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Local Headlines Archives for 2017-03

Danbury commemorates Vietnam Veterans at Ceremony Wedensday

 

The Danbury Council of Veterans Affairs will be hosting an annual memorial for those who sacrified their lives in Veitnam. The focus of the ceremony, being held at 10 am at Rogers Park, will be a rememberance of troops who served during the last period of the war in the 1970's. The ceremony is slated to begin at 10am. Expected are veterans representing all local organizations and of course public attendees. John Hill, a local member of the Marine detachment when questioned about the event, stated that it began after the war memorial was built back in 1988 and it was the idea of the local Veterans of Foreign War's to make sure the troops are remembered. Rogers Park is located by Main Street in City Center Danbury.

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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty Celebrates Black History Month

 

5th district Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was in Danbury Sunday hosting the third annual Black History Month celebration called Standing On The Shoulders of giants. It took place at New Hope Baptist Church. The church was quite full with attendees. Among the black leaders she lauded was Patrick Ridenhour; who recently became chief of the Danbury police. She cited his career journey as an African American leading to the important position he now holds. Esty also discussed how far people of color have come since opera singer Marian Anderson was banned from singing by the Daughters of The American Revolution in Constitution Hall back in 1939. The D.A.R. has made great amends to that over the following years.

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Brookfield leader says state proposals tie their hands when crafting local budgets

Not a lot municipal leaders are in favor of Governor Malloy's proposed changes to the school funding formula sending more money to poorer towns.  The idea of having municipalities pay a third of teacher pension costs is also opposed by some mayors and first selectmen. 

 

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says the plans, as currently proposed, are untenable for a town like Brookfield.  If the suggestions go through, it represents 5.6-percent of the overall budget.  The state has mandated that the budget can't be increased by more than 2.5-percent. 

 

Dunn says the increase, coupled with the cap is a big problem.  He hopes the legislature comes up with a reasonable plan at a level that makes sense. 

 

Dunn says to lay the cost on the towns at one swoop while still tying their hands behind their backs on managing the process is not a good plan.

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Bill advances to require recyclables bin at certain businesses

A bill requiring certain retail food establishments to provide containers, accessible to customers, for recyclable items is moving through the General Assembly.  The Environment Committee this month voted 22 to 7 to place the proposal on the House calendar for further consideration. The requirement applies to establishments that sell food for consumption both on and off their premises and beverages in recyclable bottles or aluminum cans.

 

Designated recyclable items include cardboard, boxboard, glass and metal food containers, containers of three gallons or less made of certain types of plastic, and other items.

 

By law, everyone who generates solid waste from a non-residential property must separate recyclable items from other solid waste.

 

Several Greater Danbury area lawmakers are members of the Environment Committee.  Committee Co-chair New Milford Senator Craig Miner voted against the bill.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding also opposed the legislation.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby and David Arconti of Danbury voted in favor of the proposal.

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Changes to the state pension system proposed by local lawmaker

Four bills introduced by Wilton Senator Toni Boucher were part of a public hearing on Friday. One would eliminate longevity payments and overtime compensation from state employee retirement income calculations.  She says this will help achieve long-term savings by lowering state pension obligations.

 

Another bill would increase contributions by state employees to the retirement system. Boucher says this will reduce the unfunded pension liability of the state.

 

The third bill increases co-pays under the state employee health care plan in order to provide tax relief to Connecticut residents. She says this would be achieved by decreasing the cost of state employee health insurance coverage.

 

The fourth bill introduced by Boucher that was considered Friday concerns retirement and health care benefits for certain state employees. She says the proposal would create state budget savings by placing non-union state employees in health and retirement plans that are similar to those in the private sector.

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Esty introduces bill to help veterans exposed to 'burn pits'

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced a bill to help veterans exposed to Burn Pits.  Those are areas on military bases where waste is incinerated and toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere.

 

The VA would have to work toward the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions related to exposure to burn pits.  Health effects from exposure to chemicals found in burn pits can include cancer, neurological and reproductive effects, respiratory toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity. 

 

Retired Lt. Col. Michael. J Zacchea, a Brookfield Marine Corps veteran and the Program Manager at the Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans, says burn pits are the ticking time bomb in this generation of combat veterans.  He added that this is a major health issue which will plague more than 4 million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades of war.

