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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-09

NHS warns parents of upcoming drug search drill

A drug search drill will be held soon at Newtown High School.  Parents were sent an email from the principal this week alerting them to the annual activity.  Drug search dogs will be brought to the Newtown High School campus in the near future, and parents will be sent a follow up email prior to the drill so that they are not alarmed by an increased police presence.  During the drill, there will be a brief "shelter in place" order and hallway movement will be limited. Visitors will not be allowed into the building during that time.  The email to parents warning of the drill says that the search is in line with Board of Education policies and the goal of maintaining a drug-free campus.

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Regional planning group awarded federal grant

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments has be awarded a $50,000 federal grant. The money will be used for development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the region. WestCog is a regional planning group for towns stretching from Sherman down to Stamford.

 

Senator Chris Murphy says the strategy will provide the region with a long term plan to grow middle class jobs and integrate disadvantaged communities into the workforce. The funding comes from the Economic Development Administration.  

 

Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal and 4th District Congressman Jim Himes said economic development planning is essential for building stronger communities and creating highly-skilled, good-paying jobs.  They called the grant a wise federal investment that will go a long way in bringing economic revitalization to the Western Connecticut region.

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Danbury woman who killed baby freed from prison

A Danbury woman, who admitted drowning her newborn in a toilet a decade ago, has been released from prison.  26-year old Panna Krom had her 18-year prison sentence commuted by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this month. 

 

Krom said she killed the baby in 2006 because she feared the reaction of her family, from whom she had hidden her pregnancy. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2008. 

 

Krom told the board that she has changed her ways and now works to educate other young women about Connecticut's Safe Haven Law.  It allows newborns to be left at emergency rooms without fear of prosecution.  Krom said she now knows how irresponsible actions can lead to dire consequences, a notion that her 17 year old mentality could not accept. 

 

Her attorney said Krom was a model prisoner who earned her high school diploma.  Her lawyers had argued her sentence was harsher than those in similar cases and that she had been a model prisoner.

But Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III argued that Krom had agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter in 2008 and wasn't eligible for parole until 2019.

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3 Monroe stores sold tobacco to minors during inspections

Unannounced compliance inspections of places selling tobacco products have been carried out in Monroe by the State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program.  Monroe Patch reports that three establishments were caught selling tobacco to minors.  12 other inspections were conducted and the stores did not sell to those under age 18.  The three clerks and stores were issued $200 fines.  They are Brand Cigars on Roosevelt Drive, the Monroe Turnpike Service Center Sunoco and the Food Mart Shell station on Main Street.  Administrative action is pending.

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School threats soon carry felony punishments

Starting tomorrow, calling in a bomb threat or any kind of threat, to a school will no longer be a misdemeanor.  A new state law goes into effect with the start of the new month which includes tougher penalties.  Felony charges, which could result in prison time, can be levied under the new law.

 

State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says school lockdowns and evacuations can have lasting consequences on the children and adults who endure them.

 

Hwang says since the shootings at Sandy Hook School, more than 40 threats of violence have been made against schools in Connecticut, many perpetrated by adults.  He says these threats have become an epidemic, not only in Connecticut, but across the country.

 

Hwang says just last month the opening of the new Sandy Hook School was impacted by a terror call, but the perpetrator was tracked down and arraigned yesterday.

 

The new law received overwhelming bipartisan support and was backed by local school superintendents, law enforcement officials, and parents. 

 

Hwang says the new law sends a message that Connecticut has zero tolerance for school threats.  He says this is not a prank or joking matter, but one of significant impact and consequences to the well being of communities.

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Danbury police warn of telephone scammers claiming to be from Eversource

A scam involving Eversource Energy is once again circulating Danbury.  Police have received several complaints from businesses in the City saying that they received phone calls from someone claiming to be from the electric company.  Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the caller states that the electricity to the business will be shut off immediately if payment is not made. 

 

The caller has been instructing their potential victims to purchase pre-paid gift cards and give the pin numbers to the caller.  The scam artist is asking for Green Dot or iTunes gift cards.  Danbury Police are reminding residents and businesses that Eversource will never ask for instant payment over the phone or in person. 

 

Eversource will never require payment by gift card. 

 

Customers who are scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment will receive written notice via the U.S. mail, which includes the actions they can take to maintain service. 

 

Danbury Police are asking that you call the Department at 203-797-4611 to report such calls.

 

To verify any unsolicited contact, call Eversource at 1-800-286-2000.

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ARC partnering with Danbury for school mentor program

The Association of Religious Communities is collaborating with the Danbury Public School District on a program called K.I.D.S.--Kindergarteners In Danbury Schools.  ARC is helping to meet the need for volunteer mentors and now serves 250 students annually.  The program was launched two years ago by Charlie Schott. 

 

A pilot program ran for three years at the Morris Street School where over 13 volunteers have been building on successful models. Currently, KIDS has over 35 volunteers. 

 

In the past, IBM has donated over $9,000 to support the KIDS program.  Schott, a retired IBM Executive, has been working on expanding this program.

 

The mentoring program matches volunteers with kindergarten students in Title One (low-income) schools who will help the students improve their alphabet, reading, and math skills through classroom projects and educational games.  At the discretion of the teacher, students are mentored individually, in pairs or in small group.  Volunteers donate two hours a week from October through June.  The KIDS Initiative seeks to connect a caring adult with a child in need of academic support.

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3 suspects facing charges for Weston home invasion, burglary

Two Connecticut men have been arrested for a home invasion and burglary in Weston.  A 3rd suspect is being held at the Wilton Police Department.  Shortly after 1 o'clock Wednesday afternoon Weston Police and officers from surrounding towns responded to a Hidden Spring Drive home. 

 

The homeowner interrupted the burglary when he returned, and the three suspects got into a physical altercation with him.  They fled on foot into the woods. 

 

Weston Police Chief John Troxell says the three suspects were caught in the area of Newtown Turnpike within about 20 minutes. 

 

20-year old Leequaje Jackson and 18-year old Francis Tarik, both of Bridgeport, were charged with home invasion, burglary and larceny.  The car they abandoned in the driveway was reportedly stolen. 

 

State Police Western District Major Crime Unit responded to the scene.  Troxell says Weston officers and police from Wilton, Redding, Easton and Fairfield assisted with the response and apprehension along with a New Canaan officer who was working on a forensic case in the Weston Police Department forensic lab.

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Bethel man arrested for trespassing

A Bethel man has been arrested for trespassing.  40-year old Jonathan Havanick was arrested Tuesday for trespassing on Simeon Road.  He previously was served paperwork by State Marshalls barring him from the property.  During the Bethel Police investigation, it was discovered that Havanick was the subject of an active warrant in Danbury for his arrest for violating his probation.  He was processed and transported to Danbury Superior Court for arraignment.

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Bethel men arrested for stealing from mailboxes

Two Bethel men have been arrested for stealing mail out of their neighbor's mailboxes.  Bethel Police say 43-year old Dilsa Collado and 27-year old Steven Sautner were seen walking on Nashville Road taking packages from mailboxes.  Police found the two to with packages that were not theirs. Both were arrested last Thursday on larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny charges.  The pair were processed and released on a written promises to appear in Danbury Superior Court on October 4th.

 

 

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Teen arrested for growing marijuana plants

A teenager has been arrested in New York for growing cannabis.  New York State Police carried out a search warrant at a Somers home yesterday where there was a suspected marijuana growing operation.  Police seized two marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana inside the home. 

 

The 17-year old was also charged with unlawful possession.  The teen also faces a charge of criminal trespass for an unrelated burglary investigation that was launched in June. 

 

The teen was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

 

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Man involved in Sharon police stand off caught in New York

A Connecticut man who barricaded himself in his Sharon home after police tried to serve an arrest warrant Monday has been caught in New York.  28-year old Raymond Sprague, left during the more than 18-hours standoff. 

 

He was wanted in both Connecticut and New York. 

 

New York State Police located Sprague at a home in Amenia.  He was arraigned and ordered held for a court appearance Friday.  The Connecticut arrest warrant has been lodged with Dutchess County Jail. 

 

The New York charges stem from a domestic dispute on September 3rd  in the Town of Northeast, Dutchess County, New York.  Sprague was charged with felony Criminal Mischief, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Menacing, and Criminal Trespass. 

 

Connecticut State Police obtained an arrest warrant for Sprague on assault related charges.

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Teen seriously injured in scooter crash in Danbury

A serious motor vehicle accident involving a scooter is under investigation in Danbury.  Police responded to Hospital Avenue Monday night because of the crash involving a scooter and pick up truck. Danbury Police say 53-year old Carlos Jarrin of Danbury was making a left turn onto Forest Avenue, but struck 19-year old David Figueiredo who was operating the scooter westbound.  Jarrin says he didn't see the scooter.  Figueiredo was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.  He has since been released from the hospital.

 

(Contributed photo)

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State police: 1 killed in fiery crash in Westport

Connecticut State Police say one person was killed in a fiery accident involving a tanker truck and at least one other vehicle along Interstate 95 in Westport. The crash occurred around 6 o'clock last night when a Mercedes drifted into the truck causing it to strike the metal beam guardrail, roll onto its side, and hit a light pole and a tree. 

 

The truck then caught fire.  64-year old Thomas Patrick Reynolds of Woodbury was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The Mercedes struck the concrete barrier of the Saugatuck River Bridge.  35-year old Ramses Rival of Stamford appeared to be intoxicated, and failed Field Sobriety Tests.  He was charged with DUI and released on bond.

 

The highway was closed for about 12 hours.

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League of Women Voters forum with state House, Senate candidates

Some candidates for state legislature are taking part in a meet and greet with voters during a forum at Western Connecticut State University tonight.

 

The forum is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County.  The organization invited candidates in races for the towns they cover which are: Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Sherman and Danbury.

 

Tables will set up around the room, labelled by district, and the candidates will respond to two general questions from the League.  Voters will then have a chance to ask their own questions.

 

The forum is 7pm to 8:30pm at Warner Hall on WestConn's midtown campus.

 

Candidates from House Districts 2, 107, 108, 109, 110 and 138 along with Senate districts 24, 26 and 30 were invited to attend.  The confirmed candidates as of Wednesday afternoon are as follows:

 

House Districts
2nd Raghib Allie-Brennan
108th Richard Smith
109th David Arconti
110th Bob Godfrey
138th Jeffrey Tomchik

Senate Districts:
24th Kenneth Gucker
26th Toni Boucher, Carolanne Curry
30th Craig Miner

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NRA political arm makes endorsements

A list of endorsements has been released by the political arm of the National Rifle Association.

 

The NRA's political arm did not make any endorsements in Connecticut's congressional races.  Democratic incumbent 4th District Congressman Jim Himes and GOP challenger John Shaban received F grades.  The NRA was able to grade Shaban, a State Representative for Redding, in part for his vote in favor of the gun control bill approved following the shootings at Sandy Hook School. 

 

Democratic incumbent 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty garnered an F while her Republican challenger Clay Cope wasn't scored.  The Sherman First Selectman reportedly did not return the questionnaire. 

 

Democratic incumbent Senator Richard Blumenthal received an F grade.  Republican challenger Dan Carter of Bethel got a B+. 

 

All of the challengers in state House races in the Greater Danbury area were scored with a "?" for not returning the questionnaire.  The NRA's political arm only made a handful of endorsements.  One of them went to Craig Miner who is the Republican candidate for the open 30th District Senate seat, which represents New Milford.  The Democratic candidate, David Lawson, was not scored.


State Senate - District 24
(C-) Michael A. McLachlan, Incumbent R
(?) Kenneth M. Gucker D

 

State Senate - District 26
(F) Toni Boucher, Incumbent R
(?) Carolanne Curry D

 

State Senate - District 28
(F) Tony Hwang, Incumbent R
(F) Philip Dwyer D

 

State Senate - District 30
(A) (NRA Endorsed) Craig A. Miner R
(?) David A. Lawson D

 

State House - District 2
(?) William I. Duff R
(?) Raghib Allie-Brennan D

 

State House - District 67
(?) William J. Buckbee R
(?) Mary J. Lundgren D

 

State House - District 106
(F) Mitch Bolinsky, Incumbent R
(?) Eva Bermudez Zimmerman D

 

State House - District 107 *no challenger
(F) Stephen G. Harding, Incumbent R

 

State House - District 108 *no challenger
(D) Richard A. Smith, Incumbent R

 

State House - District 109
(?) Veasna Roeun  R
(F) David A. Arconti, Jr., Incumbent D

 

State House - District 110
(?) Emanuela L. Palmares R
(F) Robert D. Godfrey, Incumbent D

 

State House - District 111
(?) John H. Frey, Incumbent R
(?) Joseph N. Dowdell D

 

State House - District 112 *no challenger
(B) J.P. Sredzinski, Incumbent R

 

State House - District 135
(?) Adam W. Dunsby R
(?) Bonnie E. Troy D

 

State House - District 138
(?) Michael S. Ferguson R
(?) Jeffrey A. Tomchik D

 

State House - District 143 *no challenger
(F) Gail Lavielle, Incumbent R

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Former Brookfield School Finance Director sentenced

The former Brookfield school district finance director charged with larceny has been sentenced. 

 

Art Colley was ordered today to serve three years probation and to pay $1,000 to the district's activity fund in each of those years.  A court clerk said Colley was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service in each of the three years of his probation.  He has paid $76,000 in restitution to Brookfield.

 

Colley resigned in early 2014 amid accusations he overspent the district budget by $1.2 million. 

 

His assistant was granted accelerated rehabilitation this summer, a probation program which would eventually have the charges erased from her record.  Elizabeth Kerekes paid $26,000 restitution to Brookfield.

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Danbury school recognized by Sandy Hook Promise

During an assembly in Danbury on Friday, students at Pembroke School were recognized by members of Sandy Hook Promise for their commitment to reaching out to isolated students and creating a safe and inclusive school environment.

 

Eight schools out of nearly 600 schools nationwide participating in the February Sandy Hook Promise “Call-to-Action” week were recognized, including Pembroke.  Broadview Middle School was presented with a $10,000 check for being named the top school in the nationwide initiative. 

 

Pembroke students have been participating in the "Start with Hello" program, an initiative aimed at addressing social isolation which can be associated with violent and suicidal behavior.

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6 teens ticketed, liquor store under investigation after sales to minors

Tips from residents about Kenny's Wine & Spirits in Danbury selling alcohol to high school age kids has led to citations for the teens and an investigation for the permit holder.  Danbury Police conduced surveillance of the Federal Road store on Friday.  Over several hours, officers saw several teenagers enter the store and exit with purchased alcohol.

 

One car load of teens were later stopped by marked patrol units.  Police verified their ages, notified their parents and seized their alcohol.  Five teens from Brookfield and one from Danbury were issued infractions.  Two of the teens had fake IDs, but only one said they had to use the ID to make the purchase. 

 

Investigators later entered Kenny’s Wine & Spirit to talk with the permit holder and a store employee, both of whom were believed to have made illegal sales to the minors.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says it was alarming that several of the teens were warned by an employee when they were sold the alcohol that police were in the area. 

 

35-year old Heidi Salcedo will be referred to the state liquor commission for administrative action and further police action will follow.

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MADD recognizes lawmakers for work during 2016 session

A few area lawmakers are being recognized by an advocacy work for their efforts during the legislative session.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving has announced its “2016 Legislators of the Year”.  14 Connecticut lawmakers were recognized for their contributions toward preventing drunk driving tragedies.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith and State Senator Tony Hwang were honored for their work on two different laws.  One was to create a law beefing up the penalty for impaired drivers who have child passengers.  Another creates a diversionary program for underage drinking and motor vehicle violations.

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Sentencing postponed for teen Ponzi schemer

Sentencing has been postponed for a Danbury man accused of running a Ponzi scheme.  Ian Bick, who was charged when he was 19, was due to be sentenced on Friday but that's been delayed.  A new sentencing date for the Tuxedo Junction owner has not yet been set.  He violated the conditions of supervision by repeatedly traveling out of Connecticut without approval of his Probation Officer.  Bick has reportedly continued to raise money for his so-called business ventures and under false pretenses.  In addition to prison time, prosecutors are seeking nearly half a million dollars in restitution for his 27 victim-investors.

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Changes proposed to pensions for Danbury non-union employees

A committee of the Danbury City Council continues to work on amendments to the ordinance about pensions for non-union employees.  The committee was formed in January and will be meeting at least once more.  They gathered on Monday night to talk about what changes are being recommended.  The group is also tasked with coming up with a separate ordinance for people hired after a certain date for entry into a deferred contribution plan.  Mayor Mark Boughton says these changes would provide a more secure and balanced future retirement planning for the City.

 

He suggests a mechanism for employees to opt-out of the current defined benefit plan.  Boughton says the fewer people in the system down the road will reduce the administrative costs among other expenses.  He says that also gives employees the ability to control the destiny of their own retirement and how they structure it.

 

Boughton says he wants some of the complexity in the system to be reduced.  He notes that there are sections in the ordinance that no longer exist.  The eligible retirement age in Danbury for non-union civil servants is reached by the so-called rule of 85.  It's an addition of the employee's age and the number of years they have worked. 

 

Over the years though some employees have pointed out other parts of the ordinance which weren't clear.  Some people retired at age 54 and there was a question of if they could do that.  In trying to be a good employer, Boughton says the City agreed to various terms that were never clear and end up setting a precedent.

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Local lawmaker honored by Connecticut Police Chiefs Association

A local lawmaker has ben named Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.  Monroe State Representative J.P. Sredzinski, whose district also includes part of Newtown, was recognized by the group for his work on behalf of law enforcement during the 2016 General Assembly session.  The organization specifically honored Sredzinski for his work on the Public Safety Answering Points consolidation legislation. 

 

Sredzinski serves as the Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor for the Town of Stratford.  He's been a 911 dispatcher since he was 19-years old.

 

The bill originally called for regionalized dispatch centers as a cost saving measure, but Sredzinski and other opponents argued that this law punished smaller towns.  The bill ultimately was not brought up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

 

Sredzinski says the bill was well intended, but would have required municipalities to regionalized if they had under 40,000 people or were under a threshold of 911 calls taken per year.  He says that would have reduced the number of public safety entry points. 

 

Many of the towns already have a regional system, but for those towns that couldn't regionalized would have been penalized by the state.  Sredzinski says the legislation would have shorted funding for 911 equipment and for training.  An early version of the bill, which was changed several times, would have taken the authority of monitoring the 911 system out of that town's control.

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New Milford Town Council rejects Children's Center insurance ordinance

The New Milford Town Council did not approve a proposed ordinance to continue providing town health insurance coverage to employees of the Children's Center.  Mayor David Gronbach says a compromise previously negotiated with the Children's Center for subsidized private health insurance will be put in place in January.  Gronbach opposed continuing to offer town health insurance policies to non-town employees.  He instead suggested a compromise that included a cash payment to subsidize their health insurance at a Platinum level plan.

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Connecticut officials react to 1st Presidential Debate

Security was tight at Hofstra University for the first debate of the 2016 presidential election featuring Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. It was so secure, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who was not credentialed to be on campus, was escorted away by police after completing scheduled interviews.  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was not on the debate stage either.  The Commission on Presidential Debates requires minor party candidates to have at least 15% in five national polls.

 

 

There were some 2,000 protestors gathered at the designated free speech area, several blocks long. Police say there were about two dozen arrests, most for disorderly conduct

Classes had been cancelled for the day, but students were out in force marching and chanting for various causes.  They also displayed their candidate of choice on tshirts and signs. Debate viewing parties were held in locations in the student center and in dorms across campus.

