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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-03

GE Wants US To Drop "Tag"

NEW YORK (AP) General Electric is asking the U.S. to drop the ``too big to fail'' tag for GE Capital. The company has shed billions in financial assets as it returns to its industrial roots.

 

GE Capital was labeled as ``systemically important'' by the Financial Stability Oversight Council following the financial collapse of 2008, when a number of financial institutions were deemed to be so big and entwined with the U.S. financial system that they could threaten the entire economy if they failed. General Electric said Thursday that its capital unit is much smaller and that it no longer requires such burdensome oversight. The request comes a day after MetLife, the largest U.S. insurance company, had the same designation tossed out by a federal judge.

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Redding Teen Arrested On Child Pornography Charges

A 14-year old Redding male has been charged with possession of child pornography, obscenity, and harassment, after sharing a photo of another Redding student.

Redding Police Chief Doug Fuchs said he wouldn’t discuss the details of the photo, but said the charges imply the nature of it. He said it wasn’t taken on school grounds. Police found the teenager in possession of the photo, which Fuchs said was shared on the Internet. The teenager was arrested and released into the custody of his parents.

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Ridgefield School Budget Request Criticized

In Ridgefield ..a larger-than-normal increase in proposed school spending has residents and town officials more sharply divided over the proposed budget than in recent years.

 

At this week’s Board of Finance public hearing on the budget, member Marty Heiser said nearly half of the 17 residents who spoke opposed the school budget — a big change from recent years when the annual proposals drew widespread support.

 

A larger-than-normal increase in proposed school spending has residents and town officials more sharply divided over the proposed budget than in recent years. Others say the 5.72 percent increase will require a burdensome tax increase, particularly since the Board of Selectmen is seeking over 2.percent more than last year.

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Danbury Nanny Offered Plea Deal

The Danbury Nanny accused of repeatedly abusing three children was offered a plea deal yesterday and given six weeks to accept or reject it. The plea deal has not been made public .

 

32 year old Lidia Quilligana has been held on $1 million bond since her arrest last year at this time..she has until May 4 to decide. The nanny was arrested a year ago this week after police said she was caught on video beating and burning a 3-year-old girl she was supposed to caring for.

 

After reviewing two weeks’ worth of Nanny cam video from the family’s home security system, authorities said Quilligana had repeatedly abused the 3-year-old and her 1-year-old twin siblings. Prosecutors said in past hearings that Quilligana at one point sprayed a liquid substance, possibly nail polish remover, inside the older child’s mouth and ripped hair out of the children’s heads.//// The nanny, who gave birth in December, has been charged with 23 counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of first-degree assault, all felonies. She has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

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2nd Person Dies After Bethel Shootings

BETHEL, Conn. (AP) Authorities say a second person has died in a triple shooting inside a Bethel home last week. Police received a 911 call from the home Friday afternoon but the caller quickly hung up.

Responding officers found 76-year-old Charles Cristofalo dead inside the Bethel home. Sixty-eight-year-old Ann Cristofalo and 56-year-old Thai Pham were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Police say Pham died of his injuries the following day.

Police have called the shooting an apparent murder-suicide attempt. The News-Times reports that it's unclear what led to the shooting. Court documents show that Cristofalo had filed a lawsuit last summer to evict Pham. The documents say Cristofalo later agreed to let Pham stay until March 25. Police say they're still investigating who fired the shots.

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Investigation Continues Into Bethel Shootings

The investigation continues into a fatal shooting that rocked a quiet Bethel neighborhood March 25th. 76 year old Charles Cristofalo was the man killed in Friday afternoon’s shooting at 11 Governors Lane.

56 year old Thai Pham and 68 year old Ahn Cristofalo, Charles Cristofalo’s wife, were also shot and injured at the home. Pham was listed in critical condition at Danbury Hospital late Saturday afternoon. Ahn Cristofalo’s condition was unavailable..but she was expected to survive at last report.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said the evidence that they have is that it was a purely domestic dispute that became violent. A search warrant was obtained by Bethel Detectives to search the residence for evidence of criminal activity. Due to the fact that the warrant was granted and sealed by a Judge, no information about what was discovered, motives, or otherwise can be released until after 14 days from the conclusion of the search.

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The Red Cross Helping Nearly 40 People Left Homeless in Danbury

The American Red Cross is helping some eighteen Danbury families, including 30 adults and four children, after a fire Sunday on the top floor of a four-story building at 111 Main St.

 

Flames on the top of the building were quickly extinguished yesterday afternoon when the fire broke out in two of the apartments located at the front of the building. There are businesses on the first floor and about 24 apartments on the other three floors.

 

Calls came into dispatch around 2:30 that there might be children trapped on the fourth floor but no one was inside when fire fighters searched the building. Danbury Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta said no one was injured. The cause is still under investigation. Seven volunteer crews joined Danbury’s four engine companies, 46 firefighters in all . Another smaller fire was reported down the road at the same time, caused by food on the stove on the fourth floor of Danbury Commons . There were no injuries.

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City Council considers leasing former WIC building to Friends of Danbury Library

A committee of the Danbury City Council is looking into a lease agreement with the Friends of the Danbury Library.  The group wants to use the first floor of a building on Main Street for their services and operations.  The building at 13 Main Street used to house the WIC program.  Friends co-president Karen Chambrovich said during the committee meeting earlier this month that the main use would be for book collections for their annual book sale. 

 

It would be a 10-year agreement, with the Friends of the Danbury Library paying the City $1.  Two 5 years option extensions would be offered at $1 each. 

 

The ad hoc committee delayed making a decision until they have more information from the Public Buildings Department about the annual utility costs.  They also want to wait for a decision on whether the City will pay for utilities or if the Friends group will be paying.

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Danbury fire truck to be refurbished to save on cost of purchasing new ladder truck

The Danbury Fire Department has three ladder trucks.  A 2000 engine known as Truck 2, a 2004 truck which is the main apparatus, and a 2014 ladder truck.  Truck 2 is the back up to the main truck and will be refurbished in an effort to save the City money from having to buy a completely new fire truck.  The '04 got the bulk of the use and is now beyond it's wear point and needs to be replaced.  The 2014 truck is running full time and the '04 will be back up. 

 

Cavo says Danbury residents will not notice a difference in fire coverage while the 2000 is out being refurbished.  It will be seven to nine months before the refurbished truck is put back in service.

 

Once the truck comes back to Danbury, the '04 will be listed as surplus equipment and sold.  Cavo says they do have some value at the end of the City's use.  Other departments will take pieces from the truck while others might completely refurbish the truck for three-quarters of the price of a new truck

 

Apparatus Supervisor Joe Cavo says the equipment bought in 2014 cost $1.2 million, but due to inflation a 2016 ladder truck costs $1.4 million.  The option to refurbish the 2000 ladder truck will cost a fraction of that at $350,000.

 

The $350,000 will be covered by funding in the current fiscal year's budget which was earmarked for this use, coupled with some money from the coming fiscal year's budget.

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League of Women Voters reorganizes in northern Fairfield County

The League of Women Voters has reorganized in the Greater Danbury area and the chapter is now known as Northern Fairfield County. 

 

The League will be hosting an informal meet and greet on Wednesday night at the Danbury Museum and Historical Society on Main Street.  The group would like to attract a more diverse membership.  The League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County is open to residents from Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Sherman. 

 

A local candidates guide and debate in the fall are planned for the state and federal elections.  They will be hosting a presentation in May by local lawmakers about the current General Assembly session. 

 

The informal gathering is Wednesday from 5:30 to 7pm.

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Danbury Fire Department responds to Main St. apartment blaze Easter Sunday

The Danbury Fire Department was dispatched to 111 Main Street at 2:25 pm Sunday. Initial reports were that people were trapped on the fourth floor. Upon arrival, first in units found smoke and fire showing on the fourth floor of the four story brick and wood building which contains 24 apartments on floors 2 through 4. 

Incident Command upgraded the response to a Third Alarm.  A search found all occupants were out of the building.

The fire was quickly extinguished and contained to two apartments on the fourth floor.  Eversource cut the electrical power to the entire building.  

Red Cross responded to assist in finding temporary housing for those in need.

No injuries were reported to civilians or the 46 firefighters on scene. Fire Departments from Ridgefield and New Fairfield helped cover the rest of the city along with the Danbury Volunteer firefighters not at the fire scene.

The cause of the Fire is currently under investigation by the Danbury Fire Department’s Marshall’s Division.

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State approval sought for Danbury's beefed up noise ordinance

Danbury's new, enhanced noise ordinance will have to be signed off on by the state, because the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has some cross-over regulations.  Danbury Corporation Counsel Les Pinter told the City Council at their meeting that the state may question the automobile part, because they regulate certain loud noises from cars. 

 

State statute is silent on non-muffler and other non-vehicle noises like music eminating from a car. 

 

Pinter state the state may want more detail about the so-called "plainly audible standard" for enforcement.  The standard is objective, specific and easily understandable--and carried out by a trained official police or noise control officer.

 

Police Chief Al Baker told the City Council that the entire Police Department would be trained on "plainly audible standards".  The Department, working with the City's attorney will come up with a curriculum and they will do the training in house, during a roll call type of situation.

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Monroe woman testifies in support of music, art therapy bill

A bill co-sponsored by Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky has made it through the committee process and awaits action by the General Assembly.  An Act Concerning Music and Art Therapy defines both music an art therapy, as well as music and art therapists. 

 

Bolinsky says this came to his attention by several constituents who are Licensed Creative Arts Therapists, an as yet unrecognized practice in Connecticut. Bolinsky said by licensing these professions, it will open up new possibilities for a population of people that can't be reached in traditional ways.  There is a fee associated with obtaining a license.

 

Connecticut Music Therapy Task Force chair Jennifer Sokira, of Monroe, testified in support of the bill.  She also is a staff music therapist for the Resiliency Center of Newtown.  The Center is working with many children and families impacted by 12-14.

 

Sokira says music therapy grew as a profession when music was found helpful after WWII for veterans returning home with shell shock, now known as PTSD.  She noted that music therapy programs this month were expanded at Walter Reed Medical Center.

 

She says this form of therapy can help people's brain health and assist with developmental, medical or behavioral needs.

 

Sokira says licensing will add a layer of consumer protection for clients.

 

There are 90 practicing board certified music therapists in Connecticut, and 130 board certified art therapists.

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One dead, two injured in shooting at Bethel home

A fatal shooting in Bethel is being investigated.  Police responded to Governors Lane this shortly after 3pm Friday afternoon following a 911 hang up call.  Police found one person dead and two people injured. 

 

Police say a woman is expected to survive her injuries, it's unclear the extent of the injuries to the other person wounded in the shooting. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it appears to be a domestic disturbance.  There were no children home at the time.  The two victims were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Knickerbocker says it's not known yet who the shooter was. 

 

A gun was recovered from the home at 11 Governors Lane.  State Police Western District Major Crime Squad is also investigating.

 

Danbury Hospital is on lockdown because of the incident. 

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Waterbury man caught in Danbury with heroin, crack cocaine packaged for sale

A Waterbury man who was on parole has been arrested for selling drugs in Danbury.  A search and seizure warrant was issued to Danbury Police as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal drug sales by 32-year old Aairon Thompson. 

 

Around 5:30 Thursday night, police carried out the warrant on Thompson after his car was spotted on Wildman Street.  Crack cocaine and heroin, both packaged for sale, as well as several hundred dollars in cash were seized from inside Thompson's car. 

 

Thompson was charged with two counts each of possession of narcotics and possession with intent to sell.  He was held on $100,000 bond. 

 

Thompson was on special parole for a 2012 conviction stemming from an arrest in Danbury for possession with intent to sell.

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Bethel man seeks GOP nomination for 2nd District House seat

A Bethel man has announced his candidacy for a state House seat.  Will Duff, past chairman of the Bethel Republican Town Committee, is seeking the GOP nomination in the 2nd District.  Incumbent Dan Carter announced this week that he will not be seeking reelection to the General Assembly, instead looking to take on Richard Blumenthal in the U-S Senate race.  Duff is a former Bethel Selectman and Board of Education member.  The 2nd District includes two thirds of Bethel, nearly two fifths of Redding, and small portions of Danbury and Newtown.

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State Police Trooper injured in Kent accident

An accident in Kent yesterday has left a State Police Trooper injured.  State Police say the trooper was headed southbound on Route 7 around 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon when his cruiser left the roadway and struck a tree.  Route 7 was closed in the area of Route 341 as a result of the single-car accident.  41-year old Anthony Perrone of Troop L in Litchfield was transported to Danbury Hospital with a leg injury.  The police cruiser was towed from the crash site.  The accident remains under investigation.

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Danbury man partially ejected from car during single-vehicle crash

A man was partially ejected from his car during a single vehicle accident early Friday morning in Danbury.  Police received a call for a serious motor vehicle collision on Division Street at George Street. 

 

Danbury Police determined that Edwin Cabrera-Prieto of Danbury was driving a Mercedes northbound when he lost control and struck a tree.  The impact caused significant front end damage.  Cabrera-Prieto was extricated from the car and transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries. 

 

Anyone who witnessed the crash, shortly after 1am Friday, is asked to contact the Danbury Police Traffic Division at 203-797-2157.

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Local lawmaker discusses 'UConn Transparency' Bill

A compromise bill has been sent to the state Senate which would increase transparency at the UConn Foundation, the nonprofit that serves as the university's fundraising arm.  Kent state Representative Roberta Willis says the foundation's records would still not be subject to Freedom of Information laws, but a new report would be provided to the legislature.

 

The annual report would have to include an audited financial statement and details about the number and average size of disbursements to the university. 

 

The bill would phase out the university's financial backing of the foundation as the endowment grows.

 

The foundation’s records would still not be subject to state Freedom of Information laws.  University and foundation officials conceded to releasing the salaries of all employees at the foundation by their positions, as well as the names of the donors who do not opt out of being included in the report.

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Danbury City Council receives update on oil contracts

The winter heating season seems to be in the past, and the price at the gas pump for drivers is still low compared to previous years.  As municipalities and the state deal with crafting budgets for the coming fiscal year, there are questions about energy savings.

 

City Councilman Duane Perkins asked about the CIty's ability to negotiate or enter into new contracts to secure competitive pricing for oil and natural gas.  Danbury already holds several contracts for the fiscal year starting in July.  Danbury locked in last fall for next fiscal year in the range of $1.70 for unleaded and diesel.  Officials said when times are good, the City reaps the benefits, and when times are bad, it's bad.  But they note, that's the risk a municipality takes when they lock in for the next year's budget.

 

Finance Director David St. Hilaire says when it comes to natural gas, Danbury follows the state.  The City has a "buy as you go" policy and doesn't lock in a price on natural gas.  He says he watches the oil market carefully for several weeks to try to catch the dip in the market, but no one anticipated the bottom falling out like it did.

 

Perkins asked if oil would get to a price point where it would be compelling enough to enter into a longer contract.  St. Hilaire said if it does, it would be a blended rate.

 

Crude oil futures prices ended lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade fell 33 cents -- closing at $39.46 a barrel.

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Metro North to make slight schedule changes

Certain morning and evening rush hour trains on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines will be adjusted beginning April 3rd.  These minor adjustments will decrease train dwell time at stations, relieve congestion, increase train speed, help prevent the cascading impact of minor delays and improve on-time performance.

 

Eight morning rush hour trains on the Harlem Line will be adjusted by 2–4 minutes.

 

Twelve morning peak hour trains on the New Haven Line will be adjusted by 1-4 minutes.  Five evening peak trains on the New Haven Line will be adjusted by 1-3 minutes.

 

More quiet cars are coming to Metro-North.  The last two cars on all weekday trains heading for Grand Central Terminal and the first two on trains out of New York City will be designated quiet cars, starting on April 4th.  Currently, rush-hour trains have one quiet car.

 

Riders are expected to keep their phones and other electronic devices muted and talk in subdued tones and keep headphones on low volume.

 

The MTA says the extra quiet cars are in response to customer suggestions.

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Brookfield Zoning Commission continues hearing on 'Renaissance' proposal

The Brookfield Zoning Commission continued the public hearing Thursday night on the proposed Renaissance Project.  Their next meeting is mid-April.  The applicant submitted an alternate plan this week reducing the number of floors in the building from six to three.  First Selectman Steve Dunn reviewed the plans and said that the alternate is a better fit along that stretch of Federal Road.
 