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New Milford Police officers take part in St. Baldrick's event

Some New Milford Police Officers took part in St Balrdick's Day events to raise money for childhood cancer research.  New Milford High School Resource Officer Joseph Locascio, Officer Brian Bollaro, Officer Nicholas Smith, and Schaghticoke Middle and Northville Elementary School Resource Officer Guy Scarcella participated in the ‘Green Wave Braves the Shave’ event.  Officer Locascio collected $1,045 in donations for this cause.

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New Milford bridge reconstruction project ready for bid

LOTCIP design approval has been given by the state Department of Transportation for New Milford's Wellsville Avenue Bridge Reconstruction project.  The $1.1 million project is expected to go out to bid this spring, for construction this year.

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Candlewood Corners Drainage Improvement project to go to bid this Spring

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments has announced LOTCIP design approval of New Fairfield’s Candlewood Corners Drainage Improvement project by the state Department of Transportation.  The $500,000 project will replace an existing culvert pipe with larger twin culverts.  The goal is to reduce the severity and frequency of flooding that damages Route 39 and Sawmill Road as well as adjacent private properties.  The project is expected to go out to bids this spring, for construction this year.

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Regional planning group announced Route 202 improvement funding

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments has announced that Brookfield will receive $900,000 for preliminary engineering for improvements on Lower Federal Road.  The work is aimed at addressing existing safety and traffic flow concerns.  The design of improvements will build off of recommendations in the Transportation Plan for Lower Route 202 developed by WestCOG in 2015.  The project was discussed at the February Housatonic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.

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Three Danbury residents arrested for suspected illegal drug sales

Neighbor complaints about illegal drug sales form a Triangle Street apartment has led to the arrests of three city residents.  Danbury Police Special Investigations Division members carried out surveillance of 39-year old William Carrasquillo and 29-year old Ashleigh Studwell. 

 

A search and seizure warrant was then issued by the court.  After watching the two engage in a suspected drug transaction on Wednesday, both were taken into custody.  They were on the corner of Byron Street and White Street in the process of a drug transaction with 26-year old Chanmor Khuth. 

 

   

(Carrasquillo, Studwell, Khuth)

 

All three had a considerable quantity of illegal prescription drugs and powder cocaine in their possession.  Seized in the investigation was a substantial amount of currency and a vehicle used to facilitate illegal drug sales.  A search of the residence revealed no further drug evidence.

 

Carrasquillo was charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.  Khuth was charged with possession of narcotics and of a controlled substance, and possession with intent to sell.  Each was released on $10,000 bond.  Studwell was charged with narcotics possession and possession with intent to sell.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

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Two men charged for allegedly assaulting victim who owned them money

A man who owed two people money was allegedly assaulted by them in Danbury on Thursday night.  Danbury Police say the victim went to the police station to file a complaint about 22-year old Jin Lee of Ridgefield and 23-year old Terral Belin of Danbury.  The victim told police that the pair assaulted him on Liberty Street and took his money.

 

As police investigated, the victim's fiancee received several threatening messages because the victim went to the police.

 

Officers located the suspects later in the evening and they were placed under arrest.

 

 

(Belin, Lee)


Belin was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, threatening, conspiracy to commit threatening, intimidating a witness, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and breach of peace. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Danbury Superior Court on April 6th.

Lee was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, threatening, conspiracy to commit threatening, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and breach of peace. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Danbury Superior Court on April 6th.

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Esty reacts to GOP health care bill being pulled ahead of scheduled vote

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has issued a statement following the cancellation of a vote on the GOP health care repeal and replacement plan.  She says the Affordable Care Act has problems that need Congress to work together to fix.  But she cautioned that the American Health Care Act would solve none of those problems.  Esty called for a fresh start on a bipartisan plan that will improve access to quality health care, lower premiums, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, and bring down drug costs.

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Danbury teen found with cocaine, Xanax charged for drugged driving

A Danbury teen has been arrested for drugged driving in New York.  The Putnam County Sheriff's office said in a release yesterday that a Deputy on patrol last Saturday saw a car dragging its muffler on the pavement.  The Deputy stopped the driver and determined that 19-year old Eric Henry had his ability impaired by drugs.  Henry was also in possession of cocaine and Xanax pills, without having a prescription for the pills.  He was charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and operating a motor vehicle while impaired.  Henry was arraigned and posted bail.

