feinblatt said. His group, he added, isn't concerned with how many guns exist, but wants rules in place to make sure they aren't sold or transferred to criminals and the mentally ill.

 

"If more responsible gun owners want more guns and they are doing it the right way, that's not going to affect public safety," he said.

 

Eric Fleegler, a doctor at Boston Children's Hospital who has studied state gun laws, said he worries that the expansion of gun rights could cause more fights to escalate into deadly confrontations, more people to commit suicide and more kids to die from gun accidents.

 

"In a country with 330 million people and 310 million guns," he said, "the suggestion that the problem is we don't have enough guns available just doesn't seem to hold much weight."

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Sen. Murphy recalls stories of Newtown child

Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor on Thursday to speak about what the day means to people in Connecticut and about the challenge it presents to lawmakers.

 

He first talked about one of the first graders who was killed on 12-14, Daniel Barden.  Murphy called him a really special kid.  He's gotten to know Daniel's parents well over these last three years and in turn gotten to know Daniel really well.  Murphy also said that because he has a 7-year old son at home he feels closer than ever before to the families like the Bardens who are still grieving. 

 

Murphy says Daniel had a sense of uncanny empathy that now, as a father of a 7-year old, knows is frankly not normally visited upon children that age. 

 

Daniel loved helping people in big and small ways.  He was so naturally outward in his sympathy for others.  That's shown in a story that his father likes to tell about the challenge of going to the supermarket with Daniel.  When they would leave, Daniel always liked to hold the door open for his family, but then he wouldn't stop holding the door open because he wanted to hold it open for all of the other people also leaving the grocery store.

 

Murphy then talked about Daniel's mother and how she developed, as grief counselors would call it, defensive mechanism.  She would sometimes pretend that Daniel was at a friend's house for a couple of hours to give herself the strength to do simple household chores like cooking dinner or answering emails.

 

Murphy says it's hard to describe for his colleagues the grief that still drowns Sandy Hook parents and the community at large.  He noted that for many in the community, grief is now mixed with anger and bewilderment that Congress hasn't acted on gun safety legislation.

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Newtown shooting anniversary is on school day for first time

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre will be the first to fall on a school day — one that Newtown officials will endeavor to make as normal as possible for many students.

 

The principals at the high school and middle school will note the day’s significance in remarks over public address systems before the daily moments of silence, but staff at lower-grade schools only will offer parents, if requested, talking points on how to discuss the shootings with their children. At the Sandy Hook school, the superintendent says, it will be a “full day of school, quality teaching and quality learning.”

 

Despite efforts to embrace normalcy, students and the town are a long way from recovering from that the murders of 20 first-grade children and six educators.

 

“The expectation that it becomes easier is not realistic,” said First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, the town’s top elected official. “This is a reality that we’re still struggling with, and a struggle to develop a sense of positivity about the future. It takes time for a community to recover.”

 

Demand for mental health in the schools remains high. Last month, a foundation run by the PTA at Sandy Hook Elementary School awarded the school district a two-year, $500,000 grant to continue in-school mental health programs for students who were in Sandy Hook School the day of the shooting and those who lost brothers or sisters that day.

 

“Newtown needs only Newtown on this day,” said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi, who became superintendent last year. “There are supports that we have put together. There is a peace that we put together for that day.”

 

The superintendent is urging school officials nationwide to review their safety plans, and people to remember Newtown is still healing.

 

The gunman killed his mother inside their Newtown home and later shot his way into the school where he carried out the rampage before killing himself.

 

The school was demolished, and a new Sandy Hook school is set to open in the fall of 2016 at the same site. In the meantime, Sandy Hook students are taking classes in a building in the neighboring town of Monroe.

 

Town officials again have not organized any public remembrances because they want the anniversary to be low-key, a tack being taken by the schools.

 

The biggest event will be the annual interfaith community service at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Monday evening. It will include prayers, music and time for lighting candles, but not a lot of speeches, said the Rev. Matthew Crebbin, pastor of Newtown Congregational Church and coordinator of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association.

 

“It’s more a day of reading the sacred text, prayers. People can light candles,” Crebbin said. “We know that anniversaries can be very challenging times for people. For some it has waned, but for others the anniversary is a retraumatizing time.”

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Man charged for stabbing Patterson man in the head during argument

A Carmel man has been arrested for stabbing a person during an argument on Wednesday.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call around 10:15pm saying that there was a disturbance in a Patterson apartment.  Deputies responded and found the 21-year old victim bleeding from the head, and an older man unconscious from apparent alcohol intoxication. 

 

The victim, who was treated at Danbury Hospital for non-life threatening injuries, said that Victor Manuel Molina-Alfado stabbed him.  A knife was recovered from the apartment.  Molina-Alfado was evaluated at Putnam Hospital Center and released to the Deputies. 

 

The 41-year old was charged with felony assault, arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on $500,000 bond. 

 

Molina-Alfado is an El Salvador citizen and federal immigration officers were contacted.

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Absentee ballot session Saturday in Bethel on Police Station proposal

Special hours are being held today by the Bethel Town Clerk for absentee voting.  The ballots are available for residents who will not be able to vote on Thursday in the police station bonding referendum.  The hours today for absentee voting is 9am until Noon.  The referendum on Thursday is 6am to 8pm.  Residents are being asked to consider about $13.5 million to construct a new police station on  the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged sex assault of 8-year old

A Danbury man has been arrested for the alleged sexual abuse of an 8-year old girl.  Danbury Police say 58-year old Carl Alcala was charged Friday with three counts each of risk of injury to a minor and sexual assault of a victim under 13. 

 

An investigation was launched by the Special Victims Unit this weekend, and an arrest warrant was granted.  No other details about what led to the investigation by the Danbury Police Department were provided. 

 

Alcala was held on $75,000 bond.

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Changes coming to Danbury Economic Development Office

Some reorganization is being done by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton during his eighth term in office. 

 

Chief of Staff Wayne Shepperd will be retiring at the end of the month.  Boughton thanked his friend for his hard work over the years.  Pending approval by the City Council, Dean Esposito will assume the role of Chief of Staff.  Esposito ran against Boughton for Mayor in 2005.  But Boughton says they have never stopped being friends and has always been a trusted advisor to the office.

 

The Office of Economic Development will also be changed in the coming year.  It's most recent Director, Bruce Toumala, left ot pursue other career opportunities. 

 

The focus and the name of the department will be changed to the Office of Business Advocate.  Boughton says that's a more appropriate description of the mission.  The Office will focus on small and medium sized businesses who might have a challenge with permitting or that might need coaching on developing a solid business plan.  Boughton says that will be a more effective approach to making Danbury a one-stop shop for businesses.

 

Boughton says these changes and others will create a savings of over $20,000 in the City budget.

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Danbury Mayor delivers 'State of the City' address to business leaders

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce held its annual Leaders Luncheon Friday.  During the meeting, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton gave his State of the City Address.  He highlighted some development happened in the City and also introduced some new initiatives.  He pointed out that Danbury has a 3.9 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of any city in the state.  Over three dozen small and medium size businesses opened in Danbury in 2015. 

 

When it comes to development in Danbury, Boughton noted that the old GE building is being renovated by Praxair as their new headquarters, and nearby a new 114-room hotel is being developed.  An industrial space on Prindle Lane on Danbury's westside is being developed into an entertainment center and mail processing facility. 

 

Boughton announced today that the City has been selected to host a Technology Center.  He says it's a $200 million  investment in Danbury.  The Lotus Technology Center will consist of two data storage facilities, a fuel cell research facility and a small clean natural gas plant which will generate 200 megawatts of power that will power over a million homes in the Greater Danbury area.  The natural gas power generation facility that will operate about 25 days a year to help with peak load demands in the Greater Danbury area.

 

A full­time Main Street Enforcement Officer  has been hired for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team.  The UNIT focused on quality of ­life issues in Danbury.  This Spring, Boughton says the Danbury Police foot patrol on Main Street will be reinstated on a permanent basis to provide a stronger security presence.

 

One initiative proposed by Boughton on Friday is called Clean Start.  It is aimed at helping the homeless.  He notes that some people are already at work collecting cans and scrap metal for recycling, so he wants them to perform various projects around the City including litter control.  The chronically homeless will work with a local non­profit using specialized equipment donated by Winters Brothers.  At the end of each day they will be given a gift card.  The homeless will also be put in touch with support services to help them get on their feet.