Some students were in the debate hall. The first 350 students were given commemorative tickets for the event, but they spelled Hillary Clinton’s name wrong, leaving out one "L". University officials say they will reprint the tickets for the students who won the lottery to be inside the debate hall.

 

More than 700 journalists from around the globe gathered in the media filing center to cover the debate.

 

 

In a first, one of the candidates came into the Spin Room after the debate.  Trump was joined by his wife and children.

 

 

 

Surrogates for each of the candidates came into the Spin Room before and after the debate to talk up their candidate.  Mark Cuban, a Clinton supporter, and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence did media interviews.

 

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes was at Hofstra early Monday morning.  He said the volleyball team was playing in the parking lot with some journalists.  The pep band also played in the media gathering area into the early morning hours Wednesday.

 

Many members of the New York congressional delegation were in attendance.  Partly because the event was held on Long Island, but also because the two candidates live in New York.

Governor Dannel Malloy was at the debate in support of Clinton.  He says there was no comparison on issues and temperament between the two candidates.

 

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano says Trump did well.  He noted that Trump hit the nail on the head when he said that Clinton has been in politics for 30 years and the country is in serious trouble.

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Jury selection begins in Danbury murder case

Jury selection started today for a Danbury man charged with murder and assault.  20-year old Emanuel Harris will be tried as an adult even though he was 17 when he was accused of stabbing another teen in 2013.  Harris and 17-year old Luan Pitol attended a dance at the Harambee Youth Center and their two groups of friends got into an argument after a soda can hit the ground near one another.  Each group went on their way, but police said at the time that the two group then came together on Wooster Street.  Harris allegedly stabbed Pitol and another teen in the backs.  Harris remains held on $1 million bond.

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Car rear ends school bus in Danbury

There was a minor car accident involving a school bus this afternoon in Danbury.  A car rear ended a bus from St Joseph School on Main Street near Garamella Boulevard shortly after noon.  Police say the car became wedged under bus.  There were no reported injuries to the 8th graders who were on board at the time.

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Water main break reported in Danbury

There is a water main break in Danbury.  The state contractor working on the North Street expansion project hit the main, flooding the exit 6 on ramp.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the break has sent millions of gallons of water into the street.  The break happened shortly before noon.  The repair is expected to take 6 to 8 hours.  This is the second time in recent months that the contractor has struck a water main in the project area.

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Stores pass NY liquor sale compliance checks

New York State Police have conducted an underage drinking enforcement detail.  On Saturday, Troopers along with an underage volunteer, conducted the checks in North Salem, Somers, Pound Ridge and Lewisboro.  There were 10 stores checked, and all of them were found to be in compliance with New York State Alcohol and Beverage Control Laws.  No violations were observed during the checks.

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Danbury Man Arrested For Sexual Assault

In Danbury... a 64-year-old man was arrested this week for sexually assaulting a teenage girl earlier this summer. Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carrochio says Nelson Cassiano was taken into custody by police this week on an arrest warrant charging him with second-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. Cassiano was arrested for the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old-girl. He was held on a $200,000 bond after his arrest.

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New Milford Fire Crews Respond to Staples on Rt. 7

In New Milford... fire department crews were able to contain a fire that broke out at Staples on Route 7 this morning. Dispatchers say several engines responded to the retail store after a report of an electrical fire in the building. Customers were evacuated while crews responded to the fire. Authorities say the fire appeared to be under control around 10:30 this morning and no major structural damage to the retail store resulted from the blaze. There were no injuries.

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Danbury Fire Department opens new training building

Instead of cutting the ribbon on a new Danbury Fire Department training building, the Jaws of Life cut through a metal pole.  Danbury Fire Department training used to be done in a construction trailer.  Since April, members of the Danbury Fire Department have been taking classes in their new 6,000 square foot facility on Plumtrees Road.  The new facility has been 10 years in the planning, since the rebuilding of the burn tower, which is also located on the property. 

 

 

 

The new training classroom is also being used by 30 other fire departments around the region. 

 

Maura Juan, principal architect at 72Architects, worked with Chief TJ Weidl and Assistant Cheif Mark Omasta on the interior layout, free of charge.  She then shared the information with Friar Associates who continued the design work.  Hawley Construction and Nozzle Construction also worked on the project.  The overall cost was about $1.1 million.

 

Wiedl says in a time when other communities are making cuts in training and in facilities, they are blessed to have a community that takes care of the Fire Department.  He added that the Department will never let the community down.

 

Omasta says a major drainage project doubled the useable size of the property.

 

 

In the old construction trailer classroom, Training Officer Steven Rogers had to use a projector and could only teach to 10 students at a time.  Now there is state of the art technology, including a touch screen interactive smartboard.  In theory, the Fire Department could take a picture of every building in Danbury and use it for training purposes by adding a virtual fire and discuss how to tackle it. 

 

Rogers says they are constantly training to keep up on skills.  Once they stop practicing, they start to lose a safety factor.

 

25 students are currently enrolled in the Firefighter 1 training class.

 

Rogers says a $400,000 federal grant allowed the Department to purchase all new emergency radios.

 

Lt. Nick Cabral says 30 years ago, turnout gear was just rubber boots, a long coat and orange rubber gloves that stuck to skin in a fire.  It only let firefighters get a few feet in the door.  Today’s gear covers the entire fighter from a hood and helmet to coat, pants and boots.  Cabral says this allows them to push into a building, make more rescues and get more people out to safety.  The gear is fire resistant and can withstand 2.5 seconds of direct flame contact.   Today’s house fires burn at about 800 degrees. 

 

The radios and turnout gear represent about $3,500 worth of equipment.  Cabral says the gear they have now is innovative for its time because it’s considered “athletic”.  It’s designed to fit the firefighter perfectly and not leave skin exposed if they reach up or down.  The turnout gear is also lighter than it used to be.  The helmet is about 6 pounds, 30 pounds for the breathing apparatus and 25 pounds in bunker gear.

 

In addition to classroom training, the firefighters can practice a number of practical skills.  There are bailout trainings so that firefighters can safely evacuate from a building. 

 

 

Besides the training classroom building and the burn tower, there are donated vehicles which firefighters can practice using the Jaws of Life tool.  They now open battery-operated tools.  There is a burnt out car on the property with a fire that can be controlled remotely.  Firefighters can use that to train on what to look for when there is a vehicle fire. 

 

A structure on the property can be used to train on how to fight fires in attics.  There are built in rafters and a section of the roof that can be cut away for firefighters training to ventilate the roof of a home that’s on fire.  The saw that the department uses is specially designed to be able to cut through nails and hardwood.  Firefighters are also trained on how to “sound the roof”.  They constantly test roof strength for collapse. 

 

(Photo: City of Danbury)

 

Danbury has more than 2,000 fire hydrants, and yet that doesn’t cover the entire city.  Firefighters are also trained on how to use the tanker trucks, which pump water into a pool that can be used to supply water to fire hoses.  

 

Danbury’s HAZMAT truck is a regional asset paid for with state and federal funding.  It can be called to 43 towns in Northwestern Connecticut.  30 HAZMAT technicians undergo annual training.  They can respond to radiological, chemical and biological emergencies.  A “rad seeker” allows this specially trained unit to identify a radiological source and determine whether it’s a weapon of mass destruction, or medical radiology.  The state doesn’t have one of these tools, when the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection response to an emergency, they borrow Danbury’s tool.  The HAZMAT Unit is like a rolling warehouse with enough protection suits for 20 members of the units can go out on call. 

 

(Photo: City of Danbury)

 

A heavy rescue truck has tools for responses in confined spaces, trench rescues and ropes.  The Danbury Fire Department responds to Tarrywile Park to rescue hikers on average once a week.

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Massage therapist found not guilty in sex assault case

A jury has found a Monroe massage therapist not guilty on a sexual assault charge.  60-year old Bruce Smith was acquitted of the charge by a jury on Wednesday.  The claim against him was filed in 2014 by a client who told police that she was inappropriately touched.  Smith maintained his innocence.  He said in an emailed statement that his life was completely destroyed by the unfounded allegations of one individual and will never again be able to practice his profession due to all the negative publicity that followed.

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Danbury man robbed Wednesday, accused of stealing purse Friday

A Danbury man accused of stealing a purse from a car on Main Street was caught quickly.  Danbury Police responded to a report of a larceny early Friday morning.  The victim, who parked her car and went into a restaurant to buy food, said she returned about five minutes later to find her purse had been stolen. 

 

Witnesses described a man they saw near the vehicle.  He was later identified as 23-year old Lucas Viganor.  Officers later observed Viganor down the road in the parking lot of Walgreens, carrying two shopping bags. 

 

Viganor admitted to stealing the purse and using the victim's credit card to charge about $2,000 of merchandise.  He was charged with larceny and held on $10,000 bond. 

 

The Newstimes reports that Viganor was the victim of a robbery and assault earlier this week on Wooster Street in Danbury.

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Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in Danbury

A Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day is being held in Danbury this morning.  Residents from the towns of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield can participate.  It's being held from 9am to 2pm at the the Public Works building on Newtown Road. 

 

Proof of residency is required.  There is no cost or limit to dispose of items.  A licensed contractor will dispose of the items and is being paid with funding that each of the towns send to the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority.

 

The HRRA says this is a responsible way to get rid of products that require special handling.  Otherwise, it goes into landfills and can pose environmental issues down the road.

 

Paints, Stains and Varnishes, Paint Thinners, Polishes for Furniture, Floor & Metal, Cleaners for Upholstery, Ovens , Toilet Bowls and Drains, Swimming Pool Chemicals and Fluorescent Bulbs.  Also being accepted are Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides, Moth Balls, Lighter Fluids and Kerosene and Gasoline.  Rechargeable Batteries, Camera Batteries and Thermometers will also be collected.

 

Certain items will not be collected including electronics, empty Aerosol Cans, Auto Batteries and Tires, Controlled Substances and Pharmaceutical or Medical Wastes.

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ARC to host Concert Across America to End Gun Violence

The Association of Religious Communities and an interfaith group of area congregations is taking part in a national Concert Across America to End Gun Violence on Sunday.  ARC is co-hosting one of hundreds of concerts held across the United States.  In 2007, Congress designated September 25 as the National day of remembrance for murder victims. 

 

Rev. Phyllis Leopold, the Executive Director of ARC, co-chaired the concert at the Central Christian Church on West Street from 2pm-3pm.  Some of the congregations participating in the concert include B’Nai Israel, the Islamic Center of Western Connecticut, New Hope Baptist Church and the United Universalists Congregations of Danbury.

 

Leopold says the interfaith community is standing together to bring awareness to the need to end gun violence.  She says ending violence is a core principle of all major religions and notes that advances will come as faith communities unite in solidarity and service.  Organizers say it's a tribute that interfaith congregations are gathering to turn up the music and drown out the rhetoric that has sidetracked common sense gun safety legislation.

 

They peacefully gather and raise voices in song in hopes of bringing an end to the growing epidemic.

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Man seriously injures leg in motorcycle crash on highway off-ramp

A Danbury man involved in a motorcycle accident on the highway Wednesday sustain a serious leg injury.  State Police say 52-year old David Costello was exiting Interstate 84 westbound at exit 7 when he failed to negotiate the curve and dropped the motorcycle on its right side. 

 

The motorcycle slid across the road hitting a metal wire rope guard rail post off the left side of the ramp.  The man hit a support post with his left leg sustaining a severe laceration. 

 

Costello is listed at Danbury Hospital in fair condition. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information is asked to contact State Police Troop A at 203-267-2240.

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Weston woman accused for falsifying patient files for Medicare claims

A Weston woman accused of falsifying patient files for Medicare claims has pleaded guilty to obstruction of a federal audit and making false statements on an income tax return.  The U.S. Attorney's Office says 48-year old Danielle Faux entered the plea yesterday. 

 

Faux operates a physical therapy clinic in Norwalk. 

 

In 2009, a contractor for the Medicare program conducting an audit requested records of 40 claims for physical therapy.  The documentation was to support the services billed, including the physical therapy progress notes, physical therapy flow sheet/activity sheets, and any additional documentation verifying medical necessity for the physical therapy procedures.  According to statements made in court, the no patient progress notes or similar records existed that would support many of the Medicare claims so Faux told an employee to create such records. 

 

Faux admitted that from 2008 through 2011, she skimmed checks and cash proceeds from her physical therapy practice and did not declare it on tax returns.  She avoided paying more than $77,000 in taxes over the four year period.   

 

Sentencing is set for December 15.

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Danbury man charged for sexual abuse of boy

A Danbury man has been arrested for sexually assaulting a child.  55-year old Baltazar Lopez was charged yesterday with 4th degree Sexual Assault, Risk of Injury to a Minor by Sexual Contact and Risk of Injury.  Danbury Police received a complaint in mid-July about the sexual abuse of an 11-year old boy.  The suspect was identified as Lopez.  He was taken into custody without incident and is being held on 200-thousand dollars bond.

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Attorney: State accepts supervision of 48-year fugitive

SHERMAN, Conn. (AP) - An attorney representing a man who has been living in Connecticut as a fugitive for 48 years after fleeing a Georgia prison work camp says his client will be allowed to remain in the state.

Norm Pattis tells the Hartford Courant that Connecticut officials have accepted terms to allow 71-year-old Robert Stackowitz to stay in Sherman under the supervision of a state parole officer until 2022.

The Georgia Department of Corrections said this week that it would turn over Stackowitz's supervision to Connecticut if state officials agreed.

Stackowitz was arrested May 9 as a fugitive from justice after applying for Social Security benefits. He was serving a 17-year robbery sentence in Carrolton, Georgia, when he escaped in 1968.

Stackowitz had fought extradition to Georgia citing his deteriorating medical condition.

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Western Day of Service today in Danbury

Western Connecticut State University students will once again canvas the city in an effort to help out a variety of charitable organizations and agencies as part of the third annual Western Day of Service.  The event will begin with a welcome reception and ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, at Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White Street in Danbury, with speeches by Mayor Mark Boughton and WCSU President Dr. John B. Clark.

 

After the ceremony, approximately 500 WCSU students, faculty and staff will volunteer at a variety of activities to help area 49 organizations and those they serve. Work will include raking, trimming, weeding, cleaning offices, washing firetrucks, moving books, working with animals, picking up trash and painting.    Students will be also out today reading to school children, working at museums and cleaning the Lake Kenosia area.

 

The goal of the Day of Service is to connect the university with the community and for students to become more familiar with the Greater Danbury area.  Dean of Students Dr. Walter Cramer says this is also an effort to highlight the work of students during the year.

 

Among the places WCSU volunteers will serve are:

· Alternative Center of Excellence (ACE)

· City Center Danbury

· Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut

· Danbury Museum and Historical Society.

· Danbury Music Centre

· Danbury PAL

· Danbury Railway Museum

· Ives Concert Park

· Lake Kenosia Park

· Musicals at Richter

· New Street Fire House

· Still River Alliance

· Tarrywile Park

· Permaculture Garden

· Tails of Courage

· Western Rehabilitation Care Center

· YMCA Escape to the Arts

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'Concert Across America to End Gun Violence' to be held in Danbury

A benefit for Sandy Hook Promise is being held Sunday in Danbury. 

 

The Danbury Music Centre will host the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.  It's presented by composer and Danbury native Paul Frucht.  He says the concert is part of a nationwide series of concerts and live events that will all be held on Sunday to raise awareness of the approximately 12,000 Americans who are murdered by a firearm each year.  September 25 is the day designated by Congress in Remembrance of Murder Victims.

 

Frucht says the concert at Danbury Music Centre, which will be performed by recent graduates of the Juilliard School, will realize the mission of Sandy Hook Promise through music.  Musical selections will reflect the values of Sandy Hook Promise’s mission through their musical character, history of community engagement, and unique ties to the local community.

 

The concert is free with a suggested donation of $15. Proceeds will go to Sandy Hook Promise.  It's being held in the Marion Anderson Recital Hall at the Danbury Music Centre on Main Street at 3pm Sunday.

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New Milford Film Festival starts Sunday

A film festival is being held in New Milford starting on Sunday and running through Saturday October 1st.  Films and forums will be held throughout the week.  On Sunday night there was going to be a Q&A at Bank Street Theater with Mia Farrow following a screening of Rosemary's Baby, but Mayor David Gronbach says no one expects the Q&A to go forward following the death of the actress's 27-year old son Thaddeus.  There's been no official word though on if the Q&A will be cancelled.

 

Over 100,000 film lovers in over 250 cities will be viewing and voting on the Finalist’s Films in the 19th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival. Two shows are available this year in New Milford, and all of the finalists will be shown at each screening.

 

Mr. Deeds and the Six Wives of Henry Lefay were filmed in New Milford in the recent past and will be shown during the festival.  The screenings of each of these films are free.  There are a few ticketed events during the week-long festival ranging from $5 to $20, but many of the showings have been underwritten by local businesses.

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Ridgefield Police investigating possible drug overdose death

Ridgefield Police are investigating whether the death of a woman earlier this month was from a possible overdose.  The death of a 26-year old was reported to Ridgefield Police on September 14th.  Police say the investigation is ongoing and they are waiting to hear back from the Medical Examiner on the woman's cause of death.  Police spokesman Captain Jeff Kreitz told the Ridgefield Press that the woman died at her Ridgefield home and that heroin was suspected to be involved.

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Man robs, punches victim on City street in broad daylight

A man was robbed on a Danbury street in the middle of the afternoon Wednesday.  Danbury Police say a man was walking on Wooster Street to a bodega shortly before 2pm when a man walked up to him and grabbed the Versace sunglasses off his face. 

 

The suspect, later identified as 23-year old Devante Laurel of Danbury , started punching the victim and rifling through his pockets.  Laurel took the victim's phone and wallet. 

 

An officer was nearby and flagged down by the victim, who declined medical treatment. 

 

Laurel was charged with assault, breach of peace, larceny and robbery.  He was held on $10,000 bond.  A man by the same name has an upcoming court appearance on assault and strangulation charges filed by Bridgeport police in May.

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Man trying to get passenger with severed fingers to hospital causes three car crash

A man trying to get his brother to the Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in a workplace accident was involved in a three car crash on Triangle Street in Danbury Tuesday afternoon. 

 

Danbury Police say 20-year old Cody Ramirez of Bethel was trying to pass a car in the left turn lane of Triangle Street near Wildman Street when he hit a vehicle also travelling northbound.  That vehicle overturned and hit a mailbox and traffic sign. 

 

The force of the crash sent the vehicle into the car waiting to turn left.  A 69-year old Danbury woman, whose vehicle overturned, was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries.  She has since been released from the hospital.

 

The driver of the other car involved was not hospitalized. 

 

Ramirez was transported to the hospital for observation.  He was charged with reckless driving and released on a written promise to appear in court on the 30th. 

 

Ramirez's brother, 24-year old William Ramirez, had severed his fingers in a work-related injury.  He was treated and released from the Emergency Department.

 

Train service was halted Tuesday because the vehicles were near the Metro North tracks.

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Medical examiner: Mia Farrow's son Thaddeus killed himself

ROXBURY, Conn. (AP) Connecticut authorities have ruled the death of Mia Farrow's 27-year-old son, Thaddeus Wilk Farrow, a suicide, saying he shot himself in the torso.

State police said Thaddeus Farrow was found in his vehicle Wednesday afternoon in Roxbury with a life-threatening injury and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The state medical examiner's office determined the cause of death Thursday after an autopsy.

 

Mia Farrow says her family is devastated by the suicide of her son.  The actress writes on Twitter that the 27-year-old was a courageous person who ``overcame so much hardship in his short life.'' Thaddeus Farrow contracted polio in Kolkata, India, and was paralyzed from the waist down. The actress adopted him in the mid-1990s.