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Danbury students headed to regional invention convention

Some Westside Middle School Academy students are headed to a regional Invention Convention.  10 of the 100 sixth-grade students who displayed their inventions as part of the science curriculum will move on to the regional event next weekend. 

 

School officials say the invention convention is meant to foster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning for students from kindergarten through eighth grade.  The regional competition will be held at the O’Neill Center on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University, on April 1.

 

Winners will head to the 34th annual Connecticut Invention Convention on Saturday, April 29, at UConn.  More than 130 Connecticut schools participate every year.

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NYFS partners with Women's Center for Elder Abuse awareness training session

Newtown Youth & Family Services is teaming up with the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury to provide an Elder Abuse and Neglect Awareness Training session.  Those who work with clientele over the age of 60 are being encouraged to attend the informational workshop on Monday afternoon.  The training will cover the prevalence of domestic violence among elderly couples, types of abuse, warning signs, physical and behavioral indicators and information about local resources.  Information about what to do if you suspect a senior may be abused or neglected will also be discussed.  The case management program at NYFS provides advocacy, referrals and support to victims of elder abuse.

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Woman accused of shoplifting cosmetics from Kohl's

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office released details yesterday about the arrest of a woman charged with shoplifting $100 worth of items from Kohl's last week.  34-year old Laura Snyder of Southeast allegedly stole the items from the store on Independence Way in Southeast.  She was accused of putting 3 boxes of cosmetics in her purse and walking out without paying.  The items were recovered from her handbag.  Snyder was charged with petit larceny and issued a ticket to appear in court on April 4th.

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FOIA ruling upheld on New Milford teacher evaluation data

A court referee has upheld a Freedom of Information Commission ruling about teacher evaluation data in New Milford.  The Newstimes reports that it's a setback for the Connecticut Education Association, which sought to keep the information private.  The case started with former Board of Education member John Spatola requesting the data and then-Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote saying that it was not subject to FOIA laws.  The published report says Spatola asked for two years of aggregate data, not individual information, on the number of the teachers in each evaluation tier designated by the state: exemplary, proficient, developing or below-standard.

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Tuition hikes proposed for Western, other CSCU institutions

The president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities is recommending a tuition increase at all 17 schools in the system.  The four state universities, 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College would see tuition hikes in fiscal year 2018 and 2019 under the recommendation. 

 

The Board of Regents Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday and the full Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on April 6th. 

 

Western, Southern, Central and Eastern students would face a $200 a semester hike.  Community college students would pay about $50 more per semester.  The increase for Charter Oak is $150 for the next two years.

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Bethel Board of Finance to meet about budget proposal

The Bethel Board of Finance will meet this afternoon to discuss the budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Board will consider community input from this week's public hearing and finalize the budget for the upcoming town meeting.  The Board is set to work starting at 4pm in meeting room A of the Municipal Center.  The previously posted Wednesday night and Saturday morning meeting times have been cancelled.

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Public hearing to be held on bills introduced by local lawmaker

A public hearing is being held today on three bills introduced by Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan.

 

One is about removing pensions from collective bargaining agreements for state employees.  He says this would save the state money and reduce the state’s long-term liabilities.  McLachlan called it part of comprehensive pension reform proposed this session. 

 

Another bill would exclude overtime pay from the calculation of state employee pension benefits.  McLachlan says that measure is aimed at ending so-called "pension padding" by state employees.

 

The third bill being discussed today would prohibit a state employee from being able to receive a pension and a salary from the state at the same time.

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NY woman accused of shoplifting attempt at Walmart

A New York woman accused of shoplifting from the New Milford Walmart will be in Bantam Superior Court next week.  New Milford Police responded to the store last Thursday.  22-year old Samantha Bahler allegedly placed some items into her bag without paying while scanning in other items at the self-check out lane.  She was stopped by loss prevention personnel.  Bahler was charged with larceny and released on bond.  Her court appearance is set for Wednesday.

