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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-02

Brookfield officials headed to Hartford in support of affordable housing law changes

A public hearing is being held in Hartford Tuesday about proposed modifications to the 8-30g affordable housing statutes. 

 

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says the 6-story Renaissance development proposal doesn't fit with the character of Brookfield and it doesn't fit with the plan of development for the Four Corners.

 

Dunn says they are applying for a moratorium on affordable housing.  He notes that an application started 20 years ago allowing the town to have some control over these types of buildings was never finished and should have been.  He says they are working to finish that now.  Dunn adds that the town wants to building, but that developers have to work with the town to build structures that residents will be proud of.

 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis says the proposed development would put his members at risks they're not trained for.  Last year, the volunteer department responded to over 700 fire incidents. 

 

He says this proposed development will tax their resources and could put them out of business.  Ellis says he's going to have a hard time asking his members to train to hang off a rope on the side of 6-story building in an emergency, all for no pay.  Ellis says the Department is very good and the members are brave, but that's asking a bit much.

 

Ellis says the Volunteer Fire Department is not equipped or trained for this type of development.

 

Residents who can't make it to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday for the 1pm hearing can submit written testimony to the Housing Committee.  The comments can be sent via the HSGtestimony@cga.ct.gov email address for the committee.

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Conn. considers bill streamlining food truck vendor licensing

A local lawmaker has testified in support of a bill streamlining the licensing for food truck vendors.  At a public hearing of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski testified about a bill which seeks to reduce the burden of obtaining multiple licenses for those operating food trucks in several municipalities.  If approved, the Department of Public Health would have to develop a process for vendors to obtain a single license instead of securing multiple authorizations and paying multiple fees.  Sredzinski called it a straightforward bill that encourages cooperation between local health officials and food vendors.

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Local legislator offers professional opinion on 911 access bill proposal

A local lawmaker has testified in support of a bill clarifying how to access 911 services.  The legislature’s Public Health Committee held a hearing on a bill about instructions for multi-line telephone systems.  Many of those systems require users to dial 9 or 8 in order to access an outside line. 

 

Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski says many people don’t realize that includes 911, especially during a chaotic or emergency situation. 

 

The proposal would require clear instructions be posted on how to dial an outside line to ensure people can access emergency services in a timely manner. 

 

Sredzinski is public safety dispatch supervisor and offered his professional opinion on the bill.  He says every second counts when someone is choking, going into labor, witnessing a crime or seeing a fire.  Sredzinski noted that people shouldn’t have to spend valuable time trying to figure out how to reach an outside line.

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Danbury state lawmakers hold constituent town hall meeting

State lawmakers representing Danbury in the General Assembly are hosting an update Monday in the City.  Danbury state lawmakers will be at City Hall this evening to provide a State Capitol update.  Senator Mike McLachlan will be joined by Representatives Dan Carter, Jan Giegler, Stephen Harding, and Richard Smith for the event. 

 

The constituent gathering is from 6:30 to 8pm at City Hall in the 3rd floor Council Chambers. 

 

One of the big topics likely to be discussed is the projected deficit in Connecticut's main spending account.  Office of Policy and Management spokesman GianCarl Casa said the numbers are going to vary, but everyone should agree this is a new economic reality that requires a bipartisan solution.

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Child struck by car in Danbury in critical condition

A middle school student from Danbury is in critical condition after being struck by a car Friday afternoon.  The West Side Middle School student had just gotten off the bus on Madison Avenue around 3pm.  When the child was running across North Street, he was hit and struck by an Acura. 

 

The driver remained on the scene.  Police say 59-year old Basilia Canela of Danbury was headed northbound, and told officers she didn't see the child crossing the street. 

 

The child was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Any witnesses are asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco at 203-797-2157.

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Danbury Police doing more with less because of injuries, training for officers

The Danbury Police Department has been doing more with less over the past couple of months.  They have 146 sworn personnel on staff, but their effective strength is lower than that.  Police Chief Al Baker was asked at the last City Council if that is fairly normal year to year.

 

Baker says November were December were extreme because of the number of injuries and those out for training.  Effective strength was 130 and 125 respectively.  In November, five officers each were out on injury, military leave and for training.  One was on administrative leave.  In December, six officers were out with injuries, five were doing field training, five were at the academy, three were on light duty and one was on military leave. 

 

Baker says effective strength determined by various leaves and training.  There are four training academies a year and Danbury tries to get five seats in each academy.  The current police officer eligibility list will expire in July, but it will likely be exhausted before then because some candidates have gone on to other careers or to other departments.

Baker says effective strength is about 10 less than authorized strength of 154.

 

January's effective strength was back to 134.  Six officers were at the academy, four were out with injuries, one out for field training, and one on light duty.

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Hearing scheduled in Hartford about changes to 8-30(g) affordable housing laws

A local lawmaker is proposing changes to the state's affordable housing laws in response to a 6-story development being proposed for the town's center.  Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says proposed modifications to the 8-30g statutes will be up for a public hearing before the legislature's Housing Committee on Tuesday.

 

Harding says this effort is not against affordable housing, but rather against the loopholes 8-30g has provided to developers.  He says they essentially have a license to build whatever they like regardless of local zoning laws and preferences of a town.

 

If a town currently has less than 10-percent affordable housing, 8-30g laws apply.  The proposal would lower that to a 2-percent thresh hold .  Another proposal would allow towns to carve out a part of their municipality as an exemption.  If a town has made a concerted effort to develop a certain area in a certain manner, that part of town can be exempt from 8-30g housing laws.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says the Renaissance development doesn't fit with the character of Brookfield and it doesn't fit with the plan of development for the Four Corners.  As a resident since 1983, Dunn says he is well aware that the town has been working for decades on creating a town center.  Three story buildings being proposed in the same area, with retail on the first floor, have been received more positively in town.

 

Dunn says they support affordable housing.  He said this is strictly about the development not fitting with the aesthetics and plan of development.  He called the 254 apartment proposal a monstrosity.

 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis says the proposed development would put his members at risks they're not trained for.

 

Residents who can't make it to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday for the 1pm hearing can submit written testimony to the Housing Committee.  The comments can be sent via the HSGtestimony@cga.ct.gov email address for the committee.

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NY woman arrested for stealing jewelry from Carmel home

A New York woman has been arrested for stealing jewelry from a Carmel home.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation January 8th after receiving the report of missing items.  33-year old Erica Turner of Wappingers Falls was identified as the suspect.  Turner was arrested on Wednesday and charged with felony grand larceny.  She was arraigned in Southeast Town Court.  Turner was ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on bond for a future court appearance.

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Power remains out, roads blocked because of downed utility wires

Utility crews are working to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses across Connecticut after thunderstorms and strong winds knocked down tree limbs and wires this week.   Eversource officials say power won't be restored to some Connecticut customers until tonight. 

 

Eversource has 17 additional crews scheduled for Newtown today.  Officials are monitoring the circumstances and aggressively seeking support from Eversource.  There are still more than a dozen roads with either low hanging wires or downed wires and trees blocking the roads.

 

The Redding Community Center is open as a warming and charging center until 10pm.  Redding officials say Eversource has told them that it could be as late as tomorrow evening before all power is restored. Saturday hours will be determined based on progress of restoration.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Redding Police, Twitter)

 

In Ridgefield several roads remain blocked by downed trees and wires.  As of late yesterday afternoon, about 10 roads were completely blocked while several others were partially impassable.  Ridgefield officials urged drivers to exercise caution when out on the roads.  Schools in Ridgefield were closed yesterday and today.

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OBIT: Alfred Mann, founder of Mannkind Corp.

The founder of Danbury-based MannKind Corporation has died.  Alfred Mann passed away yesterday at the age of 90.  The LA Times reports that he died in Las Vegas, where the entrepreneur had spent the majority of his time over the past several years.  His cause of death was not reported. 

 

MannKind announced this month that the founder of the company resigned as Executive Chairman and from the Board of Directors.  MannKind CEO Matthew Pfeffer said that Al founded the company in order to bring his unique flair for medical innovation to the biopharmaceutical space. 

 

Mann served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, though he didn't see combat duty, and helped improve missle guidance systems technology.

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Brookfield officials recommend some bonding to cover $3 million discrepancy

The Brookfield Board of Finance has met about a $3.3 million bond fund discrepancy.  They approved the Board of Selectmen recommendation that $1.9 million in bonds be reauthorized.  That includes the cost of issuance.  The difference would come from the Fund Balance.  The Board of Selectmen has to take up that issue at their next meeting. 
 
The discrepancy was discovered in 2012 when the town's new Controller consolidated town accounts into one bank.  The missing money was for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but apparently never were between 2000 and 2012.
 
The full $3.3 million can’t be bonded again.  With many of the projects in question, the town borrowed against them for the notes.  Brookfield then paid off the notes and the resolution closed.  Bond Counsel Laurie Hall said it appears that Brookfield borrowed with Bond Anticipation Notes, but didn’t issue the bonds.
 
Hall said she has never encountered a situation where a town has asked if they could go back and bond for projects that should have been bonded for.  During the time period in question Brookfield had six different Controllers.  She thinks this could very well be an accounting issue. 
 
Her firm looked at eight projects.  One was a 2002 road improvement project.  There was one project where the town thought there was grant money, but there was no record of a grant on file.
 
The Board of Finance had a three-fold mission Thursday night.  One is to determine how to close out the books.  The next is to figure out the best way to replace the money.  Lastly, to investigate how this happened.  Whether it was poor record keeping and a paperwork issue or if money was misappropriated it, the Board said they are not on a witch-hunt or looking for a scapegoat.  Members were concerned that the word “fraud” was mentioned by a number of residents during the public speaking portion of the meeting, and that’s not yet known.
 
The fund balance is $5.2 million, but there is this $3.3 million outstanding.  First Selectman Steve Dunn said that if Brookfield taps the Fund Balance to cover the entire shortfall, the rating agencies will likely lower the town from AAA to single-A rating.  Dunn said the difference in those standings would be about $570,000 more in interest for a $10 million bond over 10 years.  In order to maintain the AAA rating, he says the Fund Balance should be about 12-percent of the budget, or $7.2 million.
 
A possible one time, special assessment was discussed as a way to replenish the bond fund for the remaining $1.5 million discrepancy.  If Brookfield decides to have taxpayers take a one time hit, it would work out to approximately $200 per average household and business in town.  The assessment would likely have to be based on property value.  But there could be laws barring a flat assessment to recover the funds.

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Danbury residents arrested on drug charges, risk of injury

Two Danbury residents have been arrested on drug related charges.  Danbury Police obtained search warrants after a month long investigation into drug sales from an Arch Street apartment as well as around the City.  On Tuesday, 29-year old Roy Romero was arrested.  Police searched his apartment and found marijuana, packaging material and a substantial amount of cash.  Three young children were at the home at the time. 

 

Romero was charged with  three counts of risk of injury to a minor, possession of a controlled substance over 1/2 ounce, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500' of a school, possession of a controlled substance within 1500' of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.

 

 

 

25-year old Batzabet Sanchez of Danbury was charged with three counts of risk of injury to a minor, possession of a controlled substance over 1/2 ounce, possession of a controlled substance within 1500' of a school, and possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500 of a school.  Sanchez was released on a written promise to appear in court.

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Sentencing delayed for former Newtown Police Sgt. in steroid distribution case

Sentencing has been postponed for the alleged leader of a steroid distribution ring.  Attorneys for former Newtown Police Sgt. Steven Santucci filed a request asking that sentencing be postponed from next week to June or July.  They requested the delay because Santucci is attending a technical school and learning to be an electrician. 

 

The filing said that Santucci necessarily resigned from the police department and began the training program last July.  Santucci's attorneys say their client is diligently planning for a second career and they're hoping he can complete the technical training before sentencing.  In the event that Santucci is sentenced to jail, they asked for the later court date so he can begin the new career as soon as this case is resolved.

 

There was a lengthy investigation, dubbed Operation Juice Box, which resulted in a dozen arrests.   Three men have been sentenced to probation.

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Danbury officials mulling idea of Park Rangers for Rogers Park

Danbury officials are working on several changes to City ordinances in an effort to protect quality of life.  There were a number of issues over the course of the past couple of summers prompting the proposals.  Mayor Mark Boughton and Parks and Rec Director Nick Kaplanis have been talking about the idea of park rangers. 

 

Boughton says there have been instances where people sign out Rogers Park fields and it ends up that not the right people are on the right fields.  The park rangers would be given a schedule for the day and which fields were signed out. 

 

He says they could also be noise control officers just for the park  Boughton suggested that they could be retired officers or firefighters. 

 

Boughton is still working on the budget for the coming fiscal year and doesn't know if the city will have funding available for the part time positions.  But he says it's something he wants considered.

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Lawmakers want tougher penalties for school threats

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are resurrecting a bill that would impose tougher criminal penalties against those who threaten schools.

The legislation follows a spate of bomb threats made recently at schools across the state.

Stamford Democratic Rep. William Tong said Thursday that there have been several threats at schools in his city that prompted evacuations. He said threats needlessly cause panic and must be stopped.

Under the bill, those who threaten preschools, schools containing kindergarten through 12th grade or institutions of higher education could face a Class C felony and up to 10 years in prison. Sen. Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, said the threats have gone beyond childish pranks.

 

Newtown resident Maureen Reidy stood with the lawmakers.  She said that since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, St. Rose of Lima has experienced several phoned-in threats both to the church and the school.  She recalled that Police and SWAT teams have rushed the school building yelling at students and staff to get down and that they experience all kinds of anxiety and fear that 12-14 is happening all over again.

 

Hwang says this is something they can truly all get behind because it's all about the kids.  He notes that these are not threats of the past like when kids pulled the fire alarms or made a crank phone call.  He says these are much more sophisticated, intricate programs with the intent of creating terror and trauma.

A public hearing is planned March 2 in Stamford.

A similar bill died last year in the House of Representatives.

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Bill designating Housatonic River as 'wild and scenic' advances to state Senate

The upper part of the Housatonic River could be designated as wild and scenic.  The legislature's Environment Committee has forwarded a bill to the state Senate for consideration.  The Housatonic from the Massachusetts border down to New Milford would gain the designation if approved by the General Assembly and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. 

 

The bill, introduced by Kent Representative Roberta Willis, says the Northwest Hills Council of Governments will act as the administering agency on behalf of the Housatonic River Commission. 

 

Among those submitting testimony in favor of Bill 81 was New Milford Mayor David Gronbach.  He says the town is fortunate to have the Housatonic flowing through the heart of the community.  Gronbach notes that it plays a vital role in shaping recreational opportunities, scenic character and river-friendly economic development.

 

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams submitted testimony in support of the designation.  He said the designation will protect the river from major projects that might negatively impact the water quality and scenic beauty of the river. 

 

Officials from North Canaan, Sharon, Cornwall, Salisbury, and Canaan also submitted testimony in support of the bill.

 

The Connecticut Land Conservation Council also submitted testimony in favor of the bill.  Calling the Housatonic nationally recognized for its outstanding natural, scenic and recreational values, The Council said the designation provides national acknowledgement of the river's unique and important characteristics.  They added that this offers a formal platform to best protect the ecological, historical, cultural and recreational attributes of the river and the region.

 

Local land use decisions within the designated stretch will continue to be subject to each town's respective land use regulations.  The designation neither prohibits nor gives the federal government control over private property.

 

The Housatonic River Commission says with the increase in extreme weather events, including an ice dam formed on the Housatonic flooding parts of Kent this month, flooding in river ways has increased, and development along waterways can be particularly problematic.  The Commission said in testimony that they want to be sure to create the guide lines to ensure that when development does happen, it is done wisely and that the designation can be important to ongoing protection of the river.

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Newtown lawmakers testify in support of Horse Guard bill

Newtown's state Representatives have testified in favor a bill they say will provide more financial stability to the Second Company Governor's Horse Guard.  JP Sredzinski and Mitch Bolinsky appeared Tuesday before the Veterans' Affairs Committee to talk about House Bill 5358.  The Act Concerning the Leasing of Military Facilities would allow the state's two Horse Guard units to lease surplus stall space and use the revenue to offset costs associated with supporting their own herds. 

 

Sredzinski said that funding has been a major issue in recent years due to a struggling state economy.  Since many of these stables are left empty, he says it would make make good sense to lease them out to private citizens at a cost which would offset the revenue needed by the Horse Guard. 

 

(Rep. Sredzinski)

 

Bolinsky said the bill represents a unique opportunity and is truly revolutionary.  He says this would help the Horse Guards to become self-sustaining and vibrant assets.  He praised retired Major Gordon Johnson and others for advancing the business model. 

 

If the bill is voted out of committee, it will then be sent to the House and Senate floors where it will need to pass by a majority vote to then travel to Governor Malloy for his signature.

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Damaging winds take down trees, utility wires causing power problems

Utility crews continue working to restore power across Connecticut in the wake of the overnight storms and strong winds that brought down power lines and caused other damage. Utilities report more than 78,000 customers in the state without power this morning. There have been no immediate reports of serious injuries in the storms.

 

Eversource Energy spokesman Mitch Gross says they had more than 11,000 reports of locations with power problems.  Their crews were out last night, continue work today and could be working straight through this evening too. 

 

As of 8:30am Thursday, Eversource was reporting 3,500 outages in Danbury, 900 each in Newtown and Ridgefield, 625 in Bethel and about 400 outages each in Kent, Monroe, New Milford, Redding and Wilton.  In New Fairfield there are 300 homes without power.  32 percent of the town of Washington is in the dark.  Gross is reminding people to be careful around fallen trees and branches as there can be power wires tangled with them.  Never approach a downed wire as it can be live or may be touching another live wire.

 

Danbury Police placed stop signs at some intersections in the CityCenter area due to traffic light outages.

 

Easton Police say there were several major roads closed because of fallen trees and utility lines including Adams Road Northbound on Rt 59 to the intersection with 136.

 

In Brookfield, Candlewood Lake Road was closed between Pleasant Rise and North Pleasant Rise due to a down tree and power line. 

 

The Bethel Emergency Management Office finished surveying roads with the Department of Public Works.  They urged drivers to use caution this morning due to small branches/tree limbs in roadways.  Among the problem spots in Bethel are Walnut Hill Road and Routes 58 and 302.

 

Newtown officials reported a number of road closures at of 8:30am Thursday.  They include Mt. Pleasant Rd – between Old Rd/Diamond Dr., Old Hawleyville Rd, Poverty Hollow/Morris Rd and Head O’ Meadow among others.

 

Several area police departments are reminding drivers not to cross barricades or yellow caution tapes, as they are there for safety reasons.

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Danbury considers 'plainly audible standard' for noise complaints

Danbury is taking several steps in an effort to reduce noise complaints in the City by making current laws more enforceable and adding new laws.  The noise ordinance is being overhauled.  The proposed changes are targeting noise eminating from vehicles whether it's the exhaust system or amplifiers.  Police or a noise control officer will be able to cite people using a so-called "plainly audible standard". 

 

The biggest change gets rid of the requirement for a noise reader and adopts a standard called plainly audible.  Excessive noise and plainly audible applies to public safety officials being able to hear their emergency radios, the public being able to hear sirens and the like.

 

Due to unprecedented amount of complaints last summer, Mayor Mark Boughton said this action is needed.  Currently, a decibel meter is needed to judge excessive noise.  One of the incidents was during the Memorial Day Service.  Music was being played so loudly in cars that people in attendance could hear the speakers.

 

Committee member Joe Cavo expressed concern that what one person thinks is loud, someone else may not think it's loud.  He gave the example of his factory standard motorcycle.  He said some people think that's loud, but it doesn't bother him. 

 

Councilman Paul Rotello made the point that if a car or motorcycle is driving by, it likely won't prompt a complaint.  He said it's more the prolonged noise.

 

Penalties are tiered. It's $25 for the first violation, $50 for the next, and $75 for a third violation.  If there are multiple violations in one day, it could be escalated to a criminal violation such as a charge of breach of peace.  The first remedy would be an infraction, but if someone keeps violating the law it would move to a criminal offense resulting in arrest.