The original plan has not been withdrawn, and is still pending.  Attorney Christopher Smith says the alternate application is no longer an 8-30g affordable housing proposal since they have reduced the number of units in the project.
 
 
The original plan does not contain commercial space, the fire department cited safety concerns and other officials said the applicant didn’t take into account what the town has been trying to do for decades in the Four Corners area.   
 
The alternate plan calls for two three-story buildings instead of one six-story building, with commercial space on the ground level.  A pedestrian bridge would connect the two buildings.  Smith says that was done in order for residents in the second, smaller building to have access to the amenities located in the larger building.

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'Smash & Grab' robberies at Meckauer Park investigated by Bethel Police

The Bethel Police Department is investigating the theft of two purses from two different vehicles at Meckauer Park.  The suspect or suspects smashed the passenger window of each vehicle. 

 

The incidents took place shortly before 3:30pm yesterday.  A possible suspect vehicle was described as an older gray SUV with a Georgia license plate. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Burnes at 203-744-7900. 

 

Bethel Police are reminding resident to keep their vehicles locked, keep valuables out of sight, and to always report suspicious incidents to the Police Department.

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Former New Milford Police Chief passes away in Fl. at 72

A former New Milford Police Chief has passed away at the age of 72.  Gerald Olmsted died Monday at his home in Florida after a lengthy illness.  He served as New Milford Police Chief from 1984 through 1989.  Olmsted was involved with the Boy Scouts of America, attended UConn School of Law and served in the United States Marine Corps.  He also served as Police Chief in East Windsor, Connecticut and Media, Pennsylvania.

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Brookfield, Bethel Republican Town Committees elect new chairmen

The Brookfield Republican Town Committee has selected a new chairman.  A primary was held earlier this month after 49 candidates were seeking the 25 positions.  The caucus-endorsed slate came out with a slight lead resulting in a 13-12 split with the opposition. 

 

Four Corners Project manager and former Inland Wetlands Commission member Greg Dembowski was selected as Chairman of the Brookfield GOP.  He was one of the members to organize a meeting between the two sides after the caucus to try to find a way to move forward.  John Mangold, who was part of the opposition, was selected as vice chairman. 

 

The Bethel Republican Town Committee has elected a new chairman.  Bill Hillman was selected last night for the leadership role after Will Duff decided not to seek re-election to the post.  Hillman is a member of the Energy Conservation Commission.  Richard Merritt was selected as vice chairman.

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Tennessee man to plead guilty to Sandy Hook charity fraud

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Tennessee man has agreed to plead guilty to charges he stole money from the charity he created to benefit the people of Newtown, Connecticut, following the December 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Robert Bruce is scheduled to appear in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut, on May 12 for a change of plea hearing.

 

The Nashville man faces six federal wire fraud charges stemming from the alleged misuse of money from the 26.4.26 Foundation.

 

The foundation held marathons in Tennessee and New Hampshire, with athletes dedicating each mile run to one of the 26 victims - 20 children and six educators.

 

A co-founder of the charity said she notified authorities when Bruce could not account for about $73,000 of the $103,000 raised by the charity.

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Danbury's First Lady Files For Divorce Against The Mayor

The wife of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has filed for divorce.  Documents filed in Bridgeport Superior Court on Monday by Phyllis Boughton read that the parties' marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences. 

 

Mark Boughton told The Newstimes that the split has been coming for several years as they have grown apart.  He continued by saying that while they still care about each other, they have decided to end their marriage and are working on an amicable agreement. 

 

Boughton is serving his 8th term as Mayor.

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Danbury couple gets drunk, urinates in PA police parking lot

A Danbury couple has been arrested for disorderly conduct after urinating outside a Pennsylvania State Police station.  The York Daily Record reports that a Trooper went outside when he heard loud music coming from the parking lot of the barracks on Friday and found the Danbury couple dancing outside their car. 

 

Police said in a news release that the Trooper could smell alcohol when he walked over to the couple, later identified as 25-year old Rickelvin Castro-Morel and 32-year old Elizabeth Worrell of Danbury. 

 

According to the report, the couple said they were driving on Interstate-83 from Connecticut to Virginia when they decided to stop and drink, but realized they needed a bathroom.  The couple reportedly urinated in the state police parking lot, and a good song came on the radio so they turned up the music to dance. 

 

Castro-Morel and Worrell was charged with disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and open container violations.  They pleaded guilty and were released.  They will be mailed their fines.

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Man arrested for failing to register on Sex Offender Registry

A Danbury man has been arrested on an outstanding warrant for failing to register as a sex offender when he moved to Connecticut.  Danbury Police received information Wednesday that Joseph Castagnoli was in New Milford each day. 

 

The 68-year old man listed his address as 11 Spring Street, the Dorothy Day Hospitality House. 

 

The Community Conditions Unit, with the help of New Milford Police, located Castagnoli.  He was arrested and transported back to Danbury on the warrant.  Castagnoli was held on $50,000 bond.

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3 men charged in drug sale conspiracy

Three people have been arrested in Danbury as part of a drug sale investigation, with more charges pending.  Danbury Police were carrying out surveillance of a unit at the Linron Condos on Park Avenue when officers stopped the car of one of the suspects last Wednesday. 

 

27-year old Luis Cepeda Jr of Bridgeport was stopped on Backus Avenue, and police could smell marijuana.  Several pounds of marijuana were seized from the vehicle.  He was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, possession near a school and possession with intent to sell near a school. 

 

Minutes later, another car was stopped on Tamarack Avenue.  28-year old Luis Carlos Cepeda of Danbury was arrested on an outstanding warrant for Burglary.  28-year old Miguel Blanchette of Danbury was charged with possession of a narcotic and of drug paraphernalia.  Their car was seized. 

 

(Luis Cepede Jr., Miguel Blanchette)

 

A search warrant was carried out at the condo unit suspected of being the hub of their illegal activities.  Several hundred dollars, marijuana and drug paraphernalia consisted with illegal drug sales were seized. 

 

The courts later issued a search warrant for the seized vehicle.  Police found half a pound of pot, several grams of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia.  The older Cepeda and Blanchette face charges based on the findings of the search warrant. 

 

Cepeda was released to Milford Police, Blanchette was released on a written promise to appear in court and Cepeda Jr was released after posting $100,000 bond.

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Putnam County Sheriff's Department to increase counter-terrorism patrols

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is stepping up patrols this Easter weekend.  Periodic security checks of religious facilities, train stations, commuter parking lots, shopping malls and other places will be done.  The public may notice more uniformed police officers on patrol as part of the department's counter-terrorism strategy of continued vigilance.  With recent events, Sheriff Donald Smith says it's more important than ever to be aware of what's going on around you and not to become complacent.  Smith reminds residents of the old saying that "if you see something, say something."

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Danbury Police warn of IRS phone scam

The Danbury Police Department has seen an increase of victims reporting phone calls from the “IRS”. The callers say that the “IRS” has a warrant for their arrest and that if the victim pays the “IRS”, it will remove the warrant.  Danbury Police are reminding residents that the IRS will never call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.  The IRS will also never require a specific payment method.  Danbury Police say the IRS would also never threaten to bring law enforcement to have victims arrested for not paying.

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Danbury students compete in Invention Convention

Westside Middle School students in Danbury are participating in a district wide Invention Convention.  100 6th graders and 30 7th graders set up their projects yesterday in advance of district wide judging at Western Connecticut State University tomorrow.  Elementary school students are competing today for a chance to move on to the state competition.  Winners will participate in the 33rd annual Connecticut Invention Convention in April at UConn.  The Danbury students will face children from more than 130 Connecticut schools.  Students have been working for weeks to come up with ideas on how to solve problems, put them into motion and tweak them to perfection.

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Danbury man accused of sexually assaulting toddler

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year old girl.  Danbury Police launched an investigation in June into the complaint and an arrest warrant was later granted.  Police charged 34-year old Rony Ortega yesterday with two counts each of 1st degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.  He was taken into custody at his home without incident.

 

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Hiring freeze imposed for Connecticut state college system

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The leader of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has imposed a hiring freeze across all its 17 campuses.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian said Tuesday that the step is necessary because of a projected budget shortfall and other financial pressures.

Ojakian says the freeze will remain in effect for at least the remainder of the fiscal year. He says it is intended as only a short-term measure.

The system oversees four state universities, not including the University of Connecticut, as well as 12 community colleges.

The state government's budget is at least $220 million in deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

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Danbury officials get an update on high school renovations

A Danbury City Council member sought an update this month from the Public Works Director about the addition at Danbury High School.  Councilman Irving Fox, a former Board of Education member, acknowledged that the heavy part of construction would start when the school year is over, but he wanted to know about the timeline to determine usability of the area around the school.  He cited the track, the stadium and playing fields. 

 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola said there's been some discussion already about what part of the grounds will be completely off limits, but they are working to pinpoint which athletic fields and what part of the facility will be useable during construction. 

 

There is a significant amount of work planned at DHS, most notably is the Freshman Academy addition.  Two architects were selected for the work and contracts have been signed.  A Construction Manager has been interviewed.  Schematic design has started various parts of the building.  Danbury has gone out to bid for Phase 1, the roof replacement. 

 

The biggest priority is public safety, and balancing that safety with still allowing sport and other activities to occur.  Iadarola says the decision will be made collectively with the Board of Education.

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Legislative committee advances art, music therapy bill

An Act Concerning Music and Art Therapy has been forwarded by a state legislative committee for further consideration by the General Assembly. 

 

The bill defines both music an art therapy, as well as music and art therapists.  There are licensing provisions outlined in the bill, which was approved unanimously by the Public Health Committee on Monday.  The application fee would be $315.  The fee for a temporary permit will be $50. 

 

The measure was co-sponsored by Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  92 people submitted written testimony about the bill.  Dozens of people attended the public hearing in Hartford on March 7th.

 

Bolinsky says this came to his attention by several constituents who are Licensed Creative Arts Therapists, an as yet unrecognized practice in Connecticut.  One constituent is an art therapist who practices in Putnam County, where LCATs are approved and recognized.

 

He says this holistic approach to mental health is a recognized profession in many other states.  Bolinsky said by licensing these professions, it will open up new possibilities for a population of people that can't be reached in traditional ways.

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Danbury man arrested in Ridgefield for December road rage incident

Ridgefield Police have arrested a Danbury man for a road rage incident that happened in December.  Police say 46-year old Matthew Bartelme turned himself in yesterday after learning of a warrant for his arrest.  The man was wanted for the road rage incident last December where he exited his car and punched another vehicle.  The man was processed and released on 700-dollars bond.  He was charged with breach of peace and criminal mischief.  A court appearance has been set for April 7th.

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Danbury beefs up noise ordinance

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 original ordinance adopted in 1987, now some 30 years later is getting an update.

 

The plainly audible standard is objective, specific and easily understandable--and carried out by a trained official police or noise control officer.

 

City Attorney Les Pinter took on the misconception that playing music at any volume is Free Speech.  He says there's nothing in the Constitution that allows people to play music really loud noting that it's free speech when it's at a reasonable level.

 

Noise violations carry a $75 fine.  The amount hasn't been changed since the ordinance was created.  State statute allows for fines of up to $250.

 

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.

 

Councilman Tom Saadi says he's heard from some people that these proposals are an unreasonable, excessive government intrusion into people's private lives.  But he says the problem is the City has to address unreasonable excessive conduct that interferes with other people's enjoyment of their property.  Saadi says there are unwritten rules everyone must conduct themselves by and when they don't, they violate that social compact and government has to step in.

 

The proposed Neighborhood Preservation Zone ordinance includes the definition of outdoor group activity and five violations which would prompted a $250 fine.

 

The ordinance allows the City to assess back, to the violator, the cost of the enforcement.  Pinter said that doesn't appear in many laws, but because this type of enforcement is costly.  It doesn't mean that the City will use this provision, but that it could in cases where it's warranted.

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Special Town Meeting in Brookfield on $3 million bond discrepancy issue

A Special Town Meeting has been held in Brookfield about a $3.3 million bond fund discrepancy issue.  The plan calls for rebonding $1.9 million and using the Fund Balance to cover the rest of the money for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but apparently never were between 2000 and 2012.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the ratings agencies will see Brookfield has the financial backbone to protect the general fund. 

 

When news of the issue surfaced, Dunn said he got a call two days later from Moody's asking what the town's plan was to protect the General Fund.

 

If the Fund Balance isn't replenished, Dunn warned that the town could lose its AAA rating.  In another month or two the town is facing a single A rating.  A $10 million bond over 20 years would cost $570,000 more in interest alone.  Dunn says if the town's rating is lowered, it could take 5, 6, 7 years to climb back up to AA, and a few more years to get back to AAA.

 

The current Fund Balance is $5.2 million, but it will go down to $1.9 million.  Typically towns like Brookfield, with a AAA rating, will have a General Fund Balance between 10 to 15 percent of annual spending. Brookfield was at the lower end of the range to get a AAA rating.

 

In the budget proposed for the coming fiscal year, Dunn allocated $50,000 for the General Fund.  He also thinks another $400,000 will be able to go into the General Fund.  Right now its in the Contingency Fund to pay for any possible additions to the insurance plan on the Board of Education side.

 

But Dunn called it a "perfect storm of good circumstances" to move a lot of money back into the General Fund.  He cited a mild winter and changes to the Connecticut Health Insurance Plan for some of the savings.

 

A referendum on reauthorizing the bonds will be held May 17th.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have agreed that the unaccounted $1.5 million will be investigated.  The officials want to find out where the money went and what it was spent on.

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Local state lawmaker to seek U.S. Senate GOP nomination

A local lawmaker is exploring a run for the U.S. Senate.  Bethel State Representative Dan Carter plans to withdraw paperwork this week from the State Elections Enforcement Commission for his 2nd District campaign.

 

The 2nd House District includes parts of Bethel, Danbury and Newtown.  Carter was seeking a 4th term.  He is the Ranking Member of the legislature's General Law Committee and a member of the Education and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.

 

An official announcement about his potential run for higher office is expected in the coming weeks.

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Sen. Blumenthal gets Narcan training in Danbury

One of Connecticut's two U.S. Senators received training in Danbury Monday through the AIDS Project Greater Danbury overdose prevention program.  Senator Richard Blumenthal said he was impressed with how simple and straight forward the training was.  The Center provides a syringe exchange program, which is coupled with education about how to use the overdose prevention drug naloxone.

 

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill co-sponsored by Blumenthal which is aimed at combating drug abuse by expanding access to prescription drug monitoring programs.  The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act increases the tools advocates need to prevent overdoses.

 

Blumenthal says the training he received Monday should be expanded beyond emergency responders to ordinary citizens.  He says Narcan should be made more widely available, including over the counter at pharmacies.

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Parents of Sandy Hook victim write op-ed critical of Bernie Sanders

The parents of a child killed at Sandy Hook School has written an op-ed in the Washington Post critical of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  Mark and Jackie Barden said they were motivated by Sander's comments during a recent debate about their lawsuit against the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 in order to hold Remington accountable for making the military-grade weapon available to civilians. 

 

"Remington and the other defendants’ choices allowed an elementary school to be transformed into a battlefield. Our case seeks nothing more than fair accountability for those choices."

 

Mark and Jackie Barden said in the op-ed that the suit is not simply about the manufacturing of the gun, but about them marketing it to the public. 

 

"The last thing our sweet little Daniel would have seen in his short, beautiful life was the long barrel of a ferocious rifle designed to kill the enemy in war. The last thing Daniel’s tender little body would have felt were bullets expelled from that AR-15 traveling at greater than 3,000 feet per second — a speed designed to pierce body armor in the war zones of Fallujah."

 

The couple wrote that Sanders has advocated for greater corporate responsibility, which is why they were surprised by his remarks.

 

"Sanders has spent decades tirelessly advocating for greater corporate responsibility, which is why we cannot fathom his support of companies that recklessly market and profit from the sale of combat weapons to civilians and then shrug their shoulders when the next tragedy occurs, leaving ordinary families and communities to pick up the pieces."