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Brookfield resident found asleep at the wheel gets DUI

A Brookfield resident is due in court on Monday on a DUI charge after being found asleep behind the wheel of a car in New Milford.  New Milford Police received a motor vehicle complaint last Friday night on Danbury Road and canvassed the area.  A running vehicle was found in the parking lot of Lore's Plaza, and 32-year old Tony Marrone asleep.  Officers located heroin on the driver's seat.  K9 Kira was called to the scene to search the vehicle.  Kira found more heroin and marijuana.  In addition to the DUI, Marrone was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance.

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Brookfield budget includes small increase in spending

The Brookfield budget is due to the Town Clerk today.  The Board of Selectmen made proposals to the Board of Finance, which deliberated this week.  An $18.2 million municipal budget and a $41.39 million school operation budget have been proposed. 

 

This is a 2.62 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year. 

 

The Selectmen included $200,000 in contingency funds that would partially support any changes in the state fund grants that typically come to Brookfield.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the state unknowns remain a very real concern for Brookfield because municipal aid and school grants represent a large part of the town's funding.  

 

The grand list declined by 1.57 percent as a result of the revaluation.  The town has to change the mill rate upwards to account for this change in values.  Dunn says that is why the mill rate change is higher than the actual proposed spending increase. 

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More grass carp than planned to be released in Candlewood Lake, Squantz Pond

Grass carp will once again be released into Candlewood Lake in an effort to prevent the spread of invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.  The fish will also be released into Squantz Pond for the first time.  

 

Milfoil can get tangled in boat motors and entangle swimmers. 

 

Candlewood Lake Authority Executive Director Larry Marsicano says more carp than planned will be released because the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was working with outdated statistics.  The projection about the spread of milfoil initially used by DEEP was based on an average of several years, but Marsicano says it fell short of actual acreage by one-third.  About 500 acres of milfoil have been mapped in Candlewood.  Some 39 acres were spotted in Squantz Pond. 

 

Instead of 3,000 sterile grass carp, 4,450 will be released into Candlewood.  Squantz Pond will be stocked with 585 fish instead of 421.  

 

The fish will be released into Squantz at one spot in New Fairfield and one in Sherman this summer.  They will be stocked at the same locations they've been used in Candlewood for the past two years.

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New Milford man gets 14 years in suspected dealer's death

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - A 24-year-old New Milford man has been sent to prison for 14 years in connection with the 2015 death of a suspected drug dealer after a prospective sale went wrong.

The Republican-American reports that Steven Vlash was sentenced Wednesday on a charge of first-degree manslaughter stemming from the death of 35-year-old Carl Brown Jr.

Police say Vlash and a co-defendant drove to a corner in Waterbury where Brown reportedly sold crack cocaine.

Witnesses testified that Brown said something about them taking "the crack" and was last seen holding onto the passenger-side window of Vlash's truck as it drove away.

Brown struck his back on a road sign and was later found in the middle of the street suffering from a head injury. He died at a hospital.

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Danbury man arrested for stabbing man in Bethel

A Danbury man has been arrested for attacking two people in Bethel last night.  Bethel Police responded to Elizabeth Street and found a man with a cut to the head, caused by a knife.  Another victim was then located who was also attacked by the suspect. 

 

23-year old Mitchell Gleason was found hiding nearby.  He ran from police, and was seen by officers discarding a small amount of marijuana.  Gleason was caught and taken into custody. 

 

He was charged with assault, disorderly conduct, interfering with police and possession of marijuana.  Gleason was held on $50,000 for arraignment today. 

 

One victim was treated for non-life threatening injuries.  The other did not need medical treatment.

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NY Chamber of Commerce leader charged with misappropriating funds

The head of the Greater Mahopac/Carmel Chamber of Commerce has been charged with alleged misappropriation of funds from that organization.  26-year old Erin Meagher of Brewster was arrested Tuesday on a felony grand larceny charge. 

 

She was CEO and Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. 

 

Meagher was released for an April 11th court appearance.  No further details of the alleged misappropriation was provided by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

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Judge rules Brookfield must pay legal fees in party expulsion case

Brookfield will have to cover the legal fees of the former Republican Registrar of Voters who was sued for expelling a woman from the GOP party.  Town officials objected to Tom Dunkerton's request saying he was acting in his role as a party official, not in his town employee position when Jane Miller was removed from the voter rolls. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the Judge concluded Dunkerton was acting as Registrar, and therefore the town had to cover legal fees. 