 

There are certain exemptions for municipal, state and federal activities.  Examples included school sanctioned activities, permitted parades and the like.  One question was raised about when the Danbury Westerners play at Rogers Park.  The sound system at the baseball field isn't necessarily what's prompting noise complaints, it's music from cars in the nearby parking lots before or after the games.

 

There have been complaints about garbage truck or other truck activity.  Language was included in the updated ordinance about commercial truck activity.  It's up to the city on how to enforce the ordinance, there is no firm language requiring that trucks going about their business be stopped.  If officials want something to be done, it can be.

 

A few part timers might be needed for enforcement because most of the violations happen on the weekends.  Mayor Mark Boughton says he may bring that proposal to the City Council in an effort to increase enforcement.

 

A public hearing is needed on the proposed changes.  Much of the ordinance is not regulated by the state, but some is.  The ordinance must therefore be sent to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection after approval from the City Council.

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Brookfield officials recommend some bonding to cover $3 million discrepancy

A special Board of Selectmen meeting was held last night in Brookfield.  The group approved bonding $1.8 million in an effort to cover a more than $3 million bond fund issue. 

 

The discrepancy was discovered in 2012 when the town's new Controller consolidated town accounts into one bank.  The missing money was for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but apparently never were between 2000 and 2008. 

 

The Brookfield Board of Finance must now take up the issue.  They can accept the Selectmen's recommendation, or approve another solution such as making up the money through the mill rate over the next several budget years.

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Six ailments now eligible for the state's medical marijuana program

The legislature's Regulation Review Committee has met to add new diseases to those approved for the state's medical marijuana program.  One of the seven proposed ailments was removed from regulations and the rest were approved by a narrow margin.  There are 14 members of the committee including co-chair New Milford Senator Clark Chapin, Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey, Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill and Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea.

 

The vote was 8-5 to add to the list of eligible ailments.  They are: Sickle Cell disease, Post laminectomy syndrome with chronic radiculopathy (failed back surgery), severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), ulcerative colitis and complex regional pain syndrome.  The five members in opposition were O'Dea, O'Neill, Representative Vincent Candelora, Senator Gayle Slossberg and Senator Paul Doyle.

 

Patients suffering from those diseases can obtain a prescription for medical marijuana.  There are currently six dispensaries in the state, including in Bethel.  Fabry disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes pain in extremities and kidney failure, was removed from the regulations.  The Board of Physicians approved it's inclusion on a 2-2 vote.  Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris decided to also forward it to the Committee following a public hearing. 

 

Legislation creating the Board of Physicians calls for eight members.  There are currently only five.  Harris has proposed legislation to the Public Health Committee getting rid of some certifications needed in order to be a member of the Board of Physicians.  The members would still have to be doctors with knowledge of the palliative use of medical marijuana.

 

Harris made his case to the committee for deciding to keep Fabry on the list of recommended ailments to be added to the regulation.  He says one of the two Board of Physician members opposed to adding Fabry is a medical marijuana researcher.  Harris says he depends heavily on research and doctors like him like to see double blind studies.  Because of federal regulations still classifying medical marijuana as a drug, there aren't many studies.

 

Harris agreed that the 2-2 vote was a split.  He compared this decision to a previous one rejecting Tourette Syndrome as an ailment to be treated by medical marijuana.  Tourette received a 0-4 vote.  While Harris has the authority under Connecticut law to go ahead and recommend it anyway, he chose not to because of the professional, expert recommendation of the Board.  Harris noted that he also looked at the reason each Board member voted the way they did when he decided to recommend Fabry for the list.

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Ridgefield Library has record year, Director set to retire

Ridgefield Library had a record breaking year.  There were 28,000 visits in 2015, that's 9,000 more than the year before.  Ridgefield Library officials reported to the Board of Selectmen this month that residents borrowed an average of 13 items a year.  Each resident visited about 10 times during the year.  The national average is about 4 visits per year. 

 

Ridgefield Library Director Chris Nolan, who has been with the facility for 18 years, will be leaving at the end of 2016. 

 

A search committee has been formed to find a successor.  The Committee has already determined that there is no internal candidate for the Director's position.  10 possible applicants have been identified at other libraries , but they could hire a search firm in order to fill the position.

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Easton man indicted for long running fraud scheme

An Easton man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a long running fraud scheme targeting distressed homeowners.  64-year old Timothy Burke was charged with fraud, money laundering and identity theft.  The 10 count indictment was returned earlier this month and unsealed Wednesday. 

 

Burke entered a not guilty plea and has been detained since his November arrest. 

 

According to the indictment, since at least 2008, Burke defrauded individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He told people he'd purchase homes in foreclosure and pay off the mortgages, but he actually rented out the properties on Craigslist.  Burke pocketed the money and didn't pay off the homeowner's mortgages or property taxes. 

 

The Easton allegedly evaded more than $1 million in federal taxes.  Burke had them sign documents making them believe they would be able to walk away from their homes without the burdens of their mortgage or other costs associated with home ownership.  

 

Burke is also known as “Bill Burke,” “William Burke,” “Kerry Saunders,” “Pat Riley,” “Jim Caldwell,” “Jim Saunders,” “Tom Morrisey,” “Jimmy,” “Phil Burke,” “Phil,” “Burt,” “James Burke,” and “M. Soler,” 64, of Easton, with fraud, tax, money laundering and identity theft offenses stemming from a long-running fraud scheme that targeted distressed homeowners.

 

Burke is associated with multiple entities, including Quality Asset Management Services, LLC; Birmingham Investments, LLC; the Birmingham Group of Companies; Saunders Associates; New Haven Investments; Realty Partners Group; Preston Associates II; Landlord Maintenance Services, LLC; Turnkey Construction Services LLC; The Complete Handyman, LLC; and Woodbridge Associates. 

 

He is also alleged to have used the name of another individual in connection with his fraud without that person’s knowledge or consent.

 

In 2002, Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and equity skimming.  He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit both equity skimming and mail fraud, and he was sentenced to prison.  Burke was released from federal custody in 2007 and began his federal supervised release at that time.  One of the special conditions of Burke’s supervised release was that he refrain from employment in the real estate business or mortgage industry.

 

Individuals who believe they have been victimized by this alleged scheme and citizens with information that will be helpful to this ongoing investigation are encouraged to call 860-240-9735.

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Danbury man gets DUI after car crash

A Danbury man has been arrested for driving while intoxicated after crashing into a car.  Danbury Police responded to Liberty Street around 7 o'clock Tuesday night on a report of an accident with injuries. 

 

Witnesses pointed out 31-year old Juan Carlos Villa, who ran into Papaya's Mexican Restaurant, sat down at a table and began to call someone.  Villa denied being involved in an accident.  He failed field sobriety tests. 

 

Police determined that Villa was driving south on Liberty Street, crossed the center line and hit a vehicle headed northbound.  The other driver reported back pains.

 

Villa was charged with operating under the influence, evading responsibility, operating a motor vehicle under suspension, failure to drive right and interfering with the duties of an officer.  He was released on $2,500 bond for a court appearance on March 7th.

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More progress seen at site of new Sandy Hook School

Significant progress has been made at the Sandy Hook School construction site. 

 

Thanks to a relatively mild winter, there's been a lot of work done on the new school.  Flooring installation has started in Wings B and C, the ceilings are being finished in Wing C and the lobby curtain wall framing is being installed.  Concrete site walls continue to be installed, the first coat of paint is going up in Wing C and the bathrooms in Wing B are being finished. 

 

The new Sandy Hook School is expected to be completed and ready for classes this fall.

 

(Photos SandyHook2016.com: B Wing Corridor)

 

(Bus Loop)

 

(D Wing Room)

 

(Entry Bridge Walls)

 

(Exterior Sunshades)

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Redding Police investigating more car break-ins

Several area towns are seeing a spike in car break ins in recent months, including more being reported in Redding.  Police in New York and Connecticut are urging people to lock their cars when they are parked, even in home driveways.  Residents are also being reminded to remove valuables from vehicles due to the rash of thefts.  Many of the crimes being reported involve unlocked cars.  Redding Police say there were three break ins in as many days in one area of town last week.  Between February 16th and 18th in the Poverty Hollow Road/Black Rock Turnpike area, three unlocked cars were entered.  Items were stolen from two of the cars.

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OBIT: Longtime Bethel Police Captain James O'Hara

James Patrick O’Hara, age 72, a lifelong resident of Bethel, died Sunday, February 21, 2016 at Regional Hospice Center, Danbury. He was the husband of Ellen D. (Knudsen) O’Hara.

 

Jim was born in Danbury, CT August 29, 1943, son of the late Rosalyn A. (Peters) Birdsall and George T. Birdsall. He served in the US Air Force and the US Marine Corps Reserves.

 

He was a Police Officer with the Bethel Police Department and served 20 years as Captain. He was recognized by the State of Connecticut Governor and Legislature for outstanding service to the Town of Bethel. He was a former Director of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, former President of the CT Narcotic Enforcement Assn., former President of the Bethel Fish & Game, member of Elks Lodge #120, Past President of the International NEOA, Past President of the Bethel Police Benevolent Assn. and Past Co-Chair of the Bethel Community Care Day. He was a parishioner of St. Mary’s Church in Bethel and volunteered with the Carnival Committee for 25 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping and loved to sing and play his saxophone to fifties music.

 

In addition to his wife of 52 years, he is survived by his daughter: Tammy Lee Butlin and her husband Christopher of Atlanta, GA; son: James T. O’Hara and his wife Sarah of Danbury; and grandchildren: Mallory Lee Blair and her husband Robert of Fort Stewart, GA, Savannah Lee Butlin of Atlanta, GA, James Patrick O’Hara and Jack Thomas O’Hara both of Danbury.

 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 26 Dodgingtown Road, Bethel, CT, on Friday, February 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM. Burial with military honors will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Bethel.

 

The family will receive friends at the Bethel Funeral Home, 215 Greenwood Ave., Bethel, Thursday afternoon from 2:00 to 4:00 and in the evening from 7:00 to 9:00.

 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut, 30 Milestone Rd., Danbury, CT 06810 or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.

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Community forum in Newtown about long term school planning

A community forum is being held tonight in Newtown about long term planning for the schools.  Superintendent Dr Joseph Erardi says the hour long forum will include critical community input on the planning which will define the learner for the next ten years. Parents, community members, elected and appointed officials, and business owners are being encouraged to attend and voice their thoughts and opinions.  Safety and transportation will also be discussed.  A committee will be formed after the forum for long term planning.  The community forum is in the Newtown High School lecture hall at 7pm.

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Danbury seeks to crack down on boisterous parties

Danbury is looking to create a Neighborhood Preservation Zone.  This is in addition to proposals beefing up the City's noise ordinance.

 

The City's attorney says this allows people to file a complaint near the offending property.  But it can't just be an event they don't like, that's where the City will run into legal problems.  The complaint has to be about something that impacts public safety or is a light or noise violation.  Danbury included a clause that said the city can recover some of the costs of enforcing this law.  It could be in the form of a lien against the property in question.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says for the first time in several years, Danbury officials faced some very challenging quality of life issues over the summer.  People were basically running a business out of their house by hosting a hundreds people at their home every weekend, selling food and alcohol.  That's a concern because it's not licensed or regulated by the City Health Department.  He says a police cruiser, fire truck or ambulance couldn't fit down certain streets because of the excess cars parking in the neighborhood.

 

Boughton says they want to encourage people to have a good time and host graduation, birthday or other parties, but not routinely hold large parties.

 

The proposed Neighborhood Preservation Zone ordinance includes the definition of outdoor group activity, that it's 10 or more people creating a specific violation.  There are five violations listed in the proposed ordinance.  This gives the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team the ability to fine someone $250.

 

Boughton says they've had a lot of support from social service clubs in Danbury.  Where there has been a problem, they've been the first to talk with the offenders.  He notes that 9 times out of 10, a balance has been struck.  Boughton says this is not about the occasional party or volleyball game, but about habitual offenders.

 

The process isn't an immediate fine.  UNIT will make a few visits, a neighborhood meeting will be held, and the offenders will be asked to tone it down.  Boughton says some have flat out refused to comply.  For similar violations, offenders are given proper warning before a citation is issued.  There is also a hearing process.

 

The committee is recommending that the City Council adopt this ordinance after holding a public hearing.

 

Boughton says there were a few offenders last year who got heavy duty equipment and leveled out their backyard.  They built concrete courts and set up lights with no regard for setbacks and encroachment on other people's property.  The Danbury Zoning Commission recently adopted an amendment that would require a permit for such an action.

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Newtown keeping an eye on winter maintenance budget

The winter maintenance budget in Newtown is slowly being eroded.

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra has given an update to the Board of Selectmen and the Legislative Council on where the storm response budget stands.  Llodra says they watch winter maintenance pretty closely.  It's based on a five year rolling average.  The cost for overtime, salt and sand are the big drivers.  $156,000 was budgeted for overtime, before the last two storms, about $75,000 had been spent.  Llodra says they always hope that any winter precipitation falls between 9am and 2pm, Monday through Friday in order to keep costs down.  But that's not what's happened this winter.

 

Newtown uses a salt-sand mix to treat the roads, depending on the kind of storm.  It also depends on temperature.  Llodra says how you treat the road depends on what falls on the road. 

 

Newtown uses a 4-to-1 ratio of salt to sand even though salt is more expensive.  She says they are moving to a mixture with more salt because of the cost to sweep the streets of the sand.  Llodra adds that the salt is less harmful to the environment.

 

Llodra was hoping to be able to apply a chunk of unused money from the current fiscal year toward a capital item next year.  She says the budget maybe still end up alright, but cautioned that winter is not over yet.

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HARTransit receives federal grant for expanded bus service

HART transit is receiving a federal grant.  Nearly $206,000 is coming to HART to fund a bus route that will provide commuter bus service to major trip generators inside The Reserve, a 546 acre development on Danbury's west side.  HART was among three transit districts and 10 Connecticut municipalities sharing in $2 million for transportation projects designed to improve the flow of traffic, improve air quality, and reduce energy use.  The grant was awarded under the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, which funds projects that improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.

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Ridgefield family seeks memorial for son killed in Sept. plane crash

The Ridgefield Parks and Recreation Department is working with a family in town about a suitable memorial for their son.  Ryan Adams was killed in a small plane crash in September near Colgate University, where he was studying Economics and International Relations. 

 

The family requested to name Shadow Lake Ballfield for Adams, but the Department has had a policy in place since 1993 about not naming playing fields in town after individuals.  During a recent Ridgefield Board of Selectmen meeting, it was reported that Parks and Rec will continue to work with the family. 

 

Ryan Adams earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age 13, making him among the youngest Eagle Scouts in the nation. He was a member of a crew team based in Connecticut and played on the Varsity golf team, Varsity squash team and Varsity Ice Hockey at St. Luke’s.

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Amos House executive director honored during Black History Month program

A Danbury woman was among those honored during the second annual Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Black History Month program.  Gladys McFarland, the Executive Director of Amos House, was honored at the event Monday for her outstanding contribution to the community. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the program is a chance to recognize the local heroes who devote themselves to public service and have improved the lives of their neighbors. 

 

McFarland has been the head of Amos House since 1991.  She runs their day-to-day operations and coordinates grant funding for the organization which helps the homeless.

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Rep. Jan Giegler officially announces she will not seek reelection

Danbury State Representative Jan Giegler has officially announced that she will not be seeking reelection to the 138th District House seat.  The district also includes parts of New Fairfield and Ridgefield.  Giegler was elected this past November as Danbury Town Clerk and is serving in the two roles simultaneously through the end of the legislative session in May. 

 

Giegler was first elected to the state House position in 2002.  Giegler says seven terms in office has allowed her to help create change and pass important legislation.  Giegler was named House Republican Whip for the 2015-16 session.  

 

During her tenure, Giegler was actively involved in a variety of community and service organizations such as the YMCA Task Force and Danbury Homelessness Task Force and as a member of Women in Government as a State Director.

 

She has served as a House Republican Leader and as the former Ranking Member on the Public Safety & Security Committee, Public Health Committee, Executive & Legislative Nominations Committee and House Chair of the Select Committee on Internships.  Currently, she serves on the Transportation Committee, Public Safety & Security Committee, Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee and Internship Committee.

 

Giegler joined her colleagues in gaining approval for Advanced Cardiac Care at Western Healthcare Network and bringing dollars to Regional Hospice and Ann’s Place; the Danbury Public Schools continually fighting for a greater share of state education dollars and securing dollars for school-based health centers; Western Ct. State University in securing bonding dollars for facilities such as the new Performing Arts Building;  securing bonding for Richter Park and the War Memorial in support of our Veterans.  In addition, STEAP grants were awarded to New Fairfield’s library, streetscape and Senior Center, and to the Town of Ridgefield.

 

Giegler also successfully championed the reinstatement of the state police dispatch center at Southbury’s Troop A in Southbury. Rep Giegler was granted approval for a vast number of Transportation projects in the Danbury area and has adamantly opposed each proposal for border tolls and casinos. 

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Gun maker seeks dismissal of school shooing suit

A Connecticut judge is deciding whether to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against a rifle maker over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The judge heard arguments Monday on Freedom Group's request to dismiss the lawsuit filed by families of some of the shooting victims, but she did not issue an immediate ruling.  A status conference was set for about two months from now.

Freedom Group is the Madison, North Carolina, parent company Bushmaster Firearms, which made the AR-15 used in the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators. The company says it's protected by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.

The victims' families say they're suing under an exception in the law. They call AR-15s lethal military weapons not designed for public use.Sev

 

Several family members spoke at a briefing before the court session.

 

Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary was the school psychologist, says he's hoping to pull the curtain back and see what the manufacturer has been doing to fuel the rage of violence-prone people. 

 

He says every business runs this risk [of a lawsuit], like if you build a defective car...any other product is not granted this legislative safe harbor .  Much like cigarettes, he says there's been a change in advertising, new warning lables and scientific studies.  He says they can't even get the CDC to qualify [gun violence] as a public health matter.

 

Sherlach says he has the rest of his life to spend working on this problem, is in no rush, and is going to take it one step at a time.

 

Nicole Hockley, whose don Dylan was among the children killed on 12-14, says there were a lot of guns that the shooter could have chosen from his arsenal and his mother's arsenal in order to attack the people at Sandy Hook School.  But she says he chose the AR-15 because he was aware of how many shots it could get out, how lethal it was, the way that it was designed, that it would serve his objective of killing as many people as possible in the shortest time possible.

 

Mark Barden's son Daniel was killed at the school.  He says the manufacturer is marketing to people like Adam Lanza, and it's time they take responsibility for that.  He added that they are just asking today that  this case proceed and they get their day in court. 

 

Barden says the AR-15 is an instrument of war, designed for the battlefield, that is sold and marketed to the general public.  He says what happen [at Sandy Hook School] is what happens when the general public gets their hands on this kind of firepower.  In less than five minutes, he says this is what happened [20 children and six educators were killed].

 

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Man asked to leave Danbury restaurant kicks, breaks glass door

A Danbury man has been arrested after an incident at a city restaurant on Sunday.  Danbury Police were called to Sabrosura Restaurant on Main Street shortly before midnight for a disturbance involving an intoxicated man.  Security told officers that 42-year old Pedro Sandoval came into the establishment stumbling and appeared drunk.  He was asked to leave and slammed the door behind him.  He then kicked the door until the glass broke.  Sandoval was charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace.  He was held on $500 bond.

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Modern design firm looks at possibility of Philip Johnson building for home in Ridgefield

Another possible taker for the Philip Johnson Building in Ridgefield is on the horizon.  The Maurice Sendak Foundation looked into turning the building on the Schlumberger site into a museum, but announced last month that it wouldn't fit their needs and could be too costly. 

 

The Citizens Committee looking into what Ridgefield should do with the remain acreage of the town owned land says there is another company that's indicated interest in the Philip Johnson building. 