State police say Thaddeus Farrow lived in Torrington, about a 24-mile drive from Roxbury. Public records show he had lived at his mother's property in nearby Bridgewater until a few years ago.

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Newtown teacher who took gun in school had gotten threats

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- A former Newtown teacher who brought a loaded gun into school purchased the weapon after receiving threatening messages from conspiracy theorists claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre never occurred, his attorney said Thursday.

 

At his court appearance, Jason Adams, who resigned from Newtown Middle School following his arrest in April, received a form of probation that can lead to dismissal of the charges, The News-Times reported.

 

His attorney, John Maxwell, said Adams had received dozens of threatening phone calls and social media messages. One of the messages included a photo of his wife, Geri Adams, reading in a kindergarten class with the words "have fun reading to the dead children," Geri Adams said.

 

"We're just happy that this is finally over," she said.

 

The middle school is less than 2 miles from the site of the 2012 shooting rampage that killed 20 students and six educators.

 

On the day Adams was arrested, he said, he was running late and forgot to lock the gun inside his vehicle. There were no students in the school at the time, he said. Adams had a permit for the .45-caliber pistol, but state law prohibits firearms on school grounds. He was detained after a school employee saw the pistol and notified authorities.

 

Adams was placed on administrative leave after his arrest on weapons possession charges. He later resigned.

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Blue-green algae discussion to be held by Candlewood Lake Authority, WCSU

A seminar about water quality of Candlewood Lake is being held tonight.  Candlewood Lake Authority and Western Connecticut State University are hosting the presentation about Blue-green algae blooms and what's being done about them.  The blooms occur naturally in lakes and ponds across the nation, but there have been changes in the frequency and timing of blooms in Candlewood. 

 

Blue green algae can emit toxins harmful to people and pets.  People exposed to the toxins by ingesting, inhaling or coming into contact with the algae have experienced irritation of the skin and respiratory tract; vomiting; and, if large amounts of the toxins are ingested, ailments of the liver or nervous system.  Officials will discuss the potential health implications should a boom produce toxins and the steps the public should take to remain safe. 

 

There will be a question and answer session after the presentation.  The Candlewood Lake Authority partnered with WCSU recently on a blue-green algae toxin testing program.  The results of the testing will be revealed, and what it means for residents and users of Candlewood Lake.  The presentation is at 7pm. 

 

Last summer, Candlewood Lake saw its first-ever municipal beach closings due to new State guidelines which rely on a visual assessment indicating the potential of high blue-green algae toxin concentrations.  Samples from the sitings at the five town park beaches were collected and driven to a lab in Berlin, Connecticut for analysis.  It took several days to get the results back and for the beaches to reopen. 

 

The CLA now brings blue-green algae samples from Candlewood Lake and Lake Zoar for analysis to WCSU labs in Danbury.  CLA officials say quicker result turnaround times will be of great value to lake communities.

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NY man hit victim with crowbar, fled to Danbury

A New York man has been arrested in Danbury as a fugitive from justice.  New York State Police Troopers responded to a Putnam Valley home earlier this month on a reported burglary and assault.  The victim told police he went to his garage and was attacked by the suspect, later identified as 32-year old Julian Moreno.  He struck the victim in the head with a crowbar, but the other man grabbed the weapon and hit Moreno. 

 

A neighbor heard the victim call for help during the struggle and called 911. 

 

Moreno fled on his motorcycle and was later located at Applebees on Federal Road in Danbury.  The Cortland, New York man was extradited from Connecticut on Tuesday and arraigned. 

 

Moreno was ordered held on bond and is due back in court on October 6th.

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Man admits using Panamanian bank account to conceal $1.5M

A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty to hiding income from an undeclared offshore bank.  The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 53-year old Saul Hyatt of Weston used a Panamanian bank account to conceal more than $1.5 million from the sale of duty-free alcohol and tobacco products. 

 

He pleaded guilty Wednesday to hiding assets from the IRS.  According to court documents, Hyatt used a registered Panamanian corporation, Centennial Group, to buy and sell the duty-free products.  The alcohol was shipped through a customs-bonded warehouse in the Foreign Trade Zone in Florida.  Chinese-brand cigarettes, sold under the names “Chung Hwa” and “Double Happiness”, passed through a customs-bonded warehouse in New Jersey. 

 

From 2006 to 2012, Hyatt directed that $1,627,832 in profits be wired to his undeclared bank account in Panama.  Hyatt used the money to buy a Mercedes and to pay for $19,000 in interior design goods and services.  Hyatt admitted that this scheme resulted in a tax loss of $521,986. 

 

Sentencing has been set for January 6.  Hyatt faces up to five years in prison, supervised release and monetary penalties.  He's agreed to pay the IRS all taxes and penalties owed, and an $854,465 civil penalty for failure to disclose his foreign accounts.

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Danbury Aging in Place Council to unveil response to growing elderly population

The Danbury Aging in Place Council is holding a walking tour downtown this afternoon.  According to the latest census data available, more than 9,200 of the 80,000-plus people who live in Danbury are over the age of 65. 

 

The Council says national trends show that over the next 20 years that number is expected to increase by nearly 32-percent.  The Danbury Aging in Place Council says this dramatic demographic shift presents a unique opportunity and challenge.  They'll bel announcing their response to this profound and permanent demographic shift. 

 

The service providers and community leaders formed the Council in 2012 to give older residents the opportunity to live safely, independently, and with dignity in the home of their choice. 

 

The walking tour will be kicked off with comments from Mayor Mark Boughton at 2:30 outside Kimberly Place on Main Street.

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Wilton man arrested after allegedly trying to drown woman in pool

A Wilton man has been charged with assault and unlawful restraint after allegedly trying to drown a woman by holding her down in a swimming pool.  The Wilton Bulletin reports that the victim got away from 70-year old Michael Ruddy on Saturday and called police from a neighbor's phone. 

 

According to court records, he also faces charges of assault on an elderly person and disorderly conduct.  He was charged on Monday with violation of a protective order after allegedly trying to contact the woman through other people. 

 

Ruddy was released on $50,000 bond and was ordered to appear in court on October 4th.

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Monroe man pleads guilty to employee kickback scheme involving undocumented workers

A cleaning company owner has pleaded guilty to an employee kickback scheme involving undocumented workers. 

 

62-year old Anthony Diaz of Monroe waived his right to indictment yesterday.  The U.S. Attorney's office says the co-owner of Advantage Cleaning LLC, is also a manager at Advantage Maintenance Inc.  Advantage Cleaning provides custodial services and final cleaning for construction job sites.  Advantage Maintenance is a janitorial cleaning and maintenance service company. 

 

An investigation revealed that undocumented employees were required to kick back a large portion of the pay they received for work performed on prevailing wage jobs.  Employees who were paid between $37 and $41 an hour would cash their paychecks and return about $25 for each hour worked to Diaz. 

 

The Monroe man was interviewed by the IRS and Department of Labor agents in 2014, and denied all of the allegations against him.  He also reportedly made several false statements when asked whether the companies employed undocumented workers and about the cash kickbacks. 

 

Sentencing has been scheduled for January.  Diaz faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Eversource to conduct aerial inspections of equipment

Aerial inspections of high voltage electrical equipment is being conducted by Eversource Energy.  The high-resolution camera inspections began this morning in Fairfield County and will begin Monday in Litchfield and Hartford counties. 

 

The inspections are being done to detect potential equipment issues before outages occur, allowing the company to schedule necessary maintenance and upgrades.  The low flying helicopters will be in the region for up to three weeks. 

 

Weather permitting, two black MD500 helicopters with red registration numbers  N371EE and N500LK will be conducting the inspections between 7am and 5pm.

 

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Georgia allows 48-year fugitive to remain in Connecticut

SHERMAN, Conn. (AP) - A 71-year-old Connecticut man who has been a fugitive for nearly 50 years is expected to be permitted to live out the rest of his life in the state.

Prison officials in Georgia have accepted a plan to allow Robert Stackowitz to remain in Sherman if officials in Connecticut agree to supervise him.

Stackowitz was serving a 17-year robbery sentence at a prison work camp in Carrolton, Georgia when he escaped in 1968.

Norm Pattis, Stackowitz's attorney, says he's been led to believe that Connecticut will accept supervision.

Stackowitz had been fighting extradition due to his declining medical condition. He was arrested on May 9 as a fugitive from justice after applying for Social Security benefits.

If the terms are accepted, a parole supervisor would monitor Stackowitz until 2022.

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Vietnam War memorial service to be held in Danbury Saturday

A ceremony marking the anniversary of when the moving Vietnam Wall Memorial came to Danbury is being held.  The black granite monument was set up in Danbury several years ago to commemorate the wounded and war dead.  The traveling tribute is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C, though the wall will not be back in Danbury this weekend.  The ceremony is being held on Saturday at 10am outside of the War Memorial building in Rogers Park.  Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Danbury Veterans Council will participate in the ceremony.

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Connecticut Supreme Court to review landmark school ruling

The Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court has granted an appeal application by the state Attorney General in the education funding fairness lawsuit filed in 2005.  The case was subject to an interim appeal and a 2010 decision sending the lawsuit to trial. 

 

Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the case which claims Connecticut failed to fund schools adequately or equitably.

 

Attorney General George Jepsen argues that after finding that the plaintiffs did not prove that the state failed to provide adequate funding to public schools, the Superior Court Judge still determined that a number of Connecticut's education policies were unconstitutional. 

 

The Chief Justice offered the plaintiffs a chance to respond to the appeal application. 

 

While making his case directly to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Jepsen said that a delay in appellate determination would be a substantial injustice because the trial court has ordered extensive, sweeping changes within 180 days.  Jepsen notes that there is strong public interest in this case, and any delay would undermine public confidence in the Judiciary, leave the Legislature without proper guidance, or create an unnecessary constitutional confrontation. 

 

The plaintiffs disagree with Jepsen that an appeal is needed before the Legislature acts.  More than 50 witnesses, 800 exhibits and 2,000 fact admissions over a 60 trial days were followed by an extensive briefing.  A decision was made less than a month after the closing arguments.  The plaintiffs say the timeline shows the enormous importance of the case.  They say that if the Supreme Court finds affirms the Superior Court ruling, the remedy phase would have to be completed in order to enter into final judgement.  There would then be a third review and decision by the Supreme Court, months or years after the original ruling.

 

Jepsen says part of the decision would take educational policy from the representative branches of state government, entrusting it to the discretion of a single, unelected judge.

 

Since the Supreme Court has decided to take up the appeals case, the plaintiffs want all parts of the Superior Court ruling to be reviewed.

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GOP Senate candidate reacts to report that more than 800 immigrants mistakenly granted citizenship

The U.S. government mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants who had pending deportation orders from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud.

The Homeland Security Department's inspector general says in a report released Monday that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Such discrepancies weren't caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases.

The report does not identify any of the immigrants by name, but Inspector General John Roth's auditors say they are all from so-called ``special interest countries'' those that present a national security concern for the United States or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those countries.

 

Republican Senate candidate Dan Carter says the role of government is to protect and serve, and the Department of Homeland Security has failed to do that.  Carter continued by saying that vulnerabilities in the immigration and national security systems consistently expose innocent civilians to real threats here and abroad.  Carter questioned who is going to answer for what he call an "egregious breakdown of safety and security".

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Probate judge granted program that could erase attack charge

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut probate judge charged with choking his wife has been accepted into a diversionary program that could result in charges against him being dismissed.

Judge Martin Landgrebe appeared Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court, where he was accepted into the state's family violence education program. Charges of misdemeanor strangulation and disorderly conduct would be dismissed next year if he completes the program.

Landgrebe continues to preside at Housatonic Probate Court in New Milford. He and his lawyer declined to comment Tuesday.

Court documents do not identify the alleged victim, but Landgrebe's lawyer, David Moraghan, previously told the Connecticut Law Tribune that the woman is Landgrebe's wife. Moraghan says Landgrebe actually was the one assaulted by his wife last month at his home.

Landgrebe has filed for divorce.

 

A protective order limits his contact with the victim.  A protective order has also been issued against the woman limiting her contact with Landgrebe.

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Monroe Police to use former Chalk Hill School for three training sessions

Monroe school officials are putting out a warning for neighbors near the former Chalk Hill School.  Monroe's Superintendent says Police will be using the facility for training exercises on three dates this month and next.  Residents may see a large number of police vehicles in the parking lot, though the training will be conducted inside the building.  The Superintendent put out the dates of today, September 30th and October 4th so that residents would not be alarmed.  The school building had served as the temporary Sandy Hook School since shortly after the shootings in December 2012 up through this past June.

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Shaban opens headquarter for his 4th Congressional District campaign

The Republican challenger in the 4th Congressional District has opened his campaign headquarters.  John Shaban is not seeking reelection to the state House serving Easton, Redding and Weston.  He opened the district-wide headquarters in Bridgeport this month.  Shaban is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Jim Himes.  In choosing to locate his headquarters in the traditionally Democratic leaning city, Shaban pointed to a nonprofit organization there he founded called Giants in the Community.  It's focused on teaching underprivileged children to transfer their athletic efforts toward improving their education and life skills.

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State Police seek two suspects in Oxford residential robbery

State Police are investigating a home burglary that took place in Oxford yesterday morning.  The Oxford Resident Trooper responded to Pines Bridge Road around 11:40 yesterday morning on a report of a burglary.  Two white male suspects broke into a house and stole a Sony Laptop computer.  The suspects were last seen operating a small Hyundai SUV.  Anyone with information about the burglary or know the identity of the two suspects is asked to contact the Oxford Resident Trooper's Office at 203-888-4353.  All calls will be kept confidential.

 

 

 

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FirstLight announces drawdown schedule for area lakes

Planned drawdown schedules for some area lakes have been announced by FirstLight Hydro Generating Company. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that the water level of Lake Zoar at the Stevenson Dam power station will be drawn down starting on October 28th.  It's a short schedule, with water levels returning to normal on November 6th.  The following day,  FirstLight will drawdown the water in Lake Lillinonah at the Shepaug Dam power station.  Water levels are scheduled to return to normal on November 16th. 

 

These two are scheduled for inspection and maintenance of the equipment. 

 

The longest drawdown is scheduled for Candlewood Lake at the Rocky River power station.  That is set for November 1st through April 8th.  Decreasing the water levels is meant to expose invasive Eurasian water milfoil to the freezing temperatures in the hopes of killing it off.

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Redding woman admits to embezzling more than $250,000 from employer

A Redding woman has admitted to stealing more than a quarter million dollars from her employer.  A bookkeeper accused of defrauding the Connecticut company she worked for waived her right to indictment Monday. 

 

48-year old Lisa Landman pleaded guilty to wire fraud stemming from an embezzlement scheme. 

 

According to statements made in court, Landman authorized and initiated at least 33 wire transfers from the company’s business bank account into her own personal credit card account between November 2010 and November 2013.  She used the more than $250,000 for personal purchases including jewelry, clothing, vacations, spa treatments, fitness equipment and entertainment tickets. 

 

Landman faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced at a later date.

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NY man gets DWI after ditching friends on side of the highway

A Bronx man has been arrested after leaving friends on Interstate 684.  New York State Police from Somers responded to a reported disable vehicle early Saturday morning located on Interstate 684 near the Fairfield County border. 

 

Troopers learned that a passenger felt sick so the designated driver pulled over and brought the woman to the shoulder of the roadway.  While he walked her back to his car, 25-year old Anthony Velazquez got into the driver's seat and started to drive off. 

 

The victim grabbed onto the car hoping to stop Velazquez from driving, but the Bronx man continued to pull away and the victim fell to the ground and sustained a non-life threatening head injury. The victim was treated on the scene. 

 

Velazquez later crashed in the Town of Wappinger.  Troopers determined that he was intoxicated at the time. 

 

He was charged with felony assault and reckless endangerment in addition to the DWI.  He was arraigned and ordered held on bond.

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Dental services to be expanded at Greater Danbury Community Health Center

An oral health service expansion in the Greater Danbury area is being funded by an annual federal grant.

 

Connecticut Institute For Communities President and CEO James Maloney and 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty have announced that the Greater Danbury Community Health Center has received an annual Federal grant of $350,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration.  The funding will be used to expand dental services in the greater Danbury area.

 

Currently the Center has one part time dentist and one full time dental hygienists.  The Greater Danbury Community Health Center plans to add three dentists, two dental hygienists and five dental assistants to its existing dental team; along with two additional dental operatories.

 

Maloney says a large number of children and adults unnecessarily suffer the consequences of dental diseases because of the inability to access affordable preventive and treatment services in a timely manner.

 

Based on data from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Department of Education, the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, as well as local data, the Health Center found that there are more than 31,000 people in the Greater Danbury service area in need of preventive and restorative oral health care services. 

 

The federally qualified health center provides a comprehensive range of medical, dental and behavioral primary healthcare services to people of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay or their insurance status.  The services are provided on a sliding fee basis.

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Nonprofit sheltering 130 exotic birds found in home

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Parrot Rescue says it is providing shelter to more than 130 exotic birds that were rescued from a Connecticut home.

The Warwick-based nonprofit says the birds were discovered in the Weston, Connecticut, home on Thursday.

Authorities responded to the home after receiving reports of a foul odor in the area. Hundreds of snakes, turtles and other reptiles were also found in the home. Authorities say the animals were in deplorable conditions, and many of them were found dead inside their cages.

RIPR is requesting the public's help in getting the birds situated. The organization is requesting donations of towels, sheets and other supplies. More information is available on the organization's website.

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Former Danbury man shot and killed in Newark, NJ

New Jersey authorities say a former Danbury man shot in Newark has died from his wounds, the third fatal shooting to occur there in as many days.  Adam Sismour was shot early yesterday. The 34-year-old Madison man was taken to a hospital but died there shortly before 2 am. 

 

Prosecutors declined to provide further details, including what type of weapon was used. They said no arrests have been made and a motive remains under investigation. 

 

Sismour graduated from Danbury High School in 2001.  He graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2010 with a BBA Management.  According to archived articles from the Newstimes, Sismour served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was discharged in 2006.

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72-year old inappropriately touched 9-year old girl, years later sent lewd texts

A 72-year old Danbury man has been arrested for sexual contact with a minor.  A complaint was made to Danbury Police in March that Victor Handal had inappropriately touched a 9-year old girl in a sexual manner in 2010 at a Danbury home. 

 

Investigators determined that Handal sent inappropriate text messages to the same girl last year, when she was 15-years old. 

 

An arrest warrant was issued for Handal on charges of risk of injury to a minor for morals and risk of injury for sexual contact.  Handal turned himself in to Danbury Police on Friday. 

 

He was released on $30,000 bond for a court appearance on the 29th.

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Danbury man arrested for exposing himself to 9-year old girl

A Danbury man has been arrested for exposing himself to a girl at a party in May. 

 

Danbury Police received a complaint of the incident involving a 9-year old girl at a city home, which was then investigated by the Special Victims Unit.  An arrest warrant was obtained for 22-year old Carlos Samaniego-Ortega for risk of injury to a minor. 

 

Samaniego-Ortega turned himself in to Danbury Police on Friday and was held on $75,000 bond.

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New Fairfield family displaced by weekend fire

Minor injuries were reported in a New Fairfield fire, which has displaced a family.  The three New Fairfield fire companies, along with firefighters from Sherman, Putnam Lake  and Danbury responded to Flak Lane around 5pm on Saturday.  It took more than five hours for the blaze to be extinguished.  FIre officials say the house collapsed in on itself.  The homeowner and three firefighters were treated at the scene for minor injuries.  The house is considered a total loss and the American Red Cross is providing assistance to the Family.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Bethel road closure, Ridgefield's new stop sign

A couple of area towns have issued traffic warnings. 