 

Miller was booted from the GOP in 2015 under a little used state law allowing the removal of members for alleged lack of good-faith affiliation, citing her unsuccessful run for the Board of Finance on the Democratic ticket in 2013. 

 

The published report says Dunkerton requested more than $26,000 in legal fee reimbursement, but the amount could be higher since litigation continued after the request was submitted.  First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Newstimes that the Boards of Selectmen and Finance will decide whether to appeal.  But Dunn said that they may also negotiate the requested amount because Dunkerton's attorney charged $400 an hour. 

 

Miller's appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed because by that time, the new Republican Registrar added her back to the voter rolls.

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Easton lawmaker proposes fine for frivolous FOIC complaints

A bill proposed by a freshman lawmaker is advancing through the committee process. There was a vote to draft this month on a bill aiming to reduce frivolous complaints to the state Freedom of Information Commission.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby has proposed a $125 fee for filing two or more complaints with the commission each year.  He says someone filing 10s or 100s of requests are not interested in records, but rather in harassing public officials. 

 

Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, says there should be a complaint process that doesn't discourage people who have conviction that they have a legal issue.  Dunsby says one person has filed 135 complaints, not requests for information, over the last two years. 

 

The President of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information agrees there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but believes the fine is too harsh.  He says the proposal would undermine free citizen access to the FOIC.

 

State FOIC executive Director Colleen Murphy opposes the proposal, saying it will discourage people who are filing legitimate complaints.  Murphy says there may be a more narrow approach that can be taken.

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Officials: Worker fell to death after excavator tipped over

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Department of Transportation says a construction worker fell to his death from an excavator that tipped over on state Route 2.

Spokesman Kevin Nursick says 60-year-old John Dubray, of Bethlehem, fell about 20 feet to the ground on the shoulder of Interstate 84 on Wednesday.

Officials say Dubray had been operating the excavator for Southington-based contractor Brunalli Construction. Dubray was taken to Hartford Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Nursick says the excavator was using hydraulics to break and deconstruct portions of a ramp. The digger tipped over the edge of the bridge and the operator fell from the cab.

State police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the incident.

 

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Danbury man charged with DUI after striking pedestrian

A Danbury man has been charged with driving under the influence after he hit a pedestrian.  Danbury Police responded to Stadley Rough Road last Thursday night on a report of an accident with serious injury.  Police determined that 66-year old Michael Zeerip was headed southbound in a pickup truck with a plow attached. 

 

His plow struck 56-year old Joseph Connell Jr of Danbury, who was walking in the shoulder of the road.  Connell was transported to Danbury Hospital with a head injury. 

 

Zeerip failed field sobriety tests.  He was also charged with failure to drive right.  Zeerip was released on bond for a court appearance next week.

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Danbury appoints new Director of Health

The new Director of Health for the City of Danbury is being touted by Mayor Mark Boughton as a highly qualified candidate, with both theoretical and practical experience.  Lisa-Michelle Morrissey was confirmed by the City Council at their meeting this month.  She served as Director of Health for the Town of Sharon, is an adjunct Public Health Professor at Western Connecticut State University and has been acting Danbury Director of Health since January.  She previously served the City as a Public Health Inspector/Epidemiologist.  Morrissey is working toward a Doctor of Science Degree in Emergency Management Disaster Epidemiology.

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Esty supports bill on equitable care from women veterans at VA facilities

A bill to ensure equitable care at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for women veterans is being backed by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  She says the legislation will also address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment, and go without needed health care.  The Deborah Sampson Act aims to address gender disparities to improve services and access. 

 

Esty says supporting those who put their lives on the line to defend freedom is not a partisan issue.  Esty, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, added that more than two million women have worn the uniform in service to this nation, and they face unique obstacles to care when they return home. 

 

Members of Congress say the bill will empower women veterans by expanding peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and call centers for women veterans.  It would also improve the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide and authorizing medically-necessary transportation for newborns. 

 

Esty’s bill is endorsed by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Disabled American Veterans, The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

 

The Deborah Sampson Act gets its name from Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. She was wounded in 1782 and spent half of her life fighting to be recognized for her service.