 

Another initiative proposed by Boughton has been dubbed Lean and Green.  Danbury will explore alternate energy source.  He wants the City and the Schools to work together to explore solar power, natural gas a fuel cell technology in an effort to reduce emissions and cut costs.

 

Boughton says that talks are continuing to bring free WiFi to the Main Street corridor.  A vendor has been selected, and the project is on track to begin in March.  He is also proposing a public-private partnership with Frontier Communication known as Connect Hat City.  He wants to offer every household in Danbury $15 a month high speed fiber optic internet, without bundling in other services.  Boughton says the digital divide is real, and with this low cost option more people will have access to the internet.  He says that will help to close the achievement gap for Danbury students.

 

A Main Street Restoration Fund has also been proposed.  Boughton wants to set this up to provide low interest loans for storefronts in the Main Street area to be able to leverage that money for improvements.

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Murphy notes approaching Sandy Hook anniversary on Senate floor

Senator Chris Murphy once again took to the Senate floor to criticize his colleagues for not taking action on gun safety legislation, three years after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  Murphy said it's hard to describe for his colleagues the grief that still drowns Sandy Hook parents and the community.

 

On December 14th, the gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a weapon that was designed for the military.  Murphy said the gun was designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible, and the 30-round magazines were not designed for hunting or for sport shooting, but to destroy as much life as quickly as possible.  Murphy also noted that the gunman left lower round magazines at home. 

 

Murphy said the design of the weapons worked to a tee.  In approximately four minutes, he discharged 154 rounds.  Murphy said the young man killed with ruthless efficiency.  Murphy then listed the names of the 6 educators and the 20 children who were shot and killed.

 

There are a handful of kids that aren't on that list who were in teacher Victoria Soto's classroom.  Murphy says they were able to escape, likely as investigators believe, when the gunman had to reload his weapon.

 

Murphy says there are still searing questions.  He wonders what would have happened if the gunman didn't have an assault rifle, and if he would have had the perverse courage to walk into that school if not aided by the security of having a high powered killing machine.  Murphy also posed the question of if the gunman had smaller cartridges, would someone have been able to stop him when he fumbled with another reload.

 

Murphy acknowledged that the facts of what happened at Sandy Hook are hard to hear over and over, but that they're important.  Murphy says they should have educated Congress and the country on ways to come together to make another mass shooting less likely.  He says Sandy Hook was ignored, and it happened again and again.  He then repeated his call for his colleagues to do something to honor those children and adults killed on 12-14.

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Monroe man charged with voyeurism and possession of child pornography

A Monroe man has been charged with voyeurism and possession of child pornography.  Kenneth Raftery was a substitute teacher at Masuk High School for a few years, until about 2007 according to a statement by the Superintendent of Schools to the Monroe Courier. 

 

Police say several images of men and young males wearing shorts were recorded by Raftery at a Masuk High School football team car wash.  Some of the videos showed Raftery's face, others tried to record up the shorts of male victims.  They were unaware the videos were being recorded. 

 

The investigation was launched in October when U.S. Postal Service inspectors determined that child pornography was being traded with someone on the west coast and Raftery's home was raided.  

 

He's free on bond and was ordered to appear in court next Thursday.

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Connecticut to ban gun sales by those on no-fly list

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed Thursday to use an executive order to ban gun sales to those on federal no-fly watch lists.

 

The Democratic governor said that his order would make Connecticut the first state to do so and that state officials are working with the federal government to get access to the lists.

 

"If you cannot fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to purchase a firearm while on that watch list as well," Malloy told reporters at the Capitol. "This is basic common sense. The American people get it."

 

The legislature and Malloy previously enacted gun limits that expanded the state's assault weapons ban and barred the possession and sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines following the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting deaths of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Malloy said the executive order would deny the issuing of gun permits, which may be appealed to a firearm review board.

 

President Barack Obama has called on Congress to approve legislation to keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns. Gun rights advocates oppose the proposal because they say it violates the rights of people who have not been convicted of a crime.

 

Malloy said he is responding to the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. He said the Republican-led Congress has failed to act.

 

State officials will determine the "appropriate lists" to be included, whether they are no-fly lists or "some kind of combination of those who should not have weapons," Malloy said.

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Caroling flash mob serenades Ridgefield boy with cancer

A 12-year old Ridgefield boy with cancer has received a wish through a local Make-A-Wish granter.  The Ridgefield Press reports that Amy Nash arranged for a Christmas caroling flash mob to show up at the home of 12-year old Justin Cowen.  Hundreds of cars arrived at his home Tuesday evening for about half an hour of caroling.  Ridgefield Police and Fire Departments helped with traffic along New Road.  Some friends of the family also brought gifts for the boy.

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In remembrance of Newtown victims, 26 acts of kindness

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) Some schools in Connecticut and elsewhere around the country are performing 26 acts of kindness as a way to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

It was nearly three years ago when a gunman shot his way into the school and gunned down 20 children and six educators.

At Pleasant Valley Elementary School in South Windsor, Connecticut, students are writing their good deeds on slips of paper on a hallway wall. Principal Tiffany Caouette says most students have no knowledge of the tragedy. For now, she said, it's simply important for children to know they are doing something good for somebody else.

In the aftermath of shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, people took to social media to promote the idea of doing 26 acts of kindness to celebrate the lives of the victims.

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Esty stands silent in face of new refusal by House to address gun violence

A local lawmaker is calling on her Congressional colleagues to spend more time with the families and loved ones of gun violence victims.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says that's because in the three years since Sandy Hook, the majority of the House hasn’t allowed a single vote on gun safety legislation.

 

Esty says it's become habit that after every new tragic mass shooting for the House to merely acknowledge a moment of silence, and then go back to business as usual.  She said again that the time has passed for moments of silence and now is the time for hours of action.

 

Esty asked for unanimous consent that the House bring up H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act.  The Speaker said they were not in session for that.  Esty said she would therefore stand quietly for the remainder of her time to protest the "appalling silence of this House’s refusal to meaningfully prevent gun violence.”

 

Esty is Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

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Kyle Navin still listed as an heir in parents' wills

A Bridgeport man being held on murder charges for the deaths of his parents is still one of the couple's heirs.  According to the arrest affidavit , Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin of Easton planned to cut their son Kyle out of their wills, but the documents on file in Probate Court are from 1987. 

 

The Weston Forum reports that 27-year old Kyle and his brother, 24-year old Taylor Navin are the beneficiaries of the wills. 

 

Kyle Navin is accused of shooting his parents and hiding their bodies in a Weston backyard.  His girlfriend, 31-year old Jennifer Valiante, has been charge with conspiracy to commit murder. 

 

Under Connecticut law, a person convicted of murdering another person may not be the beneficiary of a will.

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Former Newtown Sgt. accused of heading steroid distribution ring pleads guilty

A former Newtown Police Sgt. has changed his plea to guilty on charges that he headed a steroid manufacturing and distribution ring.  39-year old Steven Santucci was in court Wednesday. 

 

It's alleged that Santucci and others received shipments of steroid ingredients from China, manufactured and distributed wholesale quantities to others.  12 people in all were charged in the investigation.  Certain members of the conspiracy were also distributing prescription pills, including oxycodone, as well as cocaine. 

 

Prosecutors say Santucci used more than $120,000 in proceeds from the sale of anabolic steroids to wire payments to foreign sellers of ingredients to make liquid anabolic steroids, and to purchase drug packaging materials from domestic companies. 

 

Santucci will be sentenced on March 3rd and faces up to 30 years in prison.  He was arrested in April and has been free on bond.

 

The arrest affidavit says 33-year old Mark Bertanza of Shelton was a steroid distributor.  He recently changed his plea to guilty.

 

46-year old Jason Chickos of Bridgeport, a former civilian dispatcher with the Newtown Police Department and 32-year old body builder Michael Mase of Sherman were Santucci's steroid customers who, in turn, regularly distributed the steroids in smaller quantities to their own customers.  They also recently changed their pleas to guilty.

 

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Danbury woman left toddler alone in car at Walmart

A Danbury woman has been arrested for leaving a toddler alone in a car in the Walmart Parking lot.  Danbury Police were called to the Newtown Road store around 12:30pm on Monday by witnesses who said there was a small child in a car screaming and crying. 

 

The witnesses waited, but the woman took the child into the store before police arrived.  Officers located 32-year old Heidi Uvina-Desanchez inside.  She told them that she left the child in the car for 10 minutes to grab something quick from inside. 