 

In Bethel, Shelter Rock Road will be closed for paving from the Payne Road intersection near Meckauer Park to the Danbury town line, beginning today and continuing through the week. Closures will be in place from 7am to 4pm daily. Paving is expected to be completed by Friday. 

 

In Ridgefield there is a new stop sign.  The sign was just installed for eastbound traffic on Farmingville Road at the intersection of Ligi's Way.  This intersection will now be a four-way stop.  Ridgefield Police say this change was made at the recommendation of the local traffic authority to improve roadway and traffic safety.

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SEEC adopts agreement in Bethel mailer complaint

The State Elections Enforcement Commission met Wednesday and took up a number of complaints.  One was to adopted an agreement where Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,000.  The complaint was filed by Matthew Paulsen over a mailer sent out before the 2015 municipal election. 

 

It alleged that Knickerbocker used public funds to promote his reelection campaign by sending out a mailer October 22nd.  The letter from the First Selectman's Office included a Status report on the town's ongoing Road Recovery project.  Another mailer that went out a few days later was called A report to Bethel Residents Fall 2015-2016 which discussed progress in Bethel.  State statute says that no incumbent in office shall use public funds to mail or print flyers and other promotional material intended to bring about reelection in the three months leading up to an election.

 

The October 22nd mailer included a line that said "Funding will be requested to complete the project in 2016-2017 as part of the annual budget process in the spring of 2016."  

 

The SEEC found that neither mailing expressly advocated for or against a candidate for First Selectman, and considered whether the language was laudatory in advocating implicitly for reelection.  The SEEC found that the language touting progress was laudatory. 

 

Three prior complaints against Knickerbocker alleging violations while he was First Selectman were dismissed by the SEEC.  The Commission ruled that Knickerbocker must exercise an abundance of care in authorizing future communications by the Town of Bethel within 90 says of an election.

 

Knickerbocker said in the agreement that he believed the mailers were within parameters of state statute and that they were sent out in good faith. 

 

The settlement was made in July, the order accepted in August and then adopted this week.

 

Knickerbocker says he was disappointed by the ruling because it effectively means that mailings sent out by the town for many years, and were found to be acceptable by the same commission, are no longer acceptable.

 

Knickerbocker says the Commission is applying a tougher standard even though the law has not changed and it effectively amounts to a gag order.  He believes that in small towns, where the First Selectman is also the town manager and communicates regularly at taxpayer expense, it's a loss.  He gave the example of past newsletter issues containing information about being able to pay a water bill or property tax bill online.  Knickerbocker says in the past the SEEC ruled that as long as there is no laudatory language, normal communications were deemed to be ok.

 

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WCSU selects the 2016 Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year

A man who grew up in Newtown and founded a billion-dollar tech company is being honored next month by Western Connecticut State University.  Austin McChord, the founder and CEO of Norwalk-based Datto Inc., has been named as the Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year.

 

Ancell School of Business Dean David Martin says McChord has built a rapidly growing and highly innovative company that provides comprehensive data backup, recovery and business continuity services.  He founded the company in 2007.  Recognized for three consecutive years by the business magazine Inc. as one of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the United States, Datto posted year-over-year sales growth exceeding 50 percent and expanded into European and Pacific Asian markets during 2015.

 

McChord’s corporate leadership has earned prestigious recognitions including selection as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” top young entrepreneurs.

 

Western will honor McChord on October 5th.

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Task Force discusses Branchville Transit Oriented Development study

A Task Force meeting has been held on the Branchville Transit Oriented Development study.  During the meeting on Wednesday, the group discussed the plan to build on previous planning for the area including the Route 7 Corridor Study and the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Danbury Branch Line Study.

 

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is currently working with the Town of Ridgefield to identify measures that the Town and Region can take to encourage pedestrian and transit friendly development in the Branchville Station area. Ridgefield officials want to ensure that future development will provide an environment that is supportive of local residents, property owners, businesses, and commuters.

 

The goal is to deliver a draft plan by the end of October and to conduct the final task force meeting to review the plan in early November, concluding with a public presentation of the plan in early December.

 

The draft build-out analysis includes three concepts for development.  The preferred concept to guide the recommended zoning and design guidelines would accommodate 68,000 square feet of commercial space, 189 apartment units and 260 townhouse units.  This proposal requires a sewer connection to a wastewater treatment facility. 

 

Assuming a full build-out, the preferred concept would generate an additional $3.3 million in property tax revenue per year.  Planners say there will be a significant increase in revenue even when additional services such as roadway maintenance, emergency services, and infrastructure expansion are accounted for.  Planners say with a greater population in Branchville, the cost of services per capita would likely decrease.

 

An analysis of potential ridership increase at the station suggested an additional 71 riders per day under the full build-out scenario.  The estimate is based on existing service and could be expected to increase if service was enhanced.

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Foul odor leads Weston Police to menagerie of animals, dead and alive

Hundreds of animals, some alive and some dead, have been found in a Weston home.  Police responded to reports of a foul odor on Newtown Turnpike Thursday afternoon and made the discovery.  The Weston Forum reports that police found exotic birds, snakes and other reptiles.  Some of the animals have been brought to Weston Animal Control Officers. 

 

The state Departments of Agriculture and Energy and Environmental Protection also responded. 

 

14 exotic birds were rescued.  100 additional birds, mostly parrots and parakeets, were found in an aviary building on the property.  Some 4 dozen non-venomous snakes were taken out alive by a HazMat team. But the Forum reports that 80% of the snakes were dead.  Reptiles were also found.

 

DEEP Spokesman Dennis Schain says there were no animals present - either dead or alive - that violated state regulations concerning possession of exotic or dangerous animals.

 

Agriculture spokesman Steve Jensen says there was no livestock or dogs and cats, which are under their jurisdiction so no further response was needed.

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Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in New Milford

A Household Hazardous Waste Day is being held in New Milford this morning.  Residents from the towns of Brookfield, Bridgewater, Kent, New Milford, Roxbury, Sherman, Washington and Warren can participate.  It's being held from 9am to 3pm at the former John Pettibone School on Pickett District Road in New Milford. 

 

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says proof of residency is required.  There is no cost or limit to dispose of items.  Electronics can be dropped off for free at the New Milford Recycling Center.  A licensed contractor will dispose of the items and is being paid with funding that each of the towns send to the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority.  HRRA encourages these types of collection days. 

 

Gronbach says this is a responsible way to get rid of products that require special handling.  Otherwise, he says it goes into landfills and can pose environmental issues down the road.

 

Paints, Stains and Varnishes, Paint Thinners, Polishes for Furniture, Floor & Metal, Cleaners for Upholstery, Ovens , Toilet Bowls and Drains, Swimming Pool Chemicals and Fluorescent Bulbs.  Also being accepted are Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides, Moth Balls, Lighter Fluids and Kerosene and Gasoline.  Rechargeable Batteries, Camera Batteries and Thermometers will also be collected.

 

Certain items will not be collected including electronics, empty Aerosol Cans, Auto Batteries and Tires, Controlled Substances and Pharmaceutical or Medical Wastes.

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Bridgewater officials get update on Route 133 bridge project

A preconstruction hearing has been held by the state Department of Transportation about the next phase of the project along Route 133 in Bridgewater.  First Selectman Curtis Read says several town officials presented concerns to the DOT, their contractors and inspectors Thursday.  Read said in a written statement they realize the detour has been, and will continue to be, a major inconvenience for neighbors and travelers.  Route 133 has been closed twice so far for the bridge rehabilitation project. 

 

Local police  will be monitoring Northrup Street speeding.  Read asked the DOT to do a better job in sign placement and police presence to enforce the "No Through Trucks" prohibition.  Bridgewater officials want truck traffic turned around both in Brookfield and at the State Boat Launch.

 

Contractors moving the fiber optic lines should be finished their part of the job on the 27th. They were delayed by hard rock.  Route 133 will open for alternating one way traffic on the 28th if the schedule holds. 

 

The DOT road contractors will be on site until December 1st, when they will have an option to extend working if weather cooperates.  Route 133 will be reopened during the winter months.  Otherwise, the work will re-start on March 1st.  Route 133 will be closed again at that time, and the by-pass onto local Town roads will return. 

 

All work should be completed by next August.

 

The project is subject to an “incentive contract”. If they finish all work before August 1st, they get a hefty bonus of $20,000 a day.  If they're late they will lose that amount each day.  The total contract is $5.68 million.

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Brookfield, Bethel welcome new police officers

A number of local police department have new officers.  The Connecticut State Police Training Academy held its graduation ceremony Thursday night.  The Brookfield Police Department announced the graduation of Ben Gerstenmaier after 6 months of training.  Brookfield's newest officer will join the ranks of the Patrol Division during his first shift on Saturday when he will begin his twelve week field training period.  Bethel Police congratulated Officers Beamonte Fekieta on graduating.  They will go through 16 weeks of Field Training with senior officers before heading out on patrol on their own.

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Short circuit determined to be cause for Ridgefield fire

The Ridgefield Fire Marshal has determined the cause of a fire that did extensive damage to a Midrocks Road home this week.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the fire was caused by a short circuit in wiring found in the ceiling of the laundry room.  Fire Chief Kevin Tappe previously said that the fire was ruled accidental.  Two teenage girls were at home at the time, and escaped uninjured after smelling smoke coming from the basement.  When firefighters arrived, Tappe says the flames were 20 to 25 feet in the air.  Half of the home was destroyed by the blaze while the other half sustained smoke and heat damage.  Danbury and Georgetown fire departments provided mutual aid.

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Annual Health and Public Safety Fair in Newtown Saturday

The Newtown Health District is hosting their 23rd annual Health and Public Safety Fair tomorrow.  The event is being held in a new location, Reed Intermediate School.  That's due in part to a new addition to the fair, the MEGA Body Exhibit.  It's a walk through model of the entire human body. 

 

Other features include free health screenings for vision and skin cancer, blood sugar and blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI tests.  The screenings are being sponsored by various groups including the Newtown Lions Club , Bethel VNA and Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut.  Western Connecticut Health Network/Danbury Hospital will also be on hand.  The health fair is tomorrow from 9am to 1pm. 

 

The Newtown Arts Festival is also taking place tomorrow, at the Fairfield Hills campus.

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Pretrial ruling in Sandy Hook families lawsuit against Remington

There's been another pre-trial ruling in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by some Sandy Hook families against Remington Arms.  A Superior Court Judge this week refused the gun manufacturer's request for an early judgement in the case.  The trial is not slated to start until 2018, and the judge wrote in her decision that she would hear Remington's argument for dismissal in December 2017. 

 

The Judge said, in part, that due to the complex nature of the issue more discovery is needed so the court will hear all motions for summary judgement on the same day. 

 

The families of nine children and adults killed, and a teacher who survived, claims that Remington knew the AR-15-style rifle was dangerous and meant for the military but sold it to the public anyway and should be held accountable. 

 

Remington Arms is the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which made the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting.  Their lawyers argue the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.

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Danbury woman agrees to fine in SEEC ruling

The State Elections Enforcement Commission met this week and ruled on a number of complaints. 

 

One was filed against HAT PAC treasurer Helena Abrantes.  The complaint was filed by former Danbury Democratic Town Committee chairman Joe Walkovich against the political action committee headed by former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez. 

 

The SEEC found that Abrantes, who is a member of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee, failed to file financial disclosure statements in a timely fashion and failed to aggregate contributions to the PAC in financial disclosure statements.  She agreed to pay a total $300 fine and the matter was adopted by the SEEC on Wednesday. 

 

Eriquez has temporarily stepped away from leadership duties as chair of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee while charges are pending against him.  He is due in court on the 29th on charges of assault, disorderly conduct and interfering with a 911 call.  The case has been referred to a family relations officer.

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Hearings on proposed rail fare hike wrapped up

The last of the hearings by the State Department of Transportation on a proposed rail fare increase was held last night.  The DOT wants to hike Metro North and other rates by 5-percent.

 

Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher says the state must economize and become more efficient, rather than turning to an already overburdened taxpayer.  Boucher says the state cannot ask commuters for more when the Malloy administration has give their own employees overly generous wage increases.  She cited a 12-percent raise to over 200 of the Governor's staff.  Boucher says to turn around and hike rail tickets is patently unfair.

 

Boucher says the proposed increase is astronomical compared to past proposals.  She noted that it's also on top of 1-percent every year the DOT is assessing.

 

Lawmakers from Fairfield County have been collecting petition signatures against the proposal.  Boucher says that's because their constituents are disproportionately affected by the proposed increase.  She also says their constituents are the largest taxpayers in the state in helping to fund the entire state.

 

Connecticut commuters pay more than New York riders because the state of New York subsidizes their train ticket 50-percent.  Connecticut only subsidizes the cost of a ticket by 25-percent.

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Man killed in New Fairfield motorcycle accident identified

The man who died in a motorcycle accident in New Fairfield has been identified.  Officials say 51-year old Mario Luis, a Sherman volunteer firefighter, lost control of his motorcycle on Route 37 near Handol Lane Wednesday night.  The accident happened around 7:30pm.  Luis was named "Firefighter of the Year" last year, an honor not given out annually but rather based on the dedication of a member who deserves recognition.

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Newtown man arrested for trying to lure 13-year old girl into car in Bethel

A Newtown man has been arrested for trying to pick up a 13-year old girl in downtown Bethel.  42-year old Ronald Lee Jr was arrested Tuesday on charges of risk of injury to a minor and impairing the morals of a minor. 

 

A girl told her parents that a suspicious man approached her on August 14th as she walked along Greenwood Avenue and asked for directions to a local coffee shop.  The man drove away, but then pulled up to the same girl and asked her if she could go with him to show him where Bethel Cinema was.  The girl declined and immediately went home to tell her parents that the incident scared her. 

 

At the time, there was no clear indication that a crime occurred, but the Detective Bureau continued their investigation.  The next day, the girl saw the same car and gave the license plate information to police. 

 

Officers interviewed Lee at his Newtown home where he admitted to asking for directions.  During another interview at the Police Station, Lee admitted that he found the girl attractive and was interest in dating her.  When asked what her age was, he said between 15 and 17.  Lee then admitted that he would have asked her to see a movie and tried to kiss her if she said she would go with him. 

 

Lee was released on $1,000 bond.  He is due in Danbury Superior Court next Friday.

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Family of three displaced by fire in Ridgefield

A fire caused extensive damage to a Ridgefield home last night.  Two teenage girls were at their Midrocks Road home shortly after 6pm last night when they could smell smoke coming from the basement.  Ridgefield Fire Chief Kevin Tappe says the girls were able to get out of the home on their own and were not injured.  Their mother was down the street walking the family dog.

 

When firefighters arrived, Tappe says the flames were 20 to 25 feet in the air.  Half of the home was destroyed by the blaze while the other half sustained smoke and heat damage.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though Tappe says it has been ruled accidental. 

 

Engine 1 came from headquarters are was first on the scene.  The two firefighters were able to knock the fire down quickly.  The closest firefighters are from the Ridgebury station around the corner, but they were out on a medical call near the Danbury town line.  About 30 volunteer firefighters also responded to the scene and were at the house for about two hours. 

 

Danbury and Georgetown fire departments provided mutual aid. 

 

The two girls and their mother, who Tappe said were renting the home, were put up at a hotel for the night.  Neighbors are collecting donations for the family at St. Stephen’s Church office at 351 Main Street.

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Connecticut to appeal landmark education ruling

Connecticut's attorney general will appeal a landmark court ruling declaring the state's education funding system unconstitutional and calling for reforms.  Attorney General George Jepsen announced the appeal to the state Supreme Court on Thursday. He says the legislative and executive branches - not a judge - determine state education policy.

 

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled last week in an 11-year-old lawsuit that the state must submit plans to overhaul its education system and change its school funding formula within 180 days.

 

The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of cities, towns, school boards, parents and students. Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the suit.  The plaintiffs say the current system relies too heavily on local property taxes and favors wealthier towns, resulting in a big gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says the Attorney General’s decision to appeal does not negate the urgency to take action for students. Malloy says legislative action is always preferable to a judicial decision, and that it would be prudent to address the systemic problems in a serious manner in the 2017 legislative session.

 

Malloy hopes this marks the start, rather than the stalling, of a statewide dialogue around finding a better way to fund schools, which ultimately results in a better solution for our students and communities.

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Former Newtown teacher's gun case postponed

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- A court hearing for a former Newtown, Connecticut, teacher charged with carrying a loaded pistol in school has been postponed.

 

Jason Adams was scheduled to appear in Danbury Superior Court on Thursday for arguments on his application for accelerated rehabilitation, a probation program that could result in the charges being erased.

 

The hearing has been rescheduled for Sept. 22.

 

The former Newtown Middle School teacher was charged in April with carrying a loaded .45-caliber pistol inside the school. Adams had a valid permit, but state law prohibits firearms on school grounds.

 

The middle school is less than two miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Adams resigned after being placed on administrative leave following his arrest.

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Bethel schools outline rules on providing lunch to students with negative account balances

Bethel School officials are outlining their rules about providing lunch to students who have negative balances on their accounts.  Included in a newsletter sent out at the start of the new school year, Bethel officials said they recognize that lunches or lunch money get left behind sometimes and a child needs to charge a meal. 

 

Unfortunately, the schools say some large individual negative balances have been created, and they are not legally allowed to carry those balances.  Some new restrictions are now in place. 

 

Children are never allowed to buy snacks, drinks or other a la carte items without paying for them in cash or charged to a child’s account that has money on it. 

 

Elementary and Middle School students will be allowed to purchase up to three meals without payment in emergencies.  After the charge limit is reached, an alternative meal consisting of a cheese sandwich, fruit, vegetable and milk will be offered to the student, and be added to the balance due.  As students approach the charge limit, they will be warned that future purchases will be restricted. 

 

High School Students are permitted two charged meals.  No alternative meal is offered. Additionally, during the final three weeks of school in May/June, there is no charging allowed at all at the high school so that we may collect negative balances of graduating students.

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Lawmakers graded in 2016 Environmental Scorecard

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters is out with its 2016 Environmental Scorecard.  The scorecard shows how lawmakers voted on environmental bills in this year's legislative session.  Executive Director Lori Brown says the scorecard highlights lawmakers who voted for good environmental bills, while also seeking to expose those who worked to kill bills designed to help the environment.

 

While some progress was made on behalf of the environment, Brown says advocates will be working next session to pass legislation which fell short this year.

 

Among the Environmental Champions are Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle, as a leader on the public water supply; Senator Tony Hwang for being a leader on protection of waterways; and Kent Representative Roberta Willis for working toward a Constitutional amendment for open space, and on the Housatonic River Wild & Scenic designation.

 

In every session there is back room deal-making which the organization can't score.  But they did put a few lawmakers on their so-called Dirty Deeds list for working against what the organization saw as good environmental legislation.  The  Connecticut League of Conservation Voters says Southbury Senator Rob Kane blocked a bipartisan flame retardant bill that would have protected the health and safety of children and firefighters.  The  Connecticut League of Conservation Voters says Litchfield Representative Craig Miner, who is running for the Senate District which includes New Milford, blocked a good government transparency bill, spoke against a constitutional amendment bill for open space, and tried to kill a bill to  protect pollinators.

 

Lawmakers were scored on 13 bill votes. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher and Hwang each scored 100 this session.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan scored 80-percent while retiring state Senator Clark Chapin of New Milford scored 70-percent.