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Ridgefield Board of Ethics asked for advisory opinion on Selectman matter

The Ridgefield Board of Ethics is reviewing whether there is a conflict of interest involving a Board of Selectman member.  Two Selectmen said at their recent meeting that they were concerned there was a conflict of interest with fellow Selectman Steve Zemo discussing and voting on the Board of Education budget because his spouse is the chair of the Board of Ed's budget subcommittee.  The Ridgefield Press reports that Zemo asked the Board of Ethics to review any potential conflict of interest to officially get an advisory opinion.  The Ridgefield Board of Education is seeking a 5.72 percent budget increase.

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New Milford schools consider candidate for Superintendent

The New Milford Board of Education is considering the contract for the district's next Superintendent of Schools.  Joshua Smith has served as the interim Superintendent since the end of January, having been moved to the position from Deputy Superintendent when Jean Ann Paddyfote retired. 

 

Smith was a teacher at Schaghticoke Middle School for a few years before becoming director of information in the Ridgefield School District and rejoining New Milford schools in 2012. 

 

Consideration of Smith's appointment comes as he presents a budget to town officials for the coming fiscal year.  The New Milford school budget has a proposed 2.3 percent increase over the current year, at $62.5 million.

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Public Hearing scheduled in Danbury on noise ordinance changes

The Danbury City Council will hold a public hearing Modnay night on two ordinances aimed at protecting quality of life. 

 

A so-called "plainly audible standard" is being considered in Danbury when it comes to overhauling the City's noise ordinance.  The biggest change gets rid of the requirement for a noise reader.  The target is excessive noise from cars including amplifiers and exhaust systems.  Penalties increase for each violation. 

 

The Neighborhood Preservation Zone is aimed at cracking down on habitual offenders who host large parties and the like.  The proposed ordinance includes the definition of outdoor group activity and five violations which would prompted a $250 fine. 

 

The public hearing in City Hall will be at 7pm.

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Special Town Meeting in Brookfield on $3 million bond discrepancy issue

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight to discuss bonding for projects completed over the past 15 years.  Bonding authorized by Brookfield residents for capital improvement projects between 2002 and 2010 is under scrutiny.  The bond issue was discovered recently, and the Boards of Selectmen and Finance are recommending that the town authorize $1.9 million in new bonding for the projects. 

 

Brookfield issued temporary notes that were later paid off in part, or in whole, from town funds rather than from bonds to finance  the 2002 Road Improvement Project, the 2002 Asbestos Projects and the 2003 Sand/Salt Building Project.  The 2002 High School Construction Project, the 2007/2009 Senior Center project and the 2010 Road Improvement Project exceeded the authorized borrowing.  The Gray's Bridge Road Project was paid with Town funds with no provision for long-term financing.

 

The total in question was $3.3 million, and paperwork was found to cover little more than half of that sum.  An auditor or accountant will be hired to determine what happened to the other $1.5 million in question. 

 

A referendum vote on the proposed bonding will be held May 17th.  Tonight's special town meeting is at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall.

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Public Hearing to be held in Bethel on proposed budget

The Bethel Board of Finance will hold a public hearing tonight on the recommended budget.  The Bethel Board of Finance approved a $71.27 million recommended budget at their meeting March 1st. 

 

The municipal portion of the budget for the coming fiscal year is recommended at $27.66 million while the Board of Education recommended budget is $43. 6 million.  It works out to 1.3 percent higher than the current year.  There is also $1.4 million recommended for capital items.  The capital budget includes $50,000 for the 2017 Plan of Conservation and Development, $400,000 for lighting on Whittlesey Drive and to replace seating in the high school auditorium, and $115,000 for walkway repairs along Greenwood Avenue.

 

Officials say if the budget is approved, and revenues come in as expected, the tax rate would decrease by .03 percent. 

 

Tonight's public hearing is at 7:30pm at the Bethel High School auditorium.

 

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Transportation funding lockbox bill advances through legislature

A Transportation Funding Lockbox bill made it out of the Transportation Committee this week.  But Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says it came with conditions. One condition is to have the language be made stronger indicating exactly which revenue would be protect and what purposes they could be spent on.  Another condition is that language be added with an assurance that having a lockbox would not automatically lead to tolls or other taxes.

 

Connecticut residents would be presented with the Constitutional amendment proposal on the November ballot, if it gains three-quarters support in both the House and Senate.  Governor Dannel Malloy called on lawmakers to approve the measure in order to secure funding needed to pay for his 30-year, $100 billion infrastructure improvement plan. 

 

During discussions Monday, lawmakers agreed that the state's transportation system has been underfunded for years, and that the transportation funding has been raided time and again to erase red ink in the General Fund.

 

A lockbox proposal passed in the Senate last year, but failed in the House.

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Proposal to privatize DMV services receives public hearing

Car dealers could take on more DMV services for customers. 

 

A proposal to privatize some DMV services has received a public hearing last week.  Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski co-sponsored the bill and was among the lawmakers who signed a petition to force a hearing on the bill after the Transportation Committee's Democratic leaders refused to raise the bill for a public hearing. 

 

Complaints about the DMV spiked after the agency installed new computer software this summer in order to reduce wait times, but many problems led to longer wait times.

 

Danbury Representative Jan Giegler asked if car dealers, who already do a partial registration, could fully register the vehicles they sell.  Sredzinski responded that it shouldn't be forced on the businesses if they don't have the capability to do so.  But he said if there was a dealership that wanted the opportunity to, that would be warranted.

 

18 other states already have at least some of their DMV services provided by outside contractors.

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Connecticut casino study fails to clear legislative panel

Connecticut lawmakers are not going to pursue a state study of a proposed third casino.  A motion to refer the bill from the Commerce Committee to the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee failed Thursday by a vote of 11-7. That vote means the study will not move forward. 

 

Kent-based Schagticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky supported the bill.

 

He says it's ironic that part of the state's effort to shut his tribe out of federal recognition was claiming the state didn't want a third casino.  Now Connecticut is poised to approve its first commercial casino, but he says only to the exclusion of any other interested parties.

Leaders of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes had urged lawmakers to defeat the bill, predicting it could delay their plans to open a casino in northern Connecticut to compete with a planned $950 million casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. The tribes are still reviewing potential sites.

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Newtown man, head of Conn. Bar Association, calls for SCOTUS nominee hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee is being called on by leaders of the state's legal community to begin Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings on Judge Merrick Garland.  Connecticut Bar Association President-elect Monte Frank of Newtown says the confirmation hearings should be held.

 

Frank says the Supreme Court needs a full complement of Justices because any 4-to-4 decisions will not establish precedent.  While the Court will continue to function, he says tied decisions will leave open questions on issues that are vital to the lives of every day people of Connecticut and the nation.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the committee, says Garland has impeccable credentials and certainly merits consideration.  He called on his colleagues to do their job.

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Newtown families tout progress of federal mental health bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Some family members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are cheering the recent committee passage of a bipartisan, federal mental health bill that's moving through Congress.

Much of the legislation, known as the Mental Health Reform Act, updates grants for various mental health-related initiatives. That includes grants for early childhood mental health intervention and treatment programs, telehealth child psychiatry efforts and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and initiatives.

The Senate Health Education Labor and Pension Committee advanced the bill this week. The panel does not have jurisdiction over funding the bill.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said he hopes money will be found for the legislation, based partly on input from Connecticut patients and advocates.

Murphy appeared Friday in Hartford with the Newtown families.

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Region 9 Board of Ed clarifies drug policies

The Region 9 Board of Education this week took up the matter of drug use at Joel Barlow High School.  Minutes from the meeting said that changes to the drug policies were reviewed to include alternate and additional language. 

 

The group unanimously approved the changes Tuesday to add vaporized delivery devices such as e-cigarettes to the list of banned products.  Any tobacco or nicotine-related products were already disallowed at Barlow, but this now spells it out specifically. 

 

The use or possession of medical marijuana was also voted on and are now on the prohibited list.  Patients under 21 are not legally allowed to possess medical marijuana under state law.

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NY man arrested in Newtown on sex assault, other charges

A New York City man has been arrested in Newtown on sexual assault and other charges.  The Newtown Bee reports that after 22-year old Matthew Madden learned of a warrant for his arrest, he turned himself in on Thursday. 

 

Court records show that Newtown Police charged the Manhattan man with two felony counts of sexual assault and three felony counts each of risk of injury to a minor and of enticing a minor by computer contact. 

 

The investigation began in November when the Newtown High School school resource officer received a report of an inappropriate relationship between a juvenile and an older man.  Madden worked for a theater production company on Route 25 and contacted the victim, who reported feeling uncomfortable by the conversation, via the internet. 

 

The Bee reports that there are several victims dating back to 2011.  Police said Madden had a pattern of contacting young females, convincing them to meet in secret and attempting to engage in sexual contact.  Police said on several occasions, the juveniles did allegedly engage in consensual sexual acts.

 

 

Madden was released on $100,000 bail for a court appearance April 5th.

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4 Henry Abbot Tech students hospitalized after allegedly eating pot brownies

State Police are investigating an incident at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury that happened Tuesday.  At least four students allegedly ate brownies possibly laced with marijuana and/or a synthetic narcotic.  The four were brought to Danbury Hospital by their parents for evaluation.  Hospital staff told State Police that nothing at this time appears to be life threatening.

 

State Police are investigating the possibility that a juvenile student distributed the brownies. 

 

The initial investigation has led investigators to believe the teens' reaction to the brownies not completely consistent with THC, and possibly synthetic in nature. 

 

The investigation is ongoing.

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Monroe Police investigating reports of fraudulent tax returns

Monroe Police are investigating reports of fraudulent tax returns.  Police say they've been receiving many complaints of identity theft in recent weeks.  Monroe Police say identity thieves have many ways of getting at personal information, and reminded residents that the IRS does not initiate contact or request data through email. 

 

The IRS urges identity theft victims to take certain steps, including to complete IRS form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. 

 

The Federal Trade Commission recommends taking a number of steps as well, including to file a complaint with the FTC.  Victims are also urged to contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on credit records.

 

â—¦Equifax, www.Equifax.com, 1-800-766-0008
â—¦Experian, www.Experian.com, 1-888-397-3742
â—¦TransUnion, www.TransUnion.com, 1-800-680-7289

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Lawmakers propose increased fine for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalk

A piece of legislation increasing the fines for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failure to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or cyclist is being considered by the General Assembly.  The Judiciary Committee forwarded the bill this week for further action. 

 

The legislation would require that the money from the fine be sent to the municipality in which the violation occurred.  The bill increases the fine to $500. 

 

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky is one of the co-sponsors of the measure.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan spoke during a public hearing on the bill about an accident involving a person being struck and killed by a car at the crosswalk on White Street in Danbury by the midtown campus of Western Connecticut State University.  The City, State and University worked together to come up with ways to reduce pedestrian-car accidents. 

 

One of the ideas was to install flashing orange lights when someone pushes the crosswalk button.  McLachlan says that was approved by the state Department of Transportation and seems to be the most progressive way to deal with safety.  He would like to see the technology installed at every crosswalk, but acknowledged that it is cost prohibitive.

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith also spoke during the earlier public hearing.  He noted there's one crosswalk in town from a parking lot to town hall, which he uses frequently.  Smith says he naturally waits, but has found that most cars don't stop and go by pretty fast.

 

Smith says most drivers disregard the fact that they need to stop at a crosswalk when there is a pedestrian waiting, and no traffic signal.

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Man uninjured in rollover highway crash in Southbury

A rollover accident on Interstate 84 yesterday afternoon resulted in no injuries.  State police responded to the crash in Southbury near exit 14.  43-year old Jorge Alberto Sanchez-Flores of Danbury told Troopers that he was driving in the right lane when another driver in the left lane cut him off and he lost control.  His car spun into the right shoulder, hit the guardrail and flipped over.  The man's car came to rest in the center of the highway.

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Fatal accident under investigation in Danbury

A fatal crash that closed the Interstate-84 eastbound exit 5 off ramp in Danbury Thursday morning for about four hours is under investigation.  State Police say 89-year old Thomas Finik of Danbury crashed for an unknown reason into the concrete barrier on the right shoulder at a high rate of speed. 

 

The Hyundai Sonata collided with the rear of a vehicle waiting at the stop sign.  The Honda Pilot was pushed into the intersection of Down Street and Farview Avenue, and as a result crashed into a vehicle on Down Street. 

 

State Police say Finik was not wearing a seat belt.  His car came to a final rest at the Down Street turnaround.  He sustained fatal injuries.  The third vehicle, driven by a Croton-on-Hudson man, sustained minor damage.  The driver was not injured.  The Honda Pilot sustained moderate damage and the Danbury driver was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries. 

 

The crash happened around 9:30am.  The off ramp was reopened shortly before 2pm.

 

The accident remains under investigation.

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Cottage near Candlewood Lake damaged by fire

A cottage near Candlewood Lake sustained heavy damage from a fire last night.  Danbury Fire officials say the blaze broke out in the attic of a small home at the intersection of Lakeview Drive and Great Plain Road shortly after 9pm.  The house was under renovation and there was no one living in it at the time.  Spokesman Mark Omasta says the construction crews used the fire place during the day and the fire looked to be centered around the chimney in the attic.  No official cause of the fire has been determined.

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Wilton home damaged by fire Wednesday afternoon

A Wilton home has been heavily damaged by a fire yesterday afternoon.  The Wilton Fire Department responded to 42 Scribner Hill Road around 4pm and found smoke coming from throughout the house.  The home was locked and no residents were there at the time so firefighters forced entry through the front door.  The fire was located in the back of the house and extinguished within half an hour.  There was significant heat and smoke damage.  No immediate word on a cause of the fire.  There were no reported injures.  Mutual aid was provided at the scene by Georgetown, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Westport fire departments.  Weston covered Wilton fire headquarters.

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Carmel Police, Sheriff Deputies to conduct DWI patrols this St. Patrick's Day

There will be more police on the road today than usual.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office and Carmel Police Department are increasing patrols for drunk drivers along area roads this St Patrick's Day holiday.  The announcement is aimed at deterring intoxicated or impaired driving. 

 

It's part of the New York statewide STOP DWI Crackdown effort.  There will also be some sobriety checkpoints set up.

 

Police said historically, holiday festivities give rise to increased incidents of impaired driving and drinking related crashes.  Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

 

Sheriff Donald Smith says they want to let people know in advance as a deterrent to drunk driving, and to remind people that they must drink responsibly or make appropriate plans now to either have a designated driver or use a taxi.

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Litchfield resident sentenced for schemes to shield assets from creditors

A Litchfield resident has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for conspiracies involving a series of real estate transactions to shield assets from creditors.  44-year old Ryan Geddes was also sentenced yesterday to pay more than $700,000 in restitution. 

 

Geddes had built up a series of debts as of 2005 and was the subject of various lawsuits and collection efforts in the years that followed. 

 

Geddes sold a lakefront home in Morris to a man who didn't qualify for the $923,000 mortgage, but was able to get a loan based on a false income from work at one of Geddes' construction companies.  The loan, which was refinanced, is now in default and the home is in foreclosure. 

 

A scheme to defraud a title insurance company was carried out on a property Geddes owned in Litchfield.  TItle insurance was issued on the property, with five liens totalling nearly a million dollars, deliberately omitted from the title search report. 

 

Another property transfer scheme in New York shielded insurance proceeds from his creditors.

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I-84 exit 5 off ramp east reopened following crash

A two car crash Thursday morning has been cleared from the scene in Danbury.  The accident happened around 9:30am.  Two cars collided on the exit 5 off ramp from Interstate 84 east. 

 

Officials say the cars sustained heavy damage.  One person was reportedly extricated from a vehicle. 

 

The off ramp remained closed for about four hours. 

 

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'Walmart Bill' imposing fee on large businesses with low paid workers clears first hurdle

The legislature's Human Services Committee this week advanced the so-called "Walmart Bill".  Companies with 500 or more employees, which pay workers less than $15 an hour, would be required to pay a fee to the state.  The official name of the bill is An Act Concerning the Recoupment of State Costs Attributable to Low Wage Employers.

 

During debate, New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor was among the lawmakers who raised concerns about what they see as the real intent of the bill.  She says the smoke and mirrors should be cleared, and people should just come out and say they want to raise the minimum wage.

 

Buck Taylor said it's just playing with words. 

 

The bill passed the committee on a 10-to-8 vote. A similar bill failed in the legislature last year.