 

The un-named modern design firm doesn't want the auditorium, and were about to sign for space somewhere else, but will delay doing so if there is a possibility for them in Ridgefield.  The Committee says a theater group is still interested in the auditorium.

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Local lawmaker explores possibility of 'Transportation Authority'

One of the big tasks the General Assembly is set to tackle during this short session is another vote on a constitutional lockbox for transportation funds.  The legislature is also being asked to work out how to fund Governor Dannel Malloy's 30-year infrastructure improvement plan. 

 

Something that Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey of Danbury wants to look into is a Transportation Authority.  It would be like the Port Authority or Airport Authority and would take the spending decisions out of the hands of politicians.

 

He is still working on details of a proposal, but feels it's worth exploring.  Part of his research is to find out more about how New York state's authority works.

 

Godfrey says something like this could create a higher comfort level that however the money is coming into the transportation lock box, lawmakers know who has the key.

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Newtown gets positive feedback from bond rating agencies

Newtown is about to go out to the bond market to sell a bond.   While it wasn't a ratings review, First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Legislative Council Wednesday that the town received positive feedback from Moody's and S&P.  Newtown's rating from S&P is AAA.  The rating agencies look historically to see that in a policy was written in 2011 is still being adhered to. 

 

The Bond Sale is being executed on Thursday. 

 

Newtown has an overarching goal to reduce the debt burden.  One Council member wanted to know if there was any feedback about a recent change to the debt policy, going from 10-percent to 9.8-percent.  Llodra says the town is now closer to 9-percent and trending to 8-percent in the long term view. 

 

Llodra said it's like a report card, and officials want to hear that they've got municipal financing management right.  She says that's a big task so this positive feed back is very affirming.

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Three Police Officers injured in scuffles with suspect

Three Danbury Police Officers were injured as they arrested a man who broke into a car last week.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt Paul Carroccio says officers responded to Putnam Drive shortly after 4pm on Thursday. 

 

A witness said the suspect fled on a BMX-style bike.  The suspect , later identified as Jeuri Fermin, was found near Rogers Park shortly after.  As officers tried to take him into custody, Fermin broke free and took off on foot.  He was found in a parked car on Mountainville Avenue.  Fermin struggled again, but was taken into custody. 

 

Three officers sustained minor injuries in the two scuffles. 

 

Fermin was charged with criminal mischief, larceny, assault on a police officer and two counts of resisting arrest.  He remains held on $10,000 bond for a court appearance March 2nd.

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Brookfield Emergency Responders rescue injured hiker

Brookfield Emergency Responders rescued an injured hiker on Friday.  Around 2pm, a hiker called 911 to say that they were injured during a fall at William's Park.  The Brookfield Police Department, Volunteer Fire Company, Volunteer Fire Department and Candlewood Company responded. 

 

After a brief search, the hiker was located in a remote, swampy area of the park inaccessible by vehicle. 

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police, Facebook)

 

 

EMS personnel started to treat the hiker while the Brookfield Parks and Rec Department cleared fallen trees and debris from the trails so that an all terrain vehicle could access the area.  

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police, Facebook)

 

 

The hiker was taken to a waiting ambulance where he was transported to Danbury Hospital for further treatment. 

 

Brookfield Police commended the groups for a successful rescue and for the cooperation of everyone involved.

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Two people injured in roll over crash on I-84 Sunday in Newtown

Two people were injured during a rollover crash on the highway in Newtown Sunday afternoon.  40-year old Carlo Nicoletti of New York was travelling westbound in the right lane of I-84 between exits 10 and 9 when he began to change lanes, but another car was in the left lane and slightly behind his vehicle. 

 

The Honda CRV clipped the front corner of the Volvo, turned sideways facing the center median.  Nicoletti lost control, struck the embankment and rolled.  The car landed on its wheels and travelled back across the highway to the right, striking the metal guardrail.  The car scraped against the guardrail for about 100 feet where it ended.  The car went into the woods, rolled over again and ended up on its left side against a tree. 

 

The passenger, 32-year old Zuzana Nicoletti was ejected from the car and landed in the grass median.  Both the driver and passenger were transported to the hospital.  Carlo Nicoletti was treated and released.  Zuzana was admitted and listed in good condition. 

 

The Volvo stopped in the center median.  That driver was uninjured.

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Man rescued from partially frozen Ball Pond

Despite the deep freeze over Valentine's Day weekend, these past couple of days felt more like spring or fall than they did winter.  A lot of people took advantage of the warmer temperatures and spent time outdoors.  But the general lack of cold this winter and the warm up made for thin ice and some danger.  One person had to be rescued from Ball Pond late yesterday afternoon after falling through the ice.  The rescue was done by the New Fairfield Fire Department around 5:30pm, and the person was evaluated by EMS personnel.

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Local lawmaker questions DMV interim Commissioner on software glitches

The interim commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Motor Vehicles says the private vendor that designed the agency's computer upgrade is committed to making sure all the bugs in the system are fixed.  Dennis Murphy appeared Friday before the General Assembly's Transportation Committee. 

 

Committee member Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher says the DMV has been plagued by long wait times, erroneous vehicle registration cancellations and other problems since the upgrade was launched last summer. She says it's so bad, the Governor feels he has to find ways to offload some of the DMV's work.

 

Governor Malloy has proposed legislation this session that would allow DMV to enter into contracts with private contractors, such as AAA, to provide vehicle registration services.  Malloy also wants to eliminate the current ban on issuing registrations for motor vehicles and other vehicles, such as snowmobiles, that are subject to unpaid parking tickets or property taxes

 

Boucher says rather than relinquishing responsibility or getting rid of some regulations, a plan must be made to fix the bugs in the software system.  She says hopefully 3M hasn't been paid all they are owed because they haven't delivered a successful implementation.

 

Murphy said DMV won't sign off on the second phase of work until all those bugs are fixed. He wouldn't provide a specific date on when that might happen, predicting it could take months. Once the glitches are fixed, Murphy said 3M's one-year warranty of the computer upgrade work begins.

 

Murphy said it appears more people are using DMV's online services, which could help reduce wait times. In September, 56 percent of transactions that could be conducted online were done online. That percentage increased to 68 percent in January, Murphy said.

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Schlumberger Citizens Committee meets about future uses of the property

The Citizen's Committee for the Schlumberger Property in Ridgefield is meeting tonight.  They plan to review comment from a second survey completed by residents about what Ridgefield should do with the remaining acres of the town-owned land.  The group also plans to talk about a timeline and process for completing their work. 

 

Ridgefield purchased the 45 acre Schlumberger property in 2012 for $7 million. 15 acres have since been sold to two developers. The Citizen’s Committee was formed after residents voted down two proposals for separate pieces of the property.

 

A series of planning workshops was held called A Vision for 30.  Officials followed up on responses from the first survey about the future of the property.

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Danbury authorizes funding for new fire trucks

Danbury is looking to purchase two new Pierce Velocity Pumper trucks for the Fire Department.  The purchase price is about $1.16 million.  Funding was included in the current fiscal year's budget, and plans are to set aside some funding in the coming year's budget for this purpose.  The proposed lease may be extended over 10 budget years, depending on terms and conditions.

 

Equipment Supervisor Joe Cavo says the two new engines would replace the two oldest, highest mileage trucks.  The next two oldest trucks would be moved out to the lower call volume stations.

 

The new pumper trucks would be built to the City's specifications and shipped out in about two months.

 

Cavo says these trucks run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They respond in good weather, through flooding, in snow storms and all other kinds of weather.

 

Cavo says the technology in cars normally develops out of the trucking industry first.  That includes anti-lock brakes, air bag technology and emissions systems.  Cavo says these new trucks run exceptionally clean because the EPA has become very stringent on diesel engines.  A large part of the cost for the trucks is because of the engine.  Cavo says it's over $100,000 often times just to put the engine into the framework.

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Newtown Community Center Commission mulling recommendations

The Newtown Community Center Commission has held their final public information forums and then met for several hours last weekend to firm up recommendations for the Board of Selectmen.  The Commission is working on recommendations to include a 50 meter pool, a zero entry pool, a community facility, which would include dedicated space for legacy groups created by families of those killed on 12-14.  Another proposal being considered is to use funding from the town's Capital Improvement Program for a second phase of building for a senior center or ice rink.

 

Some residents expressed concern about how long this will take to build, since it's already two years out from the award of the gift.  Others were skeptical of claims that this facility would be a draw for people to move to Newtown when businesses are moving out, including the benefactor of the donation.  One public speaker proposed asking GE for a variance to buy an existing building for this specific use. 

 

The head of the Hockey program at Newtown High School made the argument for including an ice rink, noting that there's a need among high school hockey teams, collegiate teams and others.  If it's regulation size, one resident said it would get plenty of use so that these teams don't have to travel as they do now.

 

There was several hours of discussion on if more research is needed on what features people want to see in a community center.  One Commission member said that they are putting forth an adult vision, and that perhaps youth should be surveyed about whether they want a pool, an ice rink, or both.  Another questioned that if this is meant to be an all encompassing hub and there is just one large room, would younger people make use of it.

 

According to fire marshal regulations, if the space is 5,000 square feet and has seating and tables, only about 260 people are allowed in the room at a given time.

 

Commission member David Wheeler called for the center's rooms to be flexible space.  He says the room that's going to be right for an exercise class is not going to be right for a group to come in and do crafts.  He says there are different basic necessities for the center's needs.  If there are two rooms, and one has a kitchen and plumbing attached, Wheeler says science, art and banquet space will be served.  If one has a small flexible performance area such as a blackbox theater, that would suit the other needs.

 

The group mentioned that they don't want to box themselves in, making it so things can't change in the future especially if new donors come forward.  They discussed possibly leaving the design open to add an ice rink or to have a designated senior center when there's more money, and to focus now on creating a multi-generational space.

 

With most of the discussion surrounding whether or not there should be an ice rink, Commission member Nicole Hockley noted that not all kids are sporty.  As someone with contact with teens in the town, she says the group is doing a disservice to them by not offering private areas for therapy, addiction services, substance abuse services and other services.

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Gun maker seeks dismissal of lawsuit over Newtown shooting

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Lawyers for the company that made the rifle used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School are expected to ask a Connecticut judge to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by families of some of the massacre victims.

 

Freedom Group, the Madison, North Carolina, parent company of AR-15 maker Bushmaster Firearms, is arguing that it is protected by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.

 

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who include the families of nine children and adults who died and a teacher who survived, say the lawsuit is permitted under an exception to the federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others.

 

The victims' attorneys say the lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind against a manufacturer to claim that exception.

 

Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis is set to hear arguments Monday afternoon on Freedom Group's motion to dismiss.

 

"No lawsuit will ever bring back any of the 26 innocent lives that were stolen or bring peace to the families that will never recover from this," said Nicole Hockley, a plaintiff whose son, Dylan, was killed. "But gun companies must be held accountable for marketing and selling the AR-15, a killing machine designed only for military use, to violence-prone young men.

 

"We're bringing this lawsuit to save other families from having to live with the nightmare that we do every single day," she said.

 

State police say the 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his victims with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, a model of the AR-15, on Dec. 14, 2012. Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before going to the school a few miles away, and then killed himself as police arrived. Nancy Lanza legally bought the rifle, state police said.

 

The plaintiffs' lawyers, Joshua Koskoff, Alinor Sterling and Katherine Mesner-Hage, argue in the lawsuit that the Bushmaster rifle used in the shooting is too dangerous to sell to the general public. The families are seeking unspecified monetary damages and other potential court actions.

 

Freedom Group denies the allegations. Lawyers for the company argue that Congress passed the 2005 law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, to protect gun makers from lawsuits over the criminal use of firearms, after determining the lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.

 

Debate over the law has resurfaced in this year's presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton has criticized fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders' support of the 2005 law when it passed. Sanders is now backing a bill to repeal the law.

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Aquarion issues warning to customers about imposters

Aquarion Water Company is alerting customers about utility imposters who have gained access into homes recently.  In an effort to protect customers from falling victim to scammers, Aquarion is reminding people to take the proper safeguards before letting someone into their home or business.

 

Customers should refuse entry inside, unless they have a scheduled appointment.  They should also confirm their appointment with Aquarion’s Customer Service Department, and see company-issued photo identification. 

 

Aquarion Water Company employees and contractors are required to carry company-issued photo identification at all times.  If a worker cannot produce identification, customers should not allow entrance into their home or business and should immediately contact the police.

 

Indoor utility work is only being completed by scheduled appointment.

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Missing Wolcott man wanted in Waterbury for arson, bomb making

A missing Wolcott man is wanted by Waterbury Police on an arson charge.

 

Wolcott and Waterbury Police have held a joint press conference about a 23-year old Wolcott man who's been missing since the beginning of January.  Waterbury Police say they were in contact with Scott Basile a couple of days before he went missing about an arson on Christmas Day.  Police identified him as a suspect and Basile is wanted for attempted arson and manufacturing bombs.  Police say he was angry with a pizza restaurant over an order.  There are 6 incidents of arson currently under investigation. 

 

Basile was last seen by his mother on January 2nd when he told her that he was going to the bank and to visit someone.  Money was withdrawn from banks in Cheshire and Norwich. 

 

Wolcott Police say Basile tried to sell his phone and tried to get a ride to Brooklyn New York.  His vehicle was caught on security cameras in New York City going over the Triborough Bridge.  He received a traffic ticket January 5th.  The car was later found crashed in Stamford on January 7th.  Police obtained DNA from two people who were in the car, interviewed them and believe that Basile's disappearance is intentional. 

 

Anyone with information on Basile’s whereabouts is asked to contact Wolcott police at 203-879-1414.

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Funding for SRO in Weston still up for debate

The Weston Board of Selectmen has been presented with a proposed school budget.  It includes a proposed 1.68 percent increase over the current fiscal year's spending. 

 

There was no talk during the presentation about whether the cost for a School Resource Officer would be paid for in the municipal budget or if it would have to come from the Board of Education side.  The SRO would be assigned to Weston High School, and during the summer be on patrol with the Weston Police Department. 

 

Selectman Nina Daniel, who won election in November, proposed $45,000 of the cost be paid for by the schools and about $38,000 coming from the town.  The Board of Ed was reportedly told by Daniel's predecessor that the Police Department budget would include full funding for the SRO position. 

 

The next meeting of the Weston Board of Selectmen is set for Monday.  Their agenda calls for voting on a budget to send to the Board of Finance for their meetings in March.

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Man arrested in Putnam County as Fugitive from Justice

A Putnam Valley man has been taken into custody as a fugitive from justice.  61-year old William Tucker was wanted for a probation violation and outstanding child support in Ohio.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that Tucker absconded from Ohio in 2006.  Investigators there recently learned Tucker's location in New York and requested that he be arrested on the warrant and held for extradition to Ohio.  He is being held at the Putnam County Correctional Facility without bond for extradition by Ohio authorities.

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Local lawmaker weighs in on armed police on community college campuses

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System said Thursday that students, faculty and staff believe armed security is necessary at community colleges because they don't feel safe on campus.

 

Mark Ojakian appeared before the General Assembly's High Education and Employment Advancement Committee to testify in favor of legislation that would allow special police forces to be created at each of the state's 12 community colleges, pending approval from each campus and the state's Board of Regents.

 

Currently, only Naugatuck Community College has armed officers.

 

Ojakian said allowing armed, special police forces will bring "a fundamental level of fairness and equality" to the safety and security at community colleges that's in line with what is already provided at UConn and the state universities.

 

"These officers will receive the same training and certification as university officers, and will thus be better equipped to meet the security needs of our students," he said, adding how students and staff were particularly concerned in the wake of a deadly mass shooting on Oct. 1 at an Oregon community college.

 

Kent Rep. Roberta Willis, the committee's co-chairman, said she has some concerns with the legislation, noting that community colleges are smaller and have a different dynamic than other state colleges and universities. Also, she voiced concern that community colleges don't have adequate mental health services.

 

"If we're going to talk about armed officers, investing in that, we need to be investing in mental health and counseling first," Willis said.

 

Ojakian said efforts are underway to expand such services on community college campuses.

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Danbury PAL grows programing by 64%

Danbury Police Activities League is reporting at 64-percent growth in programs in the past year.  Danbury PAL Executive Director Maura Keenan says the center has been extremely busy and the double digit increase has a direct connection to the number of children served.  Danbury PAL has been in operation since 1972 as a place for kids to develop leadership skills  through a healthy and safe environment. 

 

Over 5,000 youth are now served by the facility. 

 

PAL surveyed parents in the Greater Danbury area last summer as part of a community needs assessment.  Spring Volleyball, annual PAL memberships, free family events and basketball for kindergarten and first graders was added.  A partnership with Danbury Youth Soccer was also cultivated.  Existing programs were also expanded. 

 

The organization recently added two part time staff members.

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Brookfield Police K-9 tracks, locates suicidal teen

Brookfield Police K-9 Bruno helped locate an endangered, suicidal girl in a wooded area of town Wednesday night.  Brookfield Police received a call around 11:30pm about a suicidal, 17 year old girl who had just run off into the woods in the area of Federal and Elbow Hill Roads. 

 

Officers determined the suicidal threat to be credible, and secured the last seen location of the teen.  With temperatures in the 20's and wind chills making it feel even colder, Brookfield Police recognized the immediate need for K-9 assistance. 

 

Canine Bruno and his handler, successfully tracked and safely located the girl within 15 minutes.  She was found hiding behind a local business, several hundred yards away from her last known location. 

 

The teen was taken to Danbury Hospital by emergency medical service personnel from the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department.

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Redding couple charged with DUI in separate incidents in Wilton

A Redding couple has been arrested for DUI in Wilton during separate incidents over the weekend.  Wilton Police stopped a motorist around 1am Sunday in the Georgetown area of Danbury Road for erratic driving and speeding. 

 

Police say the driver, later determined to be 36-year old Sophie Mond, was seen swerving passed the officer.  A field sobriety test couldn't be completed and two breathalyzer tests at the Wilton Police Station showed a Blood Alcohol Content more than twice the legal limit. 

 

The Wilton Bulletin reports that 36-year old Daniel Mond arrived on the scene of the traffic stop and was confirmed to be the woman's husband.  He passed Field Sobriety Tests, but an odor of alcohol was detected so he was taken into custody.  While a Breathalyzer result was below the legal limit, police say because marijuana was found in his possession Mond was charged with Driving Under the Influence. 

 

Sophie Mond was charged with DUI and failure to keep right on a curve.

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ME: Southbury man died of blunt injuries to head

The Chief Medical Examiner's Office has determined the cause of death for a Southbury man allegedly killed by his son on Tuesday.  74-year old Dennis Fitzsimmons died of compression of the neck and blunt injuries to his head and torso. 

 

The Resident State Trooper responded to Jacob Road Tuesday night and found the unresponsive man lying on the floor.  While speaking with 43-year old Timothy Fitzsimmons, he became suddenly ill and lost consciousness.  The younger man was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.  

 

The Chief Medical Examiner did not yet have a cause of his death.  State Police say their investigation determined the son was responsible for the death of his father.

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Former DOT employee agrees to $1,500 fine for ethics violation

A former state Department of Transportation employee has agreed to pay a $1,500 penalty for violating the Code of Ethics. 

 

The Office of State Ethics says that within a year of leaving the DOT, Dennis King was hired by a private livery company based in Danbury to appear on their behalf at a DOT hearing.  The purpose of the hearing was to determine if the Danbury company was in violation of a requirement to have its vehicle inspected, and whether the Danbury company was operating a vehicle that was not approved for the service authorized. 

 

Under the code, no former state employee should represent anyone other than the state for compensation before the agency they served when it comes to matters of substantial interest for at least one year after leaving state service.  Officials say the state has such an interest in the enforcement of state statutes and regulations governing livery service. 

 

King said he did not intentionally violate the Code of Ethics, and did not receive financial gain from representing the Danbury company. 

 

King has no prior history of ethics violations.