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Report: Brookfield schools overspent budget due to accounting error

The Brookfield School district overspent the current fiscal year's budget because of an accounting error.  The Newstimes reports that there wasn't any illegal activity.  The $34,000 difference allegedly stemmed from teachers being paid for work from last fiscal year with money from the current budget.  An audit also showed that some preschool tuition was going into a miscellaneous revenue account instead of the General Fund.  The Board of Finance voted Monday to reallocate about $47,000 in unspent revenue from the pre-kindergarten program to the general fund.

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Easton resident, planning commission discuss cease and desist order

A resolution is in the works about a cease and desist order issued by the Easton Planning and Zoning Commission to a Norton Road resident.  The Easton Courier reports that the Commission has been in touch with the attorney for Nathan Brito over allegations the man was doing commercial-type log processing on his residential property.  Brito denies violating zoning regulations and said the firewood is being split and stored for personal use.  The Easton Courier reports that the Planning and Zoning Commission want to limit commercial vehicle use and hours on the property.

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Woman arrested for alleged home robberies in lower Fairfield County

Monroe police have arrested a second person connected to a number of home burglaries.  35-year old Natasha Pennywell of Bridgeport was charged yesterday with burglary, larceny and criminal mischief.  An investigation started in October when an elderly Monroe resident called police to say that there was a U-Haul rental van in her driveway, and that someone forced entry into her house.  Monroe, Fairfield, Norwalk and Westport Police worked together on the investigation.  Ernest Bailey was charged last month.  Pennywell is being held by the Department of Corrections on unrelated charges.

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Eversource warns of low-flying helicopters during utility line inspections

Eversource is conducting aerial inspections of vegetation growing near its high-voltage electric lines. This semiannual inspection is being done from Thursday through the end of next week.  Utility officials say this is important for service reliability.  The inspections will be from 7am to 4pm, weather permitting.  A blue and grey helicopter, Tail # N1431W, and a blue and white chopper, Tail #N411DD, will be used.  The aerial inspections are being done in Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Weston, Wilton, Woodbury, and 73 other municipalities.

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Danbury officials waiting to hear back from Historic Trust on Octagon House renovation plans

Danbury officials have identified funding to begin the renovation work needed to turn the Octagon House into a police substation.  Plans, which also call for housing the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team on site, were submitted to the Historic Trust last month.  The City is now waiting to hear back from the on the plans that have been drawn up so far.  The review process could take up to 90 days and the panel will send comments back to the City.  Mayor Mark Boughton says if they have to make adjustments, they will do so.  He hopes restorative work can start in the fall. 

 

Plans also call for creating storage space on the 2nd and 3rd floors, because those stories are not accessible via elevator for public use.  The building is one of only a handful of eight-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Some trees were recently removed from the Spring Street property so officials could get a better idea of the scope of restoration work needed.  The dilapidated building was in foreclosure and purchased by the City as a community improvement project.  The house was built in 1852 and eventually converted to apartments, but abandoned by its owner in 2008.  The blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years. 

 

A Danbury firm, Seventy2 Architects, was awarded the bid to conduct an analysis of the historic home.

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Vehicle allegedly stolen from Danbury, pursued by Monroe Police, crashes in Newtown

A vehicle reportedly stolen from Danbury on Monday was involved in a serious accident in Newtown last night.  Monroe Police officers were trying to make a traffic stop of the car which fled shortly after 9pm.  The driver, later determined to be 31-year old Rasheim Lewis of Danbury, headed northbound on Route 25 in Newtown and lost control around a curve. 

 

State Police say Lewis crossed the double yellow line, striking a Mercedes headed southbound head on. 

 

(Photos; Botsford Fire Rescue)

 

Lewis, who was not wearing a seatbelt, sustained serious injury and was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation and treatment.  The other driver, a 46-year old Sandy Hook woman, sustained minor injuries but was not transported to the hospital. 

 

 

The crash happened in front of Sand Hill Plaza and closed Route 25 for at least eight hours.  The Danbury State's Attorney's Office was notified of the incident.  Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call State Police Sgt Trooper Mark DiCocco at 203-630-8079.