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3 charged in Danbury for driveway work scam of elderly

Three people have been arrested in Danbury for defrauding an elderly man out of thousands of dollars.  The three turned themselves in to Danbury Police on warrants Tuesday and Wednesday.  In May of last year, police received a complaint from a 91-year old resident about falling victim to a driveway paving scam.

 

The man told police that he came home and found workers cleaning his driveway.  They told him that his wife hired them to seal and resurface the driveway.  The victim paid $2,750 but later learned that his wife never authorized or even knew about it.  When he inspected the driveway, a small amount of liquid was put down, and was never repaired or resurfaced.

 

27-year old Legrande Cooper Jr. of New Milford faces charges of 3rd degree larceny, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny, a Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity violation, two counts each of Failure to Provide Notice of Cancellation and Failure to Register as Home Improvement Contractor along with six counts of 2nd degree larceny.  He was released on $10,000 bond for a court appearance on March 30th.

 

24-year old Kayla Cooper of Cairo, New York was charged with attempted 3rd degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, a Corrupt Organizations and Racketeering Activity violation and three counts of 2nd degree larceny.  She was released on $7,5000 bond with a March 29th court date.

 

24-year old Coty Cooper of Balston Spa, New York was released on $2,500 bond for a March 30th appearance in Danbury Superior Court on charges of larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.

 

   

(Legrande Cooper Jr., Kayla Cooper, Coty Cooper)

 

Danbury Police Detectives called the state Department of Consumer Protection, and a joint investigation determined there were eight cases in the area dating back to 2012.  Of those cases, five of the victims were over age 60.  The investigation found that the work was substandard and resulted in asphalt coming apart shortly after the work was done.  Seal coating was so poorly done that it washed away after it rained. 

 

Anyone with information relating the investigation is asked to contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-842-2649.

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3 arrested for shoplifting from Danbury Mall store

Three people have been arrested for a shoplifting incident at the Mall yesterday.  Danbury Police responded to Sears on a report of two adults and a juvenile being held for shoplifting.  25-year old Bryan Perry and 20-year old Ashley Genaway, both of Danbury were charged with 6th degree larceny and given written promises to appear in court on the 28th.  A juvenile, who was not identified because of age, was given a juvenile summons for 6th degree larceny and ordered to appear in court on the 28th.

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Weston native killed in overseas car crash to receive posthumous degree

Two North­eastern stu­dents who were killed in a car acci­dent last week while trav­eling over­seas will be awarded posthu­mous degrees, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun announced.

 

Vic­toria McGrath and Priscilla Perez Torres, both seniors, were trav­eling on a per­sonal trip together in Dubai. Both were in good aca­d­emic standing and poised to grad­uate at Northeastern’s 2016 Com­mence­ment in May.

 

“Before tragedy took them from us, Vic­toria and Priscilla were well on their way to grad­u­ating this spring,” said Aoun. “Like their class­mates, they earned their degrees through focus and hard work. By pre­senting their diplomas to their fam­i­lies in May, Vic­toria and Priscilla will remain mem­bers of the North­eastern family forever.”

 

(Photo: Northeastern University)

 

A stu­dent in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness, McGrath was studying finance, with a minor in inter­na­tional affairs. She was a member of the NU Busi­ness Advi­sory Club and exec­u­tive director of mar­keting for the Finance and Invest­ment Club. A native of Weston, Con­necticut, McGrath was a sur­vivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

 

Perez Torres, who came to North­eastern from Puerto Rico, was a biology major in the Col­lege of Sci­ence and worked as a clin­ical research coor­di­nator at New Eng­land Bap­tist Hos­pital. She was also involved with GlobeMed, a North­eastern stu­dent group that works with an HIV/​AIDS non­profit orga­ni­za­tion in Uganda, and Sci­ence Club for Girls.

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Court sets schedule for hearing in former Brookfield Superintendent case

A schedule has been set by the courts in the matter of former Brookfield school Superintendent Anthony Bivona's firing.  Bivona is arguing that he was improperly fired amid an audit showing more than $1.2 million in overspending by the district.  Bivona had been Superintendent for 7 years, but the Board of Ed voted unanimously to terminate his contract.  The audit results also resulted in larceny and fraud charges being brought against former Brookfield school business manager Art Colley and his assistant Elizabeth Kerekes.  Written discovery must be submitted to the courts in Bivonah's case by mid April, with arguments scheduled for December.

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Faulty valve blamed for natural gas service disruption in Monroe

The cause of a natural gas main problem in Monroe Tuesday has been identified.  Eversource Energy has identified the source of the issue as a faulty valve.  Approximately 215 natural gas customers in Monroe experienced an interruption in their gas service Tuesday. The primary outage location was in the area of Route 110 and Route 111.  Technicians had to shut down each individual meter and residents had been asked to turn off all natural gas appliances in an effort to ensure safety as the repair was made.  Eversource technicians went door to door to assist in relighting customer's appliances and conduct safety checks.  All Eversource employees have company-issued identification.

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NY woman charged for alleged theft from Home Depot

A New York woman has been arrested for an alleged shoplifting incident at a local hardware store.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office was called to Home Depot in Southeast last Wednesday on a report of a shoplifter in custody of the asset protection manger.  The employee saw a woman hide merchandise and then leave the store without paying for the items.  The woman was identified as 38-year old Suzanna Love of the Bronx.  She was charged with misdemeanor petit larceny.  The woman was process and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on 500-dollars bond for a future appearance in Southeast Justice Court.

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Woman caught shoplifting at Carmel supermarket

A New York woman has been arrested for an alleged shoplifting incident at a local supermarket.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office was called to Hannaford Supermarket on Route 6 in Carmel last weekend on a report of a shoplifter in custody of the loss prevention officer.  The store security reported seeing a woman conceal several items and leave without paying for the merchandise.  The woman was identified as 45-year old Katarzyna Pawlus-Szewczyk of Southeast.  She was charged with misdemeanor petit larceny.  The woman was process and released for a court appearance on Tuesday.

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BI AmeriCares Free Clinic in Danbury launches new 'Health Coach' program

Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation and AmeriCares Free Clinics have launched a new AmeriCares Health Coach Program at the BI AmeriCares Free Clinic in Danbury. 

 

BI Cares Foundation President Lilly Ackley says their goal is to help support uninsured patients with chronic disease. The bilingual registered nurses who will serve as the AmeriCares health coaches will be available for all weekday clinic sessions to work one-on-one with patients, equipping them with the knowledge to better manage chronic conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, and reach their health goals.

 

Ackley says the Health Coach position is not new in the medical field, but it is newer to the non-profit space.

 

Health coaching emerged to fill an information gap, following research that shows half of patients leave medical visits without understanding their provider’s advice.  Officials say lack of adherence to medical advice is a significant problem in the U.S. and results in poor health outcomes for patients and significant burden on the healthcare system—as much as $300 billion annually from medication nonadherence alone.

 

The Health Coaches are fluent in both English and Spanish.

 

BI Cares Foundation has contributed $75,000 to the program to date and anticipates a total contribution of $150,000 for 2016.

 

Beyond providing financial support, the BI Cares Foundation wants to measure the clinical outcomes of having Health Coaches and overall clinic productivity.  They will also be looking at patient and staff satisfaction.  Ackley hopes to be able to then provide insight to other organizations working to improve health on the effectiveness of Health Coaches.

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Three people injured in Sunday highway crash

Three people were injured in a three car crash in Danbury over the weekend.  The crash shortly before 7pm  on Sunday night tried up traffic for hours. 

 

A car in the middle lane of I-84 westbound was slowing down because there was debris in the road by exit 4.  The Nissan, driven by a Brewster man, was hit from behind and pushed into another car in the left lane. 

 

The Nissan came to a stop facing the opposite direction of traffic, and the Chrysler, driven by a New Jersey woman came to an uncontrolled stop in the right lane.  The driver of the vehicle in the left lane was able to stop ahead of the accident scene in the shoulder. 

 

43-year old Marvin Sosa of Brewster, his passenger, and 58-year old Claudine Paul of New Jersey were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.  Paul was cited for following too close.

 

The other driver, a 31-year old East Fishkill woman, was uninjured.

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15-year old arrested for packaging marijuana for sale outside Walgreens in Danbury

A 15-year old Danbury boy has been arrested on drug related charges as police investigated marijuana sales in the City.  Police were conducting surveillance of the Walgreens parking lot on Main Street Monday in response to complaints of narcotics being sold in that area.

 

The teen rode a bike into the lot and sat down on the sidewalk.  The boy looked around several times, open a backpack and began tearing sheets of plastic wrap.  Officers saw the teen wrapping what looked like marijuana in a way that's consistent with drug selling activity. 

 

They approached the teen and took possession of the plastic wrap, digital scale and 7.4 grams of marijuana. 

 

The juvenile was charged with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell, intent to sell near a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He was released to his parents on a written promise to appear in Danbury Juvenile Court at a future date.

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Natural gas main repair affecting 490 Monroe homes

A natural gas main is being repaired in Monroe.  Eversource Energy officials say the unscheduled repair is affecting nearly 500 homes.  In order to perform the work, natural gas service has been temporarily interrupted in part of Monroe.  Eversource technicians are going door to door visiting homes in order to shut off meters.  All Eversource employees are carrying company-issued identification.  Utility officials urged people to turn off all natural gas appliances in an effort to ensure safety as the repair is being made.

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Woman who admitted to drowning newborn seeks prison release

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Danbury woman who admitted to drowning her newborn baby in a toilet in 2006 is seeking an early release from prison.

Panna Krom was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2008 after pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Authorities said Krom was 17 when she delivered the baby in a bathroom at home, then drowned the girl in a toilet and hid the body in her bedroom closet.

The News-Times reports 26-year-old Krom filed a clemency petition with the state Board of Pardons and Paroles this month asking that the second half of her sentence be replaced with five years of probation.

The petition argues her sentence is excessive and that she'd be an asset to society. It's unclear when a decision will be made on the appeal.

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Police: Priest said stolen parish money was for Africa loans

SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) A Roman Catholic priest charged with stealing thousands of dollars from a Connecticut parish told authorities he used the money for projects in Africa.

The Rev. Honore Kombo appeared in court Monday on a charge of first-degree larceny.

WFSB-TV reports that police say Kombo told them the $27,000 missing from St. Augustine's parish in Seymour was used to provide loans in the Congo, his home country.

Police allege Kombo opened a line of credit under the church's name, with more than $31,000 in cash advances.

Kombo was removed as pastor in July and the Archdiocese of Hartford barred him from serving as a priest.

He refused comment when contacted by the station.

The case was continued to March 30.

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Danbury man wins $378k in suit against Tuxedo Junction

A Danbury man has been awarded more than $300,000 in a lawsuit against Tuxedo Junction Entertainment. 

 

24-year old Terrence McCall of Danbury sued Tuxedo Junction alleging that he was the victim of an assault in October 2012 and suffered stab wounds to his upper arm and lower abdominal area. McCall required significant surgery at Danbury Hospital, and afterward allegedly suffered extreme restriction on motion, discomfort and scarring. 

 

The court awarded economic damages for medical expenses and non-economic damages on February 22nd.  McCall was awarded little more than $78,000 for medical expenses and $300,000 for pain suffering and scarring. 

 

Danbury Patch reports that McCall was one of seven people arrested for a confrontation at Tuxedo Junction two years before, in July 2010, which ended with a near brawl at a home on Irving Place. 

 

Court records show that McCall pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and threatening, receiving a sentence of 9 months in jail on each charge.  McCall has several other criminal convictions.

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Absentee ballots available soon for Newtown Community Center referendum

Absentee ballots will be available soon for the upcoming Newtown Community Center referendum.  The Newtown Town Clerk's office has announced that absentee ballots will be available beginning on Thursday.  The referendum on the Newtown Community Center is set for April 5th. 

 

The proposal is for a flexible space of approximately 13,000 square feet, coupled with an aquatics center featuring a zero entry pool and an 8-lane, 50 meter pool.  The $15 million donation from GE paired with $5 million in bonding in the town's Capital Improvement Plan is up for the vote. 

 

The Newtown Town Clerk's office will have special absentee voting hours on Saturday April 2nd from 9am to 12pm.  The referendum will be that following Tuesday from 6am to 8pm in the Newtown Middle School gym.

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Lawmakers keep link between unpaid taxes, car registrations

A Connecticut legislative committee is keeping the ban on issuing motor vehicle registrations to owners with delinquent property taxes.

Members of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee on Monday voted to keep the ban after hearing from cities and towns that they could lose five percent of their car tax revenues if it were removed.

Governor Dannel Malloy had proposed ending the policy to reduce wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. He argued that customers often make multiple visits to the DMV because they can't get a registration until their local taxes are paid off.

The bill would still allow the DMV to use private entities such as AAA to provide more services.

Independent contractors would be allowed to to issue duplicate licenses and identity cards pursuant to section 14-50a, renew licenses, renew identity cards issued pursuant to section 1-1h and conduct registration transactions at its office facilities.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says there is already language in state law allowing the DMV to outsource any service they currently have.  She says this part of the bill might not be necessary because of the existing statute.  She did acknowledge that it makes the next part, about increasing, fees possible.

 

The bill also increases the convenience fee contractors would be able to charge from $3 to up to $5, to each applicant for a license or identity card renewal or duplication, or for a registration transaction.

 

The legislation now moves to the House.

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NY State Trooper helps delivers baby on I-84 in Brewster

A New York State Police Trooper delivered a baby on the side of the highway.  Trooper Christopher Liebler was patrolling Interstate 84 on Friday when he saw a Honda Accord exit the highway on the Brewster-Danbury border and enter the emergency vehicle u-turn just before exit 1 in Connecticut.  The trooper followed the car in order to conduct a welfare check and learned that the passenger was in labor.  The Trooper requested EMS, but prior to Kent Volunteer Ambulance arriving on scene, the trooper helped the Hopewell Junction woman deliver a healthy baby girl.  The baby, named Emma, was transported with her mother to Danbury Hospital.

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Greater Danbury area students set to compete in Poetry Out Loud state finals

Five finalists from Fairfield County will be among the students competing in the Connecticut state Finals of the 11th annual Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest this week.  A record 43 Connecticut high schools participated in the program this year.  The event encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. 

 

The Connecticut State Champion advances to the National Finals, which will take place in May in Washington, DC. 

 

The finalists from Fairfield County are: Nastasja Haughton from Stamford’s Westhill High School; Trevor Lilly from Wilton High School; Vivian Altopp from Ridgefield High School; Nicole Kearney from Joel Barlow High School in Redding; and Shami Khoshabo from Bethel High School.

 

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Ridgefield Police Officers recognized with Unit Citations

During the Ridgefield Police Commission meeting on Thursday, several officers were awarded the Department's Unit Citation Award.  The recognition was for an incident that happened earlier this year.  On January 3rd, a reckless driver stole a car and caused multiple accidents in the downtown area.  The six officers were recognized for their teamwork and judgement during a rapidly evolving situation. 

 

As a result of their actions, no one was injured and the suspect was arrested.  22-year old Mark Bogdanov Johnson remains held on $20,000 bond on several charges.  His next court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Ridgefield Police, Facebook)

Back row (L-R) Officer Dan Gjodesen, Officer Dave Samoskevich and Officer Brian Shimko.

Front row (L-R) Officer Jorge Romero, Officer Lou Caba and Lieutenant Shawn Platt.

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Newtown officials review recovery grant funding

The status of post 12-14 grants have been reviewed by Newtown officials to see what funds remain and can be applied to recovery efforts. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra said in a news release that March 31st is the end of a Department of Justice funded Recovery & Resiliency initiative.  The team of six professionals have been helping Newtown with community outreach and support as the town learns how grief impacts individuals and families.  The team has helped the community to navigate insurance and treatment options, among other services.  Llodra said the need for support continues and the town is committed to an ongoing recovery program. 

 

Two positions will be paid for, in part, through grant funding from Praxair and the Newtown Sandy Hook Community Foundation.  A care navigator and a director of social work-mental health programming will be hired.  Llodra says the new personnel will work with current staff members on the transition to ensure there are no gaps in service to the community.