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NY man caught using rolled up $5 bill to snort drugs in parked car

A Mahopac man has been arrested on a drug possession charge after deputies investigated suspicious behavior.  Earlier this month, members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Narcotics Enforcement Unit were conducting patrols and saw a man in a parked car who appeared to be ingesting a substance through a rolled up paper, consisted with illegal drug use.  The deputies investigated and determined that 36-year old Michael Reo was using a rolled up $5 bill to snort a controlled substance.  The Mahopac man had heroin, cocaine and suboxone in his possession.  He was charged with three counts of criminal possession and released without bond for a future court appearance.

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Easton Police investigating thefts from unlocked cars

Easton Police are investigating a series of thefts from cars.  There were 17 reports from residents in the lower Sport Hill Road section of Easton that their cars had been entered during the night Monday into Tuesday.  Easton Police are strongly urging residents to take valuables out of their cars and to lock the doors.  Items reported stolen include cash, electronics and ammunition.  Anyone who sees suspicious activity is urged to call the Easton Dispatch Center at 203-268-4111.

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Daryl Hall plans to stage outdoor shows at upstate NY venue

PAWLING, N.Y. (AP) Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Daryl Hall wants to add an outdoor stage at his music venue and restaurant in upstate New York.

Hall opened Daryl's House on Halloween 2014 in the Dutchess County town of Pawling. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports Hall plans to build a stage behind the restaurant to hold concerts on a lawn that can accommodate more than 1,000 people.

The first concert is scheduled for May 27 with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.

Town officials say the project is under review and hasn't received final approvals.

Hall, of the duo Hall and Oates, films his Internet and cable television music program, ``Live From Daryl's House,'' at his Pawling restaurant. The former longtime Dutchess County resident now lives in nearby Sherman, Connecticut.

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Danbury man files complaint with SEEC about 'Hat PAC'

The State Elections Enforcement Commission is looking into a complaint filed against a Political Action Committee in Danbury.  The SEEC took action last week on a complaint field in January by Joe Walkovich.  He is the chair of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee, but filed the complaint against the Hat PAC as an individual. 

 

The chairman of the Hat PAC is Gene Eriquez, who is challenging Walkovich for the DTC chairman post next month.

 

 Walkovich claims in his complaint to the SEEC that the Hat PAC, Eriquez and treasurer Helena Abrantes had 20 missing or undisclosed checks, failed to file a report seven days before the municipal election, double entry of donations months after being made and failed to disclose advertising expenditures on behalf of candidates. 

 

The Hat PAC is made up of Democratic, Republican and Independent Greater Danbury area residents.  The group reportedly paid $968 in fines and civil penalties for previous late filings and non-filings of campaign finance reports last year.

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Litigation against Town of New Milford withdrawn

A lawsuit against the town of New Milford has been withdrawn.  During a Town Council meeting earlier this month, New Milford Mayor David Gronbach said that litigation by Tammy Reardon has been withdrawn and it's a non-issue at this time. 

 

The matter originally stemmed from former Mayor Pat Murphy granting two of her assistants bonuses and continued health insurance during her final days in office.  Murphy lost her bid for a 7th term in November.  Gronbach rejected the $10,600 in bonuses and to not continue the health insurance.  Reardon, who worked while receiving treatment for cancer, filed a temporary injunction against New Milford to prevent her health insurance coverage from being ended and Marla Scribner filed for her bonus. 

 

The bonuses were reportedly allotments for accumulated sick time.  Gronbach says the Town Council was never consulted and there was no documentation about either matter.

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Shelton man sentenced for his role in 'Operation Juice Box'

A third person has been sentenced for their role in a steroid manufacturing and distribution ring.

 

34-year old Mark Bertanza of Shelton has been sentenced for his role in the scheme headed by a former Newtown Police sergeant.  Bertanza was ordered to three years of probation, to perform 120 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine. 

 

Former Newtown Police Sergeant Steven Santucci and others were receiving shipments of steroid ingredients from China and manufacturing and distributing wholesale quantities of steroids.  The investigation also revealed that certain members of the conspiracy were distributing prescription pills, including oxycodone, as well as cocaine.

Bertanza purchased anabolic steroids from Santucci and distributed them to others.

 

After being charged in April 2015, Bertanza was under house arrest and monitored electronically.  Bertanza's attorney wrote in a sentencing memo that it appears his client participated so that he could afford steroids for his own use.  Bertanza completed an intensive drug program since his arrest.

 

Bertanza's attorney wrote that clearly substance abuse and mental health counseling is called for, community service would seem appropriate only during periods of less than full employment.

 

In a sentencing memo, prosecutors said the most troubling part for them is a violent streak that resulted in two prior arrests.  The Government said these incidences of violence could easily be the result of “roid-rage”, although the prior incidents shouldn't merit a prison sentence.  While intercepting phone calls and text, Bertanza told and undercover agent that he threw his paramour through a wall during a fight.  Bertanza said he does not want to go to jail, but he could because the relationship is so toxic and he could end up stabbing or shooting her.  Bertanza asked if he could rent a room from the agent so he could get away from the woman. 

 

The Government does not believe that Bertanza poses a danger to the community so long as he is monitored over the next several years.

 

The investigating agencies knew that Bertanza sold some of the anabolic steroids that the sergeant manufactured, but wanted to reach the sergeant.  Bertanza refused to disclose his source to the purchaser, noting that such disclosure would eat into his own profits.

 

As Bertanza noted, “I deal with him . . . people deal with me . . . you deal with your people . . . the pecking order gotta stay the same.”

 

The Government said that had Bertanza been willing to divulge his source of anabolic steroids, co-defendant Alex Kenyhercz, and not displayed the negative side effects of anabolic steroid abuse, he may not have been before the Court for sentencing.  Nonetheless, the Government said his greed and violent aggression, both likely fueled by his abuse of a controlled substance, will result in a felony history for Bertanza.

 

Sherman bodybuilder Michael Mase was sentenced in December to three years probation, the first three months spent in home confinement, 120 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine.  Former Newtown Police Department civilian dispatcher Jason Chickos was ordered in January to two years probation, to perform 120 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine.  Five other men, including Santucci, await sentencing.  Three others were also charged.

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General Assembly committee holds hearing on crumb rubber fields

The legislature's Children's Committee on Tuesday held a public hearing about a bill which would prohibit crumb rubber ground cover from municipal and public school playgrounds.  New Fairfield and Ridgefield High Schools are among those with synthetic turf fields.  New Milford is considering a synthetic turf project.

 

Committee member Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. supports the bill.  He says Connecticut should be on the side of caution, at least until more information is known.

 

A report was issued last year by Yale University researchers which found a dozen known carcinogens in crumb-rubber surfaces.  Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for a million-dollar line item in the President's proposed budget for an investigation into the safety of artificial turf. 

 

An Environmental Attorney testified citing studies from different states showing no link between crumb rubber and health risks.

 

The ground tire synthetic fields were installed at several schools over recent years as a way to save on operating costs and because they were thought to be more durable.

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New Milford Mayor proposes budget with tax decrease

The New Milford Town Council and Board of Finance still need to approve a budget to send to voters, but they now have a proposal before them.  New Milford residents could see a slight decrease in their taxes in the coming year's budget.  Mayor David Gronbach has proposed a $36.5 million dollar municipal budget. 

 

A proposed $62.2 million school budget and a $1.6 million capital budget brings the total proposal to $100.3 million.  That is a .57 percent decrease in taxes. 

 

Gronbach says they went line by line through every department and cut out expenditures that were deemed excessive.  More than $4 million in departmental requests were cut from the proposed budget to bring the spending increase to about $340,000. 

 

Among the cuts are eliminating the executive secretary position in the Mayor's office and leaving two police department vacancies unfilled.  Gronbach says the police vacancies come on a recommendation from the Police Chief.

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20 parking spaces to be added at Ridgefield Rec Center

More parking spaces are being added to the Ridgefield Rec Center on Danbury Road.  The Panning and Zoning Commission approved the plan unanimously.  There was no public hearing on the matter because a special permit wasn't required.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Rec Center is adding 20 parking space, bringing the total to 254.  Two trees will have to be replanted, but the parking spaces won't encroach on the nearby wetlands.  The plan is to make adjustments to an area currently being used as a turn around.  The Press reports that the 20 new spots will ring an expanded turnaround area.

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Man sentenced for stealing jewelry from Litchfield County home

A New York man has been sentenced for selling jewelry stolen from a Litchfield County home.  33-year old Miguel Mead was ordered yesterday to three years and five months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. 

 

Mead and a group of friends, who referred to themselves as Jedi Knights, committed a number of residential burglaries in Connecticut and elsewhere on the East Coast, stealing money, jewelry and guns.  In 2012, two of Mead's friends stole 250 pieces of jewelry from a Salisbury home valued at more than $2.5 million.  The group bought Mead an airline ticket to North Carolina.

 

He sold several of the items to a business for $11,500, and the items were then melted down.  The investigation revealed that the business purchased one of the pieces, a gold snail broach, for approximately $800.  The victim confirmed that the broach was unique and had an appraised worth of $50,000.

 

Mead has prior convictions, including for violent crimes such as assault and unlawful possession of firearms.

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NY man arrested for firing nail gun at coworker

A Mahopac man who works for the Putnam County Highway Department has been arrested.  The Sheriff's Office reported yesterday that 55-year old Santino Pietrosani was charged with menacing and reckless endangerment for an incident involving a coworker last month. 

 

On January 20th, police received a report of a man firing a nail gun at a coworker at Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast.  Both Highway Department employees were arguing over use of a ladder. 

 

Pietrosani reportedly fired several 3-inch nails in the direction of his coworker, nearly striking the other person in the head. 

 

Before Deputies arrived, Pietrosani was relieved of his duties and sent to the Highway Department offices in Patterson, where he was later located.  He's been arraigned and released for a future court appearance. 

 

A temporary order of protection has been issued on behalf of the coworker.

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Son suspected of killing father in Southbury

A homicide in Southbury is being investigated by State Police.  Around 10pm yesterday, the Resident State Trooper's Office responded to Jacob Road in Southbury on a report of a medical emergency.  When police arrived, an unresponsive man was found lying on the floor.  There were no signs of life and the man, later determined to be 74-year old Dennis Fitzsimmons, was pronounced dead. 

 

A search of the home turned up a second man, who became suddenly ill and lost consciousness while talking with police.  43-year old Timothy Fitzsimmons was transported to Waterbury Hospital for evaluation.  An investigation determined that the younger man was responsible for the death of the older man. 

 

Around 11:30 last night, the Western District Major Crime Squad was notified that the suspect was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

 

The Chief Medical Examiner's Office will determined cause and manner of death for both the victim and the suspect.

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New Fairfield budget proposal includes increase to cover policing costs

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has voted on a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Members approved the $11.1 million plan unanimously. It includes an overall increase of 5.56 percent.  The amount covers the Capital and nonrecurring budget. 

 

The original proposed Board of Selectmen budget was going to have a 13-percent increase, but it was brought down through various cuts.  The 5.56 percent increase includes necessary adjustments for a change implemented in July in the way the state funds the Resident State Trooper program. 

 

Previously, municipalities with Resident State Troopers had to pay 70-percent of the trooper's salaries and benefits.  Connecticut officials changed that to 85-percent of the cost for the first two troopers, and 100-percent of the cost for any subsequent troopers on staff.  At all times there are at least two Troopers or Officers working.  New Fairfield has a full time dedicated Sergeant from the State Police in town as well as six additional resident troopers, dedicated to town 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The town also employs six full time New Fairfield Officers.

 

The proposal will be presented to the New Fairfield Board of Finance on March 5th.

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NY man arrested 3 times in less than a month

A New York man has been arrested 3 times in as many weeks for traffic violation and other offenses.

 

The violations all started early in the morning on January 21st when a Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy spotted a BMW doing donuts on Route 22.  As the deputy approached, the driver sped off onto Doansburg Road reaching speeds above 100 miles per hour and then more than 130 miles per hour in a 30 zone near Green Chimneys School. 

 

The Deputy stopped the pursuit and alerted New Fairfield Police to be on the look out. 

 

On January 30th, New York State Troopers arrested 18-year old Thomas Maloney of Southeast for possession of marijuana after investigating a complaint of a BMW doing donuts in the same area as the week before.  Maloney told Troopers that he ran from a Deputy Sheriff, who was alerted. 

 

The Deputy applied for an arrest warrant for reckless driving, unlawfully fleeing a police officer and reckless endangerment. 

 

A Deputy saw a BMW on Route 22 aound 1:30am Monday without a front license plate and unauthorized colored lights.  The Deputy paced the vehicle at 90 miles an hour in a 35 zone before the driver sped to 120 miles per hour.  Maloney eventually stopped and was charged with reckless driving, four counts of reckless endangerment and other traffic violations for the January 21st incident.

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Danbury seeking bids for new cafe at Library/Innovation Center

Danbury has opened the bid process for the concession area at the Library and Innovation Center.  People interested in leasing the concession area for a cafe-type business have until March 17th to submit bids to Danbury.  The space is a little less than 640 square feet. 

 

Danbury is looking for a vendor to offer a menu that is reasonably priced and competitive in the downtown environment, and have at least the same hours as the library.  There is no grill in the space, so only food requiring warming or cooling such as salads, sandwiches and soups best suit the facility. 

 

Packets should include a rental proposal for the price and length of the contract, a business plan with implementation time-line and business background about the principals involved.

 

The cafe operator would be responsible for providing furnishings and related equipment as well as custodial and refuse services.  A dishwasher, tables and chairs as well as plumbing and electrical infrastructure are already in place.  

 

Utilities such as water, sewer, electric and heat will be the responsibility of the City.

 

Interested parties are requested to submit five copies of their proposals, including qualification data, to the Office of the Purchasing Agent, 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810, during normal business hours by no later than 2:00 PM on Thursday, March 17, 2016. 

 

Envelopes should be marked: Bid #02-15-16-02 “Café Operator @ Danbury Public Library”.

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Public hearing Wednesday in Ridgefield about allowing bikes on rail trail

A public hearing is being held Wednesday night in Ridgefield about whether bikes should be allowed on the rail trail.  There was a hearing about two weeks ago where dozens of residents turned out to voice their opinions on the matter. 

 

The land is owned by Eversource Energy and there is an environmental cap on the property, and the utility has yet to say whether bicycles will be allowed on the trail. 

 

Wednesday's hearing will be at 7:30pm at Ridgefield Town Hall. 

 

The plan is to make the trail safe for bicyclists, walkers and runners.  Among the expected work that's needed is barriers, which would protect people who lose control from going down embankments.  The larger goal is to connect the area to other trails around the Parks and Rec property. 

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Two more Newtown High School students arrested in 'sexting' investigation

Two more Newtown High School students have been arrested for their part in a sexting incident.  The pair arrested over the weekend declined to participate in the Juvenile Review Board process.  Three other youths were previously charged, and 20 others were referred to the community-based review board.  All students were under age 18 when the violations took place, so none of their names will be released.

 

The three students arrested in January each were charged with one count of obscenity pertaining to minors, obscenity, transmission/possession of child pornography by a minor, and possession of child pornography.  One of the students arrested over the weekend was charged with three counts of possession/transmission of child pornography by a minor. The other was charged with one count of the misdemeanor.

 

The community-based Juvenile Review Board is a diversionary program that allows community leaders to take a tempered response to what would normally be considered criminal activity by juveniles, according to police. Such a review board, in effect, keeps the offender out of the state’s criminal justice system. Typically, such review boards impose consequences such a community service.

 

The investigation began in May when police were informed of students sending and receiving sexually explicit images, some of them selling the images and videos for profit. 

 

More than 50 Newtown High School students were initially investigated, some were determined not to be involved.

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Mahopac man arrested for selling heroin from his home

A Mahopac man has been arrested on a number of drug related charges.  An investigation began last month into a man selling narcotics from his Mahopac home on a regular basis.  A deputy was able to make several purchases of heroin at the home. 

 

On Wednesday, a search warrant was carried out at 21-year old Kyle Novotny was arrested. 

 

Heroin, cocaine, MDMA pills, oxycodone pills, digital scales and cash were seized from his home. 

 

The man was charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance and eight counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.  Novotny was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility without bail for a future court appearance.  He has prior criminal convictions for the sale and possession of narcotics.

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Attorney sends letter to Danbury Planning Commission about Dorothy Day permitting issue

There are ongoing discussions about the Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury as the no-questions asked charity is working to resolve land use issues and make other changes.  The soup kitchen and emergency shelter has room for meals to be served to 30 people, and beds for 16.

 

The Planning Commission received a letter from Attorney Neil Marcus about the Dorothy Day House, which was discussed at their meeting this month.  Dorothy Day had to apply to the Danbury Planning Commission for a special permit to keep operating after it was discovered over the summer that there is currently no valid permit.  

 

Danbury Planning Commission chairman Arnold Finaldi says there's some research and legal opinions needed on an issue dating back 32 years.  The Planning Commission gave Dorothy Day permission to operate in 1983, but only for a year.  A one year renewal was then granted, but they stopped updating the permit in 1985.  Since then, fire and health department inspections were conducted, but there wasn't a permit in place.

 

Marcus is recommending that the current Planning Commission take some sort of action, but Finaldi says there are too many questions on something that happened so long ago.  Finaldi notes there's spotty documentation and some correspondence that has to be looked into on the issue uncovered amid neighbor complaints and concerns.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says they're not sure the Commission has jurisdiction for any next steps in the matter.  The group referred the letter from Marcus to the City's attorney.

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Bronze French bulldog greets visitors to Regional Hospice and Home Care

Regional Hospice and Home Care has a new mascot.  William made his debut last month as metaphor for the determination and optimism that paved the way for the Center for Comfort Care & Healing.

 

A bronze French bulldog, William is the 2003 creation of internationally-renowned British sculptor, Nicola Hicks, and is on loan from the personal collection of French-born businessman and philanthropist, William Louis-Dreyfus.  Louis-Dreyfus, the father of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, hosted two events at his gallery to generate support during the campaign to build the Hospice Center.

 

Born into a family of well-established London artists in 1960, Nicola Hicks studied at Chelsea School of Art, and received her MA at the Royal College of Art. In 1995, at the age of 35, Nicola Hicks was awarded the honor of MBE (Most Excellent Award for the British Empire) for her contribution to the visual arts. She has had major solo shows in leading museums and galleries in Great Britain and internationally.

 

William is positioned atop a table in the Center’s main lobby, and will welcome patients, families and visitors.

 

 

William is also on a tour of duty to add a dose of lighted-hearted fun for the children participating in the Center’s bereavement programs.  Healing Hearts officials say William will serve as a symbol of the children's resilient spirit that makes them open to so much joy despite the losses they have experienced.

 

In a new Healing Hearts Center for Grief and Loss activity named "Where's William", the dog's photo will accompany children participating in the Center’s bereavement programs on their adventures over the next six months.  With his photo in hand, each child will be able to submit William’s whereabouts to Regional Hospice.

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Budget negotiations to get under way in General Assembly

Governor Dannel Malloy wants to restart bipartisan budget talks with Connecticut legislative leaders.  It's unclear whether this latest effort to come up with a plan that Democrats and Republicans can agree on will actually bear fruit. The two parties failed to reach a bipartisan agreement months ago when they met to solve a $350 million deficit that developed in the current $20 billion fiscal year budget.

The new fiscal year is projected to have a $560 million shortfall. Larger deficits are predicted in the following two years.

The closed-door talks are likely to begin Tuesday. They come as the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee holds hearings on Malloy's proposed $19.8 billion budget proposal.

 

Newtown Representative JP Sredzinski is among the lawmakers calling for a fundamental change in the way Connecticut comes up with a budget.  He says there are no easy answers to solve the state's financial woes.  But he wants the General Assembly to adopt a long term vision for budgeting, not just to get through to the next election cycle.

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New York State Trooper rescues dog from icy pond

A New York State Trooper fell through the ice Saturday afternoon when he was trying to rescue a dog from a partially frozen pond.  Troopers received a report that a dog had fallen though the ice behind JFK High School in Somers, and that the dog's owner was possibly trying to rescue the animal. 