 

Danbury Representative David Arconti scored a 90

 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky scored a 67

 

Retiring New Milford Representative Cecelia Buck-Taylor scored a 43

 

Bethel Representative Dan Carter scored a 75

 

Ridgefield Representative John Frey scored a 86

 

Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey scored a 70

 

Danbury Representative Jan Giegler scored a 63

 

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding scored a 70

 

Southbury Senator Rob Kane scored a 78

 

Litchfield Representative Craig Miner scored a 58

 

Redding Representative John Shaban scored a 70

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith scored a 50

 

Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski scored a 44

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Danbury woman pens book about blood cancer diagnosis, treatment, and aftermath

A Danbury woman is sharing her journey through a dire blood cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the aftermath.  Mary Teicholz served ten years on the Danbury City Council and was diagnosed with leukemia while serving her second term.  She has now written a book about her experience.

 

She brings readers through the emotions associated with lengthy hospital stays, hair loss and blood type changing.  Part of her treatment involved a bone marrow transplant from her sister.  She says the unexpected side effect of her blood type changing from B positive to A positive was phenomenal and creepy.  It meant the transplant was working.

Teicholz says it's not meant to be a book that makes people cry, but rather serves as encouragement.  It's called "BE POSITIVE TO A PLUS: My Trek Through MDS, AML and Bone Marrow Transplant".

 

Teicholz says part of her personality is to be extremely honest and to find humor in unusual circumstances, and that's how she hopes the book comes across.  A few friends encouraged her to write down her trek, and she decided to do that as a history to hand down in the family.  But then she just kept writing, and it became a book.

 

She is hosting a book launch party in Danbury tonight, where the book will be available for sale.  The launch will be held at  VIVO! Bar and Grill, 42 Lake Ave. Ext, from 6pm-8pm.

 

Website: www.bepositivetoaplus.webs.com


Books are available for purchase from www.lulu.com or Amazon.com and Barnes And Noble.

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State Police warn of email traffic ticket scam

State Police are warning people about a traffic ticket email scam that's circulating.  State Police recommend that people read all emails carefully, and not to send money. 

 

Their biggest piece of advice is to look at the details carefully: the vehicle tag number, the state, date and if you were driving in the location where the supposed violation took place.  If not, it's likely a scam. 

 

State Police are asking that people not click links included in these emails and to delete them.  If you want to be absolutely sure, search for a phone number or email address online for the appropriate agency, and not use contact information provided in the email.

 

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Investigation continues into Wilton, Ridgefield student fight

The investigation continues into an assault at Wilton High School between a group of Wilton students and a group from Ridgefield High School.  The Ridgefield Press reports that at least one person over age 18 is included in the investigation. 

 

One Ridgefield High School was injured during the incident in which the students went to the rival school as part of a scavenger hunt, which reportedly included the task of urinating on the Wilton field. 

 

Wilton Police told the Press that the two sides have not been cooperative and that there is contradictory information coming from those involved.

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New Town Planner approved by New Milford Town Council

The New Milford Town Council has unanimously voted to approve a new Town Planner.  Kathy Castagnetta will be New Milford's first Town Planner since 1988.  After the vote last night, Mayor David Gronbach said the former zoning enforcement officer, and current Woodbury Town Planner, would start her work on the 26th.  Gronbach is advocating for intelligent growth, while maintaining the characteristics that makes New Milford unique. The Town Planner position is included in the Town Charter, but has been vacant for many years.  Castagnetta is a certified Planner, Zoning Enforcement Officer, and Wetlands Enforcement Officer. She also serves on the New Milford Forest and Farmland Preservation Committee.

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Bethel residents accept loan for Hoyt's Hill pump station upgrades

A loan from the state to the Bethel Water Department for upgrades to the Hoyt’s Hill pump station has been approved.  The result from the referendum yesterday was 91-percent in favor, 9-percent opposed.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there was a 4-percent turn out.  The project does not require an expenditure of Bethel taxpayer funds.  It's part of a larger infrastructure upgrade which also includes replacing existing municipal wells at the Maple Avenue well field.

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Federal attorney pays fine, avoids trial for passing bus

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A senior federal prosecutor in Connecticut who had asked for a trial after being ticketed for passing a school bus has paid the $465 fine.

The Connecticut Post reports the trial was set to begin Tuesday, but Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss paid the ticket in Bridgeport Superior Court. She declined to comment.

Rodriguez-Coss is an assistant U.S. attorney. She had asked for another trial after a state magistrate on June 9 found her guilty of speeding past a school bus on November 13, 2015, while it was stopped in front of a daycare center in Monroe.

A police report said Rodriguez-Coss sped by the bus even though the vehicle's lights were activated and its side stop sign was displayed.

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Case against man charged with killing parents continued

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Superior Court judge has denied a request seeking to obtain enhanced fingerprints from a former Easton man accused of killing his parents and burying their bodies in a friend's yard.

The Connecticut Post reports Judge Robert Devlin denied the prosecution's motion Tuesday and continued the case against 28-year-old Kyle Navin to Nov. 1.

Devlin dismissed the request until prosecutors present evidence that items from the crime scene have currently unknown fingerprints on them.

The continuance was granted after defense attorney Eugene Riccio told Devlin that more time was needed for Navin's psychiatric evaluation.

Police say Navin fatally shot his parents after they threatened to cut him out of their will. Their bodies were found in Weston last October.

Navin pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in January.

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Pipeline Maintenance Activities planned by Iroquois in Newtown and Monroe

Iroquois is planning Pipeline Maintenance Activities in Newtown and Monroe.  Iroquois will be installing launcher and receiver facilities on its 1.5 mile loop line that parallels its mainline between Stone Bridge Trail and Canterbury Road in Newtown.  These facilities, at existing valve sites, will allow Iroquois to internally inspect the line periodically to detect metal loss, dents or deformation from outside sources, allowing remedial action to be taken when and if necessary. 

 

The line must be cleared so that no natural gas is present while the work is being done. This will be accomplished through a controlled release, or venting, of the natural gas at high pressure in order to clear the line quickly and safely. 

 

On Saturday, starting at 9am, Iroquois will vent natural gas from a section of the main line, simultaneously at four locations.  They are Walnut Tree Hill Road, Canterbury Road, and Stone Bridge Trail in Newtown along with Whispering Pine Road in Monroe.  During the vent, residents nearby the sites may hear loud noise and or detect the smell of the odorant added for safety reasons. The odorant is not harmful, but has a smell similar to rotten eggs.

When the various stages of work have been completed, the line will be purged of air and restored to service.

 

For safety reasons, the work planned for September 17 at the Canterbury Road facility must be completed prior to workers leaving the site. While it is not anticipated, if it becomes necessary to extend work activities into the nighttime hours, notice will be posted on the Iroquois website.

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Public hearing scheduled in Bethel for proposed Eversource project

A public hearing is being held in Bethel next week by the Connecticut Siting Council.  Eversource Energy has application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need before the Siting Council. 

 

It's for the utility's Southwest Connecticut Reliability Project in Bethel, Danbury, and Brookfield.  An evidentiary hearing will be held in Bethel on the 22nd about construction, maintenance and operation of a new 115-kV overhead electric transmission line, entirely within existing Eversource right-of-way, extending 3.4 miles between Eversource’s existing Plumtree Substation in the Bethel to its existing Brookfield Junction. 

 

Eversource also plans to reconfigure two existing 115-kV double-circuit electric transmission lines at their existing Stony Hill Substation in Brookfield, along with related substation modifications. 

 

A public hearing on the 22nd takes place at 7pm in the Municipal Center General Purpose Room.

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Brookfield 'Bright Idea Grant' to be used for Light Bulb Swap

Brookfield has earned a Bright Idea Grant, which it will use for a Light Bulb Swap.  Eversource Energy will use the grant to help Brookfield residents reduce the amount of energy used in their homes.  Residents are being offered up to six LED light bulbs free of charge.  

 

Brookfield citizens can exchange up to six incandescent or compact fluorescent light bulbs in any working order, for an equal number of long-lasting, energy-saving LED light bulbs, at no cost, while supplies last.  In order to participate in the exchange, residents can bring their old light bulbs to the Brookfield Town Hall parking lot on Saturday the 24th, along with proof of residency. 

 

The Light Blub Swap is from 9am to 2pm at 100 Pocono Road. 

 

The First Selectman thanked the Brookfield Energy Ad-Hoc Committee for their assistance in securing this grant for Brookfield.

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Danbury promotes firefighter to Lt.

There is a new Danbury Fire Department Lieutenant.  The promotion of Doug Zaniewski to that position was confirmed by the City Council last week.  He was sworn in during a ceremony at Danbury City Hall on Monday morning. 

 

He served on the Strategic Plan Committee and the Committee for Fire House Software Integration.  Zaniewski has a long history of public service in both volunteer and career departments across Connecticut.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says Zaniewski will bring the values of leadership, skill and courage to the position.  During the Council meeting, Boughton congratulated Zaniewski on his testing for the Lieutenant position.  He also encouraged him to continue to grow and work way of the career ladder within the Department.

 

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Road work resumes on Route 35 in Ridgefield

There's alternating traffic on Route 35 in Ridgefield this afternoon.  The traffic pattern will be in place until 3pm between the Fox Hill Condos entrance to the Ridgefield Rec Center.  Construction activity on Route 35 is scheduled Tuesday through Friday between 7am and 5pm near the Fox Hill Condos entrance and on the west side of Route 35 between the Rec Center Drive and 165 Danbury Road.  Ridgefield Police say minor traffic impacts are expected.  This is all because of an ongoing state Department of Transportation bridge replacement project.

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Public hearing, town meeting scheduled in Brookfield on two projects

Prior to the Brookfield Board of Selectmen Meeting tonight, the Selectmen have scheduled a Public Hearing to take public comment and opinion on a proposed Fire Marshal Fees Ordinance.  The ordinance details inspection fees, site plan reviews, building plan reviews and fire alarm plan reviews.  It also outlines fire protection system and equipment plan reviews, which includes for sprinklers, sprinkler modification, stand pipes, fire pumps, underground fire lines and hydrants. 

 

The public hearing is from 6:30 to 7pm in Meeting Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

 

Special Town Meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight on a request from the Water Pollution Control Authority to discontinue the Rollingwood Condominium pump station and connect via gravity to Grays Bridge Road and related improvements.  The meeting is also about an appropriation, not to exceed $650,000, to fund the Project and to provide financing through temporary or permanent borrowings. The W-P-C-A will levy benefit assessments in connection with the project. 

 

The special Town Meeting is from 7 to 7:30pm, prior to the Board of Selectmen meeting in Meeting Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

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State Police investigating accidental death in Sherman

State Police have not yet released the name of the man who was killed in an accident in Sherman Saturday afternoon.  Troopers responded to Atchison Cove Road shortly before 2:30pm to investigate the accidental death of a 21-year old New Milford man.  State Police say the victim was trying to stop his vehicle from rolling backwards down the steep driveway of a house and became caught under the vehicle.  The man sustained fatal injuries.  The incident is being investigated by Troop A in Southbury.

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Industrial gas makers Linde, Praxair abandon merger talks

BERLIN (AP) -- Industrial gas makers Linde AG and Praxair Inc. have abandoned their talks about a possible merger.

 

The two companies had announced preliminary talks in mid-August. On Monday, Munich-based Linde said that "while the strategic rationale of a merger has been principally confirmed, discussions about details, specifically about governance aspects, did not result in a mutual understanding."

 

Praxair, based in Danbury, Connecticut, issued a brief statement in which it "confirmed that its preliminary discussions with Linde AG regarding a potential merger have terminated."

 

The companies sell gases used in a wide range of applications including manufacturing, food processing and the oil and gas industry.

 

Linde shares dropped sharply on the news, falling almost 8 percent in Frankfurt trading. Praxair shares rose 53 cents to $117.94 in morning trading in New York.

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WCSU hosts panel discussion on Media, Politics and the Constitution

Western Connecticut State University will celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution with a discussion of politics and the media featuring local and national journalists.

 

The event is free and open to the public.  There will be a question and answer session during the event.

 

Associated Professor Dr JC Barone, who is organizing the Constitution Day event, said the discussion will highlight the vibrancy of U.S. democracy and the Constitution, which was signed on September 17, 1787.  Barone says a presidential election highlights all the tensions in our system and the strengths of America. That’s part of what the focus of the discussion will be about.

 

Moderators will be Dr. D.L. Stephenson, associate professor of Communication and Media Arts, and John Roche, assistant professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process.

 

The discussion takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, on the Midtown campus in Ives Concert Hall located in White Hall.

 

A voter registration drive, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, will also be conducted on campus as part of the recognition of Constitution.

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Referendum in Bethel Tuesday on loan to Bethel Water Department

A referendum is being held in Bethel Tuesday about a loan to the Bethel Water Department.  The loan will be used for necessary upgrades to the Hoyt’s Hill pump station and for the replacement of existing municipal wells at the Maple Avenue well field. 

 

Neither of these two projects require any expenditure of Bethel taxpayer funds, but the Town Charter requires voter approval via referendum for any project in excess of $1 million.  Residents at a special Town Meeting last week approved the part of the loan for the well replacement.

 

Bethel officials say the Hoyt’s Hill pump station is quickly approaching the end of its service life.  The facility provides water pressure for fire protection and residential water service to a large portion of the town.  Water output from the Maple Avenue wells, which were installed in 1962, has diminished over time.  The replacement project will bring the Maple Avenue wellfield back to its full permitted original capacity and will allow collection of additional data for a potential future wellfield expansion to add additional groundwater supply sources.

 

Both projects are necessary to ensure an uninterrupted supply of drinking water as well as to continue to meet all state water quality regulations.  Bethel officials say a failure of the Hoyt’s Hill pumps would result in an immediate loss of water to several neighborhoods, and high water demand this summer is already outpacing the Maple Avenue wells production capacity.

 

About half of the town’s population is covered by the Bethel Water Department. Homeowners with private wells and homes in the Stony Hill neighborhood, which is supplied by Aquarion Water Company, are not affected.

 

The contractor expects a 6 month time frame for the Maple Ave wellfield project and 12 months to complete the Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade project.  The Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade is $1,367,075; the Maple Avenue well field improvements will be $995,867.

 

Funding is provided by a loan from the Connecticut Department of Public Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, a program specifically designed to help small town water systems maintain critical infrastructure. The loan will be repaid through Water Department billings only.  The term of the loan is 20 years at an interest rate of 2.9%.

 

The referendum Tuesday is from 6am to 8pm.

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I-684 accident remains under investigation

A two car crash on Interstate 684 is under investigation.  New York State Police Troopers were called to 684 southbound by exit 8 around 3:15 yesterday afternoon.  Police determined that an SUV taxi was stopped on the shoulder of the road, with a driver and passenger inside, was hit by a Nissan Pathfinder.  The passenger in the taxi sustained series injuries.  There were heavy delays on 684 in both directions as State Police investigated into the rush hour commute.  New York State Police are asking anyone that may have witnessed the crash to contact investigators at (914) 769-2600.

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NY man charge with BUI after accident on Lake Mahopac

A New York man has been arrested for boating under the influence.  While on marine patrol duty on Lake Mahopac this Labor Day, a Putnam County Sheriff Deputy was dispatched to a report of a sinking boat.  Several jet ski operators were in the process of rescuing the three passengers of the boat, which had sank to the bottom of the lake.  25-year old Michael Ahearn of Yorktown told the Deputy that he was driving the boat admitted to be drinking prior to the incident.  Ahearn failed field sobriety tests and was charged with Operating a Vessel While Ability Impaired by Alcohol.  He was was processed at the Putnam County Correctional Facility and held pending arraignment.

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Newtown memorial proposal deemed too close to hunting club

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has voted unanimously to remove a 30 acre parcel of land off Nunnawauk Road from consideration to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting.  The location, owned by the State of Connecticut, was adjacent to the Potatuck Club.  The private membership only club activities include on-site include fishing and hunting.

 

During a site visit Tuesday, Potatuck Club Manager Bruce Clark guided the Commission through the property and explained the different components of the membership, one of which included skeet shooting and hunting on the grounds.  While the parcel fit many of the Commission’s criteria from its initial Information Gathering Stage, Commissioner Chairman Kyle Lyddy says the audible impact of hunting and skeet shooting so close to the location was a major concern.

 

Clark did an auditory test in the skeet-shooting field to help the Commission understand the impact at the memorial location.  While members were at the approximate location of where a memorial could go, faint shots were heard through the heavily wooded area.  Lyddy says those shots will become more audible during the fall and winter months.

 

Lyddy says it's possible, specifically during hunting season, that at any location in Newtown there may be an audible sound of gunfire, but the frequency, because of how close this was to the club, is inconsistent with what the Commission is looking to do.

 

Lyddy said the sound of gun shots, albeit legally, while visiting a memorial to honor individuals murdered is simply inappropriate.

 

The Commission thanked Clark for his time and efforts to help them.  They also thanked the Newtown Land Use Office and George Benson for their consistent support.

 

The town of Newtown is one of the largest, acreage wise, in the state.  The commission is working its way through more than a dozen potential sites.  Among other things, the group wants a location that is relatively secluded and would be a destination, not something townspeople would have to drive by every day. It also wants a site that is not too close to the new Sandy Hook Elementary School and has no environmental issues.

 

The next site visit will be to SAC Field on Riverside Road in Sandy Hook to understand the feasibility of those 6 acres for a memorial.  There have been previous legal questions on the parcel.  The first proposed site, at Fairfield Hills, was rejected because it is considered open space and conservationists opposed building anything there.

 

Lyddy says they may not find a site with everything on their list and need to pick a location that makes sense for as many people as possible.  He hopes the community community can rally with them and continue to be patient as the group moves through the delicate work.

 

Once the site selection is complete, the Commission will then work through the Design Selection process.

 

This month marks three years that the Commission has been appointed by the Newtown Board of Selectmen.  There is no timetable for the memorial's completion, noting a memorial to the victims of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado took almost a decade to complete. That memorial opened in 2007.

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Greater Danbury area towns host 9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

Area towns are hosting 9/11 remembrance ceremonies this weekend, including in Putnam County. 

 

The Putnam Heroes Memorial will once again commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the monument in Cornerstone Park on Route 52 in Carmel.  The Monument contains the names of the eight Putnam County residents who were killed on 9/11, along with First Responders from Putnam County who have since died from 9/11 related illnesses and whose names have been added to the National Memorial Wall. 

 

 

During the Roll Call of names, New York State First Responders and Military Members who have lost their lives in the Line of Duty in the past year will be recognized.  The solemn ceremony is about 20 minutes and is scheduled for 6:30pm Sunday. 

 

The Fraternal Order of Police, Stephen P. Driscoll, a memorial pipe band and the Carmel High School Choir will perform. Preceding the Vigil, there will be a 5:00pm Mass at St. James the Apostle Church, which will honor and celebrate the lives of these heroes.

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Brookfield receives additional FEMA grants for Meadowbrook Manor project

A flood mitigation project will cost Brookfield taxpayers less than anticipated.  More grant money has been awarded to Brookfield for the Meadowbrook Manor project.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the actual cost of the project came in higher than original estimates and he asked the Public Works Department go to FEMA and request adding to the grant they had awarded the town. 

 

FEMA granted an additional $163,500. 

 

That brings the total grant awarded to $1,457,400. The town share of the total cost is $485,800.  The town originally approved the issuance of bonds in the amount of $2,000,000 to do this project so the final cost to the town will be $1,514,200, less than the originally approved amount by the taxpayers.

 

The 128 home neighborhood has experienced persistent flooding from Lime Kiln Brook for more than five decades, in some cases so severe that contaminated septic water has flooded dining rooms, kitchens and living areas.