 

Uvina-Desanchez was charged with leaving a child under 12 unsupervised.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court on the 16th.

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Second man in a week makes threat against Conn. DMV

A second person in a week has made a threat to "shoot up the DMV".  A Roxbury man was arrested last Thursday for his Facebook post ranting against the state Department of Motor Vehicles. 

 

This morning, a Wolcott man was arrested at the Waterbury DMV branch.  73-year old James Durand, whose birthday is tomorrow, allegedly told staff there that he was going to "shoot the place up" when he got angry over an emissions issue with his car.  Several witnesses heard the comment and felt threatened.  Troopers say Durand was found outside the DMV with an employee and appeared calm. 

 

He was unarmed. 

 

Durand was charged with threatening and breach of peace.  He was released on $20,000 bond for a court appearance on the 18th.

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Danbury man with prior DWIs arrested for NY hit and run drunk driving crash

A Danbury man is facing a drunk driving charge for a hit-and-run accident that happened on Interstate 684 Monday.  New York State Police were called to investigate the collision that happened Monday and located a vehicle that matched a description of the car that didn't stop. 

 

Troopers pulled the vehicle over on Route 22 in North Salem and determined that the driver, 31-year old Pedro Yunga Vivar, was intoxicated.  He had a Blood Alcohol Content more than twice the legal limit. 

 

Yunga Vivar was charged with felony DWI based on two previous DWI related convictions.  Traffic tickets were also issued, ordering the Danbury man to appear in North Salem Justice Court on the 21st.

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Teen charged with driving getaway car from Danbury shooting

A third person has been charged in connection with an October shooting in Danbury.  Police charged a 19-year old yesterday for driving the getaway car. 

 

A 22-year old man was shot in the groin area on October 29th while he was outside a School Ridge Road home.  He was visiting friends when 19-year old Alexander Chadee-Sierra Jr. of the Bronx arrived, and summoned the victim outside.  Chadee-Sierra fired two shots, hitting the man once.  There were several people in the apartment, including a 4-year old boy who was standing just inside the doorway. 

 

The suspect fled the scene in a car driven by 19-year old Manuela Aleman of Danbury.  18-year old Brandon Gonzalez of the Bronx, who was with them at the time, was also charged. 

 

   

(Chadee-Sierra, Gonzalez, Aleman)

 

Aleman was charged with hindering prosecution and interfering with an officer.  She was held on $35,000 bond.

 

Chadee-Sierra was charged on November 16th with criminal attempt to commit murder, assault and risk of injury to a minor.  He was held on $250,000 bond and will be in Danbury Superior Court on Monday.  Chadee-Sierra has not yet entered a plea on the felony charges.

 

On November 18th, Gonzalez was charged with conspiracy to commit assault and accessory to assault.  He has since been released on court set $85,000 bond.  His next court appearance is set for December 18th.  Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty to the felony charges.

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Local lawmakers vote against Transportation Lockbox proposal

State lawmakers have approved a mid-year budget-trimming plan, with provisions of the plan including possibly closing some facilities for the disabled. The plan also trims some business taxes. Governor Dannel Malloy did not get a proposal for a constitutional ``lock-box'' to keep transportation revenues from being spent on other programs. 

 

Danbury Democratic State Representative Bob Godfrey, who serves as Deputy House Speaker, says the lock box is a set up for putting tolls on the state borders.  He said the loopholes in the legislation are big enough to drive a truck through.

 

Danbury Republican state Representative Jan Giegler voted against the lock box.  She says allowing money to be diverted before it can get to the fund or altering what those funds can be used for goes against the very concept of a lock box.  

 

Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolisnky voted against the transportation funding lock box proposal saying that the enabling legislation intended to create the program came with a $35-million raid of special transportation fund dollars.  He says it was full of irresponsible holes, leaving a colander incapable of holding water or dollars.

 

Southbury Republican State Representative Arthur O'Neill says the lock box is worse than nothing because it is so deceptive and misleading.  He says it provides cover to those who want to do other things with the money.

 

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New Milford Board of Ed elects new chairman

A new chairman has been elected for the New Milford Board of Education.  Democrat David Lawson was selected for the position during their first meeting since last month's election.  There are six Democrats and three Republicans seated on the Board of Education.  New Milford Superintendent of Schools Dr JeanAnn Paddyfote plans to retire in January.  Deputy Superintendent Joshua Smith will serve as interim superintendent.

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Local lawmaker critical of budget deficit mitigation plan

State Senate Republicans have voiced disappointment with the proposed deficit-cutting plan, saying it doesn't go far enough to fix Connecticut's perpetual budget problems.  Danbury state Senator says since he took office in January 2009, deficits seem to be all he's dealt with.

 

McLachlan recalled a Finance Committee meeting where Ridgefield Representative John Frey said that Fairfield-based GE was thinking about leaving the state.  He called it an earth-shattering day for people at the state capital.  He says many people wondered what they were doing there that would make GE want to run away.

 

McLachlan says another of those warning was presented Tuesday by Greenwich Senator Frantz, who said that the wealthy were also thinking about leaving the state in droves.

 

The Senate was the first chamber to act, voting unanimously for a resolution that would protect transportation funds deposited into a so-called lock box.  It fell 14 votes short of the 114 needed in the House.  It's now up to the 2017 General Assembly to put the question on the 2018 ballot.

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3rd annual National Vigil for gun violence victims to be held in D.C.

A national vigil is being held to honor victims of gun violence from across the country and to help give a voice to survivors of gun violence.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says this is the 3rd annual national vigil. 

 

Vigils are also planned at hundreds of locations around the nation between December 10th and 14th. 

 

Locally, there will be an educational activity with discussion held by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury.  A vigil will be held by the Newtown Episcopal Church.  In North Salem, New York--the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus is asking supporters to sign a pledge card to take action to end gun violence.

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Sen. Murphy calls for vote on bill to ban those on no-fly list from buying guns

A motion to bring a bill preventing people on the no-fly list from being able to purchase guns was brought to the Senate floor on Tuesday by Senator Chris Murphy.  It wasn't brought up for a vote because he objected to an amendment offered by a Republican member of the Senate.  Murphy also took the time to respond to criticism that Democrats are cashing in on a tragedy.  He said that notion is "ridiculous and insulting".

 

"There's been a mass shooting every single day in this country on average.  If you had to wait 24 hours or 48 hours to talk about strategies like preventing terrorists from buying guns that would keep this country safe after a mass shooting, then you'd never talk about them."

 

Murphy also used the opportunity to fire off his own criticism of opponents.

 

"Those who oppose this are more concerned with protecting the rights of potential terrorists than they are protecting this country."

 

Murphy called the measure a temporary inconvenience for the small number of people who are on the terrorist watch list, but shouldn't be.  He says they have a means to get off that list.  They would only have to wait a couple of more days or weeks to be able to buy a weapon.

 

Murphy says the list is made up of people that have given the FBI or other law enforcement to believe they are affiliated with a terrorist organization.  He says those people may not have committed a crime yet, but had communications or affiliations with terrorist organizations.

 

"While today it's become partisan, Republicans are standing almost in lockstep against a bill to stop terrorists from getting guns, historically it's been bipartisan.  This was initially proposed by President Bush and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  Let's make it bipartisan again."

 

Murphy said he was disappointed that the bill wasn't able to be voted on on Tuesday.  But he said he would be back in the days, weeks and months to come to continue to ask for a vote on legislation that would make sure potential terrorists can't get their hands on dangerous, life-ending weapons.

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Narcotics, loaded assault rifle seized by police during heroin trafficking investigation

Narcotics, a loaded assault rifle and six other weapons have been seized from a Mahopac home to cap off a three month long heroin trafficking investigation.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the drug sales in Carmel and arrested four people last Tuesday. 

 

In a news release Monday, Sheriff Donald Smith said that they learned 35-year old Thomas Simmons was selling drugs from his home.  An undercover deputy posed as a drug buying customer and was allegedly sold heroin by Simmons on several occasions, most recently last week.  Simmons allegedly sold the deputy $300 worth of heroin at an arranged location in Patterson. 

 

He was then charged with four counts each of sale of and possession a controlled substance, all felonies.  Simmons was on parole at the time of his arrest.  Two people were with Simmons at the time.  23-year old Alyssa Feldman, of Poughquag New York and 27-year old Joshua Fields of New Port Richie Florida were possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument. 

 

All three have extensive criminal histories. 