 

Trooper Christopher Spallone, a 10-year veteran of the force, arrived and saw the dog in distress due to the frigid water temperature.  He walked onto the ice and successfully rescued the yellow lab named Shelby. 

 

As Trooper Spallone was returning to shore though, the ice fractured and he fell in. 

 

A Somers Police Officer and fireman helped Spallone from the water.  The Trooper was treated and released from Northern Westchester Hospital.  The officer was exposed to the cold water and was treated at the scene. 

 

The dog is expected to make a full recovery.

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Freezing temperatures make fire fighting tough in Sherman, New Milford, Danbury

Firefighters in Sherman and New Milford battled fires on Saturday night.  Danbury responded to an overnight fire as well.

 

In Sherman, a home on Deer Hill Road was destroyed.  The home was fully engulfed when the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department arrived.  No one was in the house at the time.  No firefighters were injured.  The below zero temperatures made fighting fires in Sherman and New Milford a challenge.  The nearby lake in Sherman was frozen over.  The spray from the hose caused the trucks to freeze and have to be moved, adding to the challenge. 

 

A structure fire was also reported in New Milford at 193 2nd Hill Road.

 

Around 2:30am today Danbury firefighters responded to 42 Topstone Drive.  Six people were displaced by the fire.  They were treated for possible smoke inhalation.

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Brookfield trying to account for $3 million in missing bond fund money

A $3.3 million bond fund deficit in Brookfield is coming under scrutiny.  It was for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but never were.  The projects were completed between 2000 and 2008, including road improvements, the high school renovation and expansion of the senior center among others.

 

An analysis of the bond fund was done last year.  Controller Bill Leverence, who was hired in 2012, discovered the discrepancy and suggests using money from the town's $5.2 million fund balance or for the money to be included in the next five years budgets.  Leverence also suggested an audit to assess how the misappropriation occurred.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn proposed bonding about $2.3 million of the money in question.

 

The Board of Finance must decide on a recovery plan before it can close the books on the 2014-15 fiscal year.  Brookfield currently has a AAA bond rating status, but the rating agencies could look unfavorably on either plan.  A lower bond rating would lead to higher borrowing costs for future capital projects.

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Danbury officals approve amendment requiring permit for athletic fields, court on private property

Neighbor complaints in Danbury last summer about large sporting events held at residential properties has prompted the Zoning Commission to adopt an amendment aimed at protecting the health safety and welfare of single family residential neighborhoods.

 

The Planning Commission sent an ordinance with their stamp of approval back to the Zoning Commission requiring a permit for anyone in a residential neighborhood who wants to build an athletic field or court on their property for athletic competition.  This amendment would not be for private use tennis courts, a volleyball net put up temporarily or other similar situations.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro emphasized that the amendment doesn't say residents can't do this, it just means a permit is needed.

 

Calitro says this is also meant to give the Zoning Enforcement Officer some authority.

 

During a public hearing by the Zoning Commission last week there were several questions about enforcement and if this will address the issues that likely prompted its creation.  One member said they don't think this will effectively prevent what's been complained about in the past.

 

Danbury dealt with a number of complaints last summer where people were hosting large-scale volleyball games, had food trucks and people selling alcohol on their residential property.  There were also complaints about  the number of cars parked around the property and partially blocking roads. 

 

One of the questions about enforcement was if residents deny their court was for an athletic competition.  Officials say the language in the ordinance would be open to the interpretation of the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  Police and others won't be patrolling for large parties, a complaint has to comes in before any action is taken. 

 

The petition was approved by the Zoning Commission 7-0.

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Danbury submits request to Eversource to purchase street lights for LED conversion

It could up to a year and a half for the first phase of a street light conversion project in Danbury.  Danbury has made a request to Eversource Energy to purchase street lights in the City so that they can be converted to LED lights.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says there are a number of steps that have to be taken before the City can replace all of the street lights with LED lighting.

 

The lights have to be inventoried.  He notes that often times the number a municipality comes up with doesn't match what Eversource has.  Iadarola oversaw a street light conversion project when he was employed in Stamford.

 

Iadarola says it could take so long because the lights are a big money maker for the company.

 

ESCO, Energy Services Company, will look into the financial, operational, and energy analyses of the feasibility for implementing the program.  Danbury is reallocating up to $50,000 in funding that's not needed for the 2012 revaluation and putting it toward the audit.  An audit for this project will include existing conditions of the lights, projected costs, expected energy and maintenance savings, financing options and a proposed implementation plan.

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Brookfield Police investigating thefts from cars

The Brookfield Police Department is investigating a series of thefts from unlocked vehicles.  The crimes happened between Thursday evening and Friday morning centered in the area surrounding West Whisconier Road.  Anyone with information about these thefts is asked to contact Officer Flanagan at 203-740-4147.  Residents are reminded that it is always best to remove valuables and lock cars.  Brookfield is just one of several Greater Danbury area town responding to strings of car break ins.

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Congressional delegation in Kent for land conservation panel discussion

The Kent Land Trust and the Connecticut land Conservation Council among others will be in Kent today for a special event called a Celebration of Conservation in Connecticut.  They will be joined by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.  The three will be participating in a panel discussion on the environmental and economic benefits of preserving open space.  They will also be talking about their work to make the conservation easement tax  incentive permanent and to increase federal funding for conservation.  The panel will take questions from the audience.  The event takes place at Kent Barns at 10am.

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Social and Emotional Learning Week wraps up in Conn. schools

A Newtown woman helped to unveil student murals yesterday celebrating Connecticut Social and Emotional Learning Week. Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed on 12-14, was joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal for the event.  The weeklong awareness celebration recognized the importance of helping children learn how to manage emotions and maintain healthy relationships and interpersonal interactions. 

 

The murals at the Quinnipiac University North Haven campus were created by students from Waterbury, Greenwich, New Haven, Norwalk, Darien and Fairfield. 

 

Following the loss of her 6-year old son, Lewis founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement to bring attention to the importance of teaching children the non-academic skills they need to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally. 

 

Existing professional development funding was approved by the US Senate to be used to train teachers in concepts related to social and emotional learning.

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Final public forum Saturday on proposed Newtown Community Center

The final public forum about the proposed Community Center in Newtown is being held this morning.  The forum will be at 10am at CH Booth Library.  The Newtown Community Center Commission is also holding a meeting at noon at Town Hall, where they will talk about a final recommendation to present to the Board of Selectmen.

 

Several proposals have been discussed and a draft report from the Commission notes that the facility has to be self-sustaining, available to community members of all ages and a place that encourages social interaction.  There are two options being discussed.  One includes a community center, a 50-meter pool, and a zero entry pool.  The other option includes all of those features, plus an ice rink.  During months when the ice rink is not in use, Commission members say it could be drained and used for seating at events for a large audience.

 

The Commission members believe that the center could turn a profit with in a few years.  By not having pools or an ice rink, they say the facility would be unsustainable because it wouldn't have a way to create revenue.

 

GE has presented a $15 million gift to the town for a Community Center.  $10 million of which would be used for construction, and $1 million dollars over each of the following five years to run the facility . Some money from the Newtown Capital Improvement Plan fund would be needed, and possibly private fundraising to make up cost differences.

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Confirmed case of Zika virus in Putnam County, NY

A Putnam County resident has been confirmed positive for Zika virus and a second additional case is being tested.  The Putnam County Department of Health said in a press release that both residents had recently travelled out of the country.  There are 16 confirmed infections in New York State. 

 

Symptoms of Zika virus are usually mild, however the Health Department says all pregnant women—with or without symptoms—who have travelled to a Zika-affected region should be tested.  Testing is currently not available through commercial laboratories. Residents who have travelled to an area with Zika infection should contact their personal healthcare provider who will work with the Putnam County Department of Health to facilitate the proper testing procedure.

 

Zika virus, which is spread by infected mosquitos, has been appearing around the continental United States, mostly in travelers who have visited a Zika-affected area. One lone case in Texas is being investigated in a sexual partner of a traveler from one of the affected areas.  Prior to 2015, outbreaks of the virus had occurred only in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Last May the first confirmed cases were reported in Brazil.

 

The situation regarding Zika virus has been changing as new information develops. The Centers for Disease Control have set up a dedicated website at cdc.gov/zika and the New York State Department of Health has established a Zika Information Line: 1-888-364-4723.

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Carmel woman arrested in separate incidents for selling cocaine, heroin

A Carmel woman has been arrested following a two month long investigation into cocaine sales in Carmel and Southeast.  In December, a Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy developed information that a woman was making cocaine sales and he was able to arrange several purchases. 

 

Last Friday, 22-year old Brittany Rubino was located and arrested.  She was charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance and with criminal possession of a controlled substance.  All are felony counts.  Rubino was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on bail for a future court appearance.

 

A Carmel woman has been arrested on felony charges following an investigation into heroin sales in Putnam County.  In September, a Sheriff's Deputy  developed information that a woman was making heroin sales in Mahopac and he was able to arrange several purchases.  23-year old Lindsey Schupp was arrested on Monday and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a child.  Schupp was arraigned and ordered held on bail for a future court appearance.

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Dangerously low temperatures in Greater Danbury area forecast this weekend

The coldest weather of the winter season so far is settling in on New England. Wind chill watches and warnings are also up for much of the weekend, with readings Saturday night expected to approach 35-below. 

 

A HART Bus will be parked in front of 198 Main Street in Danbury as a place to warm up Saturday. 

 

The Newtown Emergency Management Office is urging residents to be prepared for severe cold and make appropriate preparations.  CH Booth Library, Edmund Town Hall, the Senior Center and the Municipal Center are open during their normal business hours.  There is also a meeting scheduled for Noon on Saturday at the Municipal Center about the proposed Community Center.  Newtown residents are being asked to check on any frail or elderly neighbors and to take steps to protect pets during this cold spell. 

 

Bethel's Emergency Manager is urging town residents to take steps to prepare for the dangerously low temperatures forecast for this weekend.  Tom Galliford says cold spells of this magnitude bring a risk of frostbite and hypothermia.  The wind chill values could have frostbite set in in less than 30 minutes if proper precautions aren't taken.  In addition, frozen pipes and overworked furnaces could leave homes without heat or running water. 

 

Galliford urged residents not to use a stove or oven to heat the home, and not to use an open flame to melt frozen pipes.  Galliford, who also serves as Bethel's Fire Marshall, says many house fires result from these practices.

 

Governor Malloy has activated the state's cold-weather shelter plan in advance of a cold snap that is expected to bring sub-zero temperatures to Connecticut.  Under the plan, state officials will coordinate with Connecticut's network of shelters in an attempt to match the homeless with available beds through Monday morning.

 

The state's 2-1-1 system will coordinate placements and community-based providers will provide transportation for the homeless.

 

An Internet-based system will allow emergency management officials and first responders to share information and monitor capacity at shelters across the state.

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State Police release surveillance photos of armed Oxford gas station robbery suspect

Surveillance photos have been released by state police as they continue to search for a man who robbed an Oxford gas station this week.  State Police responded to the Sunoco on Oxford Road around 10:30pm Tuesday on a report that an armed man entered, demanded cash and fled on foot with an undisclosed sum of money. 

 

The suspect was described by the employees as 5'10', with a medium build. The suspect wore a black coat over a dark grey hooded sweatshirt and a dark-colored mask or scarf over his face. 

 

Anyone with information about this incident is being asked to call State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200 ext. 4323.  All calls will be kept confidential.

 

 

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Local lawmaker speaks against proposed cut to indigent burial benefit

A local lawmaker is speaking out in a proposed drop in the indigent burial benefit to $1,000.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed budget calls for a $400 cut in the indigent burial benefit, which was reduced by that amount last year as well.  Connecticut first offered a stipend, known as the indigent burial benefit, in 1984.  30 years ago it was $1,200.  The benefit increased to $1,800 in 2006. 

 

During a hearing before the legislature's Appropriations Committee yesterday, Bridgewater state Senator Rob Kane said the state can't claim to be there for the very vulnerable and then turn around and cut this benefit.  He says funeral homes in urban centers will have to pick up the difference.

 

The state Department of Social Services says Connecticut spent about $4.5 million in fiscal year 2014 for about 2,500 funerals and burials.  DDS says cutting the maximum benefit would bring Connecticut more in line with surrounding states.

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$500,000 coming to Newtown for improvements to Fairfield Hills campus

Newtown is receiving $500,000 for the Fairfield Hills Streetscape project.  The funds will be used for the design and construction of infrastructure and streetscape elements at the main entrance to the Fairfield Hills Campus entrance and down the streets of campus.  Newtown is focusing on the revitalization of the property in an effort to increase its economic vitality.  The infrastructure and streetscape improvements will support the reuse of this area and will be consistent with the integrated campus design. 

 

Newtown has already invested over $20 million in the remediation of Fairfield Hills, a former state hospital. Past revitalization efforts on the property include environmental cleanup, renovations, reuse or demolition of buildings, upgrades to infrastructure, installation of playing fields and hiking trails, preservation of agriculture, open space conservation, and limited commercial redevelopment.

 

Representative Mitch Bolinsky says First Selectman Pat Llodra, Grant Coordinator Christal Preszler and Newtown's State Delegation have been working on this grant since 2014.  He says this grant will help Newtown make the Fairfield Hills entryway a bit more welcoming for residents, visitors, as well as prospective developers and tenants as efforts continue to revitalize the property. 

 

In these difficult economic times, Representative JP Sredzinski says it's vital that the state support local projects such as this one to help offset the direct cost to the local taxpayers.

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New Fairfield sidewalk project to benefit from new state funding

$499,960.75 is headed to New Fairfield for pedestrian walkways.  The funding will serve to complete the final phase of the streetscape improvements projects by continuing to extend the decorative walks, plantings, street lighting and improved connections to the retail and business centers of downtown New Fairfield.  The local community will benefit from this project with increased safe pedestrian access between the Town Hall Center, retail shopping centers, office buildings and green spaces downtown.

 

State Senator Mike McLachlan says they want to do all they can to make downtown New Fairfield a walkable, welcoming, and accessible place.  He says these funds will help this key area to become more inviting to residents, visitors, and to all who conduct business in New Fairfield. 

 

Representative Jan Giegler says New Fairfield will continue investing in the character and infrastructure of the downtown area.  She says making it easier for people to enjoy the area is good for both businesses and the community. 

 

Representative Richard Smith says providing a safe way for residents and visitors to enjoy the downtown area will help local businesses prosper.  He added that a growing local economy creates stability and makes our community stronger.

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Brookfield, Seymour among 15 towns receiving STEAP grants

15 towns have been approved to receive funding under the state’s Small Town Economic Assistance Program for infrastructure and capital improvement projects. 

 

$500,000 has been approved for streetscape improvements in the Four Corners area of Brookfield.  The project will benefit the community by creating a walkable, bike friendly downtown district based on the Brookfield Revitalization Plan.  This district has been the focus of an incentive housing overlay zone aimed at stimulating mixed use development to bring back vitality to a vulnerable portion of the town. The residential development will bring nearly 80 new affordable residential units to the project area and, along with the STEAP granted streetscape, support the new ‘downtown.’  The grant will provide for necessary sidewalk, parking and bike lane construction.

 

State Representative Steve Harding says he looks forward to seeing this project finally materialize and bring new business and cultural opportunities to Brookfield. 

 

Senator Clark Chapin says the current and future residents of Brookfield will be well served by this investment.

 

$200,000 for phase five of a sidewalk replacement project in Seymour was included in this round of funding.  This leverages previous investments to continue the construction and replacement of sidewalks in a more densely populated section of town including many multi-family homes.  The project will benefit the local community by creating better pedestrian access to several modes of public transportation and connections to local parks and recreation.

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Brookfield Zoning Commission continues hearing on propose 6-story apartment complex

The public hearing about a proposed six-story apartment building on Federal Road in Brookfield continued Thursday night.  The Zoning Commission read into record letters of comment from the public.  Nine members of the public offered comments on the Renaissance project after a presentation from the applicant, all in opposition. 

 

Among the speakers were First Selectman Steve Dunn, Selectman Sue Slater, State Representative Steve Harding and Economic Development Director Greg Dembowski. 

 

Dunn said there are about 75 members of the volunteer fire department, who train 12 to 18 hours a week.  He said based on what he heard from the applicant’s representatives, this project would put them in danger, above and beyond the danger that comes with the job of being a firefighter.

 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis reiterated that there would need to be a significant amount of training, possibly new equipment purchased and concerns of putting unpaid volunteers in an extraordinary situation.   There were also concerns raised about the collapse zone.  Ellis also voiced concern about the two levels of underground parking.  He says that would be more inherently dangerous to residents and firefighters than above ground parking because of low ceilings allowing for rapid spread of smoke and flames.

 

Representatives retained by the applicant said that all buildings have the chance of collapse.  They also said that there are mutual aid agreements in place to bring in other firefighters and other equipment if necessary.

 

One resident said during the public speaking portion at the end of the public hearing that during the Christmas Day fire in a three-story apartment building in Danbury, Brookfield firefighters provided mutual aid there.  That left Brookfield with a lack of personnel if something were to have happened in town..

 

The public hearing was continued to the Brookfield Zoning Commission’s next meeting on February 25.

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Legislature to consider bill increasing penalties for those making threats against schools

The penalties for making threats against schools would be increased under a bill introduced in the legislature's Judiciary Committee.  The Zero-Tolerance Safe School Environment Act has been called for in the past by local lawmakers including State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown.

 

Co-chair Representative William Tong says threats against schools must be punished more severely because of what he called the post-Newtown environment.  Tong says anything perceived as a threat to schools causes panic in the community and is a waste of resources.

 

The current Class D crime is punishable by five years in prison, but the bill would change the crime to Class C, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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Mid-January progress reported at the new Sandy Hook School site

Significant progress has been made at the Sandy Hook School construction site.  The first coat of paint has gone up in Wing B of the new school building.  The ceiling was being finished in Wing C and drywall going up in Wing D. 

 

Curbing continues to be installed outside along the bus loop and the concrete walls at the front entry bridges were worked on.  Select trees were also planted and retaining walls completed thanks to a mild start to the winter. 

 

The building is expected to be completed and ready for classes to start this fall.

 

 

 (library gable window, B wing classroom entry)


(Cafeteria)

(B wing corridor)

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Danbury Police investigating home invasion assault

Danbury Police are investigating an assault that took place early Wednesday evening.  Police responded to an apartment on Terrace Place around 5:30pm.  The victim told officers that he heard a knock on the front door, and when he opened the door he was punched by a white male.  Several other men then entered the foyer and two of them went upstairs.  The victim told police that the suspects asked him for his money, but he didn't have any.  The suspects all reportedly left the building after about a minute.  The incident remains under investigation.

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Brookfield man found stabbed in his driveway

A Brookfield man was stabbed in his own driveway over the weekend.  Police responded to Pocono Road late Saturday night and found a man with several stab wounds on his face and a slash on his right arm.  26-year old Ignacio Martinez-Pacheco told police he was attacked with an edged weapon or a tool inside a car.  He was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was treated and later released.  Brookfield Police say the attack was not random and do have a suspect, but the case remains open and under investigation.

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Bethel Police searching for driver who hit condo garage

Bethel Police are searching for the driver of a car that did structural damage to a garage.  Police received a report from a resident of the Plumtrees Heights Condo Complex saying that sometime between 9pm on Tuesday and 4am Wednesday, their garage was hit by a car.  The vehicle, with heavy front end damage may be a gray Nissan Murano SUV Convertible.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Bethel Police Officer Farina at 203-744-7900.

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Case against Danbury nanny continued to March

32-year old Lidia Quilligana's case came up for review Wednesday in Danbury Superior Court.  It's been continued to March 16th, nearly a year after the Danbury nanny was arrested for allegedly intentionally inflicting injuries on children in her care. 

 

Her employer questioned injuries to her daughter, and Quilligana said the child accidentally touched the hot stove while she was tending to the other children.  That night, the mother watched video from a hidden nanny camera and saw abuses. 