 

A new flood-relief storm sewer will be installed to augment the current drainage system and provide relief during high intensity storms. The brook will be diverted in order to alleviate flooding conditions in the 128-home neighborhood. Back-to-back '100-year level' floods in 2011 prompted the mitigation plan.

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Burglary at Mahopac barber shop solved

An arrest has been made in connection to a burglary at a barber shop.  A burglary was reported last week at Xclusive Cuts in Mahopac.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says an investigation revealed that entry had been gained through a side door and that money was stolen from the cash register and workstation cubby.  44-year old Armando Cass of Carmel was developed as a suspect. On Tuesday, investigators carried out a search warrant on Cass’ vehicle and home.  Cass was then arrested and charged with Burglary and Criminal Mischief.  Both are felony counts.

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Greater Danbury area towns host 9/11 Remembrance Ceremonies

The Greater Danbury community is invited to join Mayor Boughton at Danbury’s 9/11 Memorial on Main Street in Elmwood Park. The program will begin at 6pm.  Local officials and members of the Danbury Fire and Police Departments are gathering on Friday for the remembrance.  The glass tower lines up with the lighted flagpole flying the U.S. flag previously flown over the U.S. Capitol and the 9-11 Memorial Flag. The glass tower is lighted from dusk to dawn.

 

Bethel's 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony is being held on Sunday at 6pm.  The Board of Selectmen, guests and members of the Police Department will be joined by members of the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Departments on the Municipal Center lawn.  In the event of rain, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the General Purpose Room.

 

Danbury: A concert by Danbury’s “Number One Solo Artist” Billy Michael at Richter House, 100 Aunt Hack Rd., on Sunday at 3 p.m. Billy promises the program will have broad appeal while commemorating the solemn anniversary.   He will be joined by singer Annie Kelly, known for her smooth vocals.  Admission by free will donation.

 

In New Fairfield the102nd Army Band will play starting at 6pm during the New Fairfield 9/11 ceremony on Sunday.

 

New Milford: "A Moment of Remembrance" is being held on Sunday at the 9/11 Memorial on Patriots Way. We will start lining up at 8:00 a.m. and the Memorial Service will begin at 8:46 a.m.  The apparatus bell will toll at 8:46am.  EMTs, Police and Firefighters will raise the flag.  The National Anthem and God Bless America will be sung and an invocation will be offered.  Local and state officials will offer brief remarks.  Piper Pat Maguire will play Amazing Grace.

 

Newtown resident Howard Lasher will once again host a remembrance ceremony at the site of his flag trees memorial at 68 Dodgingtown Road, to honor those lost in the terrorist attacks.  Lasher has hosted a memorial every year since 2001 to offer a place of mourning.  Lasher lost several friends in the attacks.  The ceremony  will be held on Sunday at 8 am.

 

Redding's Mark Twain Library is hosting local artist Charles Moretz, whose photographs were commissioned and permanently installed in Windows on the World.  The designer will share his connection to the World Trade Center and his plan to honor the iconic buildings.  The Art of Remembrance Program is planned from 3pm on Sunday.

 

The Town of Ridgefield invites residents to its September 11 memorial ceremony on 195 Danbury Road at 6:30 pm. Sunday.  The service, which will mark the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks around the nation, will be held to remember honor those who were lost.  The monument, off Route 35, was created from a beam of World Trade Center steel by sculptor Chris Curnan.

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Senator Murphy addresses National Press Club on gun violence prevention

In addressing the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Senator Chris Murphy talked about his efforts to pass legislation to combat gun violence. 

 

Asked if he plans something as dramatic as the nearly 15 hour filibuster he led in June for this fall, Murphy says he plans to focus on House and Senate races where guns may be an issue.  Murphy says he'll spend time this fall supporting pro-gun control House and Senate candidates.

 

Murphy says he remains furious that nearly four years after the shootings at Sandy Hook School, Congress has done nothing to prevent the next mass shooting. 

 

Before 12-14, anti-gun violence wasn't a top priority for him.  As a Congressman for the 5th District, Murphy says he didn't represent any of the cities in Connecticut with epidemic rates of gun violence.  It has now become his singular focus.  In the wake of the shooting, his eyes were opened to the catastrophe of gun violence in America.

 

He believes the 15 hour filibuster he led in June, and the House sit-in that followed, helped change things.  He says it helped grow a political movement which is now more powerful than ever.  Murphy notes that it did cause Democrats and Republicans to talk past each other a little less, and led to a compromise in the Senate on the idea that if someone is too dangerous to fly they shouldn't own a gun.

 

Murphy says he and others are working to build up grassroots  organizations, pushing voters to elevate this issue on their priority list and work toward a day when voters will force The Right to moderate it's stance on guns to win elections.

 

If the political force around anti-gun violence measures becomes strong enough, Murphy says it's will can't be resisted.

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Crime is down and enforcement is up in Danbury

Statistics about 8 major crimes are sent to the Danbury City Council each month from the Police Department.  Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says major crime is down about 14-percent through July, the latest figures released, compared to the same seven months in 2015.

 

There were 34 forcible rapes in Danbury last year.  Rapes are down 69 percent in Danbury compared to a year ago.  Police officials say those numbers could change though if investigations are escalated based on new information. 

 

The other categories are homicide, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

 

Traffic accidents year to date total 2,406.  During the same time last year there numbered 2,817.  Traffic enforcement is tracked in three categories: verbal warning, written warning and moving violation.  Enforcement so far in 2016 totals 4,706.  That includes one month where Police received a grant for beefed up texting enforcement.  During the same time last year the total was 4,376.  Notably, there were two months during that time that Police received the texting enforcement effort grant.

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Danbury Fire Training Classroom ribbon cutting scheduled

A new Fire Training Classroom building is opening in Danbury later this month.  The Fire Chief put in his monthly report to the City Council Wednesday that the ribbon cutting is set for Sunday the 25th. 

 

The 6,500 square foot facility cost about a million dollars.  Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says he drives by the site because it's located in his Ward.  He says many residents have commented on how nice it looks.  There is a new gate to the facility.  Saadi thanked the Public Works and City Engineer Department for working to make sure there is no traffic jam onto Plumtrees Road once the training school is officially opened. 

 

The building is on the same property as the Department's burn tower, which was rebuilt in 1992.  The tower has had some upgrades and renovations since that time.  Classroom training is currently run out of a single-wide trailer ,which can only accommodate 15 firefighters. 

 

This building will be used by the career Fire Department, the 12 volunteer companies and those from surrounding towns.  While no equipment will be housed at the site, there will be two bays. One will be for a fire engine, one for a tanker truck. The bays will face the burn tower so firefighters can practice getting their gear on and out the door headed toward an emergency situation.

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HVCEO moves out of Brookfield, new WCCOG moves to Sandy Hook

With the Western Connecticut Council of Governments moving out of Old Brookfield Town Hall, Brookfield officials are doing some office rearranging. 

 

WestCOG, which is a merger of two regional planning groups, combined offices from Brookfield and Stamford into a new consolidated location in Sandy Hook at the start of the month.  Brookfield town government has grown over the past 30 years since Town Hall was built, but no new office space has been available for town operations and there's a critical shortage.   

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says they've been able to reconfigure the old Town Hall space to accommodate their other tenant, HRRA, and relocate Parks and Rec Department to the Old Town Hall.

 

Dunn says the move will allow the town to grow and better serve residents with very little expense. The move should take place in the next 60 days.

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Wide ranging proposals from Judge on education system overhaul

A Connecticut Superior Court Judge issued a scathing 265 page order about education in the state.  The state must overhaul its education system within 180 days.  Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the suit. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton, who is still a certified teacher, says the Judge asked a simple question.  How can 98.5 percent of teachers receive a good or excellent rating in their evaluation.  The Judge compared the system to taking cotton candy out in the rain, there's nothing to it.  Boughton says he never thought about it that way, but take a step back and matching it with the outcomes it makes sense.

 

The Judge asked for merit pay for teachers.

 

In addition to ordering a correction to the finance system, and a new teacher evaluation system, the judge called for a high school graduation exit exam and a definition of what it means to have an elementary education.  The Judge is also calling for a definition of the measurement tool to assess that in 3rd graders.

 

Boughton cautioned that new standards and testing will require resources. 

 

An exit exam is a strategy some states first implemented in the 1970s, as a way to measure student performance, but the exams have been dropped in many places amid a backlash against standardized testing.  About half the states have exit exams, but the trend has been away from using them. California suspended its exam last year. A number of states are reviewing the use of the exams as they consider whether certain standardized tests, such as assessments aligned with the Common Core program, can stand for others including exit exams, says Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Center for Education Policy.

 

The judge said in his ruling that many of Connecticut's poorest students are being let down by a system that awards diplomas without assuring they have basic math and literacy skills. "The state is letting graduation rates rise without them meaning that there are more educated people among us," Moukawsher wrote. Whatever the state chooses as a test, that exam must connect secondary-school learning with secondary-school degrees, he said.

 

The Judge also called for an overhaul to the school construction funding system.  No school construction project funding request to the state has ever been denied.  There's been $1 billion in spending over the last two years. 

 

City Councilman Paul Rotello asked if the judge yesterday mentioned how this would work because legislators will not willingly cut funding to their own district.  The Judge said he would not be afraid to use a court order to compel the legislature, acknowledging though that it's politically untenable.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the era of districts being held harmless on their education funding is gone.

 

Boughton says the state will probably take an appeal.  But the way the judge wrote his decision , he says it's unlikely the state would win an appeal in the Connecticut Supreme Court.

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Boat fire on Candlewood Lake causes vessel to sink

A boat tied to a dock on Candlewood Lake in Brookfield caught fire late last Monday night.  The dock lines burned and the boat drifted some 200 yards from shore.  The Brookfield Fire Department was able to put the fire out, but the boat sank in 34 feet of water. 

 

State Environmental Conservation Police were able to locate the vessel, and called on the Brookfield Police Dive Team to confirm their findings.  The dive team used side scan sonar technology on Friday to identify the vessel.  Divers entered the water to confirm that it was the boat in question. 

 

 

The vessel was marked by a buoy and removed from the water by a local marina this Tuesday. 

 

(Photos: Brookfield Police)

 

No one was on board at the time of the fire.  The investigation is ongoing.

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Easton chiropractor sentenced for filing false tax returns

An Easton man has been sentenced for filing false tax returns.  65-year old Paul Carpenter was ordered yesterday to two months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.  He must also perform 100 hours of community service and pay a $30,000 fine. 

 

Carpenter operated a chiropractic operation in Bridgeport, and intentionally mischaracterized about $500,000 in personal expenses as deductible business expenses over two tax years.  The expenses were for college tuition for his children, luxury items such as oriental rugs and paintings, designer clothing, and foreign and domestic travel.  Carpenter also deducted the cost of groceries, expenses at hair salons and other retail purchases. 

 

He has paid all back taxes, plus interest and penalties.

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Eureka water tank now serving Bethel residents

The Eureka water tank in Bethel is now serving the town.  The 750,000 gallon tank, which has been planned since the 1960s, will provide better water pressure and volume needed for fire suppression.  That will in turn allow for further expansion of Clarke Business Park.  The tank is located on Long Ridge Road off Reservoir Road in Danbury, but on property owned by Bethel.  There was a several-years long legal battle with Danbury because Long Ridge is designated as a scenic road.  The out of court settlement called for Bethel to add landscaping to hide the tank from the road.

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Mom calls cops after finding out son stole her credit card

A Carmel man has been arrested for stealing from his mother.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that a woman made a complaint on August 30th about her son stealing her credit card, which she later found in his room.  Her son, 23-year old Ryan McKeown, admitted to stealing the card.  He was arrested and charged with felony grand larceny.  He was arraigned and ordered held on bond for a future court appearance.

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Neighbors, town officials cry foul over 'WTF' sign on lawn

WOODBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut homeowner who planted on his lawn three large wooden letters that spell ``WTF'' is rankling neighbors and town officials who say the message is offensive.

WFSB-TV reports the phrase ``Woodbury wastes taxpayer funds'' is written on the letters along Main Street in historic Woodbury, a town of 10,000 residents. ``WTF'' also can stand for an obscene exclamation of disbelief.

This isn't the first time homeowner Thomas Arras has fought with the town and the Woodbury Historical Commission over his handcrafted protest messages. A previous sign targeting First Selectman William Butterly Jr. read: ``Butterly utterly utterly disappointing.''

Butterly isn't affiliated with a political party. He says he's outraged by the ``WTF'' sign but there's not much the town can do about it without changing its rules.

A phone number listed for Arras rang unanswered Wednesday.

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Police: High school student fight sparked by urination dare

WILTON, Conn. (AP) -- Police say a fight between students from two Connecticut high schools that sent one to the hospital was sparked by a scavenger hunt in which students were dared to urinate on their rival's football field.

 

Lt. Stephen Brennan tells The Hour that about 10 Ridgefield High students arrived at Wilton High's field on Aug. 31, and were met by a similar number of Wilton students.

 

He says at first the groups engaged in some friendly games, until a Ridgefield student tried to complete the dare and things deteriorated.

 

A Ridgefield student was brought to the hospital by his parents.

 

Brennan says although there were reports that a golf club and baseball bat were present, there's no evidence they were used.

 

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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Judge: Connecticut education funding system unconstitutional

A Connecticut Superior Court judge has ruled that the state's education funding system is irrational and unconstitutional.

The Superior Court Judge ruled Wednesday in an 11-year-old lawsuit that the state must overhaul its education system and come up with a new funding formula within 180 days to ensure the state's poorest school districts have resources to provide an adequate education.

The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding filed its lawsuit in 2005, arguing that Connecticut's current system results in more money for wealthy districts, while poorer ones suffer.  Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the case.

The state has said all public schools are adequately funded and there has been no evidence to show that spending more would lead to better test scores.

The case is expected to end up before the state Supreme Court.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton is tweeting from the courtroom and says the Judge has ordered the state to come up with a rational formula for distributing education dollars.  The state has 180 days to submit that new school spending formula plan. 

 

Boughton says he thinks public education in Connecticut will never be the same, and that the state isn't going to be happy about it.  The Judge reportedly made a case for an elementary school graduation exam and a new system to determine graduation that is rational.  Boughton says he's not sure if this is where the Coalition wanted the decision to go. 

 

The Judge reportedly said that the state is letting graduation rates rise without any learning happening and that the state should not be able to claim it is powerless or its hands are tied when it has tied the knots itself.

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Bethel residents approve loan for Bethel Water Department

Bethel residents have approve a loan for the Bethel Water Department during a special town meeting held last night. 

 

The loan will be used for the replacement of existing municipal wells at the Maple Avenue well field.  Bethel officials say water output from the Maple Avenue wells has diminished over time.  The decision was unanimous.  Work began at 7 o'clock this morning. 

 

(Photo: Town of Bethel)

 

There is a referendum scheduled for September 13 about upgrades to the Hoyt’s Hill pump station.  Bethel officials say the Hoyt’s Hill pump station is quickly approaching the end of its service life.

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Woman who drowned infant in toilet has her sentence commuted

NIANTIC, Conn. (AP) -- A woman who admitted drowning her newborn in a toilet a decade ago, when she was a teenager, has had her 18-year prison sentence commuted.

 

The state Board of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday ordered that Panna Krom, of Danbury, be released Sept. 30.

 

Krom said she killed the baby girl in 2006 because she feared the reaction of her family, from whom she had hidden her pregnancy. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2008.

 

"I now know how irresponsible actions can result in dire consequences, a notion that my 17-year-old mentality could not accept," Krom told the board.

 

Vicki Hutchinson, Krom's lawyer, argued that her sentence was much harsher than those given to others in similar circumstances, which she said have averaged five months.

 

"The sentence imposed in Panna Krom's case is 12 times the longest other sentence imposed for similarly situated girls," she wrote in her application to the board.

 

Hutchinson also noted that Krom, now 26, has served more than half her sentence, earned a high school diploma and completed six semesters of college work with high grades.

 

"There is nothing more that I can do behind these prison walls to rehabilitate myself," Krom wrote in a statement to the board. "But I can help people on the outside and also continue to make myself a better person."

 

Krom said that when she drowned her baby, she was not aware of Connecticut's Safe Haven law, which allows a mother to anonymously drop off a newborn at a hospital with no legal repercussions. She said she plans to work to educate other young women about that law.

 

Danbury State's Attorney Stephen J. Sedensky III opposed the clemency.

 

He noted that Krom's lawyers had agreed to the plea deal and that Krom, who was originally charged with murder, would have been eligible for parole in January 2019

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Danbury man convicted of trying to kill wife denies killing daughter

A Danbury man charged with fatally shooting his 19-year-old daughter, more than a decade after he tried to kill her mother, has been arraigned in Massachusetts.  45-year-old Walter DaSilva was transported by police from Connecticut to Massachusetts.

His daughter, Sabrina DaSilva, was shot July 3 outside her home in New Bedford.  DaSilva had recently reconnected with his daughter.  Authorities previously said he became upset after Sabrina didn't visit him on Father's Day, and was also angry that Sabrina was dating an older man.

DaSilva was arrested in early August in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He initially was charged with being a fugitive and violating probation in connection with his conviction for trying to murder the teen's mother in 2002.  He's now charged with murder, carrying an illegal firearm and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm.

 

DaSilva served prison time for attempted murder of his wife and was deported to Brazil. 

 

U.S. immigration officials said they weren't aware DaSilva had returned.

 

There is an ICE detainer for DaSilva, who is due back in court October 5th.

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Police Officer seeks to move into house at Danbury-owned property

A Danbury Police Officer is looking to move into a house owned by the City on the Farrington Woods property.  The current tenant of the Chow House has decided not to renew the lease.  A Danbury officer has expressed an interest in leasing the Chow House, in a similar situation to the Cottage at Bear Mountain. 

 

City Council President Joe Cavo wrote to the Council that in light of some current events in that area, and because the Bear Mountain lease has proven successful, he believes this arrangement would be beneficial to the City and its interests at that location.  Cavo referring to the arrests of 10 men on indecent exposure charges in July on accusations of sexual activity in the parking lot and the wooded park. 

 

Cavo is requesting a committee of the Council be formed at their meeting tonight to look into the proposal. 

 

Peter Elste has been a Danbury Police Officer for 13 years.  In exchange for low rent, the tenant is required to conduct security checks and perform caretaking duties.

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FuelCell Energy to build power plant in Danbury

A utility scale power project in Danbury has been announced.  Danbury-based FuelCell Energy says the project will showcase electrical efficiency that enables utilities to affordably and cleanly solve power generation challenges in land-constrained areas.

 

Construction will begin within weeks for a 3.7 megawatt fuel cell power plant at a location in Danbury, following recent approval by the Connecticut Siting Council.  The power plant, adequate to power approximately 3,700 average size homes, will occupy only about 10,000 square feet, or only a quarter of an acre, of an industrial lot near an existing electrical substation. FuelCell Energy has executed a long term lease for the land and expects to sell the power to the local utility, supplying the power to the substation.

 

FuelCell also plans to explore opportunities to sell the project after commissioning.

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Bethel hardware store donates tools to Brookfield Police Department

Brookfield Police have a new tool in their arsenal.  Officers, at times, are tasked with the problem of having to force entry into a residence or a vehicle in situations where a person has become injured or incapacitated, and is in need of immediate live saving intervention. 

 

Every Brookfield patrol vehicle will now be equipped with a lifesaving wrecking bar.  This was made possible through a donation of ten multipurpose demolition/wrecking bars by Ring's End Bethel. 