 

On the school side, the federal School Emergency Response to Violence grant will run out by next March.  The funding has been bolstered by grants from Newtown Youth & Family Services and Education Connection.  The SERV grant was used to hire personnel and some of those positions will transition out of Sandy Hook School with the students moving up to Reed Intermediate School.  One grant to the schools, which expires at the end of this fiscal year, has not been spent down.  The district will be allowed though to use that money in the next fiscal year.

 

Llodra says this coming budget year is the first year that Newtown will fully carry the cost of School Security Officers.  Up to this year, the SSOs were partially funded by a Department of Justice grant, but it's been completely exhausted.

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Danbury Department of Elderly Services applying for grant from Buck Foundation

The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation has made funds available to various organizations to enhance quality of life in communities and Danbury's Department of Elderly Services is once again applying for funding.  The grant money, if approved, would be used for services at Elmwood Hall Senior Center to benefit the City's elderly clients by providing additional staff and to expand programing. 

 

The money would go toward a part-time coordinator to be the Activities Scheduler and to oversee outreach and referrals.  Equipment supplies would also be covered.  The remaining funding will be used to foot a health program, inter-generational programs and a new wellness-based, leisure time or life-long learning program. 

 

The funding request is up to $60,000.  There is no City match required. 

 

The Foundation has approved approximately $17,500 remaining from this fiscal year's grant money to be added to any new funding awarded to the Department.

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Public hearing held on 'political party purging' law repeal bill

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has testified before a legislative Committee about a bill she submitted to repeal a statute that allows political parties, through local registrars of voters working in concert with town chairs, to expel members for “lack of good-faith party affiliation”.  She was asked during the hearing if there are other instances than the case in Brookfield, currently making its way through the courts.

 

Merrill says not too long ago in Danbury, a Democrat was removed from the party because she ran on another party’s ticket.  The statute dates back to 1909, and Merrill says there are likely more instances of this happening.

 

Merrill says if there is a place for this type of process, it belongs in the party rules themselves, not in state statute.

 

Merrill testified that democracy is intended to be inclusive and promote some level of disruption.  She says the parties have internally debated LGBT rights, war and abortion so who is to say which activists are good or bad party members because they differ on the issues.  Merrill says there is a tradition of political dissent in this country and the major parties are well acquainted with managing dissent in their own groups.

 

Merrill says that line should never be drawn in such a way that an individual’s right to vote is taken away.  That is the effect in state like Connecticut where there is a closed primary system.  People wishing to vote in a particular party’s primary must be registered with that party.

 

She says the registrars, while partisan in their selection, are legally bound to serve the public in a non-partisan and neutral way.

 

In the Brookfield case, Jane Miller was questioned by the Republican Registrar and Town Committee about donating to opposing political parties and ran as a Democrat for the Board of Finance in 2013.  She re-registered as a Republican after she lost the election.

 

Brookfield Republican Representative Stephen Harding submitted testimony to the committee support repeal of the “party purging law”.  He said that this law has created a larger amount of divisiveness and political animosity in town.  He says the negative ramifications have far outweighed any of the possible attributes which some say this law contains. 

 

Harding said while its questionable whether party removal should happen at any level, removal at the municipal level is not the proper venue.

 

Connecticut State Democratic Party chairman Nick Balletto also submitted testimony.  He said to assume a party is monolithic in its policy and political views is a mistake.  He said debate is the cornerstone of political life as a society.  Balletto added that he understands using party loyalty as a litmus test for serving on town committees or party leadership positions, voters and not pasty leaders should be able to choose the party to which they want to belong.

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Union contract approved for some Danbury, New Milford Hospital workers

Medical technicians and clinicians at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals yesterday voted overwhelmingly to ratify a first-ever contract following more than a year of negotiations with their employer. The union of approximately 260 surgical and radiologic technologists, licensed practical nurses and respiratory therapists cast ballots 10 to one in favor of the tentative agreement reached with management. 

 

Beth Thomsen, who has served as co-president of the negotiating committee for the Danbury and New Milford Federation of Healthcare Technical Employees says the contract is the product of sitting down with management and working together to make the hospitals better places to receive vital acute care service.

 

Their new contract begins to close gaps in economic inequality and workplace rights that were key factors for the technical professionals exercising their free choice to form their own union.

 

The gains the technical professionals won through negotiations, include general wage increases of two percent for each year of their collective bargaining agreement. The contract also includes a mechanism for monthly labor-management meetings that include staffing as a standing issue as well as seniority rights and due process protections.

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Plea deal offered in Newtown harassment case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A man accused of harassing relatives of a teacher who died in the Newtown school massacre has been given an April deadline to accept a plea agreement or go to trial.

Matthew Mills is accused of approaching a younger sister of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto and angrily claiming the Connecticut shootings never took place.

Soto was killed along with five other educators and 20 children inside the elementary school building on December 14th, 2012.

Mills did not appear for the hearing yesterday in Bridgeport. He is charged with interfering with police and breach of peace for his actions at a road race honoring Soto.

Prosecutors have offered Mills a suspended sentence with probation. He would also have to stay away from the Soto family.

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Schagticoke Chief testifies about two bills under consideration in Conn.

The leader of the Kent-based Schagticoke Tribal Nation was busy this week, testifying before state legislative committees on two bills and also filing a lawsuit against the state.  Chief Richard Velky is joining MGM in filing a suit claiming the bill allowing a 3rd casino in Connecticut, run by the federally recognized Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots, is unconstitutional.

 

A bill being considered by a state legislative committee this week calls for a new study about the expansion of casino gaming in Connecticut.  The two federally recognized tribes in Connecticut, The Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots, would be allowed to build the casino together.

 

An MGM official said the bill denies them and the Schagticokes a fair opportunity to compete for Connecticut 1sty commercial casino not on tribal land.  They says the process should be open to any interested bidders and also called for public participation, including local referendum.

 

Velky testified that they are willing and able to participate in that development process.  He says the result of the study could lead to his tribe's participation in this economic development opportunity, which could be life-changing for many members and create thousands of jobs.

 

Velky also testified before the Public Safety Committee about Act Concerning Gaming.  He says tribal gaming is about creating an economic opportunity for an impoverished people.  He says the tribe would use that opportunity to create jobs for members and for surrounding communities.

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Bill considered to expand Workers' Comp for police

The legislature's Insurance Committee Thursday heard support for a bill which would expand Workers' Compensation coverage to police who suffer mental or emotional impairment due to witnessing the death or maiming of a person caused by another person.

 

Connecticut is one of 15 states which does not allow workers comp for mental injuries alone.  Senate President Martin Looney says current requirements are arbitrary that compensation for a mental injury has to be accompanied by a physical component.

 

Union official Eric Brown, who represented Newtown Police Officers on the day of the shootings at Sandy Hook School, says many of the officers only had 15 days of sick time available to them and didn't have any way of getting paid while they took time to rehabilitate themselves.

 

He says it really matters in these situations because many of the officers were not prepared or ready to go back to work right after 12-14.  He noted that they needed time to get treatment and get their minds straight.

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Connecticut committee advances retooled gun permit bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are retooling a bill that would compel individuals to produce their permit to carry a firearm at the request of police.

The legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee on Thursday forwarded the updated bill to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Under the new proposal, a pistol permit holder must produce their permit upon request of a police officer, so long as that officer personally observes the person carrying a gun in the open. The original bill required permit-holders to produce the document if the officer had ``reason to believe'' they were carrying a pistol or revolver.

Republican Sen. Tony Guglielmo, likened the legislation to "hitting a flea with a sledgehammer.'' He said only a few "provocateurs'' have refused to provide police with their permits.

 

Litchfield Representative Craig Miner, who is seeking the 30th Senate District which includes New Milford, opposed the measure.  He thinks the bill goes too far.  Miner said it's about the 4th amendment and people's right to peaceably conduct themselves in a law abiding way.  Miner said until Connecticut enacts a law saying people don't have a right to carry openly, they have that right and can't be stopped and ask them for their permit for no reason.

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6-story 'Renaissance' developer to submit changes to Brookfield proposal

The proposed six-story apartment building in Brookfield could be redesigned.

 

The Renaissance developer asked the Zoning Commission last night for a brief continuance of the public hearing in order to submit an alternate plan.  Thursday was supposed to be the final night of public hearings by state statute.  Attorney Christopher Smith says they expect to have a proposal submitted to the Brookfield Zoning Commission by March 21. 

 

The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for March 24.  Some members asked if the applicant would be willing to keep the public hearing period open through April 14, which is the following scheduled meeting. 

 

The developer is proposing to reduce the number of stories in the building and offset some of the unit losses by adding up a smaller building where the existing day care center stands.  Smith says they appreciate everything Brookfield is trying to do in the 4 Corners, but the applicant has every intention of staying at the site.

 

Officials noted that there weren’t many traffic issues with the original proposal so they don’t anticipate a long review period for the alternate plans.  The big issue was public safety and the ability of the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department to respond to an emergency.  They will be asked to weigh in on the plans.

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Schagticoke Tribal Nation Chief testifies on casino-related bills

The process of approving a third casino to compete with a planned MGM casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts could be slowed by a bill being considered by the legislature's Commerce Committee.  The leaders of the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots say there's no need for a new study as called for by the bill.  But  Kent-based Schagticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky wants the study.  Velky also testified before the Public Safety Committee about Act Concerning Gaming.  He says tribal gaming is about creating an economic opportunity for an impoverished people.  He says the tribe would use that opportunity to create jobs for members and for surrounding communities.

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Danbury man sentenced for violent, armed home invasion

A Danbury man has been sentenced for his role in armed home invasions.  32-year old Marlon Patterson, known as Head, was ordered Thursday to 16 years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for orchestrating a series of violent home invasion robberies of illegal drugs and drug trafficking proceeds. 

 

In January 2013, Danbury Police launched an investigation into a narcotics trafficking network headed by Patterson and Michael Spears.  The pair had a number of so-called trap houses in Danbury where members would sell crack cocaine and heroin.  They also rented hotel rooms to package and distribute the drugs.  Patterson, Spears and others organized and committed armed home invasion robberies of marijuana dealers on three dates in January and February.  In each instance, they pistol whipped a victim, threatened to kill others in the home and stole pot and cash. 

 

In May 2013, Patterson and Paul Whitehurst kidnapped a man who owed Whitehurst a $100 drug debt.  Patterson recorded an incident, and could be heard laughing, where Whitehurst verbally assaulted the victim and pushed him into the water and threw rocks at him.  The pair then drove the victim to a liquor store, purchased a liter of vodka and forced the man to drink it all in a 15 minute span.  The victim lost consciousness and was driven to a trap house where he was locked in a bathroom overnight.  The pair ordered the victim to work off the $100 debt by selling heroin to customers.  He was then released.

 

Patterson's criminal history includes several felony convictions.  In September 2007, he shot an individual in the face and served approximately five years in prison.  Sometime after his release, he had the words “Face Shot” tattooed on his arm.  Patterson faces up to eight years of state incarceration for violating his probation.

 

Spears has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.  Whitehurst also pleaded guilty and, in March 2015, was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

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Dorothy Day House to appeal cease and desist order

Dorothy Day Hospitality House is appealing a cease and desist order from the City of Danbury.  The City received that notice earlier this week. 

 

The appeal is to the agency that decides whether or not the order was issued incorrectly or there was an error in doing that.  The Zoning Board of Appeals was to acknowledge the appeal notice last night, but the meeting was canceled.  Their next meeting is scheduled for the 24th.  A Public hearing date on the appeal has yet to be determined.

 

Dorothy Day had a permit back in 1983 for temporary use on an annual basis.  It was renewed for one year, and it was never renewed again.  Over the summer, questions were raised about the appropriateness of the facility in a residential neighborhood, and the permit issue was uncovered.

 

This winter, Dorothy Day submitted a request to the Planning Commission to renew the permit from 1984, but the Planning Commission doesn't have jurisdiction to do that.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer asked the operator to submit an application to be granted a special exception use for the shelter in order to come into compliance with zoning regulations.  When that didn't happen, a cease and desist order was issued in an effort to bring the homeless shelter into compliance.

 

Danbury Planning Director Sharon Calitro says this is no different than when something like this is discovered.  She says their hands were tied.  The letter accompanying the cease and desist order said that the City's intent is not to close the shelter immediately, just to have them come into compliance.  There is a use allowed in the zone, but there is a process for approval and the City asked that they initiate that process.

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Danbury City Council confirms appointment of Buildings Superintendent

The Danbury City Council has approved the appointment of a new Superintendent of Buildings.  The position was vacated by Rick Palanzo, who recently retired.  Sean Hanley, who has served as Acting Superintendent of Buildings since October was promoted last week. 

 

Hanley was hired by the City in 2001 as a Maintenance Mechanic.  He was promoted to Head Mechanic a few years later and eventually to Foreman.  Hanley has a background in the plumbing and HVAC industry, primarily in commercial facility maintenance.  He is certified in Confined Space Entry, National Incident Management Safety and Hazard Communications. 

 

Hanley is a licensed contractor and certified building operator.

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Danbury Fire Department Lt. promoted to Captain

The Danbury Fire Department has a new Fire Captain.  Robert Forbes was promoted to the position from Lieutenant last week.  Forbes joined the Danbury Fire Department in 1999.  He has a Bachelor's Degree from Eastern Connecticut State University and is working toward a degree in Fire Science Technology.  Forbes has earned several certifications from the National Fire Academy, Department of Justice, Homeland Security and Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control.  Forbes has several Unit Citations and and Accommodations for outstanding service.

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Woman arrested for alleged shoplifting from Target in Bethel

A New York woman has been arrested for an alleged shoplifting incident at Target in Bethel.  Police were called to the Stony Hill Road store around 2:30pm last Friday.  53-year old Martha Brideau of Fishkill was charged with 6th degree larceny for trying to remove $286 worth of merchandise from the store without paying.  She was issued a summons at the scene.  Brideau was arraigned in Danbury Superior Court and her case was continued to April 5th.

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'Neighborhood Business Zone' considered in Ridgefield

A new zoning regulation has been approved in Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Neighborhood Business Zone would allow for a mix of business and residential uses in the town's Gateway Zone.  The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a hearing at their meeting later this month for the specific area affected by the change--the area where Routes 35 and 7 meet.  The plan would allow for small retail businesses with apartments above them and brining all existing businesses into compliance.

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Attorney submits second bill to Brookfield for defense of GOP Registrar

A second bill has been sent to Brookfield by the attorney for the town's Republican Registrar of Voters.  Attorney Ward Mazzucco is seeking a total of $24,000 from Brookfield costs to defend Registrar Tom Dunkerton in lawsuits by a town resident ousted from the GOP party. 

 

Jane Miller was expelled from the party last year under a little used state statute allowing people to be removed for not being a good faith member--and cited her run on the Democratic ticket for the Board of Finance.  Miller has appealed her suit's denial to the state Supreme Court saying the law is unconstitutional, and filed a federal lawsuit. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn previously said town residents shouldn't pay for an inter-party dispute.

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1 to 2 acres burn in Wednesday brush fire in Bethel

Ground conditions in Bethel Wednesday were muddy, wet, and on fire.  Stony Hill firefighters found that grass in the wetlands does burn.  About 1 to 2 acres of rough terrain off Limekiln Road caught fire around 1:30pm. 

 

The Bethel Fire Department along with mutual aid from Redding, West Redding, Dodgingtown, Hawleyville, Sandy Hook, Brookfield, and Danbury volunteers responded. Multiple brush trucks, tankers, and all terrain vehicles got the job done in about two hours. 

 

No injuries were reported.  Bethel Ambulance had been called to the scene as a precaution.

 

(Photo: Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Facebook)

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Weston municipal budget to cover cost of School Resource Officer salary

The Weston Board of Finance this week proposed that the School Resource Officer be paid for through the municipal budget, rather than splitting the cost between the town and school budgets. 

 

The SRO would be assigned to Weston High School, and during the summer be on patrol with the Weston Police Department.  The salary of little more than $83,000 will pay for a senior officer currently on the Weston Police force.  The Police Department is then asking for funding to fill the patrol position with a new hire. 

 

A public hearing will be held March 30th on the budget request with the annual town meeting on the budget scheduled for April 20th.

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Mahopac woman wanted by 4 police departments picked up by Sheriff's deputies

A woman believed to have outstanding warrants was stopped last week by Putnam County Sheriff's deputies.  Members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit saw the Mahopac woman in the parking lot of a shopping center in town on Thursday. 