 

At Simmons' home, police seized narcotics, scales, drug packaging material and seven firearms.  Among them was a fully-loaded .380 caliber semi-auto pistol, a fully-loaded 12-gauge semi-auto shotgun and an AK-47 assault rifle with a 30-round magazine.

 

50-year old Louis Carr was at the house when it was raided.  He was charged with possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, criminal use of drug paraphernalia, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of possession of a weapon.  Carr has a prior felony conviction.

 

Simmons was ordered held without bail.  Carr was released on bond.  Fields has not yet posted $10,000 bail.  Feldman was issued a ticket for these charges and turned over to the Dutchess County Department of Probation on an arrest warrant for unrelated charges.

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Monroe driver, found with ice cream carton on lap, fell asleep behind the wheel

A Monroe man found asleep at the wheel of a running car, with a container of ice cream in his lap, has been arrested for driving while intoxicate.  Monroe Patch reports that Police responded to a car stopped at the intersection of Route 111 and Elm Street around 11:30 Sunday night.  After waking the driver, later identified as 23-year old Matthew Rotondo, officers found two empty bags of heroin in the car.  Police say Rotondo was confused and his speech was slurred.  He was ordered to appear in court on December 16th.

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Danbury Police Officer struck by car, vaulted 15 feet into the air

A Danbury Police Officer has been injured in a traffic accident.  Officer Brittany Alvarez was assigned to conduct traffic direction in the area of Hoyt Street and Rose Hill Avenue due to ongoing construction.  The accident happened around 6:50am Tuesday.  Officer Alvarez was signaling southbound traffic at this intersection to stop, wearing her OSHA approved traffic safety apparel. 

 

Antonio Desousa of Danbury was traveling southbound on Rose Hill Avenue and said that he did not see Officer Alvarez.  She was struck with the left front of his vehicle and vaulting her approximately fifteen feet.

 

Officer Alvarez was transported to Danbury Hospital by ambulance for injuries sustained in the collision.  She was treated and released from the ER. 

 

The collision remains under investigation. Any witness is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco at (203) 797-2157.

 

She is the fifth member of the Danbury Police Department to be injured in accidents in the past four weeks.

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Ridgefield, Redding liquor stores fail Consumer Protection checks

Ridgefield and Redding Police Departments recently requested that the State Department of Consumer Protection conduct checks of liquor stores in the towns over concerns that underage residents have been able to purchase alcohol. 

 

On Friday, both of the liquor stores in Redding and 60-percent of those in Ridgefield sold to a 20-year old volunteer.  The names of the stores in Ridgefield were not immediately provided.  No arrests were made, but the Department's Liquor Commission will likely take administrative action. 

 

Police officers from Redding and Ridgefield waited outside the stores while members of the Department entered with the volunteer.

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Man charged for armed Newtown home invasion to face assault charges in Monroe

The armed Newtown man arrested for breaking into a home early Sunday morning is facing more charges in Monroe.  Newtown Police took 27-year old Michael Dziubina into custody without incident.  Officers then determined that police were looking for Dziubina earlier. 

 

Just before 1am, he and a woman were headed to his house when the woman realized she was intoxicated.  Police say when Dziubina turned down Kettle Creek Lane, the woman told him to let her out of the car, but he didn't stop.  She pulled the emergency break and took the key out of the ignition.  Police say that made Dziubina angry, he got out of the car and pulled the woman out by her neck throwing her to the ground.  He then used the spare key and sped off without the woman. 

 

She yelled for help and a Monroe resident let her in to call 911. 

 

Monroe police obtained an arrest warrant charging Dziubina with assault and unlawful restraint.  He was arrested at his parent's Shelton home.

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Report: Connecticut boosted mental health funding in 3 years

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A new national report shows Connecticut is one of 11 states that have increased funding for mental health care every year since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Some mental health care providers in Connecticut say the boost in state funding doesn't tell the whole story.

The figures were included the 3rd annual survey of state mental health care legislation from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Heather Gates, CEO of Community Health Resources, says the overall spending on mental health in Connecticut is skewed because the state has a dual system of more expensive state-operated programs and those run by not-for-profits.

The report comes as lawmakers return for a special session Tuesday to fix the state deficit and replenish earlier cuts to mental health agencies.

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Danbury Police Officer Hit By Car

Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Caroccio says a Female Officer was struck near the intersection of Rose Hill and Hoyt Street. The officer was struck by a motor vehicle while out on a private job directing traffic. The officer was transported via ambulance to the Danbury Hospital for her injuries.

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Town Meeting to be held about proposed Bethel Police Station plans

A Town Meeting is being held in Bethel Tuesday night about funding for a proposed police station.  The $13.4 million bond proposal is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the recommendation is for a referendum on the 17th.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.

 

Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.

 

The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.

 

The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  

 

For those who say it still could be renovated, Knickerbocker says it would be at a cost two or two and a half times the amount that's currently being proposed.  That's if the town could get permits from federal government.  The FEMA flood plain bisects the building.

 

Knickerbocker says the new proposed building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed. 

 

The town meeting is being held at 7:30pm the General Purpose Room of the Bethel Municipal Center.

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Jimmy Greene's album 'Beautiful Life' nominated for Grammy Award

A Newtown man has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.  Jimmy Greene, an assistant professor at West Conn, has been nominated in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for his latest recording "Beautiful Life".  The album is a remembrance and celebration of the life of his daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, who was among the first-grade victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

The saxophonist was also nominated for Best Arrangement,  Instruments and Vocals for his reworking of "When I Come Home" featuring Javier Colon.  Colon, a Connecticut native, won the inaugural season of The Voice. 

 

"I'm extremely humbled and honored.  It's a tremendous honor in the music industry to be nominated for a Grammy Award," said Greene.

 

"There's literally hundreds of amazing examples of people's work in each category that gets submitted, to be chosen as one of five nominees in two different categories is a huge honor."

 

But there is a bit of sadness involved, Greene said he wished his daughter was still here. 

 

"I'm very glad that the world gets to hear her voice.  Her voice is prominent on the recording, they can know a little bit about her life.  After the world getting to know quite a bit about how she died, I'm happy that people are getting to hear how she lived" said Greene.

 

 

The album cover is a photograph of Ana and her brother Isaiah taken at their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the family lived prior to moving to Newtown in 2012.

 

 

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

 

Greene recently held a concert fundraiser at the new WCSU School of Visual and Performing Arts Center to benefit the Ana Grace Project.

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Budget plan includes eventual closure of juvenile prison

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Senate Democratic leaders say a mid-year, budget-cutting plan up for a vote Tuesday begins the process of closing the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown and the Southbury Training School.

While the proposal includes $350 million in cuts to cover the shortfall in this year's $20 billion budget, lawmakers said Monday it also restores some reductions already made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to hospitals and social service agencies.

The plan also calls for creating through a separate bill a so-called ``lock-box'' to prevent transportation revenue from being spent on other programs. Ultimately, it will require voters to approve an amendment to Connecticut's constitution.

Lawmakers are returning Tuesday for a special session.

The Middletown facility is a juvenile detention center and the Southbury Training School serves people with profound developmental disabilities.

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Man charged for robbery at Monroe home during July 4th party

A Connecticut man has been arrested for a July burglary at a Monroe home.  Police have been investigating the thefts since a .22 caliber rifle and jewelry among other items were allegedly stolen from a Monroe home during a party on the 4th of July.  The Monroe Courier reports that a couple went on vacation in July, but came home to find that camera equipment and cash were among the items missing. 

 

Their daughter reportedly had 10 people at the party, and one whom she didn't know stayed overnight.  The man, 25-year old Scott Dennis of Bridgeport, allegedly sold the items to a Bridgeport pawn shop. 

 

Monroe police served Dennis an arrest warrant last Wednesday in Bridgeport Superior Court where he was facing unrelated charges.  The arrest warrant is for burglary, larceny and theft of a firearm. 

 

Dennis remains held on $25,000 bond and is due back in court in January on the felony charges.

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Danbury man: Machete attack prompted by leaf blowing dispute with neighbor

A neighbor dispute about leaf blowing ended with a Danbury man swinging a machete at his neighbor.  Danbury Police responded to the argument early Saturday evening on Dogwood Lane. 

 

Officers determined that 79-year old Charles Middlebrook became upset at 56-year old Frederick Underhill who was blowing leaves off his property and inadvertently got dirt on Middlebrook's car.  Underhill said that as he passed Middlebrook's property he pointed his leaf blower at Middlebrook's vehicle in case he had inadvertently gotten dust on it.