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police, Facebook)

 

Brookfield Police Sergeant Pennoyer saw the need for a compact, yet versatile, forcible entry tool and approached Brookfield firefighter Richard Clyne, who works at Ring's End.  The store's manager, Rob Campbell Jr., agreed to donate one unit for each patrol vehicle.  The wrecking bars are made of drop forged steel by Stanley Tools for construction demolition.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce looks to add new members

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is looking to expand.  With several new business openings in the past year, Chamber President and CEO Steve Bull says they decided to get volunteers together and have a telethon of sorts.

 

There are more than 1,000 members currently in the Chamber.

 

100 volunteers will call friends and potential new members over the next two days acting as goodwill ambassadors, touting the benefits of being a Chamber member.

 

The group is the largest and the regional chamber for northern Fairfield County.  The service region is the Danbury Labor Market Area.

 

The Chamber sent out mailings to 10,000 prospects in hopes of giving the Chamber a shot in the arm.  In an effort to entice businesses into joining, Bull says they will provide marketing incentives valued at about $5,000.

 

Bull says Greater Danbury continues to do very well, even when the rest of the state is in a decline.

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Petition circulated to stop planned rail fare increases

A Wilton state representative is circulating a petition with the aim of stopping a proposed five percent fare increase on Connecticut's commuter rail lines.  Republican Gail Lavielle contends commuters are not seeing transit service improvements in return for the increase proposed by the Department of Transportation.

 

She says it has nothing to do with performance or service to commuters, but everything to do with plugging a hole in the state budget. 

 

It is scheduled to take effect December 1st.

 

The increase would affect the New Haven commuter rail line, including the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branches, as well as Shore Line East.  It's expected to generate $5.9 million to help cover budget cuts.

 

Lavielle and 15 of her colleagues will ride the rails in the coming days to collect signatures.  She acknowledged that it's difficult for commuters to get to the public hearings, so the lawmakers are going to the commuters.  People can also sign the petition online.

 

Their alternate funding proposal is to get rid of a sales tax exemption.  There is an exemption on sales tax for tickets to events at the XL Center, Webster Bank Arena and a couple of other venues.  She wants sales tax to be charged, saying it will raise the same amount of money.  Lavielle says it's a much more fair solution because those are recreational events.  She says commuters have been encouraged to ride the rails and get off the roads and shouldn't be taxed for it.

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Police identify three men killed in weekend crash

Danbury Police have identified the three people killed in a weekend crash on the City's west side.  The driver was identified as 31-year old Raymond Rivera.  Two passengers in the back seat, 29-year old Waner Nunez and 36-year old Nelson Osegueda, were also pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

The front seat passenger, 23-year old Elena Albarran was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries.  Rear seat passenger 34-year old Beatrice Grajales was also sent to the hospital and is listed in fair condition.

 

The accident happened around 4:30am Saturday.  A Putnam County deputy sheriff on patrol on Route 6 in Southeast saw a driver operating erratically and swerving over the center-line of the road. Suspecting that the driver was intoxicated, the deputy attempted to pull the car over. The driver did not comply and continued toward Connecticut.

 

Just after crossing the state line, the deputy decelerated and turned off his siren. The suspect’s car continued to accelerate, ran off the roadway and crashed into a metal utility pole.

 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal review of the events preceding it.

 

A preliminary review indicates that the deputy followed the suspect’s car for about one-and-a-half minutes over a distance of about one-and-a-half miles. The average speed of the deputy’s cruiser was clocked at slightly less than 65 miles per hour, with top speeds of over 80 miles per hour sustained for about 15 seconds. The crash speed of the other car has not yet been determined.

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Lawmaker calling for special session to stop mileage tax pilot program

A ranking member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee is calling on the state Department of Transportation, Governor Malloy and legislative leaders to put a stop to the state’s $300,000 investment in studying and implementing a pilot program for a ‘Mileage Tax’ to tax motorists for every mile they drive. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says Connecticut was awarded a federal grant last week to launch a pilot program with those matching funds. Connecticut was among a group of Northeastern states to receive the grant after an application was filed by the state of Delaware on behalf of the states on the eastern seaboard. 

 

Boucher says state leaders need to work to immediately stop the state from investing even a penny into this bad idea. She and others are calling fro a special session to block this tax with a vote in the legislature.  Boucher says Governor Malloy had every intention of advancing this bad idea after the November General Assembly election.

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Brookfield Police rescue dog locked in car

Brookfield police freed a dog from a hot car in a parking lot Friday morning.  Police were called to the ShopRite plaza about a dog locked in a car, with the windows rolled down less than two inches.  While the dog didn't seem to be in distress, responding officers asked ShopRite employees to make a call over their loudspeaker to find the vehicle owner. 

 

After waiting 20 minutes with no response, Brookfield Police say the dog started panting and was drooling so officers used a lock out kit to rescue the dog. 

 

While it was only 80 degrees outside, the measured temperature in the car was nearly 115 degrees.  An elderly woman returned about an hour after police first arrived.

 

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DOT work closes Route 133 in Bridgewater

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has closed the section of Route 133 in Bridgewater between Stuart Road and the Lake Lillinonah Bridge.  Speed bumps have been installed on Northrop Street which will serve as the local by-pass for cars.  There is also new signage that reduces the enforceable speed limit to 25 miles per hour.  During the Route 133 closure, through traffic and truck traffic will follow the official detour to Route 67 to New Milford and then follow Route 202/7 South to Route 25 in Brookfield.  Officials are urging caution and patience during the road work.

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Newtown Hook and Ladder moves into new fire station

Newtown Hook and Ladder is operating out of their new firehouse at 12 Church Hill Road.  There was a ceremonial procession on Friday of fire trucks, past and present firefighters, and antique fire apparatus.  The procession travelled from the Old Firehouse behind Edmund Town Hall to the New Firehouse.  As Newtown Hook and Ladder started operating out of the new station, they thanked all of the members who have put in personal time for the construction of the building.  The Department also thanked the community for their support.

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Local lawmaker goes on police ride-along to learn about police needs

An area legislator took a ride along with a Brookfield Police Officer recently. 

 

State Representative Stephen Harding took a tour of the Brookfield Police Department and participated in a ride-along to learn more about how dedicated police and emergency responders protect the people of Brookfield and the challenges they face on a daily basis.

 

Harding says he spoke with members of the Police Department about topics that affect policing at the local level.  The department has a goal of continuing to encourage community involvement regarding public safety, effective outreach and area clean-ups.

 

Harding called it an eye-opening experience.  He thanked Officer Joe Kyek, a 3 year veteran of the police force, for allowing him to go on patrol for the day.  Harding and Kyek went to high school together in Brookfield.  They went on a few calls.  One was about a suspicious bag on a playground.  It turned out harmless.  He also watched as Kyek investigated reports of burglaries.

 

 

Harding says the Brookfield Police Department has the necessary equipment to do the job, but noted that it's imperative to have equipment in order to be effective.  He says one thing he wants to work on when the General Assembly reconvenes is putting an end to municipal cutting to mitigate state budget deficits.

 

He says there is so much to learn about keeping a community safe, and noted that Brookfield has a great team of dedicated protectors taking chances every day for the community.  Harding says he will use what he learned to look out for their best interests in Hartford.

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Changes coming to Connecticut's medical marijuana program

As the state's medical marijuana program grows, the state Department of Consumer Protection is looking to streamline the process.

 

Qualified patients under age 18 are not required to have a photo identification card issued through the program.  Their guardian, who has to register as a caregiver, will be given a certification card. 

 

Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris says they are reconsidering whether registered adults need to have photo ID cards.  The Department is trying to look at what's needed, based on experience, so people who qualify for medical marijuana can have access as soon as possible.

 

Harris says the 9 approved dispensaries, 8 of which are open, appears to be the right amount.  There is a dispensary in the Stony Hill section of Bethel.  But he says they're monitoring the marketplace to make sure there's competition, which prices as low as possible.  Harris says they also keep an eye on where the qualified patients live to cover the map with dispensaries, so no matter where patients live they have reasonable access.  He says there will be some additional dispensaries approved at some point, but nothing is planned for the near future.

 

Harris says one of the producers will be opening additional space within their facility next month.  While there's no new producer, Harris there has been an expansion.  Four producer licenses were approved by the Department of Consumer Protection when the medical marijuana program was launched.

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Area legislator calls distracted driving an epidemic

A local lawmaker wants to take on what he calls an epidemic and a dangerous practice.

 

State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says data about distracted driving is stunning.  He says 1 in 4 accidents is caused by distracted driving, and that 11 teenagers die a day in America because of distracted driving.  Hwang also cited a statistic that a distracted driver is 6 times more likely to get into an accident that someone who is legally drunk.

 

Hwang is concerned about the number of near misses that have occurred.

 

A neuroscientist in Utah found that 5 seconds taken away from driving to look at a phone requires 20-plus seconds to refocus.  Driving at 55mph, that's like travelling the entire length of a football field without looking.

 

A recent survey found 77-percent of adults and 55-percent of teenagers acknowledge that distracted driving is a problem, but the same percentages said it doesn't happen to them and they can manage it.

 

Hwang says that false confidence of "it can't happen to me" perpetuates a comfort that drivers shouldn't have.  He is now trying to raise awareness in the schools and with adults about the need to do more to change patterns and habits.

 

25 or 30 years ago driving without a seatbelt was normal, and Hwang says there is the same need to move public opinion on cell phone use while behind the wheel.

 

Hwang says the message can be simple: drop the phone, focus on driving, be safe.

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Decision expected in 11-year-old school funding case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- An 11-year-old legal fight over education funding in Connecticut comes to a head Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge is supposed to rule from the bench on whether the state has done enough to support its poorer school systems.

 

The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding filed its lawsuit in 2005, arguing that Connecticut relies too much on property taxes to fund its schools, resulting in more money for wealthy districts, while poorer ones suffer.

 

The coalition was co-founded by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  Danbury is one of four lead plaintiffs in the suit.

 

"We believe we made the case that the finance system is both inequitable and inadequate to ensure student success," said Jim Finley, the coalition's head of operations and government relations.

 

The state argues that it has met its obligation to provide adequate funding to all schools and that pumping more money into poorer school districts won't necessarily result in higher test scores.

 

"The plaintiffs have presented no evidence other than conclusory anecdotes claiming that if the districts had more money they would improve student performance," Attorney General George Jepsen wrote in the state's post-trial brief. "In contrast, the defendants have offered unrefuted reliable scientific evidence that demonstrates that in Connecticut, there is no relationship between spending more money per pupil and improving student growth in achievement."

 

The case was mired in the legal system for years with arguments over evidence and what exactly the state was legally required to provide its 500,000 public school students under Connecticut's constitution.

 

The state Supreme Court took up that issue. It remanded the case for trial in 2010 after ruling that the state must provide children not only equal access to a public education but also to an "adequate" education, one that prepares them for life after school.

 

A five-month trial that began in January included testimony from 52 witnesses, including state educational officials and superintendents from districts across the state.  Danbury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sal Pascarella testified over the course of several days.

 

Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher has said he will issue his decision at 11 a.m. Wednesday. That spoken decision is expected to be followed later by a more detailed written ruling.

 

But that is not expected to be the final word on the lawsuit. Finley said whichever side loses the case is expected to file an appeal that will eventually end up back before the Supreme Court.

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Car pulled from Candlewood Lake in Danbury

Danbury Police are continuing to investigate how a car ended up in Candlewood Lake last night.  A witness called 911 around 9:15pm to report that there was a vehicle in the water in the area of the Danbury Town Park boat ramp.  Police and firefighters responded to Hayestown Avenue. 

 

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says the Mercedes was found about 80 feet from the boat ramp in 10 to 12 feet of water with its lights on.

 

The Danbury and Brookfield Police Department dive teams were assembled while the Fire Department searched.  Fire crews waded out to check for passengers and found none. Crews also searched further from the department's rescue boat and used thermal imaging cameras to search for victims, and none were found.

 

Emergency crews spent more than two hours pulling the car from the water. 

 

There was no sheen visible on water from car fluids like gasoline.  Neither EnCon Officers nor the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Emergency Response were called to the scene. 

 

Anyone who may have witnessed the car going into the lake is asked to contact Danbury Police at 203-797-4614.

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DEEP accepts comments on proposal to ban walk-ins at state parks

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is taking comment on banning walk ins at state parks.  This was prompted in part by concerns from New Fairfield officials with cars stopping on a curved roadway leading to Squantz Pond.  Visitors looking to use the park after the 250 car capacity is reached are also parking around town and walking along the roadway to the entrance.  Squantz Pond routinely closes early on weekends in the summer because they've reached the car limit put in place several years ago in response to a spate of drownings.

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman has been calling for a ban on walk-ins since a new Park Ranger took charge of the park.  The former Park Ranger would routinely turn people away, even though walk ins weren't expressly forbidden.  Chapman says she is happy this is finally moving forward, and hopes it's in place before next summer.

 

(Photo: Susan Chapman, Twitter)

 

Concerns have also been raised by officials in municipalities hosting Scantic River State Park and Rocky Neck State Park.

 

Comments will be accepted through October 7th.  They can be sent online or by mail to: Division of State Parks and Public Outreach, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106.  The policy will be reviewed by the State Attorney General before heading to the General Assembly Regulations Review Committee.

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Nominations sought for Warrior Award for veterans

The 5th annual Warrior Award will be given to a local veteran at the 2016 Walk of Honor in Danbury next month.  Organizer Mary Teicholz is now taking nominations from Danbury residents and people from the surrounding area.  The nominee should be a veteran who has served in a combat zone, and who also exemplifies the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.

 

The nominations should be approximately 500 words and should include the nominee’s name, military rank, medals awarded and as many details as possible about their service.  The deadline for all nominations is September 22.  People who previously sent in nominations can re-submit or send an e-mail to check if there is still a record of the nomination.

 

Presentation of the award will take place at the Walk of Honor on Sunday, October 16 at the Danbury War Memorial.

 

Include the name and contact information of the person submitting the nomination when emailing mteicholz61@gmail.com, or visit www.walkofhonor.us for additional information.

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Putnam County Sheriff's Office conducting internal review of events leading up to Danbury crash

At about 4:20am Saturday, a Putnam County deputy sheriff was in a marked cruiser on patrol on Route 6 in Southeast, about three-quarters of a mile from the New York-Connecticut state line when he saw a driver operating erratically and swerving over the center-line of the road.  Suspecting that the driver was intoxicated, the deputy attempted to pull the car over.  The driver did not comply and continued toward Connecticut at speeds below the posted speed limit. 

 

The driver then accelerated about a quarter mile from the state line.

 

The deputy radioed the Sheriff’s Office headquarters to notify the Danbury Police Department to be on the lookout for the car. About three-quarters of a mile into Connecticut, the deputy decelerated and turned off his siren.  The suspect’s car continued to accelerate.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 15 seconds later, the car ran off the roadway and crashed into a metal utility pole.

 

The two female passengers sustained non-life threatening injuries.  The male driver and two male passengers were killed on impact.  The identities of the victims have not been released.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Danbury Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta)

 

The Danbury Police Department is investigating the crash. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal review of the events preceding it. 

 

A preliminary review indicates that the deputy followed the suspect’s car for about one-and-a-half minutes over a distance of about one-and-a-half miles.  The average speed of the deputy’s cruiser was clocked at slightly less than 65 miles per hour, with top speeds of over 80 miles per hour sustained for about 15 seconds.  The crash speed of the other car has not yet been determined. 

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UPDATED: Three dead in early morning crash in Danbury

There was a fatal accident early this morning in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton says at least three people are confirmed dead.  The crash happened on the exit 2B off ramp by Mill Plain Road shortly before 5am.  Boughton says the crash was the result of a pursuit which began in Brewster, New York.  The Putnam County Sheriff Deputy was breaking off pursuit, but the car continued at a high rate of speed.

 

Assistant Danbury Fire Chief Mark Omasta says a Nissan Altima hit a steel pole at the commuter lot at Exit 2 at a high rate of speed.  The Fire Department extricated five passengers from the heavily damaged vehicle.  Two females were transported to Danbury Hospital, three males were pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The officer was uninjured, but transported to Putnam County Hospital for observation and evaluation.

 

One passenger was taken to the hospital for observation, the other for treatment of a broken arm.  The three other occupants are being transported to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office for autopsies.  Their identities not being released, pending notification of next of kin.

 

(Contributed photo)

 

Boughton says the car was so badly damaged that he couldn't tell what type of vehicle it was.  The car has Connecticut license plates.

 

He says this is a tragic way to start off the Labor Day weekend.  He also said he is sending prayers and thoughts to the families of those involved.

 

The Ridgefield Fire Department ambulance assisted Danbury Fire and EMS crews.

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At least three dead in early morning crash in Danbury

There was a fatal accident early this morning in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton says at least three people are confirmed dead.  The crash happened on the exit 2B off ramp by Mill Plain Road.  Several fire trucks and emergency response vehicles are on the scene. 

 

Boughton says the crash happened as a result of a pursuit which began in New York State.  There were 5 occupants in the vehicle.  The car has Connecticut license plates.

 

The exit ramp is closed, drivers looking to get off the highway westbound must take exit 2A, or go down to exit 1.  Mill Plain Road is blocked by police cars at Old Ridgebury Road.  The accident happened around 5am. 

 

Police expect to have those roads closed for a stretch of time as they work to clear the scene and the accident reconstruction team completes their work.

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New programming offered at Danbury PAL

A strategic plan has been developed by Danbury PAL in response to an increase in enrollment.  With program revenue up, Executive Director Maura Keenan says the non-profit organization can shift the focus to implementation of a three year strategic plan.  Aggressive goals were set, including double digit growth in both program participation and non-fundraising revenue through 2019.

 

PAL currently offers 13 different youth development programs for boys and girls between 5-18 as well as several different affiliate programs.  Keenan says some of the programing enhances what was already available, while others are new and were created to meet the needs identified in the survey.

 

Some of the newest program offerings that were inspired by the ’15 Community Survey results include annual memberships, Spring Volleyball, Little Ballers Basketball for kindergartners and 1 st graders, free family events and partnerships with numerous other area youth agencies.

 

There are now recreational hours on Saturday mornings for 4-5-and-6-year olds, supervised by teachers.  Keenan says they want the PAL Center to be a fun place for kids to come, not necessarily on a structured team, to play games.

 

The Little Ballers Basketball program had very little promotion, and 77 kids enrolled.  Keenan hopes to build on that going forward.

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Final weekend of lifeguard duty at State Parks

This is the last weekend that state parks will have lifeguards on duty for the summer.  At Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, it's been a fairly safe summer.  But town officials remain at odds with the state over how the park is being run. 

 

There were fewer guards on duty during the peak of summer than in past years.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection cut back on guard duty at several parks during the week for budget deficit mitigation efforts.

 

Former First Selectman John Hodge says DEEP is ignoring a water safety audit done in 2008.  He cited several examples in a letter to DEEP officials.  That includes removing the bilingual park ranger, removing safety signs written in English and Spanish and allowed understaffing of lifeguards.  He says universal swim safety flags have been posted with instructions on how to interpret the flags but that they are only in English. 

 

Hodge says the signs were put up after a spate of drownings in the last decade.  Many of the victims were from various boroughs of New York City.

 

DEEP is taking comment on banning walk ins at state parks.  This was prompted in part by concerns from New Fairfield officials with cars stopping on a curved roadway leading to Squantz Pond.  But 14 months after walk-ins were reestablished and DEEP was notified, Hodge says even the most ineffective bureaucracy could have drafted a regulation prohibiting such activity. 

 

People were also parking around town and walking along the roadway to the entrance.  Hodge says they don't want to put up no parking signs in residential zones around Squantz Pond because that wouldn't be fair to homeowners.  He says if they were to have a gathering, relatives and friends wouldn't be able to park in front of their house either.