 

A criminal history check revealed that 21-year old Celina Savoca was wanted by Police in Brewster, Yorktown and Poughkeepsie as well as New York State Police on charges of criminal mischief and criminal possession of a controlled substance. 

 

Savoca was taken into custody and processed at the Sheriff's Department in Carmel.  She was then turned over to Yorktown Police for further action.

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State Police investigating home burglary in Oxford

State Police are investigating a break in at an Oxford home.  State police received a complaint from a Naples Lane resident about seeing an unknown white male enter his Oxford home around 4:30pm on Tuesday. 

 

The victim saw the man with dark hair in a blue hoodie on surveillance camera footage. 

 

 

The burglar was seen going upstairs to where the bedrooms are located.  A short time later the burglar was seen coming downstairs carrying a purple pillowcase, and leaving the house. 

 

When Officers arrived, they found that the back door had been forced open with a screw driver or small pry bar.  The victim said that unknown items had been removed from his bedroom. 

 

Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident is urged to contact the Oxford Resident Troopers Office at 203-888-4353.

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Danbury officials to host forum about state underfunding of school district

A City-wide PTO meeting is being held in Danbury tonight featuring the Board of Education, City Council members, state legislators and community leaders.  The Connecticut School Finance Project will help lead the meeting about Danbury being underfunded by the state.  The agency is funded by grants from non-profit foundations and helps schools find solutions to funding flaws.  

 

Tonight's meeting is in the Broadview Middle School cafeteria at 6:30pm.

 

As area school districts face declining enrollment, Danbury continues to grow annually.  An October meeting on this issue noted that student population increases on average by 120 students per year. There are 285 more students this year than in the 2014-15 school year.

 

School officials say Danbury remains 50-percent underfunded by the state, with City taxpayers picking up 70-percent of the cost to educate each student.  School officials say the figure is nearly twice that of a similar district.  Data released by the schools shows that more affluent towns like Greenwich are overfunded by as much as 63 percent.  The district is looking to the state to release the $30 million of annual funding that was cut from last year’s budget. 

 

According to the Connecticut Finance Project, the Education Cost Sharing formula treats Danbury as a wealthy community, despite the fact that student poverty has doubled in the district over the past 10 years.  Because the state no longer adheres to the ECS formula, funding to school districts is now given out in “block grants,” or lump sums, some of which have been deemed inequitable because of how the grants are calculated.

 

Some districts that receive more funding have greater tax rolls or a higher mill rate creating a larger tax base. Other districts have fewer expenditures for English Language Learners or students with special needs, but receive more funding based on other statistics and not necessarily need.

 

In order to accommodate increased enrollment, Danbury added a new middle school and increased the size of several elementary schools. Danbury High School will soon add an addition.  The District has increased its course offerings and programs at all levels, including an Early College Opportunity Program at the high school.

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Danbury man speeding near 100mph on I-84 gets DWI

A Danbury man speeding near 100 miles an hour now faces a DWI charge.  New York State Police stopped 23-year old Miguel Guaman-Yuqui on Sunday on I-84 in Southeast for travelling in excess of 95 miles per hour.  Further investigation revealed that the man was intoxicated.  Guaman-Yuqui had a Blood Alcohol Content more than twice the legal limit at point-20 percent.  He was issued traffic tickets, including for Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, and ordered to appear in Southeast Justice Court on the 31st.

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Escaped cows, hero Canine Officer in Brookfield

Brookfield Police have had an interesting few days.  The Department posted on their Facebook page that Officer Chris Campbell had the chance to practice his wrangling skills when some cattle escaped their pen.  The photos of the wayward cows back in their Obtuse Road South pen on Monday. 

 

 

K9 Officer Bruno was presented with a thank you basket for his role in locating a missing teenage girl on a frigid night last month.  DAWS, Danbury Animal Welfare Society, posted the photo of volunteers delivering the goodies to Bruno and his handler on Saturday.

 

 

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Official: Speed, drinking involved Dubai crash that killed 4

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) A prosecutor in Dubai says high speed and drinking were involved in a Ferrari crash that killed a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, a Canadian boxer and two others.

Salah Bu Farousha, the head of Dubai Traffic Public Prosecution, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that an investigation continued into the crash early Sunday near Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers neighborhood.

However, he said all those killed in the crash of the two-seat yellow Ferrari had been drinking.

Bu Farousha declined to name those killed. But officials in Dubai, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the crash, identified those killed as Boston bombing survivor Victoria McGrath, Northeastern University student Priscilla Perez Torres, Canadian boxer Cody Nixon and James Portuondo. McGrath was originally from Weston, Connecticut.

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Bethel Police investigate accident involving Ability Beyond bus

Bethel police are investigating an accident involving an Ability Beyond bus.  The crash happened on Route 6 at Garella Road around 10am Wednesday.  The driver of the bus complained of a minor head injury.  There were three passengers on the bus who were all transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure, although none complained of any injury.  The driver of the other vehicle, a Dodge Durango, was also transported to the hospital complaining of chest pain.  The accident remains under investigation.

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Ridgefield police investigating burglary at service station

Ridgefield Police are investigating a gas station burglary.  Ridgefield Police responded to a burglar alarm at the Limestone Service Station on Danbury Road early Sunday morning.  Officers saw that there was forced entry into the building.  Police believe the person or people responsible had been in the lot for some time before the burglary, which was called in around 6am.  Anyone with information related to this incident is being encouraged to call the Ridgefield Police Department Detective Division at 203-431-2794.

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NY woman charged for hitting man with flashlight, coffee cup

A New York woman has been charged with felony assault for a domestic dispute.  Putnam County Sheriffs Deputies were called to a Patterson home on Sunday on a 911 report of a dispute. 

 

Deputies found a man bleeding profusely at the Bullet Hole Road home. 

 

An investigation revealed that 36-year old Erin Spillane of Brooklyn, New York had thrown a coffee cup at the man, striking him in the forehead.  Spillane also allegedly punched the man and used a flashlight to hit him. 

 

Spillane was charged with felony assault and held for arraignment. 

 

The man was transported to Putnam Hospital Center for emergency medical treatment.

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Newtown officials set referendum date on community center proposal

A proposal for a community center will be going to Newtown voters next month.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance along with the Legislative Council have all weighed in on the proposal for an approximately 13,000 square foot flexible programmable space and an aquatics center.  The Newtown Community Center Commission has proposed the development adjacent to the municipal center and NYA Sports & Fitness Facility on the Fairfield Hills campus. 

 

The referendum will be held on April 5th at Newtown Middle School from 6am to 8pm.  Residents are being asked to accept or reject the $15 million gift from GE along with $5 million in bonding in the town's Capital Improvement Plan. 

 

The aquatics center would have a zero entry pool and an 8-lane, 50 meter pool.  The plan calls for a small dedicated space for legacy foundations created in memory of the 20 children and six educators who were killed on 12-14.  In terms of the programming in the flexible space, Newtown officials would seek input from the Commissions on Aging and the Arts and the Parks & Recreation Department.  Officials are hoping that bids come in allowing for a larger flexible space of 18,000 square feet.

 

Revenue would come from memberships, events and day passes for pool use.  Memberships would give people priority access to sign up for programming and events, and discounts on events.  The expense estimates include a director salary, custodial staff, part timers for programming, utilities and supplies.

 

All common areas of the center would be open to residents for socializing at no cost.

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Brookfield, Southbury receive 'America the Beautiful' grants

Two area towns are receiving grant funds from the state.  The 2016 America the Beautiful urban forest grants from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been awarded to 13 municipalities and four non-profits. 

 

The grants are designed to advance urban forestry in Connecticut and planning for the future. 

 

Brookfield has been awarded nearly $3,500 for the Still River Greenway Enhancement Project.  Southbury is receiving $8,500 for Community Park Trees along Route 67. 

 

Communities are encouraged to undertake projects that improve the health and condition of the urban forest, through tree plantings, tree maintenance projects or invasive species removal, and also lead to greater awareness of the importance that trees play in lives of the state’s citizens.

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Drugs found after loud exhaust leads to police search of vehicle

A New York man has been arrested on drug related charges following a routine motor vehicle stop.  New York State Police from the Brewster barracks pulled over 24-year old Forrest Rainford on Thursday on Route 22 for having a loud exhaust. 

 

An investigation revealed that Rainford had marijuana, concentrated cannabis and cocaine in his possession. 

 

He's been charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor possession and unlawful possession of marijuana.  Rainford was arraigned and ordered held in Putnam County Jail on bond for a court appearance this afternoon.

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Newtown man announces candidacy for State House of Representatives

A Newtown man has declared his candidacy for the state House of Representatives.  Kyle Lyddy is seeking the 106th District seat currently held by Mitch Bolinsky.  Lyddy's brother, Chris, previously served two terms in the position.  Kyle Lyddy works at Amplitude Marketing Group and is chairman of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Lyddy says some of his goals would be to attract more businesses to Newtown, support laws to protect people from gun violence and speak up for grants and resources to help Newtown continue on a path of recovery.

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Parents laud Boston Marathon bombing victim killed in crash

BOSTON (AP) -- The parents of a Boston Marathon bombing survivor who died in a car accident over the weekend say their daughter did not have "a single note of bitterness" about the deadly 2013 attack.

 

Victoria McGrath, who received serious shrapnel injuries in the bombings, died Sunday in Dubai.

 

Her parents, Jill and Jim McGrath, said in a statement Tuesday that she responded to the bombing with determination and humility.

 

The McGraths issued the statement through Northeastern University. The 23-year-old Victoria McGrath, of Weston, was scheduled to graduate this spring from the Boston university's business school.

 

The McGraths said their daughter worked with underprivileged and disabled children. Since the marathon bombings, she had also worked with veterans. They said she had empathy for veterans because of her experience recovering from physical and non-physical injuries.

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Redding Police raise $10k in childhood cancer research fundraiser

More than $10,000 was raised by the Redding Police Department for the St Baldrick's Foundation.  Their effort to raise awareness of the lack of funding for childhood cancer research is more than just helping an extremely underfunded cause. 

 

One of their Officer's has a son who is battling cancer. 

 

Members of the Easton Police Department raised more than $1,250 for the cause.  The two departments came together at Joel Barlow High School yesterday where students raised over $20,000.

 

(Photo: Redding Police, Twitter)

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3 teens charged for using fake IDs at Danbury liquor store

Three teens have been charged and a Danbury liquor store is under investigation for serving to the underage parties.  Danbury Police received anonymous complaints of alcohol being served to minors at the New Pembroke Package Store. 

 

On Friday, law enforcement conducted surveillance of the store and saw three patrons who bought alcohol even though they looked to be under the age of 21.  The three were stopped by uniformed police who determined they had fake IDs and were much younger than what was listed. 

 

Two 17-year olds and an 18 year old were issued infractions.  Their parents were told of the enforcement action, and the fake IDs were seized.  The enforcement action was purchasing or making false statement to procure liquor by a person forbidden to purchase and possession of liquor by a minor on a public street. 

 

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection interviewed the manager of the business and will be following up with possible administrative action.

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NJ couple arrested for Danbury apartment rental scam

A New Jersey couple has been arrested for bilking a man out of $15,000 in a rental scam in Danbury.  Police received a complaint in January from a man who said that he found a Craigslist posting for an apartment at Poets Landing on Hayestown Road in Danbury. 

 

The victim said that he looked at the apartment twice, once with 41-year old Brian Barry and the next with his wife, 30-year old Amber Barry.  Brian Barry told the man they were relocating to New Jersey and wanted to rent the apartment. 

 

 

 

The victim signed a rental agreement, paid first and last months rent, a security deposit and a lump sum to lower the monthly rental cost. 

 

Shortly after moving in, the victim found out that the Barry's didn't own the apartment and were former tenants. 

 

The couple was extradited from New Jersey to Danbury where they were arrested.  Each has been charged with 2nd degree larceny and held on bonds of $50,000.

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Easton Police Commissioner enters plea in 'Operation Juice Box' case

The last of the men caught up in a steroid and oxycodone distribution ring allegedly headed by a former Newtown Police Sergeant has entered a plea.  The final man named in the Operation Juice Box investigation has waived his right to be charged by a grand jury indictment. 

 

Raymond Martin entered a not guilty plea last Wednesday to one count of use of telephone to facilitate the commission of a drug trafficking felony.  The Easton Police Commissioner was arrested in July for conspiring to possess oxycodone with intent to distribute.  At that time he took a leave of absence from town agencies.

 

11 others were charged in the case.  Three have been sentenced to probation.  Five others, including former Sgt Steven Santucci, await sentencing.

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Buck Foundation grant to help Danbury homeless shelter operations

A Danbury philanthropist is providing funding to the City's homeless shelter.  The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation grant of $20,000 will go toward the Day and Evening Homeless Shelter Operations and programs. 

 

The state is requiring all applicants to try to find local sources of funds due to the pending flat or reduced funding during the next application cycle and the ever-increasing pressure on budgets.  Danbury Health and Human Services Director Scott LeRoy says this grant will help the City with future applications to the State for continuation of funding for the Evening Shelter Program. 

 

LeRoy says this grant will help keep existing programs in operation in order to help local clients who rely on the City's Shelter programs. 

 

There are no matching funds required from the City.

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Tribe, MGM join forces to fight Connecticut casino plan

A tribe in Kent, Connecticut has joined forces with MGM to fight a state law that allows only two federally recognized tribes to pursue a new casino in the state.

A federal lawsuit announced Monday by the leader of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation says the state law is unconstitutional.  Chief Richard Velky says MGM, which has filed its own lawsuit against the state, is providing financial assistance for the Schaghticoke suit.


The law created a multi-step process for the tribes that own the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun to build a third casino together.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe say they want to compete with the planned MGM Resorts casino across the state line in Springfield, Massachusetts.

MGM also has challenged the state law, arguing it can compete to build a casino in Connecticut but was excluded by the law.

 

A spokesman for MMCT Venture, the company formed by the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes said Velky's operation being bankrolled by MGM is a startling revelation.  MMCT says this should raise a red flag for anyone who is concerned about MGM's plan to steal jobs from Connecticut residents.

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Couple accused of cruelty after officials seize 130 animals

A husband and wife have been arrested and charged with animal cruelty after authorities seized more than 30 horses and numerous other animals from their property. 

 

Police say 36-year-old Thomas Olajos and 37-year-old Melanie Olajos are each charged with 35 counts of cruelty to animals stemming from the alleged mistreatment of 32 horses, 78 chickens, 19 rabbits and two dogs.  The animals were seized from Fairy Tail Equines in East Hampton last month following an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture that found the animals were malnourished and living in unhealthy conditions. 

 

Thomas Olajos was also arrested by state police on an outstanding warrant charging him with issuing a bad check to a farm in Woodbury.

 

The couple’s arrest on the animal cruelty charges came after an investigation that found they failed to provide proper food, water, veterinary care and shelter to the animals, despite the efforts of state animal control officers to allow the couple to voluntarily improve the animals’ treatment.

 

The horses are being cared for at the department’s large animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic, and the other animals at various municipal shelters in the state. The department was granted temporary custody of the animals by a Superior Court judge on March 1.

 

According to the warrant used to secure the Olajos’ arrest, an examination of each horse by an equine veterinarian after they were removed from Fairy Tail Equine found that “the herd as a whole had been neglected and was underweight.”

 

A veterinary exam of the two dogs, both Great Danes, found that one was a 2- to 3-year-old male that was emaciated, with a lack of muscle mass and its ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones all evident.  The dog also had live fleas present, a superficial skin wound, calluses on both elbows, excessive discharge in its ears, whipworms, profuse diarrhea and anemia.  

 

The other dog, a 1-year-old old female, was underweight and also had live fleas, current and healed wounds, conjunctivitis, and excessive discharge from both ears. The condition of its teeth suggested that the dog may have been chewing on rocks and dirt. 

The chickens were underweight and malnourished when seized and most had little or no access to water. Necropsies on three of them found dead during the Feb. 2 seizure revealed that the birds were in poor body condition with very little content in their stomachs, minimal fat stores and other health issues including skin lesions and intestinal perforation consistent with aggression and cannibalism.