 

As police continued to review the video footage, more charges were filed against Quilligana.  She faces one count of assault and 23 counts of risk of injury.  All are felony charges.

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Redding hires Vision Government Solutions for 2017 revaluation

Redding has hired a firm to conduct the 2017 revaluation.  Vision Government Solutions has been hired by Redding to begin a Town wide Revaluation Project. 

 

Vision will be working with the Assessing Department during the two year long process.  There are five major phases to a municipal revaluation.  The first is Data Collection and will begin by early March.  Each property in Redding will be visited to collect information about the building, size, age, and components of construction, outbuildings, utilities, and other characteristics both inside and out. 

 

All Vision Representatives will carry Identification Cards and have their cars listed with both the Assessing Office and Police Department. 

 

The other steps in the process are market analysis, valuation, field review and informal hearings.  Once all five phases are completed, data used in the revaluation will be turned over to the Redding Assessor’s Office.

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Police training exercise will be response to mock gunman on WCSU campus

A police exercise is taking place at Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus today.  Members of the Danbury and West Conn police departments will conduct a training exercise in the Litchfield Hall residence hall.  It will affect traffic on Eighth Avenue from 7am to 4 pm.  Eighth Avenue will be restricted to residents only during that time.  Police officers, including members of the Danbury SWAT team, will be involved in the mock event so that police can practice what happens when there is an active shooter on campus.

 

University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says they've alerted the WCSU community that this exercise is happening and that police will be pretending there is someone with a gun in the residence hall.  Steinmetz says WCSU police have been working with Danbury Police for several years on emergency response, which was ramped up since 9/11.

 

There is a protocol for incident command, and that's part of what this practice entails.  Steinmetz says it depends on what type of emergency is taking place and what stage of the response they are in.  The response will start with the WCSU Police Department.  If it's a fire or similar incident, the Danbury Fire Department will take command.  If it's a large event, Connecticut State Police will take over command operations.

 

Steinmetz says practicing the incident command chain is being done so responders know who plays what role, and so that various departments aren't asking a lot of questions during a real emergency.  They can focus on responding and filling their own roles.

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Redding woman nominated for Conn. Port Authority Board of Directors

A Redding resident has been nominated to serve on the Connecticut Port Authority's Board of Directors.  There are four vacancies on the recently cerated Connecticut Port Authority.  Governor Dannel Malloy has nominated Pamela Elkow of Redding to one of the Directors positions. 

 

Elkow currently works as an attorney in the environmental practice group with Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey, LLP in Stamford.  Previously, she worked for Robinson & Cole, LLP, and Jacobi, Kappel & Kase.  She received her B.A. from Colgate University and her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

 

The Port Authority is a quasi-public agency responsible for marketing and coordinating the development of the state’s ports and maritime economy.  While the state's maritime industry already supports thousands of jobs, Malloy says it has the potential for significant growth, which will take more trucks off the road and lower emissions.

 

There are a total of 15 members of the Port Authority’s Board of Directors.  In addition to the Governor’s four appointments, the authority’s other members are appointed by legislative leaders of both parties, in addition to several ex-officio members.

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Repeal proposed of rarely used law allowing people to be ousted from political parties

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has submitted draft language to the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee to repeal a statute that allows political parties, through local registrars of voters working in concert with town chairs, to expel members for a handful of activities. 

 

The “lack of good-faith party affiliation” statute is rarely used, but was invoked by the Brookfield Republican Party.  Merrill says that's when the statute was brought to her attention.  It's goes so far back that there is no real legislative history on the issue.

 

A Brookfield woman was ousted from the Republican Party by the town's Registrar of Voters after a hearing nearly a year ago.  Jane Miller and her husband were questioned about donating to opposing political parties, specifically the political action committee Brookfield's Best Choices.  Miller's husband was allowed to remain in the Brookfield GOP.  The party had also cited Jane's run as a Democrat for the Board of Finance in 2013.  Miller re-registered as a Republican after she lost the election. 

 

Merrill says her concern is that the current law could restrict someone's right to vote.  She also questioned if state statutes are the right place for these kinds of processes.  She says elected officials shouldn't play a role in deciding the ideological purity of political party members.

 

The legislative committee has until February 19th to raise a bill.

 

Miller filed a lawsuit this month alleging that her civil rights were violated when she was kicked out of the Republican party because she won't be allowed to vote in the upcoming town committee and presidential primaries.  Miller claims that two men ran on the Democratic ticket, but were able to rejoin the GOP without the same scrutiny.

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Inmate charged for assaulting two Correction Officers

A homeless Brewster man has been charged for assaulting two Correction Officers.  On Monday, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office received a call from the county jail with a report of an inmate who assaulted two Correction Officers. 

 

The inmate was identified as 21-year old Carlos Lopez, who was reported to have been homeless in Brewster at the time of his incarceration.  He is awaiting sentencing on a felony charge of criminal mischief. 

 

Lopez was charged Monday with two counts of felony assault and arraigned.  He was ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bond for a future court appearance.

 

If found guilty of the felony charges, Lopez could face up to seven years in a New York State Correctional Facility and a fine of up to $5,000.00 for each charge. He continues to face up to four years in a New York State Correctional Facility and a fine of up to $5,000.00 for the felony charge for which he was originally incarcerated.

 

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Ridgefield Police Department seeks re-accreditation

The Ridgefield Police Department is scheduled for an on-site assessment today as part of the Department's effort to achieve Tier III re-accreditation.  The on-site visit is to verify that the Ridgefield Police Department is continuing to meet professional standards. 

 

The assessment is administered by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.  Tier III consists of 116 standards and is meant to help police departments operate efficiently and uniformly to reduce exposure to civil liability and provide excellent service delivery.

 

Agency members and the community can submit comments as part of the assessment. Comments can be mailed to William E. Tanner, III, POSTC Accreditation Division at 285 Preston Ave. Meriden, Connecticut 06450, by telephone at 203-427-2602, by fax at 203-238-6643 or by email Accreditation.Compliance@ct.gov Please enter the name of the agency in the subject line of the email.

 

Specifically, the Standards allow agencies to meet the following goals:

• Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;
• Formalize essential management procedures;
• Establish fair and non-discriminatory personnel practices;
• Improve service delivery;
• Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and
• Boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency.

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Mahopac man arrested for violating protective order held by girlfriend

A Mahopac man has been arrested for violating a protective order against him. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received a call from a woman last Tuesday who reported that a few weeks before she was involved in a physical dispute with her boyfriend.  The woman said that she had a protective order against 33-year old Wilfredo Reyes from the Putnam County Family Court, and she wanted to file charges against him. 

 

Last Wednesday, Reyes was arrested for criminal contempt.  He was arraigned last Thursday and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility for a future court appearance.

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Police search for man who carried out armed robbery at Oxford gas station

An armed robbery at an Oxford gas station is being investigated.  State Police responded to the Sunoco on Oxford Road around 10:30pm Tuesday on a report that a man entered, demanded cash and then fled on foot. 

 

State Police say the suspect was described by the employees as 5'10", with a medium build. The suspect wore a black coat over a dark grey hooded sweatshirt and a dark-colored mask or scarf over his face.  He was armed with a black handgun.  No injuries were reported. 

 

Anyone with information about this incident is being asked to call State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200 extension 4323.  All calls will be kept confidential.

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MCCA among Conn. nonprofits to receive grant funding

A new round of funding from the state's Nonprofit Grant Program has been announced.  Some 34 non-profits and 26 municipalities will share $15 million in funding for investments in projects to enhance delivery of services.  Danbury-based Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism has been awarded nearly $36,000 for a generator and little more than $201,000 for other improvements.  The first two rounds of funding provided nonprofits and municipalities in the state with a combined $40 million.

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Coalition urging state lawmakers to end 'prison gerrymandering'

A bill eliminating prison gerrymandering in Connecticut is being proposed by a coalition, who is urging the Judiciary Committee to raise and for the full legislature to pass such a law. 

 

Hispanic Federation Connecticut State Director Ingrid Alvarez, who previously served as Executive Director of the Hispanic Center in Danbury, says inmates should be counted in the municipality of their last known address, not the town in which they are imprisoned.  Alvarez says it unfairly distorts communities of color representation in state and local politics.  She says it directly and negatively impacts the votes of Latinos and African Americans in the state by by diluting the power of their vote.

 

New York, Maryland, Delaware and California have passed legislation similar to what's being proposed here.

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Newtown schools launch 'Anonymous Alerts' safety and bullying reporting app

A new state-of-the-art safety and bullying reporting app called Anonymous Alerts has been selected by the Newtown School District in an effort to provide the best possible learning environment for students. The app allows students, parents and other school personnel to maintain their confidentiality while calling attention to situations like bullying, safety concerns, family problems, or other situations that may warrant immediate attention by school officials.

 

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Erardi said in a statement that in remembrance of the 2012 tragedy that struck the district, Anonymous Alerts and its advisory board sponsored the initial purchase of Anonymous Alerts for the high school and middle school.  Erardi said they encourage the reporting of mean behaviors, bullying, cyber-bullying, student depression, drug and alcohol issues, and other safety concerns.  Submitters have the option to reveal their identity if they prefer to have a personal and private discussion with the school administrator, but reports can remain anonymous.

 

The app can be downloaded directly from the Apple App Store, Google Play store for Android, and the Chrome store app from the Google Chrome store.  After downloading the app students, staff and parents can click to open it, and enter a simple username and password supplied to them by their schools.  Informational posters explaining how to use the app will be displayed throughout the high school and middle school on how to anonymously report urgent or sensitive information to authorized school officials.

 

The system will be operational only on school days between the hours of 7am and 2pm, and reports sent after 2pm will be answered on the next scheduled school day.

 

More than 1,500 K-12 schools throughout the United States, including Greenwich High School and other Connecticut schools, have implemented the Anonymous Alerts anti-bullying app and safety reporting system.

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Police exercise planned at WCSU midtown campus Thursday

A police exercise is taking place Thursday in Danbury.  A Traffic Alert has been announced by Western Connecticut State University due to police training on the midtown campus.  Members of the Danbury and West Conn police departments will conduct a training exercise that will affect traffic on Eighth Avenue.  The exercise will concentrate in the Litchfield Hall residence hall.  From 7 am to 4 pm on Thursday, traffic on Eighth Avenue will be restricted to residents only.  Police officers, including members of the Danbury SWAT team, will be involved in the training.

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WCSU holds forum on hazard mitigation plan

A public forum is being held this afternoon about the Western Connecticut State University's hazard mitigation plan.  The forum will include information on the work completed to date on a hazard mitigation plan.  The forum will also highlight some of the hazards that may present the greatest risks to campus operations.  Students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to attend the forum to gather information and provide feedback.  Members of the planning committee will be available to answer questions and listen to feedback from stakeholders and the community.  The forum is at 4 o'clock this afternoon in White Hall on West Conn's Midtown campus.

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Local lawmaker has mixed views of DMV reform proposals

Governor Dannel Malloy is looking at ways to improve service at the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles following a year of backlogs, long lines and other problems stemming from a major computer overhaul.

 

Malloy on Tuesday unveiled a bill that would allow the DMV to enter into contracts with private entities, such as AAA, to provide vehicle registration services. Currently, AAA only provides non-commercial driver's license services. 

 

Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says things have gotten so bad at the DMV that it seems extraordinary measures have to be taken to relieve them of a lot of responsibilities and duties that they have to do.  She says outsourcing some of the activity to the AAA could be a good thing, because people already have positive experiences when renewing licenses there as opposed to the DMV.  But she says DMV functions are core functions of the state, and should be a part of what the state can provide to residents.

 

Malloy also wants to eliminate the ban on registering vehicles with delinquent property taxes and parking tickets.

 

Boucher says this could hit tax assessors hard.  Right now they can enforce someone paying a car property tax is by withholding their ability from registering their car.  She says in the cities, many people don't own a house so they only pay a car property tax.  Boucher is concerned that municipalities will raise the mill rate and burden homeowners and commercial property owners in an effort to make up the losses on car property taxes.

 

Boucher says the software upgrade failure has to be addressed and fixed, rather that relinquishing some responsibility or getting rid of regulations.

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Brookfield officials seek use of Grant Finder program

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has opted to move forward with spending $600 on a Grant Finder Program.  At their meeting last week, the Selectmen forwarded the proposal to the Board of Finance for approval of funds.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says about 15% of the town's total revenue, depending on the year, comes from grants.  All of the town's departments go out looking for funding on their own.  Dunn says some are pretty straight forward, like ones from the state including the Small Town Economic Assistance Program and Local Capital Improvement Program.

 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has made an arrangement with Grant Finder for a substantial discount on the fee for the program.

 

Dunn says this will allow the town to look at grants being offered across the nation.  He says there are likely grants Brookfield is missing, small grants but funding nonetheless.  He says the Grant Finder program will be used for one year, and if it makes sense, a decision will be made after that whether to continue with it. 

 

Dunn called this a reasonable expenditure for something that will pay for itself if the town only gets one grant worth more than $600.

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Passenger in car stopped for erratic operation caught with pot, heroin

Drug charges have been brought against a Mahopac man following a routine traffic stop.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office reports that deputies stopped a driver early Monday morning for traffic violations on Route 6 in Mahopac.  When the Deputy approached the vehicle he could smell marijuana.  A passenger in the car, 21-year old Michael Martin of Mahopac was found with pot and also heroin.  He was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana.  He was processed at Putnam County Correctional Facility and held for arraignment.

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Danbury Schools hold 'Start with Hello' program events

The Danbury Public School District has started a new program this week, an initiative of Sandy Hook Promise.  The Start with Hello program addresses social isolation.  This coupled with the Say Something program were launched in the fall in an effort to create a safer, healthier school climate. 

 

Hayestown Avenue School held an assembly and put on a skit Monday. 

 

(Phot: Danbury Public Schools, Facebook)

 

Danbury schools this week are holding assemblies and focusing on activities that encourage student involvement in the Say Hello Program commitment.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella, who serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, has also encouraged implementation of the programs at schools across Connecticut.

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Danbury to audit street light for conversion to LED

Danbury is reallocating funding that's not needed for the 2012 revaluation and putting it toward a street light conversion program to LED lighting.  Danbury is working with ESCO, Energy Services Company, to figure out how to develop and implement such a program.  The initial phase of the project is a comprehensive audit of the street lights in Danbury. 

 

 

The cost of the audit will become part of the conversion project if Danbury moves forward with the program.  If the City decides not to move forward, or uses a different company, Danbury will be responsible to pay ESCO up to $50,000 for the audit.  There is little more than $75,000 in the 2012 Revaluation account.

 

The study is expected to take up to six months.

 

ESCO will help Danbury obtain certain files from Eversource Energy including street light asset inventory, maintenance history and Eversource's proposed acquisition costs.

 

The audit will also look into the financial, operational, and energy analyses of the feasibility for implementing the program.  The report will include existing conditions of the lights, projected costs, expected energy and maintenance savings, financing options and a proposed implementation plan.

 

Councilman Duane Perkins noted that some lighting have power that goes to a ballaster and could be redirected to a bulb.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they will likely be replacing the complete cobra head to a modern, efficient LED fixture which has a long lifespan and gives better illumination.

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Former Bethel, Redding firefighters to be inducted in CT Firefighter Hall of Fame

A former Bethel Volunteer firefighter is among a dozen inductees this year into the State of Connecticut Firefighter Hall of Fame.  The Connecticut State Firefighters Association has released the list of firefighters who have contributed to the betterment of the Fire Service on a local state or national level.

 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department announced that Past Chief Jon Menti is one of the inductees.  Menti served more than 40 years in the volunteer fire service and was an adjunct Connecticut Fire Academy instructor for over 20 years.

 

Laurence Ford of Redding, who passed away in May at the age of 93, is being inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously.  He was a research engineer for the National Board of Fire Underwriters.  He served as the Fire Service Coordinator, as well as the Director of Fire Training Programs for the Connecticut State Technical Colleges.  He was appointed to the Connecticut Advisory Committee on Emergency Medical Services by Governor Ella Grasso.   He founded and served as the first president of the Connecticut Fireman’s Historical Society.  

 

Ford was an active member of Redding Fire Company, #1, where he began his service as a volunteer firefighter in 1940 and served as both the Company’s Fire Marshall and Fire Commissioner.  He was also an Emergency Medical Technician.  As a Chairman of the Redding Emergency Communications Board, he was instrumental in bringing “911” communications to Redding.

 

An awards ceremony is being held in April. 

 

Class of 2016 Inductees:

Fred Dudek, Jr., Killingworth

 

Laurence Ford, Redding (posthumous)

 

James E. Kiley, Newingtown (posthumous)

 

Ronald L. Littell, Sr., Tolland

 

Kevin R. McKeon, West Shore (West Haven)

 

Jon Menti, Stony Hill

 

Jeffrey Morrissette, Wethersfield (Fire Admin)

 

John E. Obier, Jr., North Haven (posthumous)

 

Gary M. Parker, Derby

 

Charles Perrotti, North Canaan

 

Kenneth W. Richards, Jr., Olde Mystic

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Two killed in Arizona plane crash

MARICOPA, Ariz. (AP) — A former president of a major aircraft manufacturer was one of the two people killed after their World War II-era plane crashed and burned near the town of Maricopa.

 

Pilot Jeffrey Pino, 61, was formerly the president of Sikorsky Aircraft, a Connecticut-based aircraft manufacturer. The second victim was identified as 72-year-old Nickolas Tramontano of Brookfield, Connecticut, Mark Clark of the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said.

 

"The Sikorsky family is saddened to learn of the sudden loss of former President Jeff Pino. We extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers of sympathy and support to his family and friends during this difficult time," current president Dan Schultz said in a statement posted on the company's website.

 

Schultz said Pino, who last lived in Chandler, Arizona, was Sikorsky's president from 2006 to 2012, during which he "brought personal energy and passion for aviation innovation to our industry."

 

"We remember Jeff as a leader, pioneer, innovator and advocate. May his family be comforted by the lasting impression and legacy Jeff has left behind," Schultz said. Last year, Lockheed Martin bought Sikorsky Aircraft, which, among other things, makes the U.S. military's Black Hawk helicopter, for $9 billion.

 

Preliminary information on the Friday crash indicated the plane was a P-51D Mustang, a type of single-engine American fighter used during World War II, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

 

The spokesman said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash in Maricopa, which is about 35 miles south of Phoenix.

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Underage drinking enforcement operation conducted in Putnam, Westchester Counties

An underage drinking enforcement operation was held over the weekend by New York State Police.  Retail establishments in Somers, North Salem and elsewhere were checked with the help of a 19-year old volunteer.  The teen was observed by plainclothes investigators and supported by uniformed troopers. 

 

Two clerks sold beer to the volunteer and were arrested.  23-year old Colin Rose of North Salem, who is employed by a Shell gas station in Lewisboro, and 24-year old Karen Monroy of Carmel, who is employed as a Shell station in North Salem. 

 

Their employers face possible civil penalties by the New York State Liquor Authority.

 

Retail establishments in Putnam County were also checked this weekend.  All seven retail establishments were found to be compliant with state laws.  The State Police were assisted by the Carmel Police Department.

 

The  New York State Liquor Authority routinely conducts underage drinking enforcement operations in an effort to curb alcohol abuse and DWI incidents among teenagers. 

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Danbury pedestrian struck, killed by car

A Danbury man has been struck and killed by a car.  Danbury Police responded to the area of 14 Newtown Road on Saturday night on a report of a serious motor vehicle collision. 

 

Police determined that 44-year old Eric Lucas was walking near the center line of the roadway and was struck by a driver who reported not seeing him.  Police say 74-year old Joan Ledoux struck Lucas with the front driver's side of her car. 

 

Lucas was transported to Danbury Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

 

This collision is under investigation by the Danbury Police Department’s Traffic Division.