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Prosecutors: Teen Ponzi schemer continues to defraud investors

A Danbury man who has been convicted of running a Ponzi scheme as a teenage nightclub owner is facing sentencing at the end of the month.  Ian Bick will be in court on September 30th. 

 

Prosecutors filed a new 73 page sentencing memo Wednesday saying that this may be one of the rare white collar cases where a significant prison term is necessary as a deterrence based on post-conviction conduct.  The filing claims that Bick has shown no remorse for his conduct and has continued to engage in the same type of conduct that underlies his conviction.

Bick violated the conditions of supervision by repeatedly traveling out of Connecticut without approval of his Probation Officer and lied to his Probation Officer when asked about travel to the Empire City Casino in New York on at least half a dozen occasions this April and May.

 

Bick has reportedly continued to raise money for his so-called business ventures and under false pretenses. 

 

For example, Bick told a couple that he would use their investment funds for a show supposedly scheduled for late July 2016.  However, no such show was ever scheduled to occur and never did occur.  Bick has used his father’s catering business credit card to collect funds. According to the Memorandum of Interview, his father Michael Bick told the man not to contact the authorities because he “would never get his money back that way.”

 

The memorandum outlines what the Government says is a significant level of contempt for the fire safety laws at his club, Tuxedo Junction.  According to a report that Federal Agents received from the Danbury Fire Marshall, the fire suppression system at Bick's club was disabled for months, which created substantial risk of injury to the patrons some of who are minors.  According to the report Bick was aware it was off for months.  Additionally, Bick did not pay the fees associated with the inspection as businesses are required to do.  The Government says while this incident is not directly related to the financial crimes for which Bick faces sentencing now, this demonstrates Bick’s poor character, his incorrigible behavior since conviction, and his disrespect for the law.

 

In addition to prison time, prosecutors are seeking a restitution order in the amount of $495,886, which represents the amount of loss suffered by the 27 victim-investors who invested with Bick and were defrauded.  The Government claims this crime was neither a minor financial crime nor a one-time mistake of judgment.  The memorandum says Bick engaged in a carefully calculated fraud scheme over the course of more than a year, which required actively lying to investors.

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Man arrested for making threatening phone call to Sandy Hook School

A man has been arrested for making a threatening phone call to the Newtown School District.  Newtown Police were made aware of the threat on August 15th to the main office of Sandy Hook School.  Pierre Beauvil was identified as the suspect.  He asked when the first day of school was and after being told it was August 29th, made a threat against Sandy Hook School for that day. 

 

A telephone number originating from a nearby town was identified.  The number led the School Resource Officer to a national mobile phone company outside of Connecticut, then to a company in Canada.

 

The 28-year old Stamford man was arrested this afternoon.  Beauvil was charged with breach of peace, harassment by intimidation and threatening.  Bond was set at $150,000.  He is due in Danbury Superior Court on September 27th.

 

The Newtown Police Department in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies are investigating the likelihood that numerous other school threats were also made by Beauvil.

Newtown Police say threats of this nature will not be tolerated and will be vigorously investigated.  The Department says their officers work diligently with the Newtown Board of Education to ensure that students, faculty and staff are able to operate in an environment where they do not have a concern for their safety.

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Fred Hellerman, member of Weavers folk group, dies at 89

WESTON, Conn. (AP) Fred Hellerman, a member of the influential folk music quartet the Weavers, has died at the age of 89.

Caleb Hellerman says his father died Thursday at his home in Weston, Connecticut, after a lengthy illness.

The Weavers were formed in 1948 by Hellerman along with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Ronnie Gilbert and would help to popularize folk music in the United States with recordings including ``Goodnight Irene.''

Hellerman was born in Brooklyn, New York, learned to play guitar while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and teamed up with the other musicians while living in New York City's Greenwich Village.

He later produced the record ``Alice's Restaurant'' for Arlo Guthrie and worked with several artists over a lengthy career as a composer, arranger and songwriter.

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Danbury women arrested for assault outside Newtown business

Two Danbury women have been arrested for assaulting a woman at a Newtown business. 

 

Newtown Police responded to Hubble Plastics on Wednesday afternoon on a report of an assault.  The victim told officers that two acquaintances waited in the parking lot for her when she left for the day, screamed at her, hit her in the face, pulled her hair and scratched her face. 

 

The victim said that her keys were stolen and her iPhone was smashed.  The assault was broken up by the victim's co-workers and the women fled in a Honda CR-V. 

 

Officers were told the women's names and addresses.  44-year old Maria Tavarez was located in Danbury and transported to the Newtown Police Department.  36-year old Marta Perez turned herself in to police.  Each woman was charged with assault, breach of peace, robbery and criminal mischief.  They were both released on $1,500 bond for appearances in Danbury Superior Court on September 14th. 

 

The victim was evaluated by Newtown EMS, but refused to go to the hospital.

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Firefighters thank New Milford residents for support during Lover's Leap fire response

Volunteers with Water Witch Hose Company #2 in New Milford are thanking the community for their support during a recent battle with a large fire.  At the end of July, a fire was spotted in the woods off of Indian Ridge.  Crews spent days at Lover's Leap State Park battling a fire that consumed many acres of land and tested the strength of the department.  With the lack of rain and high heat index, Fire Chief Todd Russell says the forest floor was primed for a horrible outcome. Coupled with the difficult access of the fires location, 15 different municipalities were called in for manpower, tankers and station coverage.

 

Russell notes that rehab of water and cooling stations were provided by New Milford Ambulance and assisted by Roxbury EMS and their Rehab Unit. He thanked every department, along with the State Forestry Crews, that held the lines over the next few days.

 

He says residents brought out towels, water, Gatorade, food the moment the call came in.  Russell says residents also called nearby JoJo’s Deli, which opened at midnight and fed crews for the duration.  Citizens also donated to a fund established by people who lived in the area they were protecting.

 

Russell called it an amazing outpouring, which made members know their efforts are appreciated.

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Wilton Police investigating fight involving students from Wilton, Ridgefield

There was a melee at the Wilton High School football field this week involving two groups of students, one from Wilton and the other from Ridgefield.  Wilton Police say a fight broke out around 8:30pm Wednesday when Ridgefield High School students came to Wilton for a game of scavenger hunt. 

 

Police say the game was publicized and Wilton students were aware that Ridgefield would be coming to the field.  Police say a Ridgefield student was assaulted, injured and brought to the Danbury Hospital Emergency Room by his parents. 

 

The Wilton Police Youth Division is investigating the incident, and the investigation remains open.  No arrests have been made at this time.

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Bethel Police release more details about man trying to lure girl into car near bus stop

Bethel Police are encouraging parents to speak with their children about the dangers of getting in or near vehicles that are unknown to them. 

 

Parents are also encouraged to talk about the appropriate times to dial 911 since many children now have their own cell phones.  Being approached by a stranger and being asked to enter a vehicle or otherwise leave with a stranger is cause to call 911.  Juveniles face no charges for calling 911 if a situation of concern to them turns out to be benign.  Kids are also being encouraged to pay attention to their surroundings, instead of looking at their phones.

 

This advice is being offered as Bethel Police investigate a report of a man trying to lure a 12 year old into a car Thursday afternoon. 

 

The 7th grader reported that at approximately 3:15pm she was walking home from the bus stop in the Woodlawn Drive area of Chimney Heights and approached.  The driver if she needed a ride home, and when the girl declined he became more adamant that she get into the vehicle. 

 

The girl fled from the area and was never physically contacted by the operator of the vehicle. 

 

The description provided to police is of an approximately 40 year old while male, black hair that was slicked back, clean shaven, muscular build, with a deep voice.  The vehicle described to police is similar to a Ford Crown Victoria, black in color, and possibly bearing CT registration plates.
 
Anyone with information about the vehicle or the operator is asked to contact the Bethel Police at 203-744-7900.

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State Police detail Labor Day roving patrols

State Police will be out in force this Labor Day weekend.  State Police Troop A, based in Southbury, has announced roving patrols in the Greater Danbury area through Monday.  Troopers are concentrating their enforcement efforts on intoxicated motorists, aggressive drivers and those who are distracted.  The patrols will be in the Danbury and Waterbury areas on Interstate 84 and Route 7.  There will also be patrols on Routes  7 and 341 in Kent, Routes 63 and 109 in Morris, Routes 45 and 47 in Washington, Routes 132 and 61 in Bethlehem and Routes 202 and 254 in Litchfield.  State Police are also reminding drivers that if you see a suspected DUI or dangerous motorist, call 911 and report it to police.

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Danbury PAL sees success in program expansion, launches strategic plan

After seeing a 54-percent increase in program revenue during the recently-closed fiscal year, PAL is moving its focus to implementation of a 3-year strategic plan.  The non-profit organization is looking to hone in on financial, operational and governance opportunities. 

 

The strategic plan sets aggressive goals including double digit growth in both program participation and non-fundraising revenue through 2019.

Executive Director Maura Keenan says the plan was crafted in response to the feedback from constituents in the 2015 Community Survey.  Keenan notes that new Board members were instrumental in moving the group forward.  The organization put a committee together to talk with staff and volunteers, along with community surveys.

 

They used that data to better understand what the community values most about PAL, to create new youth recreational programs and improve existing successful programs.

PAL currently offers 13 different youth development programs for boys and girls between 5-18 as well as several different affiliate programs.  Enrollment is up in almost all of their programs.

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New motion filed in case against Remington Arms

New paperwork has been filed in the lawsuit by some Sandy Hook families against Remington Arms.  A motion was filed this week by Attorney Josh Koskoff, who represents the families of nine children and adults killed and a teacher who survived. 

 

The motion claims that the appeal to dismiss the suit by Bushmaster Firearms' parent company should be denied because it is designed to preclude discovery that both sides have done to prepare for the trail, which has been scheduled. 

 

The gun company's lawyers argue the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. 

 

The lawsuit says Remington knew or should have known the AR-15-style rifle was dangerous and meant for the military, but sold it to the public anyway and should be held accountable.

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Sexual assault charges against man dismissed

Sexual assault charges against a Danbury man have been dropped.  53-year old Jose Alonso was in court Thursday and had the 15 charges against him dismissed.  He was accused last February of sexually assaulting a girl from the time she was 7 years old, in 2007. 

 

The case was headed to trial, with jury selection already completed.  Alonso maintained his innocence from when he was arrested about 18 months ago and had pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

 

The Newstimes reports that as prosecutors were preparing for the trial, discrepancies in the victim's testimony appeared.  Prosecutors reportedly said that the child may not have been truthful in describing different incidents and her credibility was called into question.

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Bethel Police searching for man who tried to lure 12-year old into car

Bethel Police are investigating a report of a man trying to lure a 12 year old into a car Thursday afternoon.  The 7th grader reported that at approximately 3:15pm they were walking home from the bus stop and approached by the operator of a black, possibly four door, sedan.  The operator of the vehicle asked the juvenile if they needed a ride home.  The juvenile declined.

 

The operator demanded that the youth get in the car. 

 

The juvenile fled from the area and was never physically contacted by the operator of the vehicle.  The description provided to police is of an approximately 40 year old while male, black hair that was slicked back, clean shaven, muscular build, with a deep voice.  The vehicle described to police is similar to a Ford Crown Victoria, black in color, and possibly bearing CT registration plates.
 
Anyone with information about the vehicle or the operator is asked to contact the Bethel Police at 203-744-7900.
 
Bethel Police are encouraging parents to speak with their children about the dangers of getting in or near vehicles that are unknown to them. 

 

Parents are also encouraged to talk about the appropriate times to dial 911 since many children now have their own cell phones.  Being approached by a stranger and being asked to enter a vehicle or otherwise leave with a stranger is cause to call 911.  Juveniles face no charges for calling 911 if a situation of concern to them turns out to be benign.

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Officer on foot patrol discovers drug sale in progress near Danbury park

A Danbury Police Officer on foot patrol came across a drug sale in progress early Wednesday afternoon.  The officer interrupted the transaction between 58-year old William Vines of Danbury and another man. 

 

As the officer approached them near the Beaver Street Park, both men took off running.  A third person nearby also ran.  All three were detained after a brief foot chase. 

 

Officers found Vines in possession of crack cocaine.  He was charged with possession with intent to distribute, possession of narcotics and interfering with an officer, among other crimes.  He was held on $7,500 bond. 

 

The other two men were released at the scene. 

 

Vines has three previous convictions on charges including sale of narcotics, use of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance.

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MCCA names new President

Danbury-based Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism has named a new President and CEO.  John D'Eramo will lead the organization starting September 19th.  He takes over from Joseph Sullivan, who is retiring after 34 years as President and CEO of MCCA. 

 

D'Eramo was chosen by a search committee because he met MCCA's vision for the future of substance abuse treatment, and has an understanding of today's complex and rapidly changing environment for substance abuse and mental health providers in Connecticut. 

 

D'Eramo served as COO of Connecticut Valley Hospital for the past five years, and transformed the Addiction Services Division to meet the needs of anyone in the community with comprehensive treatment services.

 

D'Eramo is a Registered Nurse, holding a Bachelor of Science from Sacred Heart University and a Master of Health Care Administration from Western Connecticut State University. In 2008, he received the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Distinguished Managerial Service Award and was also named as one of three State of Connecticut Distinguished Managers.  Prior to assuming his current position, D'Eramo was the Director of Hospital and Nursing Services at the Southwest Connecticut Mental Health System.

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Registration for medical marijuana patients under age 18 now open

Connecticut's medical marijuana program is expanding.  Beginning next month, minors with select, severe debilitating medical conditions will have access to medical marijuana.  The state Department of Consumer Protection opened the registration system today for those patients, so they can be fully registered when the new law takes effect. 

 

The legal guardian for the patient must have the pediatric patient’s primary care provider and a physician who is board certified in an area of medicine involved in the treatment of the debilitating condition, certify that the patient has one of the qualifying conditions and that the use of medical marijuana is in the patient’s best interest.  The guardian must also register, complete the patient appliaction and select a licensed in-state dispensary facility to obtain the medication.

 

The conditions that a patient under 18 must have to register for the program are:

 

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Irreversible Spinal Cord Injury with Objective Neurological Indication of Intractable Spasticity
  • Severe Epilepsy
  • Terminal Illness Requiring End-Of-Life Care
  • Uncontrolled Intractable Seizure Disorder

 

 

Patients under 18 are not able to obtain their medication in a smoke-able, inhalable or vaporizable form. 

 

The Department says Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Program is the first pharmaceutical model in the country, and is one of the most secure.  The Program has over 12,400 registered patients.  There are eight licensed dispensaries in the state, including one in Bethel.

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Suspect makes threatening phone calls to Newtown, other school districts

A suspect is in custody for making a threatening phone call to the Newtown School District.  Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi said in an email to parents, that the suspect also called other districts before the start of the school year.  Erardi said the perpetrator was quickly identified, detain and will be charged by Newtown Police.  No further details about the calls or the suspect were immediately released.

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Meeting, referendum on Bethel Water Department projects set

A town meeting and special referendum are being held in Bethel this month about a loan to the Bethel Water Department.  The loan will be used for necessary upgrades to the Hoyt’s Hill pump station and for the replacement of existing municipal wells at the Maple Avenue well field.

 

Bethel officials say the Hoyt’s Hill pump station is quickly approaching the end of its service life.  The facility provides water pressure for fire protection and residential water service to a large portion of the town.  Water output from the Maple Avenue wells, which were installed in 1962, has diminished over time.  The replacement project will bring the Maple Avenue wellfield back to its full permitted original capacity and will allow collection of additional data for a potential future wellfield expansion to add additional groundwater supply sources.

 

Both projects are necessary to ensure an uninterrupted supply of drinking water as well as to continue to meet all state water quality regulations.  Bethel officials say a failure of the Hoyt’s Hill pumps would result in an immediate loss of water to several neighborhoods, and high water demand this summer is already outpacing the Maple Avenue wells production capacity.

 

About half of the town’s population is covered by the Bethel Water Department. Homeowners with private wells and homes in the Stony Hill neighborhood, which is supplied by Aquarion Water Company, are not affected.

 

Neither of these two projects require any expenditure of Bethel taxpayer funds, but the Town Charter requires voter approval via referendum for any project in excess of $1 million. 

 

The contractor expects a 6 month time frame for the Maple Ave wellfield project and 12 months to complete the Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade project.  The Hoyt’s Hill pump station upgrade is $1,367,075; the Maple Avenue well field improvements will be $995,867.

 

Funding is provided by a loan from the Connecticut Department of Public Health Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, a program specifically designed to help small town water systems maintain critical infrastructure. The loan will be repaid through Water Department billings only.  The term of the loan is 20 years at an interest rate of 2.9%.

 

The town meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 6th at 7pm in the Municipal Center. The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13th.

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Ruling in decade old education funding fairness case expected next week

A judge will issue a ruling next week in a decade old education funding case against the state.  The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding sued the state in 2005 arguing that Connecticut failed to fund schools adequately or equitably.  The group was formed in part by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  The lawsuit was initially dismissed, but the plaintiffs won on appeal in the state supreme court, which sent it back down to the lower court for trial. 

 

The new trial started earlier this year.  Danbury is a lead plaintiff.  Boughton called the September 7th ruling date a big day for the City in its fight for education funding fairness.  The judge will issue an oral decision, to be followed up in writing.  Boughton will travel to Hartford to hear the ruling.

 

Danbury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sal Pascarella was among those who testified.  He was on the stand for several days.

 

State officials deny the claims and say more money doesn't necessarily lead to higher test scores.

 

The coalition of municipalities, education groups, parents and students says the state was violating the Connecticut constitution by not providing enough aid to municipalities to allow them to properly educate students.  The coalition cited vast differences in test results between rich and poor towns.  CCJEF says that because public school funding in the state heavily relies on local property taxes, students in wealthy towns receive a much better education.

 

Boughton says there are three possible outcomes.  The judge could order the legislature to craft a comprehensive approach to education funding, a realignment across the state.  The judge could also decide that the four lead plaintiffs made a good argument and order the legislature to fix education funding for Danbury and the three other communities. 

The other possibility is that the state isn't in the wrong.  Boughton doesn't think that the judge will rule in favor of the state.  Whatever decision comes down, it's probable that the state will appeal and the case could end up in the Connecticut Supreme Court.

 

The state is being called on by Danbury officials to come up with a more fail-safe funding method for school districts based on students' learning needs.  During a community meeting in October in Danbury about school funding, the District said they have the 7th lowest per student spending in Connecticut at $12,684, relying heavily on local funding.  Danbury contributes $9,061 per student, or 70 percent.  School officials say that's nearly twice that of a similar district.

 

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.

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GOP Congressional candidate renews call for debates

The Republican candidate in the 5th Congressional District race says more government is not the answer when it comes to helping residents.  Clay Cope says the unconscionable price increases for the EpiPen, coupled with higher costs and fewer choices for under Obamacare illustrate the fundamental flaw in Elizabeth Esty's approach to government.

 

The Sherman First Selectman says both programs were mandates and are anti-competitive.

 

Cope was also critical of an announcement last week by Esty and Senator Richard Blumenthal about a move to ban flavored e-cigarettes.  He says that should not be a top priority, pointing to a lackluster economy, slow growth of good-paying jobs and an increase in ISIS-inspired terrorist acts.  Cope called Esty "a creature of Washington", saying she ignores the real issues facing voters in the 5th District to participate in photo ops.

 

Cope renewed his call for a debate in each of the 41 municipalities in the 5th District.  He says voters have a right to examine Esty's record of performance in Washington, and her plans for the future.

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