 

According to Underhill, Middlebrook was verbally abusive toward him, growing agitated about the leaf blowing and charged off his porch with a machete in hand.  Underhill says Middlebrook swung the machete three separate times which each strike making contact with the wand of the leaf blower.

 

Middlebrook told police that Underhill was antagonizing him, and he told his neighbor to get off his property.  Middlebrook said Underhill pointed the leaf blower about three feet away from his face and continued to blow air at him. 

 

Middlebrook has been charged with breach of peace, carrying a dangerous weapon, and criminal attempt to commit assault.  He is due in court on December 16.  Underhill was issued a written promise to appear in court on a breach of peace charge December 14.

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Two Danbury officers injured in deck collapse while responding to call

Two Danbury Police officers responding to a report of suspicious activity were injured when a deck collapsed.  Danbury Police say the officers were sent to a home on Cross Street around 1pm on Saturday.  As the officers exited the house onto a second floor deck, the deck separated from the house. 

 

Both officers and the deck fell to the ground. 

 

One officer was treated at danbury Hospital for minor injuries and released back to full duty.  The other officer sustained shoulder and neck injury, and has since been released from the hospital.

 

This comes on the heals of two car accidents in which Danbury Policemen were injured. 

 

On November 11th, A juvenile lost control on Padanaram Road and crossed into the opposite lane of travel hitting a car driven by Police Sgt. Joseph LeRose.  The teen and LeRose, who was off duty at the time, were treated at the hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.

 

A week later on November 18th, a 26-year old Danbury man thought he had enough time to turn left from Federal Road on to the I-84 on ramp, crossing in front of the southbound lanes.  Officer Jonathan Contreras' police cruiser didn't have enough time to stop to avoid the crash.  Both were treated at Danbury Hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.

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Newtown man shot his way into house during robbery

An armed Newtown man has been arrested for breaking into a home early yesterday morning.  Newtown police say officers were called to a home on Andras Road on a report of gunshots.  Responding officers found the backdoor had been broken and a man started walking toward them.  The man, later determined to be 27-year old Michael Dziubina, had a small pistol.  Dziubina is accused of shooting the back door to force it open.  Newtown Police say the man was taken into custody without incident.  He's been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

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Grant awarded to Danbury Food Collaborative

The Walmart Foundation State Giving Team has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Danbury Food Collaborative for a second time in consecutive years. Spearheaded by United Way of Western Connecticut, Danbury’s food pantries, soup kitchens, and nonprofits formed the DFC in 2013.  They are working together to improve access to food, quality of food and sustainability of food for residents in the Greater Danbury Area.

 

A DFC survey of its clients showed that many of the food programs do not have enough fresh, healthy food for their clients due to both a lack of access to fresh food and a lack of refrigeration.  “Project Healthy Food” is providing refrigerators for DFC food programs and fresh food for residents in need.  The DFC then partnered with Community Plates, which rescues fresh food from restaurants and grocery stores in the city, and significantly increased it fresh food offerings.

 

Without adequate refrigeration, food programs can be limited to dry and packaged “middle grocery aisle” food items. Special Events Manager Stacy Schulman says research has shown that a diet lacking fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, etc., can lead to severe health problems over time.

 

14 refrigeration units have been purchased to date.  The balance of funds from the grant will be used to buy fresh and healthy food.

 

The DFC serves more than 8,600 households annually by providing over 230,000 meals to residents in need.  The DFC is comprised of fourteen nonprofit agencies:

 

Association of Religious Communities

 

Danbury Farmer’s Market

 

Catholic Charities of Fairfield County

 

Hillside Food Outreach

 

City of Danbury

 

Hispanic Center/Multicultural Center

 

Community Action Agency of Western CT

 

Interfaith AIDS Ministry

 

Community Plates

 

Jericho Partnership, Inc.

 

Connecticut Food Bank

 

The Salvation Army, Danbury Corps.

 

Daily Bread: An Ecumenical Food Pantry

 

United Way of Western Connecticut

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Retired Danbury Police Sgt laid to rest

Retired Police Detective Sergeant Adam Fernand passed away unexpectedly on December 1st at Yale New Haven Hospital, following a brief illness.  He had liver and kidney disease.  He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Valerie Sforza Fernand, and his children, Ava, 15, and Kyle, 14.

 

Adam's distinguished career as a Danbury Police Officer lasted 29 years, as he rose from the ranks of rookie officer at age 21 to Detective Sergeant, retiring in July of 2014. During his tenure on the police force, he was Team Leader of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, as well as part of the Tactical Narcotics Team. He was the recipient of numerous awards and citations as he served the city.

 

A funeral mass will held Saturday, December 5th, 10 AM, at St. Edwards the Confessor, 21 Brush Hill, New Fairfield.

 

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Fernand Family Fund, at https://pages.giveforward.com/medical/page-hml3wc3/

 

Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio said in a statement that Fernand was a dedicated Police Officer, friend and mentor to the men and women of the Danbury Police Department.  Carroccio continued by saying that Fernand's dedication to the department was only superseded by his devotion to his family. 

 

"He will be sadly missed, but will always be in our hearts."

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Danbury appoints new Planning Director

Danbury has a new Planning Director.  Deputy Director Sharon Calitro has been promoted to the position by Mayor Mark Boughton.  She has a Master of Science Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.  She is also a certified Planner with the American Institute.  As Deputy Planning Director, Calitro has been commended for several accomplishments in the City. 

 

She helped develop significant zoning amendments and plans that have been adopted by the city, developed regulations adopted by the Planning Commission for the City's Aquifer Protection Area and managing the related program.  She completed a revision of the City's Capital Improvement Program, managed completion of several grants from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation for projects at the Palace Theater and Hearthstone Castle, and established the City's first GIS system. 

 

Calitro was also credited with completing several downtown planning projects including the design and implementation of improvements at Elmwood Park, along White Street, at Palace Walk and along North Main Street.

 

The Department has a lot of different proposals for the redevelopment of downtown Danbury, and a number of public projects on the horizon.  That includes the expansion of Danbury High School along with road and traffic improvements.  The Department also manages ongoing planning projects proposed by developers.  Boughton says Calitro has the skill set to be able to deliver on a full spectrum of work.

 

Boughton says Calitro brings a different view to the post and will likely run the Department differently than the previous director, who had been with the City for almost 20 years.

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Immaculate High School Girls Cross Country team honored by Danbury

December 2nd 2015 was Immaculate High School Girls Cross Country Team Day in Danbury.  The team went 13 and 0 for the season.  Mayor Mark Boughton recognized the girls and their coaches during the City Council meeting this week.

 

Boughton said he was proud to honor the Mustang Girls for their outstanding performance and achievement throughout the 2015 season.  The were in  the top three finishers in the Class S Championship.

 

The team dedicated their undefeated season to Sam Crews, who was the grounds foreman at Tarrywile Park, across from Immaculate.  Crews died in a car accident April 30th.  Their t-shirts said they were part of Sam's Crew.

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Esty outlines gun control measures she wants Congress to vote on

As the thirrd anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook approaches, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty offered praise to the first responders who went to the site of the mass shooting in California this week.  She said they acted with humanity, speed and effectiveness.  She says they will endure their own form of trauma.  She notes they are a group that is often forgotten because they are doing their jobs and saving lives.

 

Esty says over 2,000 people on the terrorist watch list have been permitted to buy weapons in the last 15 years. 

 

She wants the partisan and cultural war to end.  Esty says people are dying on the streets of America, whether it's San Bernardino or every single day in cities, homes, churches, and playgrounds

 

Esty then urged her colleague in the U-S House to take action on gun control measures before they go on break for the holidays.  She specifically wants legislative leaders to call legislation for a vote that would close a loophole in the background checks law that exempts those purchased at gun shows.  She also wants to make sure people on the nation's terrorist watch list can't buy weapons.

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Connecticut federal delegation wants action on gun measures

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Members of Connecticut's Democratic congressional delegation expressed frustration Friday that efforts to combat gun violence have been stymied since the 2012 deadly Newtown school shooting, pointing blame at many of their colleagues in Washington, D.C.

 

Sen. Chris Murphy called it "disgusting" that Congress has been unwilling to accept any of the options he contends could help stem mass shootings, pointing to Thursday's mostly party-line Senate vote against expanding background checks for more gun purchases. It was the same proposal the Senate rejected in early 2013, months after 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Since Wednesday's deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the federal lawmakers have urged their colleagues to take action next week, before Congress' holiday break, to address mass shootings.