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Danbury officials get more information on Fire Department drone project

Danbury officials are learning more about the unmanned aerial project the Fire Department is looking to take on.  The Department received a donation of $9,000 for the drone project.  The donor asked to remain anonymous, and was made in memory of the late Michael Kallas.  Kallas passed away in June.  He had served as President of the Lions Club, and during that tenure in 2012 the Lions raised funds to replace a broken thermal image camera for the Danbury Fire Department.

 

Councilman Warren Levy says Kallas was a model citizen, a successful businessman who provided housing for hundreds of people.  He volunteered his time to his church and the community.

 

Anonymous donations are rare on the Council's agenda, but the City does know who this donor is.  Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says he has in the past voted against some anonymous donations because the individual may have applications before land use departments or enforcement actions against them.  But he says that's not the case here, there is no conflict.  Saadi says they appreciate the efforts of this donor.

 

Fire Chief TJ Wiedl said they are very appreciative and have privately thanked the donor. 

 

The drone will be able to carry a thermal imaging camera.  Wiedl says some departments in the state have used the drones to help put fire out, but Danbury hasn't gotten to that point yet.

 

Eventually a few people on each crew will have to be trained on how to properly fly the drone.  As for repairs if something happens to the drone, it would be on the city to pay for the expense.  Danbury will own the drone outright and it will be the first municipally registered drone.

 

A drone was used during the ice rescue training operation at the Town Park on Tuesday.  Wiedl says it's useful because the Department can go back and look at the video after the fact and make improvements.  They can use the drone for possible rescues, especially at Tarrywile Park.  Wiedl says there are a lot of lost hikers there for some reason.

 

A drone was also used during the Christmas fire on Main Street.  The drone was in the air during almost all of the response.  The Fire Department got permission from the air control tower at Danbury Municipal Airport, and the device was flown at about 300 feet in the air.

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Local lawmaker grills Gov. Malloy's Budget Chief

Governor Dannel Malloy's budget chief appeared before the legislature's Appropriations Committee this week after Malloy unveiled his budget.  The panel began its process of going through the revised spending plan.  Bridgewater state Senator Rob Kane questioned the across the board 5.7 percent spending cut approach.  He says it takes a larger sword to the budget versus going line item by line item. 

 

Barnes says there is a focus to the proposals, core services.  He called it a wholesale change in agency operations.

 

Kane questioned where the structural changes to the state budget were.  Barnes responded that the state is no longer looking at the future in a doomsday way that the current services model suggests.

 

Kane's district includes Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Oxford, Seymour, Roxbury, Washington, and Woodbury.

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Ridgefield officials hold public hearings on rail trail proposals

A public hearing is being held this morning in Ridgefield.  Residents are being called on to voice their opinion about whether bikes should be allowed on the rail trail.  The public hearing is at 10am at Ridgefield Town Hall.  There will also be hearing on the 17th at 7:30pm. 

 

The plan is to make the trail safe for bicyclists, walkers and runners.  Among the expected work that's needed is barriers that would protect people who lose control from going down embankments.  The larger goal is to connect the area to other trails around the Parks and Rec property. 

 

The land is owned by Eversource Energy and there is an environmental cap on the property, and the utility has yet to say whether bicycles will be allowed on the trail.

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Warren man convicted of 2012 Sharon home invasion murder

A Warren man has been convicted of murder for a 2012 home invasion.  28-year old Niraj Patel was convicted on all nine counts against him.  Patel and two others were charged for breaking into the Sharon home of 23-year old Lucas Vitalis, and tying up his mother.  The man was found dead of a gunshot wound.  Prosecutors accused Patel of setting up a fake drug deal in an attempt to get money to pay an attorney who was representing him on drug charges. 

 

Patel could face a total of 200 years in prison when he is sentenced April 15th. 

 

27-year old Hiral Patel, of Branford, and 29-year old Michael Calabrese, of Warren, are each charged with felony murder, home invasion, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm, first-degree robbery and hindering prosecution.

 

28-year old Shyam Patel of Warren was also arrested and charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.

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Kent Board of Ed won't consider arming teachers

The Kent Center School Board of Education met Thursday night, but a proposal from the Board of Selectmen was not one of the specific agenda items. 

 

The town officials voted two to one Wednesday to present information about the "FASTER Saves Lives" program to the Board of Ed.  The Newstimes reports that the Board of Ed Chairman says they will not consider the proposal to arm staff at the pre-K through 8th grade school with guns, noting that the proposal was not discussed with them before the vote.  The Board chairman continued by saying they are not in support of bringing firearms into the school, but should they wish to consider it in the future, they would fully engage the public following both the law and best practices.

 

The nonprofit program would provide trauma kits and firearms training to school personnel in the event of a hostile act or intrusion. 

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says he felt compelled to comment publicly about the situation.  Malloy said he's particularly concerned that the program would also allow anonymous volunteers to carry weapons at school. It offers 26 hours of training during a three-day class in Ohio.  He added that no school system in the state of Connecticut should be allowed to do this.  Malloy says this would put children in more danger, not less.

 

Kent is patrolled by a Resident State Trooper.

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Two Heritage Village units destroyed by fire

A fire in Southbury has destroyed two units at Heritage Village.  Firefighters responded to Cedar Circle around 4:30 Friday morning for the two-alarm blaze at the senior community.  Emergency responders saw flames coming from the roof of a duplex.  There were no reported injuries.  Mutual aid from Oxford, Roxbury, Sandy Hook and Middlebury was provided.  The American Red Cross is providing assistance to the displaced residents.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Bernie Meehan, Facebook)

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Fire extinguished on Locust Ave. in Danbury

There was a two-alarm fire on Locust Avenue in Danbury.  The fire was reported around 2:40pm Friday and brought under control by 3:15pm.  One person was home at the time and reportedly able to get out of the house as firefighters arrived. 

 

Assistant Chief Mark Omasta says crews found fire in the basement of 42 Locust Avenue.  The flames extended up to the attic through the walls, causing extensive damage.

 

There were no reported injuries.  The American Red Cross is evaluating the needs for assistance to three occupants who have temporarily been displaced.  

 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department Engine 3 provided mutual aid.

 

 

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Carmel man arrested for choking woman during domestic dispute

A Carmel man has been arrested on a number of charges following a domestic dispute.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office responded to a physical fight at a Carmel home early last Sunday morning.  A woman reported that her boyfriend choked, punched and pulled her hair.  The claims were substantiated. 

 

A deputy further determined that the man, 53-year old Emile Latuheru, was in possession of cocaine and marijuana.  He was charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, assault, criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana. 

 

Latuheru was held for arraignment.

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Brookfield man found with cocaine gets DWI for NY crash

A Brookfield man has been arrested in New York for drunk driving and a felony drug charge.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office responded to a car accident just after midnight Wednesday in which a car hit a utility pole on Route 6 in the town of Southeast. 

 

Deputies determined that the driver, 44-year old Douglas Robinson of Brookfield was intoxicated, and was in possession of cocaine.  Robinson was charged with misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated and felony possession of a controlled substance. 

 

He was evaluated by emergency responders, but refused medical treatment.  Robinson was arraigned and ordered held on bond for a court appearance March 3rd.

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Conn. governor critical of town considering arming teachers

KENT, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut town is considering a program that trains teachers to use guns in the event of an active shooter, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has come down hard on the idea.

 

Kent selectmen voted 2-1 on Wednesday to present information about the "FASTER Saves Lives" program to the Board of Education. The board will ultimately decide whether to implement the program at the pre-K through eighth-grade Kent Center School.

 

The nonprofit Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response program would provide trauma kits and firearms training to school personnel in the event of a hostile act or intrusion.

 

In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Malloy said he's particularly concerned that the program would also allow anonymous volunteers to carry weapons at school. It offers 26 hours of training during a three-day class in Ohio.

 

"If any board of education would approve this, I'd be shocked, frightened and disappointed," said Malloy, who said he felt compelled to comment publicly about the situation. "It makes no sense. And no school system in the state of Connecticut should be allowed to do this."

 

Selectman Jeffrey Parkin first presented the program to town officials in January.

 

He told the Danbury News Times on Thursday that reaction to the proposal has "gotten out of hand."

 

"It's being suggested that teachers would be walking around the school visibly packing guns," he said. "If Kent went into this program, the gun or guns would be concealed. It would be up the Board of Education how the gun would be kept, possibly in a safe with access for trained staff."

 

Malloy said if school districts want properly trained security, such as former police officers, it's their decision to make.

 

"The idea that we're going to have a volunteer receive 26 hours of training or teachers and principals receive 26 hours of training, that's just unacceptable," Malloy said. "It puts children in more danger, not less."

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Two Carmel men arrested for home burglary

Two New York men have been arrested for stealing items from a residence in Carmel.  Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies were called to a house last month by a man who said several items had been stolen from his parent's Carmel home while they were away. 

 

An investigation led to 24-year old Danny Groissl and 26-year old Joseph Braun.  The Carmel men were each charged on January 30th with two counts of felony burglary. 

 

Search warrants were carried out at the house the pair share and a number of items reported stolen were recovered.  Additional items linked to a separate burglary case under investigation by the Carmel Police Department were also recovered.  Groissl and Braun were arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on $100,000 bond for a future court appearance. 

 

There was also an active warrant for Groissl's arrest from Carmel Justice Court on a Grand Larceny charge.

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Teen cited for fight at Dunkin Donuts

A teenager has been arrested in Danbury for a fight at Dunkin Donuts.  Danbury Police were called to the Dunkin Donuts location on Lake Avenue Tuesday afternoon on a report of a disturbance.  When officers arrived, they determined that there was a fight between three juvenile males.  One youth was arrested and issued a juvenile summons for conspiracy to commit assault.  The names of those involved in the fight were not released because of age.  The investigation is ongoing.

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Newtown woman attends 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast

The annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, an annual nondenominational gathering, has been held.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty  was joined Thursday by Eman Beshtawii, the Director of Community Services and Outreach Programs at an Islamic Center in Newtown.

 

 

The 64th Annual National Prayer Breakfast brought together over 3,200 people of faith from all 50 states and over 140 countries.

 

Esty first met Beshtawii at an interfaith ceremony in December at a vigil honoring the victims of Sandy Hook.  She approached Esty with concerns she and her family face as Muslim-Americans following an increase in religiously and racially charged comments and actions.  Esty says it's all sparked by fear and misinformation.

 

Beshtawii said she accepted the invitation to highlight all of the good that has come to the Muslim community at the Hedaya Center.   One of their goals is building bridges and relationships with the people of the community, region, and state.  She says much of the fear and hate in the Islamophobia that Muslim American communities experience is a result of the absence of these relationships.

 

Beshtawii has a husband and four children, and is a member of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association. She is also the co-founder of the Newtown "Peace Builder" initiative to engage the youth in the community.

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New Danbury Library Director appointed

Assistant Library Director Katie Ventura has been promoted and appointed to the role of Library Director. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says her innovative thinking, tenacity and leadership has brought many positive changes to the Danbury Library over the past two years.  Among her accomplishments are the library's adoption of new technology services.  Danbury Library now lends out digital tablets, media streaming devices and internet hotspots.  Ventura has helped with the integration of the Hackerspace and restructured the employee schedules to ensure smooth daily operations. 

 

Venture has a Master's Degree in Library Science with a certification in Children and Young Adult Services.  She is a member of the American Library Association and the Public Library Association .  She is one of only 80 people in the country who is a certified Public Library Administrator.

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Two Danbury Police Officers promoted

Danbury Police Officer Drew Carlson has been promoted to Sergeant.  Carlson joined the Department in 2004.  He has served as a member of the Danbury Police Recruiting Team and as a Field Training Officer.  He received a Meritorious Citation in 2014 and earned a number of letters of commendation.

 

Police Officer Roger Hancock has been promoted to Detective.  Hancock joined the Department in 2003.  He has served as a Bike Officer in the Community Conditions Unit since 2006.  Hancock received the Exceptional Police Service Award in 2005, a Meritorious Citation in 2006 and the Life Saving AWard in 2008 among other unit citations.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton called Carlson and Hancock highly qualified and skilled individuals.  He says they will be a tremendous asset to the Department and the City in their new roles.

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Lake Waramaug Association calls for ban on seaplane landings

A proposal to ban seaplanes from Lake Waramaug has been proposed.  The First Selectman in the Town of Washington has proposed an ordinance prohibiting seaplanes from landing on Lake Waramaug, except in emergencies. 

 

The legislation would have to be approved by the towns of Washington, Kent and Warren because the lake spans all three towns.  The Lake Waramaug Authority, which is made up of representatives from the towns, has determined that the landing of an aircraft on the lake would endanger public safety, create a public disturbance and risk contaminating the water with invasive organisms. 

 

Kent Selectman Jeffrey Parkin, who is a seaplane pilot, said during a recent Kent Board of Selectmen meeting that the ordinance is trying to regulate a problem which isn't a problem. 

 

No immediate action was taken on the measure.

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UPDATED: Danbury man critically injured in single car crash

A Danbury man who police previously said was killed in a single car crash last night remains on life support. 

 

Danbury Police say 26-year old Joseph E Neumuller of Danbury was travelling on Stadley Rough Road shortly before 11pm near Forty Acre Mountain Road when he drove off the right side of the road and hit a cluster of trees.  Neumuller was the only person in the car. 

 

He was transported to Danbury Hospital where he is in critical condition with life threatening injuries. 

 

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Lance Brevard of the Danbury Police Traffic Division at 203-797-2156.

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Brookfield woman claims civil rights violation in new suit about GOP party ouster

A lawsuit has been filed by a Brookfield woman alleging that her civil rights were violated when she was kicked out of the Republican party because she won't be allowed to vote in the upcoming town committee and presidential primaries. 

 

Jane Miller's suit was filed yesterday against the Brookfield Republican Registrar, the Republican Town Committee Chair and Vice Chair along with the vacancy chairman.  

 

A little used state statute allowing for people who are not in good faith party members to be ousted was levied against Miller in April.  The GOP party cited Miller's candidacy as a Democrat for a Board of Finance seat.  Miller re-registered as a Republican after she lost the election. 

 

Miller claims that two men ran on the Democratic ticket, but were able to rejoin the GOP without the same scrutiny.

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Southbury man wins $2 million in CT Lottery game

A Southbury man has won a $2 million prize from the Connecticut Lottery.  Gerald Rutledge claimed his Mega Millions prize on Monday for his winning ticket from the January 26th drawing. 

 

Connecticut Lottery officials say because Rutledge paid an extra $1 for the "Megaplier" feature on his Quick Pick ticket, the $1 million prize was automatically multiplied by two.  Rutledge bought the winning ticket at the Exit 8 Shell Station in Danbury.  The gas station owner said this is the biggest winning lotto ticket they've ever sold, and has earned the store a $2,500 check.

 

Alexander Rostocki won $50,000 in the Lucky Links with 2xPower game.  He also had a quick pick ticket.  Rostocki told lottery officials that the money will go right into the bank.  He purchased the ticket at Patty's Pantry in Southbury.

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Newtown Police continue to investigate 'sexting' crimes at high school

Newtown Police say more arrests are possible in an explicit photo distribution incident at the High School.  Three students were arrested and 20 others referred to a community-based juvenile review board last week following a several month long investigation into sexting among the students. 

 

All of the students were minors at the time of the violations and their names are not being released.  Newtown Police continue to review the sexting case with prosecutors. 

 

The investigation began in May when police were informed of students sending and receiving sexually explicit images, some of them selling the images and videos for profit. 

 

The three male students were each charged with misdemeanor obscenity, transmission/possession of child pornography by a minor and felony charges of possessing child pornography and promoting a minor in an obscene performance.  More than 50 Newtown High School students were initially investigated, some were determined not to be involved. 

 

The school also conducted an investigation and disciplined the students who used various social media platforms to save and share the images and video with students who were not the original intended recipient.

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Kent officials consider floor plans for proposed Welcome Center

Kent has closed on a property to build a Welcome Center with public restrooms.  The Board of Selectmen was presented with the proposed building, floor plan and lot placement drawing at a recent meeting. 

 

The proposal calls for an open porch with kiosk area, men's and women's restrooms and parking area.  The plan also shows an area for a coin-operated shower behind the building.  Kent is along the Appalachian Trail and officials see a need for this for hikers making a stop in the town. 

 

The plan was presented at the Annual Town Meeting held January 21st.

 

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Brookfield Residents To Help Neighbor

In Brookfield ..residents are pulling together to help a neighbor after a freak accident. Friends of Brookfield resident Jeff Moxham are trying to assist with his recovery. He was paralyzed when a garage door fell on him earlier this year. 

 

A Go Fund Me page has been created where people can contribute money to help with medical bills, rehab, recovery and other expenses. The Go Fund me page is https://www.gofundme.com/unjkqnsc.

 

Residents are also encouraged to attend a pasta dinner on Fri., Feb. 5 at Candlewood Valley Country Club, proceeds of which will benefit Moxham’s recovery. The cost to attend is $25 per person and two seatings are scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m. The event will feature a 50/50 Superbowl Pool and kids activities.

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Kent officials to consider program to arm teachers

A Connecticut town is considering a program that would arm teachers at its only school.

Kent selectmen voted 2-1 on Wednesday to present information about the ``FASTER Saves Lives'' program to the Kent Board of Education. The board will ultimately decide whether to implement the program at the pre-K through eighth-grade Kent Center School.

The nonprofit Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response program would provide trauma kits and firearms training to school personnel in the event of a hostile act or intrusion.

The program would also allow anonymous volunteers to carry weapons at school. It offers 26 hours of training during a three-day class in Ohio.

Selectman Jeffrey Parkin first presented the program to town officials in January.

 

Below is the full text of the proposal:

 

Sec. 53a-2I7b. Possession of a weapon on school grounds:

 

Class D felony, (a) A person is guilty of possession of a weapon on school grounds when, knowing that such person is not licensed or privileged to do so, such person possesses a firearm or deadly weapon, as defined in section 53a-3, (1) in or on the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or (2) at a school-sponsored activity as defined in subsection (h) of section 10-233a. 

 

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm (1) by a person for use in a program approved by school officials in or on such school property or at such school-sponsored activity, (2) by a person in accordance with an agreement entered into between school officials and such person or such person's employer, (3) by a peace officer, as defined in subdivision (9) of section 53a-3, while engaged in the performance of such peace officer's official duties, or (4) by a person while traversing such school property for the purpose ofgaining access to public or private lands open to hunting or for other lawful purposes, provided such firearm is not loaded and the entry on such school property is permitted by the local or regional board of education.

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Danbury City Council considers $25k for lobbying service

$25,000 for lobbying services in Hartford will be examined by a committee of the Danbury City Council.  The group met to vote on approval of the funding Tuesday night.  After several residents spoke out against the allocation, the City Council decided to further study the request.

 

The lobbying service is meant to give Danbury greater access to funding in the form of municipal aid as well as to grant other opportunities through state department funding.  As state revenue continues to decline, City officials say it's imperative that Danbury be well represented at the Capital.  Officials say the lobbying service will help ensure that funding levels are maintained and that service levels in Danbury remain or increase without residents incurring an additional tax burden.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the Board of Education has already appropriated $25,000 so the City will move forward with engaging the lobbying firm.  He says this same thing will be voted on in March after the ad hoc committee discusses it.

 

One resident said that if the lobbying was meant to secure more funding for the schools, that could be worth it because of the current underfunding by the state.  Another resident argued that Danbury has elected very effective lawmakers to lobby on the City's behalf.  Several funding streams were cited, including money to turn the former YMCA building downtown into a community center, money to help outfit the new Naugatuck Valley Community College building with technology and highway improvement projects at exits 5 and 6.

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Brookfield Police arrest two Danbury residents for USB bank robbery

Two Danbury residents have been arrested for robbing a Brookfield bank on Monday.  Brookfield Police say witnesses and security tape from the Federal Road branch of Union Savings Bank led to a vehicle and eventually to the suspects.  Police say 24-year old Daniel Rodrigues admitted to robbing the bank.  His live-in girlfriend, 25-year old Kelly Fournier was also arrested. 