Ten chickens also in poor condition were found in a cage in the Olajos’ house, which is directly adjacent to the horse paddock. The rabbits, found in cages throughout the house, did have water and food available but both the animals and the cages were dirty.

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Bristol man arrested at Bethel High School for interfering with police

A high school basketball game Friday had tensions running high between Bethel and Bristol. 

 

According to Bethel Police, parents and fans from Bristol became unruly and were yelling at Bethel coaches, referees and players. 

 

As Bristol fans began to leave the gym, an officer saw two girls provoking students from Bethel.  Police say they were yelling profanities and motioning as if they wanted to fight.  They were told to leave, but didn't move and had to be escorted out by police.

 

A Bristol man ran up and yelled that police had no right to touch his daughter, but it was later determined that the girl wasn't his daughter.  Officers tried to explain the situation, but 44-year old Roderick Hickey became unruly.  A crowd of Bristol fans gathered and were yelling and shoving.  Hickey had to be forcibly removed from the building after refusing to exit, but during the struggle both he and the officer fell to the ground. 

 

Hickey claimed his back was injured from a recent surgery and that he was in pain.  An ambulance was called, but he refused medical attention. 

 

Hickey was charged with breach of peace and interfering with an officer.  He is due in Danbury Superior Court next Tuesday.

 

Due to the large size of the crowd and the growing hostility, Bethel Police requested assistance from Danbury and Newtown Police, who responded to the scene.

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Two Democrats announce campaigns for 30th state Senate District seat

There is going to be an open seat in the Connecticut Senate district which includes New Milford.  Current state Senator Clark Chapin announced in November that he would not seek another term in office. 

 

Shortly after the Republican's announcement, Litchfield GOP Representative Craig Miner declared his intention to seek the 30th Senate position. 

 

Two Democrats are also vying for the post.  New Milford Board of Education chairman David Lawson has the town party's backing in his campaign.   He is serving his 5th term on the Board of Ed.  Another Democrat, attorney Bill Riskka is looking to take the open seat.  He ran twice against Chapin.  The Democratic caucus will be held in May.

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Weston native who survived Boston Marathon bombing killed in overseas car crash

A Connecticut native who survived the Boston Marathon bombing has died in a car crash overseas.  Victoria McGrath, a Weston native, along with another Northeastern University student died in a car accident, reportedly in Dubai.  The Boston-based school confirmed their deaths in a statement today.  Northeastern said that the University community's hearts go out to the family and friends of Victoria McGrath and Priscilla Perez Torres in this extremely difficult time. 

 

McGrath was just five feet away from where the first bomb went off near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.  A person nearby used a t-shirt to tie a tourniquet on her shrapnel-pierced leg and a Boston firefighter carried her to a medical tent.  That image became one of the iconic photos of the day. 

 

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded in April 2013.

 

McGrath was reunited with the men who helped her after the Massachusetts Governor publicized her search for the rescuers during one of his televised press conferences after the bombings.

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I-84's westbound lanes in NY reopen after truck crash

KENT, N.Y. (AP) State police say a westbound stretch of Interstate 84 in New York City's northern suburbs has reopened after being closed for about two hours when a tractor-trailer crashed and overturned.

Troopers say I-84's westbound lanes were closed after the crash in the area of Ludingtonville Road at exit 17 in the Putnam County town of Kent, near the Connecticut border. All westbound traffic was detoured off the interstate to Ludingtonville Road until the lanes were reopened around 7:30 a.m. this morning.

 

(Photo Courtesy: NYSP)

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Community mourns loss of nun, teacher in car crash

SOMERS, N.Y. (AP) A suburban New York community is mourning the loss of a nun and longtime teacher who was killed in a two-car crash.

The Journal News reports 80-year-old Barbara Heil was pronounced dead at the scene in Yorktown around 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Heil was on the faculty of Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers for nearly 50 years.

School officials say Marie Murphy, another nun who's also on the faculty at the high school, was severely injured in the wreck. It's unclear what her condition is.

A school spokesman says a team of specialists will be at the school beginning Monday to offer counseling to students.

A funeral Mass will be held Friday.

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Local veteran touts bill aimed at helping vet-owned small businesses

Legislation has been introduced by State Senate Democrats to help veterans who want to open small businesses in the state.  Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce founder Michael Zacchea of Brookfield says the more than 42,000 veteran owned businesses in the state produce about $20 billion worth of state gross product.

 

The bill would give veteran owned firms additional bidding preferences under state contracting laws and waive payment for the first year's business entity tax for veteran owned start ups.

 

“The Chamber was founded on the principle of helping military veterans coming out of service to start their own businesses,” said Zacchea, Lt. Col. USMC (ret.).

 

“We wanted to help veterans reintegrate into civilian life, and one way to do so is by lowering barriers to entry for new businesses. A preference for veteran-owned micro-businesses and a waiver of the business entity tax for newly-registered veteran-owned businesses in Connecticut would go a long way toward helping veterans. Additionally, we believe it would help stimulate the economy, recognize the importance of the veteran workforce, and provide a return on the state’s investment in hard-working, entrepreneurial veterans.”

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Brookfield officials mull audit options over $3.3 million discrepancy

Brookfield officials now have a plan in place to resolve a $3.3 million bond fund discrepancy.  The full amount is not eligible to be re-bonded.  $1.9 million in bonds will be reauthorized, which included the cost of issuance.  The difference would come from the Fund Balance. 

 

Town officials would have to decide how or if to replenish the Fund Balance.  The Board of Finance discussed the possibility of a one-time special assessment for all households and businesses in town.

 

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. 

 

Some have called for a forensic audit, similar to the one performed after the school district overspent its budget by $1.2 million over two years. 

 

Board of Finance chairman Rob Gianazza says the town deserves and requires a thorough investigation by whatever authority is appropriate to investigate it.  While not saying that every last penny should be spent to find a smoking gun, Gianazza says he's concerned this might be minimized before an investigation is even started.

 

Board member Sean Hathorn says a "risk versus reward" analysis should be done once officials decide what level they want to go to in figuring out what happened to this money.  He says then quotes should be secured and evaluated.  If it's going to cost $1 million to find out what happened to $1.5 million, he says it might not be worth it in the long run.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says there should be a full investigation, but that the town has to be up front with residents on how much it will cost.  He notes that they will have to detail the cost of an auditor and then make a determination if that's what should be done.

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Danbury officials updated on drinking water quality

With concerns around the country over the quality of municipal water, a Danbury City Council member asked for an update on the quality of Danbury's water supply.  Councilman Warren Levy asked not only how it's maintained, but also whether the new winter road treatment material used has an effect on water quality.  Danbury changed winter road treatment practices this season.

 

Public Utilities Superintendent David Day said Danbury doesn't have any compliance issues.  He notes that corrosion control is optimized, so the City is operating fine.  Day says the supply meets all federal and state drinking water standards requirements and regulations.

 

The Michigan town which switched its water source in 2014 while under state financial management to save money, is under a state of emergency.  Lead from aging pipes leached into drinking water, and a Legionnaires' disease outbreak potentially linked to the Flint River caused nine deaths.  Tests have shown high lead levels in some Flint children.

 

If consumed, lead can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency sent letters Monday asking all states to determine within 30 days that they are using correct procedures for treating and sampling water. Of special concern is treatment to prevent corrosion that would enable lead and copper to leach into tap water, which is what occurred in Flint.

 

Michigan officials did not require Flint to add anti-corrosive chemicals when the city began drawing water from the Flint River after switching from Detroit's water system.

 

The EPA also wants states to make sampling results and other information public to restore confidence in the nation's drinking water.

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Congress considers bill to address opioid epidemic

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced the Prevent Drug Addiction Act of 2016 in response to the opioid and heroin epidemic gripping communities throughout Connecticut and the nation.

 

The Senate is voting this week on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill cosponsored by Esty that addresses drug addiction by providing badly needed resources for treatment and recovery programs. 

 

The Prevent Act complements that effort by focusing resources on addiction prevention strategies including a consumer education campaign, training for medical practitioners on best practices when prescribing opioids, and a new management program specifically for Medicare beneficiaries who are at risk of prescription-drug addiction.

Esty serves in Congress on the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.

 

She says confronting opioid addiction means ensuring families have access to the treatment services they need to recover and move forward. But Esty says treating this epidemic isn’t enough, prevention from becoming addicted in the first place needs to be addressed.

 

Specifically, the Prevent Act would:

 

Help states and non-profits conduct culturally sensitive consumer education about opioid addiction, with priority given to communities with high incidence of addiction and addiction-related deaths;

 

Strengthen training requirements for medical practitioners eligible to prescribe opioids or participate in opioid treatment programs to include additional training on pain management treatment guidelines, early detection of opioid addiction, and the treatment of opioid-dependent patients;

 

Require opioid treatment programs to make acceptable arrangements for patients to receive needed medications on days when the program is closed for business to reduce the risk of relapse for patients in recovery;

 

Strengthen opioid overdose and mortality reporting requirements and create a National Opioid Death Registry housed in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS);

 

Require HHS to establish and disseminate prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment quality measures for all relevant health care provider settings; and

 

Create a new drug management program under the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan to prevent high-risk Medicare beneficiaries from becoming addicted to prescription drugs.

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Small fire at Stop & Shop quickly extinguished

There was a small fire at a Stop & Shop location in Danbury Friday night.  Firefighters responded to 72 Newtown Road around 7:30pm.  The fire was reported in the compressor room and brought under control within minutes.  There was smoke reported in the building.  No injuries were reported.

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Brookfield Republican Town Committee primary results stand

The top 25 Republicans elected in a primary for the Brookfield Town Committee won their positions even after a recount.  The votes were tallied again Friday morning and there were just small differences between the counts from Tuesday. 

 

There were little more than a thousand ballots cast with 31-percent of Brookfield Republicans voting. 

 

The primary was prompted by a petition following a January caucus.  There were 49 candidates seeking 25 positions on the Brookfield Republican Town Committee.  The caucus endorsed slate holds a small lead, winning 13 seats and the opposition taking 12.

 

Unofficial RTC Primary Vote Totals from Tuesday:

Robert Belden - 555

Kevin McCaffrey - 545

Andrew Ellis - 539

Greg Dembowski - 535

Ryan Murphy - 535

Martin Flynn - 531

Gerard Friedrich - 530

Steve O’Reilly - 530

Christy Petriccione - 528

Fred Ball - 526

Mark Ferry - 521

Scott McCarthy - 521

Jerome Murphy - 518

Catherine Malek - 515

Rose DeMarco - 513

Harold Shaker - 509

Steven Cioffi - 509

Mike McManus - 508

Christopher Lynch - 503

John Mangold - 500

Paul Checco - 497

Geoffrey Hunton - 496

Amy D’Alessandro - 496

Jim Diezemann - 496

Paul Sedor - 496

 

Christine Visconti - 495

Matthew Grimes - 494

Nelson Malwitz - 493

Carmine Rositano - 492

Thomas Murphy - 492

Marie Sturdevant - 491

Melissa Marici - 489

George Blass - 487

Edward Bossio - 487

Linda Taylor - 487

Steve Villodas - 485

Renee Santiago - 484

Loretta Donovan - 483

Thomas Shevlin - 483

George Walker - 482

James Vulcano - 481

Matthew Moscatilli - 479

Victor Katz - 476

Daniel Sturm - 475

Austin Samuelson - 474

Clara Willey - 469

Daniel Devorsetz - 467

Lawrence Miller - 466

Jeff Willey - 457

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Mahopac man arrested for jewelry theft

A Mahopac resident has been arrested for an alleged theft from a house in town.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that 28-year old Mikheil Kapanadze was charged Wednesday with felony burglary.  During the course of the investigation, the stolen jewelry was recovered from several locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx.  Kapanadze was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Correctional Facility on $40,000 bond.  A court appearance has been scheduled for Tuesday.

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Danbury Board of Ed member plans State House campaign

A Danbury Board of Education member is seeking the Republican nomination for a state House seat.  Michael Ferguson announced Friday night that he is launching his candidacy in the 138th District. 

 

The position is currently held by Republican Jan Giegler, who announced last month that she would not be seeking another term in office.  Giegler has held the position for more than a dozen years and was elected in November as Danbury Town Clerk. 

 

Ferguson holds Bachelor and Master Degrees from Western Connecticut State University.  He's served on the Danbury Board of Ed for the past two years.  He is an adjunct professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College and works at Danbury Hospital.

 

Ferguson said in his campaign announcement that he wants to help chart a new course for the state to stop Connecticut from a path of higher taxes, more debt and irresponsible spending.

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Scaghticoke Chief plans lawsuit against state over plans for 3rd Conn. casino

The Chief of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation plans to file a lawsuit Monday against the State Of Connecticut over plans for a third casino in the state.  Chief Richard Velky says a bill allowing for a commercial casino on non-Indian property, exclusive to the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, violates the 14th Amendment. 

 

Velky said in a statement Friday that without any competitive bidding or gaming study, Connecticut shut out the Schaghticokes from the  ability to develop a highly-valuable commercial enterprise.  He continued by saying that his Tribal Nation should have the same right to pursue this economic opportunity under the Equal Protection clauses of both the federal and state Constitutions.

 

The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans are the only two federally recognized Indian Tribes in Connecticut. 

 

But Velky said the state has a long history of discriminating against the Schaghticokes as they try to gain federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  He noted that one member of the state's Congressional delegation submitted legislation against the easing of requirements for recognition, supposedly because they didn't want another casino in Connecticut.

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Danbury receives 4 bids for lobbying services

Danbury has received four bids from lobbyists to represent the City at the state capital.  The Danbury Board of Education approved allocating $25,000 toward the effort before the City Council voted on their half of the cost this week. 

 

There was a question on why the City issued a Request For Proposals before all of the funding was approved.  Mayor Mark Boughton said they can issue an RFP, but can't award a bid until the funding is approved.  A bid has not yet been awarded.

 

Boughton says the process was done this way to give the City a leg up, and not spend several more weeks waiting for responses.  The high bid was $50,000, the lowest was for $30,000 and two proposals came in at $40,000.

 

The contract is for all of 2016, including special sessions.  The current General Assembly Session ends in May.  Boughton reminded Council members that a lot of work is done when lawmakers are not in session.

 

There must be mutual agreement for extension beyond 2016.  If Danbury officials decide that having a lobbyist on staff is worth the expense, Boughton will have to bring the extension option back to the City Council for approval because more money would be required. 

 

Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi said the bipartisan delegation represents the city well enough and he's not sold this is the right approach to trying to get more state funding back for the City.  He says he may be proved wrong in the end, but was one of thee council members to vote against the item.  Joining him in opposition were Councilmen Fred Visconti and Ben Chianese.

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Danbury man flees State Police in stolen car, crashes and runs away

A Danbury man is facing a number of charges after he stole a vehicle, led police on a car chase and ran from Troopers.  A State Police Trooper on North Street Thursday morning got a hit on his license plate reader indicating that plates on a passing car were cancelled on a different vehicle. 

 

There was a brief chase on Padanaram Road.  The motorist, later determined to be 44-year old Johnny Fernandez, drove recklessly and crashed behind a home.  K9 police units and Danbury Police searched the area for the man, who was later captured at his Division Street apartment. 

 

There was minor damage reported and no injuries.  A passenger in the car was charged with possession of marijuana and released.

 

Fernandez was charged with operating an unregistered motor vehicle, improper use of a license plate, failure to carry insurance, reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit, driving without a license, interfering with an officer, 2nd degree larceny and criminal damage to a motor vehicle. 

 

He was held on $20,000 bond for arraignment today.

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Suspicious incident at Southbury school bus stop not criminal in nature

A suspicious incident at a Southbury bus stop has been investigated by State Police. 

 

The Southbury Resident State Trooper's office received a complaint on Wednesday about an incident at the school bus stop at River Hill Road and Branch Road.  The complaint said that an elementary school aged student may have been approached by a white man parked near the stop. 

 

State Police conducted an extensive investigation and identified who the male occupant was.  Their investigation determined that the man was working as a contractor in the area and the incident was not criminal in nature. 

 

The case has now been closed.

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Danbury City Council agrees to spend $25k for lobbyist in Hartford

The Danbury City Council has approved allocating $25,000 for lobbying services in Hartford.  The Council took up the item during their meeting Tuesday night, but several residents spoke out against it.  The Board of Education has already appropriated $25,000 for the services.