 

"We don't have to accept this as inevitable. We don't have to live in fear every single day," Murphy said. "But Congress has to get off their a-- and start working on behalf of the American people to stop this mass slaughter."

 

Murphy received national attention on Thursday when he expressed his frustration through Twitter, sending the message, "Your 'thoughts' should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your 'prayers' should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again." Murphy said his message was retweeted 22,000 times.

 

Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, accused Murphy of "prayer-shaming," saying the senator's tweet was offensive.

 

"What Senator Murphy and his friends are saying is that unless you support their preferred public policy remedy - gun control - your prayers are meaningless platitudes and you are complicit in the murders that are committed. Such assertions are disgusting."

 

Murphy was joined Friday for a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson. All appeared exasperated by the lack of congressional action.

 

Blumenthal said Thursday's vote proved that the Congress is "hostage to the gun lobby" and "complicit in failing to act."

 

In a message sent out on Twitter, the National Rifle Association said it "won't accept the blame for murderers nor apologize for fighting for our right to defend against them."

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Sen. Murphy calls for action to curb gun violence

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation are criticizing colleagues in Washington, D.C., and expressing frustration that gun control efforts have been stymied since the 2012 deadly Newtown school shooting.  Murphy was joined Friday by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson in expressing frustration with the lack of support for curbing firearms.

 

Below is the full text of Murphy's speech during the press conference.

 

Make sure that the 20 million people coming to this country every year get a higher security screening to make sure they have no connection to terrorists.  Change gun laws to make sure that criminals are not getting guns, or that individuals that are thinking about mass slaughter don't have a military style assault weapon or a 30 round clip with which to kill more people.  Keep terrorists from buying guns.  Fix the mental health system, a common element of many of these mass shootings, to make sure the people contemplating this kind of violence have access to mental health services that can prevent them from taking that drastic step.

 

We have a broad array of options with which to work from, and what is so disgusting is the Congress is accepting none of them.

 

We don't have to accept this as inevitable.  We don't have to live in fear every single day.  But Congress has to get off their ass and start working on behalf of the American people to stop this mass slaughter.  We're just not doing it right now.

 

Sympathies are important.  Prayers are important. But members of Congress don't get elected in order to send out sympathy tweets, we get elected to change laws to make people safer.

 

Use that one week [before Congress adjourns for the holidays] to show the American people that we are capable of doing something, anything, to try to cut down on these mass shootings.

 

When the bill in the wake of Sandy Hook to make background checks nearly universal [failed] that was a really low day.  But Thursday was comparable.  Thursday was just as bad in many respects as the day that the Sandy Hook background checks bill failed, because on Thursday we thought we would get 100 Senators to stand together and say that terrorists shouldn't be able to buy guns.  We couldn't even get a majority of the Senate because of the power of the gun lobby and because of this malaise that's fallen over congress that nothing can be done.

 

Something can be done.  Something has to be done.  We are here to say that we are not giving up.  I will offer my mental health bill next year, we will continue to press on these changes.  We will go out and build a national movement around changes to these laws.  The status quo is unacceptable.

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Danbury man charged with possession of child pornography

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) State police say a Danbury man has been arrested after troopers found child pornography on his two cell phones.

Authorities say Edward Barker turned himself in Friday at the Southbury state police baracks. He was charged with child pornography possession and detained on $40,000 bail pending arraignment in Danbury Superior Court.

State police say the investigation began six months ago when they received a complaint about suspected child pornography being saved to a cloud storage device. Authorities say they seized Barker's cell phones in August.

It wasn't immediately clear what Barker's response to the allegations is, or who his lawyer is.

His mother, Carlene Barker, said she and her husband were surprised by the arrest. She said police told her someone overseas sent her son images of children having sex.

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Danbury man charged with sexually assaulting 11-year old

A Danbury man arrested today by New York State Police will be extradited to Connecticut on accusations that he sexually assaulted a minor.  Danbury Police say a warrant was issued on Tuesday for 36-year old Arturo Hernandez as a result of an investigation by the Special Victims Unit. 

 

It's alleged that Hernandez sexually abused an 11 year old girl. 

 

He was arrested in South Salem, New York.  Hernandez faces charges in Danbury of 4th degree sexual assault, risk of injury sexual contact and risk of injury impairing the health and morals of a child. 

 

Bond was set at $50,000.

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Road closures, parking ban for The Ram Pasture tree lighting in Newtown

Several roads in Newtown will be closed for a period of time tonight for the annual Ram Pasture tree lighting.  Newtown Police says there will also be a three hour parking ban in effect near the ceremony and related activities. 

 

The tree is near the corner of Elm Drive and Hawley Road.  The event starts at 6:30, with a tree lighting at 7pm. 

 

Elm will be closed between Route 302 and Borough Lane.  Barricades, traffic cones and "no parking" signs will be put up on the affected areas.  The no-parking zone includes Elm Drive, Hawley Road, and parts of South Main and Sugar streets.

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Bethel Police to host tour of department to highlight shortcomings of building

Bethel Police are holding an open house this afternoon.  The Department will be hosting guided tours of their current police station every 30 minutes in an effort to show residents what they say are the shortcomings of the building.  Residents could vote later this month on a proposed $13 million bond package to build a new Police Department. 

 

Plans and renditions of the proposed facility will be on hand. 

 

The tours are from 4pm to 7pm.  An informational session will also be held at the police station at 6pm.  The Chief will take questions from residents about the proposed building. 

 

The current Bethel Police Department is located on Plumtrees Road.

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Chain reaction crash tied up rush hour traffic Thursday night

A four car crash closed part of Interstate 84 in Danbury during Thursday night's rush hour commute.  The accident happened around 5pm, and blocked the left lane for a couple of hours.  State Police say three cars suddenly slowed for traffic, but a fourth car did not stop in time to avoid a collision causing a chain reaction crash. 

 

The first car suffered minor rear end damage, the middle two vehicles sustained minor and moderate damage respectively on their front and back ends.  None of the seven people in the four cars were injured. 

 

The driver of the last car, which sustained heavy front end damage, was found at fault.  That car has to be towed from the scene. 

 

57-year old Robert Speight of Danbury was issued a written warning for following too close.

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State Police K9 gets protective vest

Another Connecticut State Police Dog has received a bullet and stab protective vest.  The K9 named Union has been outfitted with a vest which will be embroidered with the sentiment “In Dogs We Trust, the DeGroat Family.”   A charitable donation was made by the Stafford family through the non-profit Vested Interest in K9s Incorporated. 

 

Union has been  assigned to Trooper Christopher Porrini for two years and is currently working at Troop A in Southbury.  The three-year-year-old German Shepard  is trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles and obedience. Union is also trained in narcotics detection.

 

The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 partners. Each vest has an average weight of 4-5 pounds and requires a donation of little more than $1,000. 

 

It comes with a five-year warranty.

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Senate rejects more gun background checks after CA attack

WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate has voted anew against expanding background checks for more gun purchases, rejecting the proposal a day after the latest U.S. mass shooting left 14 people dead in California.

Thursday's 50-47 vote underscored that political gridlock over curbing firearms remains formidable in Washington, amid a rash of highly publicized U.S. shootings and last month's terror attack in Paris.

The measure was co-authored by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

It would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows. Currently, the checks are only required for transactions from licensed gun dealers.

It's the same proposal the Senate rejected in the months after the December 2012 slayings of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut.

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Lights installed along Main St. Danbury for 'Light the Lights'

Danbury's annual tree lighting event this year will be different than in past years.  The old oak tree by Library Plaza is no longer the focal point.  City Center Danbury Executive Director PJ Prunty says there will be two Christmas trees on either end of Main Street which will be lit, and several strings of lights along the roadway.  The trees are at Kennedy Park and at Library Plaza.

 

Last month, Danbury officials authorized spending $65,000 to purchase new lights to emulate the look of Main Street from the 1950s.  The lights have been strung from buildings on one side, across to the other.  The lights start at the intersection with White Street and continue to the intersection with Bank Street.

 

 

The  LED lights will save the City money because they will be on a timer system.  They are commercial grade lights with a useful life of 15 years.  They've been installed over the course of the past week by Rizzo Electric. 

 

(Photo: Danbury Museum & Historical Society)

 

Prunty says it's been a collective effort between City Center, Public Works, the Police Department, property owners and others.