 

 

Police say the pair were found with more than $8,000, including one or more bills with serial numbers recorded by the bank prior to the robbery.  Rodrigues was charged with larceny and robbery.  He was held for arraignment today.  Fournier was charged with larceny and released on $5,000 bond for a court appearance next Friday.

 

Danbury Police Department, members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force – Northwest Office and assets of the US Department of Homeland Security helped in the investigation.

 

The investigation is ongoing.  Brookfield Police are asking that asking anyone with information call Detective Michael Zezza at 203-775-2575.

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NY man charged with DWI, failure to have interlock device in car

A New York man has been arrested on a drunk driving charge even though he was supposed to have an ignition interlock device on his car which would have prevented him from driving.  State Police from the Brewster barracks were called to help the driver of a disabled car on Route 22 in Southeast on Sunday. 

 

An investigation revealed that 30-year old Alan Wheeler of Oswego was intoxicated. 

 

He was charged with felony DWI and failing to operate a motor vehicle with an interlock device based on a previous DWI conviction from June 2013.  He was arraigned and ordered held on bail at Putnam County Jail for a court appearance next Tuesday .

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Bethel Police investigate rash of car thefts in downtown area

The Bethel Police Department is investigating several recent incidents in which vehicles were either stolen, stolen and later returned to the area, or an attempt was made to steal a vehicle.  Police say all but one of these recent incidents happened in and around the downtown area. 

 

Several of the incidents involved unlocked vehicles that had the keys inside them.  Residents are being advised to keep their vehicles locked, and to not keep the keys in the car while they are parked or warming up.  

 

Bethel Police are also asking residents to report suspicious people or behavior immediately.

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Schaghticoke Tribal Nation forms LLC to pursue development of a new casino

The Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has created the Confluence of Rivers Tribal Business Entity LLC in order to pursue development of Connecticut's third casino.  Chief Richard Velky, of Woodbury, said in a statement that the tribe intends to issue a request for proposals to establish a casino gaming facility in a municipality. 

 

Velky says this would be a significant economic development opportunity, and would also increase revenue gained by the state.

 

The Secretary of the State's office has been notified that the Derby-based business entity is seeking to pursue development of a commercial casino.  Secretary Denise Merrill says the plan does not comply with Special Act 15-7, as documented.  She says the application meets the standard to become an LLC, but not the tough requirements of the Special Act to open a new casino gaming facility.  Proposals would have to go through the Department of Consumer Protection.  The Act was approved by the legislature to compete with a planned casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.

 

While the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is recognized by the state, it does not have federal recognition.  Recognition approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2004 was reversed after members of the Congressional delegation and state officials decried the decision to grant sovereignty.  New rules by the BIA last year ban previously denied tribes to reapply for recognition.

 

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Tribuna editor seeks GOP nomination for 110th District State House seat

Emanuela Palmares announced she is seeking the Republican nomination for State Representative of Danbury’s 110th District. The election will be in November. Palmares, a long time Danbury resident and proud mother, is the editor of the Tribuna Newspaper. She is a Commissioner on the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission which advises the Governor and the State Legislature, a council member on Danbury’s Aging in Place Council, and serves as a member of the Danbury Hospital Board of Directors.

 

Democrat Bob Godfrey, a Deputy House Speaker, has represented the district for 24 years.

 

Palmares says she wants to be an independent voice in Hartford, as someone who reflects the diversity and everyday struggles of Danbury residents.   She said she was inspired to go into public service by watching her parents work three jobs and eventually start their own business. 

 

The Latinos United for Professional Advancement named Palmares as of the organization's 50 Most Influential Latinos in Connecticut in 2015.  In 2010, she made the Fairfield County Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list.

 

Palmares is officially kicking off her campaign on Friday at 5:30pm  at Two Steps Downtown Grille.

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Danbury Fire Department gets $9,000 anonymous donation for drone

An anonymous donor is giving $9,000 to the Danbury Fire Department for a new tool to help them rescue people in fires.  The donation is for a drone project.  The donor asked to remain anonymous, and was made in memory of the late Michael Kallas.  Fire Chief TJ Wiedl said they are very appreciative and have privately thanked the donor. 

 

The drone will be able to carry a thermal imaging camera. 

 

Kallas passed away in June.  He had served as President of the Lions Club, and during that tenure in 2012 the Lions raised funds to replace a broken thermal image camera for the Danbury Fire Department.

 

Wiedl says drones have a myriad of uses, with the ability to provide live aerial feeds of fires or large scale incidents.  They also help firefighters with pre-planning information and aid in the search for lost persons in rugged terrain. 

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Labor, equipment donated to finish Danbury Fire Training School

A big donation has been made to the Danbury Fire Department to help finish the renovations at the fire training school.  More than $7,000 has been donated to the Danbury Fire Department for labor and equipment to install pipe and two manholes at the fire training facility off Plumtrees Road. 

 

The donation was made by Kenosia Development LLC. 

 

Fire Chief TJ Wiedl says the donation will help the Fire Department with the development of the property.  Ground was broken in August and construction is expected to wrap up soon. 

 

There will be two classrooms, a computer room, conference room and offices in the new facility.  While no equipment will be housed at the site, there will be two bays--one for a fire engine and one for a tanker truck.

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Danbury woman seeks to unseat 12-term incumbent State Representative

The Republican nomination for Danbury's 110th District State House seat is being sought by a political newcomer.  Emanuela Palmares is seeking to challenge Democrat Bob Godfrey, a Deputy House Speaker who has represented the district for 24 years. 

 

Palmares is the editor of the Tribuna Newspaper. She is a Commissioner on the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission which advises the Governor and the State Legislature, a council member on Danbury’s Aging in Place Council, and serves as a member of the Danbury Hospital Board of Directors.

 

Palmares says she wants to be an independent voice in Hartford, as someone who reflects the diversity and everyday struggles of Danbury residents.   She said she was inspired to go into public service by watching her parents work three jobs and eventually start their own business. 

 

The Latinos United for Professional Advancement named Palmares as of the organization's 50 Most Influential Latinos in Connecticut in 2015.  In 2010, she made the Fairfield County Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list.

 

Palmares is officially kicking off her campaign on Friday at 5:30pm  at Two Steps Downtown Grille.

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NY State Police respond to rash of thefts from cars

New York State Police from the Brewster barracks continue to investigate an increased amount of stolen vehicle complaints and valuables stolen from vehicles.  These crimes are occurring in residential neighborhoods.  Police say some of the crimes have occurred because the keys were left in the cars or the cars were unlocked.  New York State Police are reminding residents to lock their cars and not store valuable property within their cars.  This comes on the heels of news from Newtown Police that there were three car break ins yesterday and one car theft.

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Easton teen charged after breaking into home, threatening teen

An Easton teen is facing a number of charges for allegedly breaking into a high school student's home in an attempt to collect a drug debt.  Redding Police say the 15-year old, who was not named because of age, forced his way into a house with seven other teenagers on Friday. 

 

The victim called 911 and dispatchers heard threats being made against the victim.  Redding Polcie say it's believed that the Easton teen was trying to get more than $400 from the victim.  No drugs were found at the house. 

 

Three of the teens on scene ran when officers arrived, but were apprehended.  The 15-year old was charged with burglary, home invasion and threatening.  None of the other teens have been charged.

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Danbury woman arrested for following, assaulting another driver

A Bethel woman has been arrested for assaulting and harassing a woman in Danbury.  Police say a woman drove to the police station after she was sitting at a traffic light and 45-year old Traci Jones banged on her car window. 

 

The woman told police that Jones kept following her, and yelled at her at each stop light.  The woman said Jones punched her and pulled her hair at one point.  While in the Danbury Police station lobby, Jones allegeldy continued to yell at the victim because she was upset that the victim talked to her husband. 

 

Jones was charged with assault, breach of peace, driving with intent to harass and stalking.  She was released on bond for a court appearance next Tuesday.

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Missing Easton boy found safe

A missing Easton boy has been found safe.  Police say the 12-year old was dropped off by his school bus Friday and the driver saw the boy walk up his driveway.  But the student was reported missing shortly afterward. 

 

A search by Easton Police, the Volunteer Fire Department and surrounding towns was carried out with the help of thermal imaging cameras.  The Easton Courier reports that footprints were seen in the snow, and broken ice in the Aspetcuk River, though the footprints continued beyond there.  The boy was found three hours after being reported missing. 

 

He was treated for mild hypothermia and a sprained ankle. 

 

Police say the boy told officers he was afraid his parents would be mad because the school called them that day.

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Metro North Danbury Branch ridership soars in 2015

Ridership on the Metro North New Haven line for last year surpassed 40.3 million passenger trips.  That's up two percent from the prior year.  Metro North says it also sets an all-time record, making it the busiest commuter rail line in America.  Non-commuting discretionary ridership was up 2.9 percent over last year.  The Danbury branch had significant ridership growth of 9.4 percent.  The New Haven Line is owned by the State and is operated by Metro-North under contract to the state Department of Transportation.

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Greater Danbury municipalities to receive state road aid funding

$30 million in Town Aid Road funding has been released by the state for municipalities.  This is the second installment of Aid funding.  An additional $68.9 million has also been approved to cover the costs associated with resurfacing state roadways this year.  This year, it is anticipated that at least 250 two-lane miles of roads throughout the state will be repaved. 

 

Several Greater Danbury area towns are receiving funding. 

 

Under the Town Aid Road program, municipalities can use the funding for a variety of purposes, including construction or maintenance of highways and bridges, snow removal, the trimming and removal of trees, the installation of traffic signs and signals, and for providing and operating essential public transportation services and related facilities.

 

The breakdown of the Town Aid Road grants includes:

 

Bethel $319,351.99

 

Bethlehem $214,612.16

 

Brookfield $304,309.32

 

Danbury $861,734.86

 

Easton $227,879.45

 

Monroe $352,168.36

 

New Fairfield  $276,641.12

 

New Milford $559,549.53

 

Newtown $469,996.05

 

Redding $269,265.41

 

Ridgefield $379,235.74

 

Sherman $205,240.25

 

Southbury $377,898.06

 

Weston $251,636.23

 

Wilton $315,938.04

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John Adams exhibit at CH Booth library extended

Artifacts belonging to two Presidents will be on display in Newtown longer than originally announced due to the large interest in the exhibit.  CH Booth Library and the Newtown Historical Society say the Adams exhibition will remain on display the rest of this week.  The 20 or so items belonged to President John Adams, his wife Abigail, John Quincy Adams and a descendant, John Quincy Adams Johnson, who lived in Redding for a time. 

 

The objects include personal jewelry, including a bracelet woven from the hair of John Adams, signet rings that would have been used to seal state papers as well as personal correspondence, an inaugural medal, and gifts given to John Quincy Adams. 

 

The exhibit is located to the side of the main circulation desk and can be visited any time during library hours.  The display was made possible in part by a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council.

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Danbury considers $50k for statue honoring City's hatting history

The Danbury City Council is set to take up a $50,000 allocation for a monument honoring Danbury's hatting past, now that a location has been determined.  As part of an upcoming street scaping project around City Hall, the statue could be worked into the landscaping design.  Plans call for some tree on Deer Hill Avenue to be taken down, which could make way for the monument. 

 

A small-scale statue shows a hatter and his tools.   The sculpture may have hats on the side of the structure, with names of those who donate large sums.  The price tag is estimated at between $125,000 and $140,000.  A local bank has promised a $50,000 donation, if Danbury offers a dollar for dollar match.  The Hat City Committee will fundraise to make up the balance.  The committee hopes to have this in place by mid to late July.

 

City Center officials say this would tie into the "Museum in the Streets" and walk celebrating the history and cultural arts of Danbury.  There are 33 panels describing Danbury's history along Deer Hill Avenue, down Wooster Street and along Main Street.

 

Hat City Danbury Day takes place the first week in December. 

 

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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Monroe state Rep. files paperwork for reelection bid

State Representative J.P. Sredzinski has filed the necessary paperwork with to run for re-election in the 112th district of Monroe and a portion of Newtown. 

 

Sredzinski currently serves on the General Assembly's Public Safety & Security, Commerce, and Internship Committees.  He is also a founding member of the Young Legislators Caucus, a bipartisan group of Representatives and Senators under forty years of age.

 

Among the accomplishments he touts from his first term is office is helping to secure a $500,000 grant from the State for the Monroe Volunteer EMS to use toward a new facility and co-sponsoring a bill which makes the development of Emergency Operation Plans less burdensome to municipalities.

 

One of his top priorities if reelected is to fix the state's lagging economy.  He also wants to see budget problems addressed in the long term by advancing policies which would make Connecticut more attractive for job creators.

 

Sredzinski is a 13 year resident of Monroe whose past community service includes the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, the Connecticut EMS Advisory Board, Monroe Little League and more.  He also served as an elected Town Councilmember from 2005 until his election to the General Assembly in 2014.  He concurrently serves as the Chairman of the Monroe Police Department Renovation Committee whose work is near completion.   Sredzinski works full time for the Town of Stratford as a 911 Dispatch Supervisor.

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Brookfield Police search for bank robbery suspect

A Union Savings Bank branch in Brookfield was robbed Monday afternoon.  Brookfield Police say the robbery happened at 828 Federal Road shortly after 4pm.  The suspect is described as a white male, about 5-foot-10.  He was wearing a black pull-over style hooded sweatshirt, black knit cap, black sunglasses and a pulled-up black neck gaiter.  The man was also carrying a black backpack.

 

The suspect demanded money from the teller drawers.  The man did not display a weapon or claim to be armed, but told tellers not to call police or they would be harmed.

 

 

Witnesses told Brookfield Police that the man entered the bank with his face already covered.

 

The suspect fled the bank on foot, through the parking lot toward Brookfield Lanes.  A Danbury Police K9 Unit responded to help Brookfield in tracking the suspect, but the trackers were lost in the parking lots.

 

 

Anyone who was in the Four Corners area around 4pm and might have seen anyone matching the description acting in a suspicious manner is asked to contact Brookfield Police Detective Michael Zezza at 203-775-2575.

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Newtown Police respond to rash of car break ins Monday

Newtown Police are reminding residents to lock their cars after a series of break ins Monday morning. 

 

Newtown Police were called to Swamp Road around 4am yesterday on a report of suspicious activity.  A resident, awoken by their barking dog, chased two young men from their driveway.  The suspects had gone into the resident's car and then got into their own vehicle and took off toward Route 25. 

 

Two other calls came in from people on Swamp Road about their cars being entered, and items missing.  Around 8am, Newtown Police responded to Button Shop Road for a report of a stolen Hyundai Elantra.  The keys to the resident's other car were also taken. 

 

The department is continuing an investigation into these thefts.

 

With the recent rash of larcenies from motor vehicles, the Newtown Police Department is reminding all residents within the town to take the following safeguards to protect themselves and their property from being a victim of these types of crimes.

 

Lock Your Vehicle. Of course, locked doors don't do much good if you leave the windows down, so roll up all windows.

 

Remove ALL Valuables from Your Vehicle.  If you have to leave items in the car, put them out of sight and in the trunk.  Always take personal items into your home when you park for the evening. Never leave anything visible in your car especially electronic items such as a GPS units, music players or laptop computers.

 

Park in a well-lit area.  Motion activated lights are a great deterrent to thief’s and should be installed in your driveway.

 

Avoid parking on the street if possible.  This will help to reduce the opportunity for thieves to access your vehicle.

 

Report ALL Suspicious Activity. If you see a crime in progress or something suspicious, call the Newtown Police Department immediately at 203-426-5841. Try and take notes such as clothing descriptions, vehicle make/color/license plate and direction of travel. Give all this information to the police officer answering the call. In the case of an emergency please call 911.

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3 teens arrested for having pot in car at Wilton High School

Three teenagers have been arrested following a basketball game last week between rivals Wilton and Ridgefield.  A Police Officer at Wilton High School for the event saw a car being driven recklessly in the parking lot, with the passengers yelling profanities out the window. 

 

Wilton Police say the officer could smell burnt marijuana coming from the car. 

 

18-year old Ryan Pratley of Ridgefield was charged with criminal trespass.  18-year old Rex Schwartz of Ridgefield was charged with criminal trespass and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. 

 

A 17-year old in the car, who was not identified because of age, was charged with possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school.

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Facebook being praised for ban on private gun sales via website

Connecticut's two U.S. Senators are praising Facebook for banning the private sale of firearms on their social networking sites.  Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal say Facebook is taking a powerful stand against gun violence, and will make communities safer by making sure only law-abiding citizens can get their hands on guns.  They are calling on other sites and social media to follow this example because the fight against gun violence is not something that any one person or organization can take on alone.  The Senators also touted Facebook's decision last year to no longer allow posts that have a clear intent to evade the law.

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Newtown girl injured in Mohawk Mt. ski accident

A Newtown girl was injured when she hit a tree while skiing at Mohawk Mountain this weekend.  Police say the accident happened around 2pm Saturday at the ski area in Cornwall.  The 11 year old was transported to Sharon Hospital and later airlifted via Lifestar helicopter to Hartford Hospital.  The Newtown girl sustained a concussion and broken collar bone.  She was treated and released from Hartford Hospital some time later.

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Danbury FCI inmates upset over Real Housewife's claims in tell all book

One of Danbury Federal Correctional Facility's most recent famous former inmate is being called a snitch because of a tell-all book coming out next week.  Teresa Giudice's "Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again" is causing the stir. 

 

Page Six reports that some inmates are upset over claims that the Real Housewife of New Jersey heard her cellmates engaging in sexual acts.  Excerpts from the book have Giudice calling her cell the "Boom Boom Room".  One of her excerpts also said that a number of inmates "went gay for the stay" while at Danbury FCI. 

 

It seems a case of life imitating art, with another former Danbury FCI inmate making similar claims.  "Orange is the New Black" author Piper Kerman's memoir was turned into a hit show on Netflix.

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Newtown school covers Sandy Hook mural that upset students

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A mural inside Newtown High School that paid tribute to victims of the Sandy Hook shooting rampage was created as a form of art therapy.

 

But within two years, the administration became worried that despite its intentions, the painting of a dreamcatcher was upsetting some students. To address those concerns, painter Lindsay Fuori at the start of this school year colored over the words "In loving memory" and "12-14-12," a reference to the date of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at the elementary school.

 

Then in October, the Newtown superintendent had her 10-foot-by-15-foot mural covered with plasterboard.

 

The decision led to an online student petition rallying support for uncovering the painting, sparked debate on how to acknowledge the tragedy and provided a glimpse of the challenges facing administrators in a school system that remains in recovery three years after the shooting.

 

Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. wrote in a note to families that he knew covering the mural would be controversial, but he had to act.

 

"During the first quarter of the present school year, ongoing student recovery, through the lens of the learner and multiple families, remained problematic at a heightened level because of the mural," Erardi wrote Nov. 20.

 

Fuori, now a student at Boston University, said the blank, white wall that now greets students at the top of a stairwell might cause more problems than the painting.

 

"A lot of students feel like they're being told to forget, and that's not a healthy feeling, either," she said in an interview. "It's a very difficult situation, but I don't think this is the solution."

 

Fuori, 19, painted the mural in late 2013 as part of a senior-year project at Newtown High School that also included research on the uses of art therapy and the creation of a guide to local therapy resources. The mural depicts 26 green beads, footprints and clouds along with the dreamcatcher, a theme she thought fitting because intrusive dreams and memories are common effects of post-traumatic stress.

 

The leadership of the high school and the school district changed after project was completed, and Fuori said she understood that Erardi in 2014 committed to removing all references to the tragedy from Newtown schools. Fuori thought the painting would be allowed to stay after she covered up the elements that administrators described as triggers for some students. Despite the compromise, she learned weeks later from a friend that the mural had been covered.

 

"There will always be reminders of the tragedy, but there won't always be people around who care or understand," Fuori said. "Now is the time to address any distressing emotions, so when students move on to work or college after graduation and find themselves overwhelmed by feelings, they know how to cope."

 

Fuori said she rejected an offer last month to paint a new mural that would be subject to the administration's approval.

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