 

The Council voted 18-3 in favor of the contract.

 

This idea came out of a meeting with the Board of Education where they explained their difficulties in receiving adequate funds even though the student population grew by 2-percent this year.

 

New Britain, the eight largest City in the state, has a lobbyist.  They get $75 million in the Education Cost Sharing formula.  Danbury, which has a bigger school district, gets $30 million in ECS funding.  Mayor Mark Boughton says some of the strategies they're using are working so Danbury should make moves to change the dynamic. 

Bridgeport has three lobbyists.

 

Some Council members said the state is not likely to increase funding when cuts are being made elsewhere due to projected budget deficits.  But Boughton says sometimes it's about cost avoidance and possibly not getting a cut the City thinks it might have to take.

 

One of the main arguments against the spending was that Danbury has elected effective lawmakers to lobby on the City's behalf.

 

Boughton says this is not to say that current legislators from Danbury aren't doing their job, it's just that they're busy and have a huge agenda.  He compared having a lobbyist to having a quarterback so the City, the Board of Education and the lawmakers are all working on the same page.

 

Councilman Warren Levy says standing still doing nothing will get the City nothing.  At the end of the contract, if the City doesn't receive back the $25,000 investment they don't have to renew the agreement.

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State lawmakers consider expanding medical marijuana program to children

A bill which would expand the state's medical marijuana program to children with certain medical conditions received mixed reviews during a public hearing before the legislature's Public Health Committee this week. 

 

Lawmakers heard emotional testimony from parents of children suffering from various debilitating conditions, saying the drug can stop violent seizures.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher is against the bill.  She says her main opposition is that children, whose bodies are still developing, would be exposed to a substance which has been linked to numerous health complications even in adults.  Boucher says marijuana use has been linked to heart problems in young adults, suppression of the immune system and an even to increased instances of stroke in young users.

 

She says there are many experts that note the lack of rigorous scientific study on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana as medicine.

 

The state Department of Consumer Protection is requiring some language in the bill to protect the agency from legal penalties, maybe anticipating some problems in the future.

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Fire destroys house in Sherman

A fire in Sherman has left a house on Meadow Lane uninhabitable.  The fire was reported around 9 o'clock Thursday morning and was fully involved when firefighters arrived.  Fire officials say it took several hours to extinguish the blaze.  The home was unoccupied.  The cause remains under investigation.  Mutual aid was provided to Sherman firefighters by New Fairfield, Gaylordsville and Pawling, New York.

 

(Bernie Meehan, Facebook)

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NY State Trooper arrested for theft from Sheriff's Office

A New York State Trooper has been arrested for allegedly stealing from another police agency.  The Internal Affairs Bureau arrested 35-year old Marko Kos of Brewster Wednesday.  He's been charged with felony grand larceny. 

 

An investigation into the theft of $22,000 in landscaping equipment from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office in September 2014 led to Kos.  He was off duty at the time of the theft. 

 

Kos joined the New York State Police Division in 2003 and was a Trooper assigned to the Somers Barracks.  He's been suspended without pay. 

 

Kos has been arraigned in Southeast Town Court.

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Danbury man wanted for drug sales hit cop car, threatened officers

A Danbury man suspected of selling drugs from his home purposely crashed into an unmarked police car as he tried to flee officers yesterday.  Danbury Police obtained search warrants as a result of an investigation started weeks ago in response to neighbor complaints that drugs were being sold from a Triangle Street home. 

 

22-year old Kevin Patricio Pereira of Danbury was spotted Wednesday afternoon on Durant Street and was eventually taken into custody.  Search warrants were carried out at his home and police found narcotics, marijuana and cash. 

 

As Pereira's arrest was being process at the Police Station, he threatened the officers and intentionally damaged city property. 

 

He's been charged with possession of marijuana, a controlled substance with intent to sell, of crack cocaine with intent to sell and drug paraphernalia in a drug factory situation.  He also faces a charge of criminal mischief and three counts of possession of narcotics.

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Danbury appoints new principal for Broadview Middle School

A new principal has been appointed to Broadview Middle School in Danbury.  Edie Thomas, the principal of Pembroke School will start in her new position July 1st.  She will replace Edward Robbs, who is retiring after 18 years as principal at Broadview. 

 

Thomas has been principal of Pembroke since 2006 and previously served as an assistant principal at Broadview.  Thomas began her teaching career in Danbury in the Broadview Middle School music department. 

 

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says Thomas's middle school teaching and a decade of helping young students build strong foundations in literacy and math, make her uniquely qualified to lead middle school students toward a successful high school experience.

 

Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University, a master’s degree in special education from the College of New Rochelle, and a sixth-year professional degree from Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently completing her doctorate in education, curriculum, teaching and leadership at Northeastern University.

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Two men charged in connection with overdose in Weston

Two men have been charged in connection with an overdose in Weston.  Weston Police are investigating a drug overdose of a 22-year old man who was found unresponsive at a friend's home in January.  According to medical personnel, the man remains in a persistent vegetative state and unresponsive. 

 

It's alleged that the victim bought 30 oxycodone pills for $900 from 21-year old Tahir Farid of Hamden.  He took some of the pills, as well as other substances, which led to the overdose.  Authorities say 19-year old Ryan Looney, also of Hamden, supplied Farid with oxycodone pills prior to his sale to the victim. 

 

Each has been charged with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of oxycodone.  Both have been released on bond. 

 

The Monroe Police Department is assisting in the investigation.  The investigating TaskForce includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.

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Oxford woman charged with unemployment compensation fraud

An Oxford woman has been arrested for illegally collecting thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits.  48-year old Angela Skyers has been charged with 1st degree larceny and unemployment compensation fraud.  She allegedly collected more than $8,000 in benefits while she was working as a college professor.  She was listed as an employee at Quinnipiac University.  According to the arrest warrant, Skyers fraudulently collected the unemployment benefits from August through October 2012 while she was actually employed.  She has been released on bond for a court appearance on the 10th.

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Local lawmaker weighs in on tougher penalties for school threats

The Zero Tolerance Safe School Environment Act was up for a public hearing Wednesday before the legislature's Judiciary Committee.  The bill would increase the penalties for making threats against schools. 

 

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

 

The current Class D crime is punishable by 5 years in prison, but the bill would change the crime to Class C, which has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith was among the committee members who asked questions about this bill.  He wondered if the bill would have an effect on youths if they don't know the difference between the classifications.  Stamford Superintendent James Connelly responded the big incidents are mostly cases of swatting.  He says it's not teenage pranksters, it's cyber terrorists.

 

Smith says the bill should differentiate between a some third party actor and a student.

 

Smith says he understands the devastating effect these threats have on the community and the school system, so for an outside person the high penalties are certainly justified.  For a student, Smith says maybe they're not aware of how much damage their actions cause.

 

Smith also called for education throughout the schools to make kids aware that this is no longer a prank and can be characterized as terror and has serious ramifications.

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UPDATED: Brookfield Republican Town Committee primary a close call

A recount will be held this week in Brookfield.  Many of the final vote tallies for seats on the Brookfield Republican Town Committee were too close to officially decide the winners.  Less than a half percent separated 18 of the 49 candidates seeking the 25 positions so a recount was automatically triggered.  The recount will take place at 8am on Friday.  There were little more than a thousand ballots cast.  If there is a tie for any of the final seats, a second primary will have to be held.

 

Initial counts put the results at a 13-12 split between the two slates, with the caucus endorsed group slightly ahead. 

 

Current chairman Matt Grimes, Vice chairman George Walker and one of the opposition leaders, Larry Miller were defeated. 

 

The candidates who appeared to have won are: Fred Ball, Bob Belden, Paul Checco, Steven Cioffi, Amy D’Alessandro, Rose DeMarco, Greg Dembowski, Jim Diezemann, Andrew Ellis, Mark Ferry, Martin Flynn, Gerard Friedrich, Geoffrey Hunton, Christopher Lynch, John Mangold, Catherine Malek, Kevin McCaffrey, Scott McCarthy, Mike McManus, Jerome Murphy, Ryan Murphy, Steve O’Reilly, Christy Petriccione, Paul Sedor, and Harold Shaker.

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Danbury Democratic Town Committee leader loses bid for committee seat

Danbury Democrats from three wards turned out at the polls yesterday to select members to the Danbury Democratic Town Committee.  Chairman Joe Walkovich lost his bid to retain a seat on the committee.  Former Mayor Gene Eriquez, who ran in the same ward, was successful.  If there are more than four people in any ward seeking a seat on the committee, a primary is held. 

 

In the 1st ward, the winners were Joan Bielizna, Linda DaSilva, John Goncalves and Dennis Perkins. 

 

In the 2nd ward, the winners were Helene Abrantes, Bernie Gallo, Ken Gucker and Jean Leitz.

 

In the 5th ward, the winners were Joe DaSilva Jr., Gene Eriquez, Andrea Gartner and Martha Rhodes.

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Connecticut priest charged with stealing from parish

SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) -- A Roman Catholic priest has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the parish where he once served as pastor.
 

The Rev. Honore Kombo of Weston was arrested this week on a first-degree larceny charge. Police did not say how much they believe he stole from St. Augustine's parish in Seymour, but a first-degree larceny charge is for thefts of more than $20,000.

 

Kombo, who was removed as pastor of the church in July, was released on $10,000 bond pending a March 14 court appearance. A phone number for him could not immediately be located.

 

The Archdiocese of Hartford said in a statement that it is cooperating with investigators and Kombo has been barred from serving as a priest.

 

Church officials told police that evidence suggested Kombo took money that a parishioner left for the church in their will. Five annuities were assigned to the church in the will, but only four were reported to church officials.

 

Seymour Deputy Police Chief Paul Satkowski said the investigation began in April 2015. The probe also found that Kombo opened a line of credit in the church's name in 2013 and began depositing money from it into his own account.

 

One parishioner, Bill Wilkin, told the New Haven Register he was disheartened to hear about Kombo's arrest.

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Danbury Democratic Town Commitee Primary Results

A Primary for the Danbury Democratic Town Committee was held last night. A New Chairman for the Democratic Town Committee will be selected next week along with other officials.

 

Winners in the 1st ward , Joan Beilizna, John Goncalves , Dennis Perkins , Linda DaSilva . In Ward 2, Winners are Helena Abrantes , Bernie Gallo, Ken Gucker and Jean Leitz. In Ward 5 , Joe Dasilva jr. , former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez , Andrea Gartner, and Martha Rhodes.

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One killed, two occupants injured in Danbury house fire

A fatal fire in Danbury is under investigation.  Several 911 calls were made to Danbury Fire Dispatch around 12:30 Wednesday morning about a fire at 9 Stevens Street, near Fire Headquarters. 

 

Arriving firefighters found a two story residential home heavily involved in fire. 

 

Firefighters rescued an elderly adult male who escaped to a first floor roof through a window. He sustained burns and smoke inhalation and was transported to Danbury Hospital.   A second patient, an adult female, was also transported to the hospital for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation.  She escaped the structure on her own.

 

While searching, crews found the body of an adult female on the second floor.

 

 

Eight other occupants, four adults and four children, escaped the flames on their own with no injuries. Two firefighters were transported to Danbury Hospital with non life threatening injuries. 

 

(Photos: Mark Omasta, DFD)

 

The fire was brought under control shortly after 3am and is under investigation by the Danbury Fire Marshall’s division with assistance from the State Fire Marshall’s Office.

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Redding Police Chief to shave head in childhood cancer research fundraiser

Some members of the Redding Police Department are shaving their heads to raise money for childhood cancer research.  Children's cancers are different from adult cancers, and research for the diseases is extremely underfunded.  The Redding Police Department has a team of five participating in the St. Baldricks Foundation fundraiser.  Every dollar makes a difference for the thousands of infants, children, teens, and young adults fighting childhood cancers. 

 

But this hits especially close to home.  One of their Officer's has a son who is battling cancer.  Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says her son has been fighting the fight with a positive attitude and they wanted to do this in his honor to support him.

 

The team's goal was $1,000 but in the 72 hours that the fundraiser has been underway that was doubled.  As of Tuesday afternoon, the team was on the brink of raising $3,000.  He says raising cash and raising awareness is just part of this effort, for the Redding Police Department, it's about supporting one of their own.

 

Fuchs and others will be shaving their heads on Monday between 9:15am and 12:30pm at Joel Barlow High School.

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Danbury Mayor lobbies state lawmakers on behalf of CCM

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities annual "Day on the Hill" has been held by CCM members as they lobbied lawmakers at the state capital with their concerns.  CCM President Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says they're willing to help achieve fiscal stability, but that the state shouldn't cut municipal aid.  He says the "do no harm" attitude should be employed.

 

Some lawmakers have criticized cities and towns as not doing enough to achieve efficiencies in the cost of government.  Boughton said to be lectured by the state about being held accountable is absurd.

 

Some legislative leaders have also suggested state aide be tied to performance by towns in cutting local costs.  Boughton said the state should get their own house in order, because municipalities don't run deficits in their budgets.  He added that municipalities are still able to deliver critical core services and a quality of life that residents can be proud of.

 

Boughton says when the state levies new mandates, new funding doesn't follow.  He stressed that every new idea creates unintended consequences for cities and towns.

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Cease and desist order sent to Dorothy Day Hospitality House

Danbury has issued a cease and desist order to Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  City officials are hoping to persuade the Spring Street homeless shelter and soup kitchen to apply for special permission to operate the volunteer run facility in a residential neighborhood.  Dorothy Day's attorney wrote a letter to City officials asking for renewal of a permit which hasn't been valid in more than 30 years. 

 

It was discovered over the summer that they didn't have a valid permit.  Back in 1983 the Commission gave Dorothy Day permission to operate for one year, and only granted a one year extension. 

 

Attorneys for the City made the recommendation to the Planning Commission last month that they operate within the limits of current zoning regulations.  The recommendation is that the Commission take no action. 

 

Three reasons were given, one is that they don't have jurisdiction to approve Zoning Permits.  Another is that there is no valid permit in place for the use, and lastly because Zoning regulations don't provide for a one-year renewable approval.

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Accidents causing troubles East, West on I-84

An accident on Interstate 84 westbound in Newtown has been cleared.  The accident involved an overturned car between exits 9 and 8.  The right lane was closed by the crash site.

 

In Danbury, there is debris on the highway causing some delays.  It appears that a truck lost some cargo off to the left shoulder by exit 5.  The truck itself is off to the right shoulder by the exit ramp.  Reports are that some of the paint cans are still in the roadway itself.

 

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Danbury Democrats, Brookfield Republicans voting in Town Committee primaries

There are two primaries being held in the region today, one by the Danbury Democratic Town Committee.  They choose members by direct primary if there are more than four people in any ward seeking a seat on the committee. 

 

Danbury Democrats in the 1st, 2nd and 5th wards are being urged to vote today at the High School, Pembroke School and the War Memorial respectively. 

 

The Brookfield Republican Town Committee is also holding a primary today.  25 members are being elected out of 49 candidates.  A caucus in January nearly led to incumbent leadership losing their positions and the opposition group petitioned for a primary. 

 

There are about 3,500 registered Republicans in Brookfield. 

 

Polls are open until 8pm.

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NY official requests halt on natural gas pipeline

Nearly a dozen people were arrested for protesting at one of the sites in New York where work is being done to expand the Algonquin Pipeline.  A new pipe, doubled in diameter from the current infrastructure, is being installed from Pennsylvania through New England.  The pipeline runs between compressor stations in Southeast and in Danbury.  New York State Police arrested 11 people early yesterday morning for blocking two separate entrances.  They were charged with disorderly conduct after refusing to leave. 

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is being asked by New York officials to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline near the nuclear power station.  State health, environmental, utility and security agencies say they are launching an analysis of the safety risks from Spectra Energy's Algonquin pipeline. 

 

This month, Entergy revealed that radioactive water was found in three of 40 monitoring wells on site, the result of contamination from a radioactive isotope.  The Greater Danbury area is within a 50 mile radius of Indian Point.

 

Meanwhile, in Danbury, Spectra Energy has withdrawn its request to lease a small parcel of City land off Driftway Point Road for workspace where the expansion is happening.  Spectra would only say that they no longer need the property.

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