 

There will be a lighted fire truck parade in Danbury this year for Danbury's Light the Lights celebration.  The firetruck parade will move down Deer Hill Avenue to West Street, then on Main Street to Rogers Park.  Carolers from St. Peter's Church Children's Chorus and St. Joseph's Church Children Chorus will perform.  Santa will be at Library Plaza to take photos with children.  The event on Saturday December 5th is from 5pm to 7pm.

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Brookfield plastic surgeon enters settlement for illegally prescribing narcotics

A Brookfield woman has agreed to a settlement on charges that she wrote prescriptions for Percocet, outside the course of her normal medical practice.  57-year old Cheryl Karcher is a plastic surgeon in Manhattan and was accused of writing at least 15 prescriptions, which were filled at pharmacies in Connecticut.  They were not dispensed to the individual whose name was on the prescription.  

 

The civil settlement agreement says that Karcher will pay $150,000 to resolve the allegations. 

 

The case against her was dismissed after she completed a court-ordered drug treatment program. 

 

U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly says the diversion of these potent pharmaceuticals risks the safety of those that ultimately use the drug.  Daly continued by saying that this settlement sends a message to the medical community that there are real consequences for practicing medicine outside the proper course of medical practice

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Man tries to get girlfriend's attention by saying his store was being robbed

Danbury Police responded to a report of a robbery in progress at a store on Newtown Road, only to determine that an employee was trying to get his girlfriend's attention. 

 

Police say a woman called 911 to report that her boyfriend sent her a text message that Dollar Tree was being robbed.  When officers arrived around 5:30pm, police saw that the store was operating normally.  They found the employee who sent the text. 

 

20-year old Corey Staggers of New Haven told officers the store was not being held up and that he was only trying to get his girlfriend's attention. 

 

Staggers was charged with creating a public disturbance.

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Medical Examiner officially IDs couple killed in small plane crash

The Westchester Medical Examiner's Office has officially identified the two victims of a November plane crash in North Salem.  Val Horsa and his wife Taew Robinson of South Salem were the only two on board the small aircraft when it crashed on November 19th. 

 

The couple owned Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Danbury. 

 

Family members will receive friends on Wednesday the 9th from 4 to 8pm at Kane Funeral Home in Ridgefield. 

 

A preliminary accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the plane was descending, but then climbed and headed westbound away from Danbury Municipal Airport before disappearing off radar.

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Roxbury man arrested for threatening to 'shoot up DMV'

A Roxbury man has been arrested by state police for making threats against the state Department of Motor Vehicles. 

 

Police received a tip around 3am Thursday that someone posted on his Facebook page that he wanted to "shoot up the DMV".  23 year old Alexander Villarreal was taken into custody at his Roxbury home around 6am without incident. 

 

He voluntarily surrendered his weapons at that time. 

 

He was arraigned this morning in Bantam Superior Court on charges of breach of peace, harassment and threatening.  He was released on bond.  Villarreal will be back in court January 6th.

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Pedestrian stuck by car in Danbury identified, driver charged

A man has been hit by a car on White Street in Danbury.  The accident happened shortly before 2:30 Wednesday afternoon between West Conn and Soho Pizza.  The man, 25-year old Ryan Henry, was transported to Danbury Hospital with possible head injuries. 

 

Henry was in the crosswalk.  Witnesses confirmed the lights were lit and flashing.  A Western Connecticut State University spokesman says Henry is enrolled at the school.

 

The operator of a 1999 Blue Saturn, 82-year old Willard Carte, struck Henry.  Carter was found at fault for the accident and issued an infraction for Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian.

 

Henry was treated and released from the hosptial.

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Malloy tells group he's meeting with GE officials on Friday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is meeting with General Electric Co. officials to discuss how Connecticut can persuade the corporate giant to remain in the state.

Malloy told the Greenwich Retired Men's Association Wednesday morning that a meeting is scheduled for Friday. Later in the day, the governor would not confirm the meeting, saying he did ``not want to be pulled into a discussion about my calendar and my schedule in advance.''

Malloy would only say GE has been ``true to its word,'' by agreeing to have the discussions.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt recently said the conglomerate will ``always have a big presence in Connecticut,'' though confirmed it's still seeking a new headquarters site.

GE criticized recent state tax increases. Some were eventually scaled back, while other changes are being considered.

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Danbury Mayor to reprise cameo in Danbury Music Centre's 'Nutcracker'

A Christmas tradition in Danbury is back for its 48th year, with a cameo by Mayor Mark Boughton.  The Danbury Music Centre's annual production of Nutcracker will for the first time have four performances on the weekend of December 11th, with an added matinee Saturday. 

 

Boughton quipped at the City Council meeting Tuesday night that a new bustier and a new wig have been purchased for Mother Ginger, the role he takes on during select performances. 

 

(Photos Courtesy: Sherryl Hauck)

 

Tickets are currently on sale for the Nutcracker at Danbury High School being performed December 11th, 12th and 13th.

 

(Photos Courtesy: Sherryl Hauck)

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Esty advocated on House floor for gun safety legislation hours before CA shooting

On Wednesday afternoon, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took to the House floor to call for a vote on common sense gun safety legislation.  Just hours later, police in San Bernardino, California responded to reports of an active shooter at a social services facility.   Esty lamented that on Tuesday they had to yet again to remember the victims of gun violence, this time those in Colorado.

 

Esty had said that it is time for moments of silence to end and a time for action to begin.  She called for a Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention to be established.

 

Esty serves as Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  She called gun violence a public health crisis that deserves action from the House now.

 

Esty says the House on Tuesday also blocked action to prevent those on the terrorist watch list from acquiring deadly weapons to kill Americans.

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Danbury City Hall collecting donations for a number of causes

Danbury City Hall is collecting donations for a number of causes, including Operation ELF. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the statewide collection benefits military families.  Operation Elf is seeking donations of children's toys and gift cards, as well as fuel oil, snow removal and home maintenance services.  Operation Elf has expanded their mission this year to also include helping the families of those members not currently deployed, but experiencing financial hardship.  The donations must be made by December 12.

 

A giving tree is set up in the atrium, where monetary donations will be used to purchase undergarments for the Danbury Shelter.  That is up through the 17th.  

 

The Fire Marshal's Office on the first floor of City Hall is one of many drop off sites of the Danbury Firefighter's Union canned and non-perishable food drive.  That collection runs through December 23.

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New Milford bank robber sentenced

A New Milford man who admitted to robbing a bank in February has been sentenced to six years in prison followed by five years of probation.  40-year old Curt Jones pleaded guilty to a robbery charge and had three counts of risk of injury dropped as part of a plea deal.  Jones was in court on Tuesday. 

 

He entered the Bank of America branch on Main Street February 25th and indicated that he had a gun, though none was shown. Jones stole about $2,700 from the bank. 

 

His wife, 35-year old Jesse Annunziata, was arrested in March on three counts of felony risk of injury to a minor when police searched their apartment in connection to the bank robbery.  Police reportedly found used needles, dirty diapers and general unsanitary conditions.  Annunziata is scheduled to be sentenced on the 22nd.  She pleaded guilty and is still in custody.

 

According to the police report, there was decaying food on the counters, trash bags infested with vermin and bent metal spoons containing heroin residue. 

 

The Republican American previously reported that Annunziata's fingerprints were found on the note handed to the bank teller.  It was reportedly written on a state Department of Social Services envelope.

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UPDATED: Pedestrian struck by car by West Conn in Danbury

A man has been hit by a car on White Street in Danbury.  The accident happened shortly before 2:30 this afternoon between West Conn and Soho Pizza.  The man, in his early 20s, was transported to Danbury Hospital with possible head injuries.  The man was in the crosswalk.  No other details were immediately available.

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Former New Milford school to be winterized, cost unknown

Winterizing John Pettibone Elementary School in New Milford is on the top of the agenda for the town's new Mayor.  Democrat David Gronbach's first day in office was yesterday.  The next Town Council meeting is set for December 14th.  The Newstimes reports that Gronbach has promised to have the building sufficiently heated so that there won't be any damaged from burst pipes and other winter woes. 

 

But there was no money included in the town budget for this effort.  The Public Works Department is getting an estimate on what it would cost. 

 

When it was decided that the school would close, then-Mayor Pat Murphy asked the Board of Education to transfer the balance of the Pettibone School budget to the town for maintenance.  The Board voted against the transfer.

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Interfaith gathering planned for Dec. 14 in Newtown

An interfaith service is planned in Newtown for December 14th.  On the third anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School, leaders from all of Newtown's religious communities will come together for a service of prayer and comfort.  The gathering is being sponsored by the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association.  It will take place at Newtown Meeting House on Main Street on December 14th at 7pm.  Parking will be made available at nearby Trinity Church and Newtown Congregational Church.

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Bethel Police Station proposal hearing held, department reaccredited

A Public Hearing has been held in Bethel about funding for a proposed police station.  It's a $13.49 million bond proposal for the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the cuts after the failed vote in December came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.

 

Knickerbocker says the facility will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.  He says the land is not in the educational park.  The property was set aside decades ago for future town use, not school use.

 

On December 8, a formal Town Meeting will be held.  A vote could then be taken December 17.

 

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has renewed the voluntary accreditation for the Bethel Police Department for four more years.  A visit was made in August to assess the department's policies, management, operation and support services.

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More than 200 trees to be cut down at Putnam Memorial State Park

Visitors to Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding this winter may see a lumberjack taking down ash trees.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says this is being done as a proactive approach to protect the forest area from destruction by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. 

 

More than 200 trees will be chopped down at Putnam Park, removed and then processed into lumber and firewood.  DEEP Director of Forestry Chris Martin says the destructive insect has already been found in some nearby towns, including in Sherman and the Naugatuck Valley in 2013. 

 

The Emerald Ash Border was first found in the United State sin the 1990s and destroyed the ash tree population in the midwest. 

 

Martin says DEEP will allow the resulting open space to grow naturally over the next decade.  During the tree removal process, some part of the park may be closed to protect visitors.  Signs will be posted at the park entrance when the work will be done. 

 

Martin says it's not wise to keep standing dead trees amongst where people will be recreating, so on occasion DEEP will preemptively remove trees at a minimal cost.

 

Martin says landowners who have ash trees and think they are being destroyed by this pest, should seek advice from a licensed arborist or professional forester certified through DEEP before cutting them down.  When entering into contract, Martin urged homeowners to have assurances and documentation in place so expectations are met about what's being cut down and that it's done safely.

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Danbury examines spending $50k for statue recognizing City's hatting history

There have been some delays in moving forward a project recognizing Danbury's hatting past.  A monument has been designed showing a hatter and his tools, but no location has been determined, and the price tag is estimated at between $125,000 and $140,000. 

 

 

A $50,000 grant has been promised by a bank in Danbury, but requires matching city funds.  The remaining cost would be covered through a fundraising campaign. 

 

An ad hoc committee of the City Council will study the request.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Kitten found abandoned on side of road in Ridgefield

A kitten was found abandoned on Route 7 in Ridgefield Tuesday, near the gun club.  The Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital says the kitten was in a carrier, covered with her own waste.  There was one can of cat food tied in a white plastic bag to the top of the carrier.  The Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital vaccinated the kitten and gave her a bath.  She was previously spayed.  The Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital says the kitten is up for adoption.

 

(Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital, Facebook)

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NTSB releases preliminary report on North Salem plane crash

A preliminary accident report has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board about the plane crash in North Salem that killed two people on board a small aircraft bound for Danbury Municipal Airport.  The preliminary report says the flight made a stop after taking off from Mississippi, eventually departing a small airport in West Virginia on November 19th. 

 

The plane was descending, but then climbed and headed westbound away from the airport before disappearing off radar.  Debris from the small airplane has been retrieved from a North Salem reservoir.  A New York City Department of Environmental Protection spokesman says divers and helicopters spotted the plane's debris in the Titicus Reservoir, though not all of the aircraft has been recovered.

 

The NTSB preliminary report says the airplane will be placed in a secure facility for further examination once it is recovered from the water.  Visibility was about 1.25-miles, and there was light rain and mist at the time of the accident.

 

Eric Horsa of Ridgefield identified the pilot as his father, Val Horsa, of South Salem.  Horsa said his father and stepmother, Taew, were on board.  The couple owned Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Danbury.

 

The pilot had slightly under 2,000 hours total air time. 

 

Friends will be received on Wednesday, December 9 from 4pm to 8pm at Kane Funeral Home on Catoonah Street in Ridgefield. Funeral services and interment will be held at a later date.

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Cause determined for fire that destroyed historic Monroe home

The Monroe Fire Marshal's office has made a ruling about the early Sunday morning fire that destroyed an historic home.  The house on Hammertown Road dates back to the 1770s.  The Fire Marshal says electrical wiring in the basement staircase likely is what started the fire in wooden beams. 

 

One resident was evaluated for smoke inhalation. 

 

Mutual aid was provided to the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department by firefighters from Newtown, Oxford and elsewhere.  Two departments also provided coverage at the fire station in case of any other calls that came in.

 

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Newtown officials sworn in to office in weekend ceremony

Newtown officials have been sworn in to new terms in office.  A ceremony was held Sunday at Edmond Town Hall.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, presided over the swearing in ceremony.  Among those taking the oath of office were the Legislative Council, the Police Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Boards of Finance, Education, Selectmen and Assessment Appeals.  First Selectman Pat Llodra also was sworn in for a new term, which started today.  She ran unopposed last month for a 4th term.

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Resiliency Center of Newtown announces events for 12-14

Ahead of the third anniversary of 12/14, The Resiliency Center of Newtown has announced a series of events scheduled for Monday December 14th.  The non-profit was founded by a community member and offers long-term healing to anyone impacted by the events of 12/14, providing the resources so that every individual reaches their full potential.  The Newtown Bee reports that there will be healing mediation, terrarium building, chocolate making and a therapy dog on hand on December 14th.  Crisis counseling will also be available.

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NY man three times the legal limit arrested for DUI

A New York man who was three times over the legal limit has been arrested for driving under the influence.  New York State Police responded to a one-car crash on Saturday in Somers. 

 

The driver, identified as 43-year old Thomas Larkin of South Salem, was the only one in the car.  He supplied a breath sample that revealed a Blood Alcohol Content of .27 percent. 

 

Larkin was issued tickets to appear in court on Monday.  He was released to a sober driver.

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Danbury Mayor, City Council sworn in for new terms in office

A swearing in ceremony has been held in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton was sworn in to an unprecedented 8th term leading the City.  The City Council was also sworn in for another term.  All incumbents won reelection last month.  Two people have retired from public service and two new members elected in November were sworn in Monday night to replace them.

 

Boughton called Peter Nero professional and friendly, saying that Nero cared about not just one issue but everything effecting the City.

 

Boughton says Mike Haddad was an active member of Danbury Youth Baseball, and helped build a first class field at Rogers Park.  Haddad is moving out of state, but promised to come back during baseball season to help out.

 

The two new members of the City Council replacing Nero and Haddad are John Esposito and Michael Esposito.

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Public Hearing on proposed Bethel Police Station

A Public Hearing is being held in Bethel tonight about funding for a proposed police station.  The Bethel Board of Selectmen will take public comment on the $13.49 million dollar bond proposal.  The Police Station is proposed for the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. 

 

Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project during a December referendum and the plan was slightly scaled back.

 

The cuts mostly come from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.  The proposal is still for a 24,000 square foot building.  An option to further lower the price tag of the project would be to not include a shooting range, which could save $600,000.  But several people at the meeting spoke against that cut. 

 

Tonight's public hearing is at 7pm in the Municipal Center General Purpose Room. 

 

On December 8, a formal Town Meeting will be held.  A vote will be taken then to move the item to a machine vote.  The referendum will be recommended for December 17.

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Shoplifters hit Danbury Mall this Thanksgiving weekend

No Black Friday incidents were reported in Danbury, but there were several reports of shoplifting this Thanksgiving weekend. 

 

On Thanksgiving one person was arrested for shoplifting from Walmart.  On Black Friday there was a report of a stolen purse at JC Penney in the mall, but no suspect.  On Saturday, there were two reported larcenies from the Microsoft store in the Mall. 

 

Also on Saturday, the Loss Prevention team at Sears called Danbury Police about a 20-year old who hid $79 worth of merchandise and left without paying.  Kamara Jones of Danbury was charged with larceny.  Jones was released on scene with a written promise to appear in court on December 9.

 

The next day, Sears called about a 19-year old and two juveniles in store custody.  They stole about $100 worth of merchandise and tried to leave without paying.  Jahun Danzy of Danbury and the two juveniles were charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.  Danzy was also charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

 

Danzy was released on a $500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Court December 9.

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