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Danbury Democrat announces candidacy for Mayor

During the Danbury Democratic Town Committee headquarters last night, a resident threw his hat in the mayoral ring.  Al Almeida is currently an investigator in the Danbury Judicial District Office of the Public Defender and a Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserves.  He served two tours of duty in Iraq, earning three Bronze Stars among other commendations. 

 

Almeida and his family moved to Danbury from Portugal when he was 11-years old.  He attended Henry Abbott Technical for high school and holds a Master’s degree from UConn in Homeland Security Leadership.  He earned his BA from WCSU in Justice and Law Administration.

 

His priorities include more government accessibility, creating a better quality of life, equal and stronger education for all children, enhanced public safety and a freeze on property taxes and fees at affordable rates. One of his priorities would be an in-depth traffic plan that addresses innovative ways to ease the burden of traffic, and its economic impact. He also called for City government to go back to a 5-day a week operation with City Hall open to the public on Fridays.   

 

For the past few years, Almeida said there have been too many areas requiring undivided attention that have been neglected by the current administration.  Longtime incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Boughton is running for reelection, but also exploring a run for statewide office.  He said Danbury should not play second fiddle to a Mayor that has other aspirations as he takes a bite at the gubernatorial apple for the third time.

 

Almeida wrapped up his candidacy announcement by saying that it’s time for fresh and vibrant leadership.

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Education Committee debates mandate relief

There was a public hearing this week on a bill introduced by the legislature’s Education Committee to provide mandate relief by having a uniform regional school calendar option.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher co-chairs the committee.

 

Backers of the bill say it would also eliminate the requirement that an alternative educational opportunity for expelled students be 900 hours, eliminate the superintendent requirement for certain boards of education and require only certain school employees who have direct contact with students complete training in the restraint and seclusion of students.

 

Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson, Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, Gail Lavielle of Wilton and Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown will also consider the measure.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed considers school schedule changes

The Ridgefield Board of Education has been presented with recommendations on changes to some school schedules.  The Newstimes reports that the recommendations were made to better integrate targeted instruction into everyday teaching at the elementary and middle school levels.  One proposal is to have 45 minutes in the elementary schools for targeted intervention in reading, writing and math.  The reports says another recommendation is to increase the middle school time for core classes to an hour--by reducing transition time between classes.

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WCSU hosts 'Coffee with a Cop' event Wednesday

The Western Connecticut State University Police Department is hosting “Coffee with a Cop” tomorrow morning.  The event in the Danbury Room of the Midtown Campus Student Center is from 9 am to noon tomorrow.  A Connecticut State Police Trooper and a K-9 Trooper with their dog will join WCSU police officers.  The conversation is open to the general public.

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Eversource continues maintenance work on transmission lines

Eversource Energy will be working on transmission lines in Monroe and Newtown over the next 3 weeks. The maintenance work does not include tree trimming.  The work will take place in the area of the Stevenson Dam, including Jordan Hill Road and Bradley Lane. 

 

Crews will be using ATV’s or pickup trucks to access the transmission lines through the right of way. 

 

Newtown officials say Eversource will also be conducting aerial patrols of vegetation on or near transmission lines throughout the state Thursday and Friday, and then all of next week. Both a blue and gray and a blue and white helicopter will be used.

 

The aerial patrols will be occurring between 7am and 5pm, weather permitting.

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New Milford Town Council addresses budget miscalculation

The New Milford Town Council has passed a Revenue adjustment in the budget.  The mill rate for the upcoming fiscal year's proposal had been miscalculated by the Comptroller, by double counting $1.55 million in revenue.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach said in a Facebook post that the mill rate proposal will stay at a 1.8 percent increase. 

 

Additional revenue estimates from the sale of surplus property and Sewer Commission revenue that would make up for the $1.55 million. 

 

Gronbach says he and others have been working to identify town-owned properties that aren't producing tax revenue.  He noted that the Still Meadow property, almost 20 acres on Fort Hill and Peagler Hill Road, is one of those properties.  New Milford bought the land in 1998 for $2.1 million with bonds that have been paid off over the year.  An appraisal in 2014 pegged the value of the property at $2.5 million. 

 

Gronbach also says 25 Church Street is a Town owned building that is underutilized. 

 

He noted that a Town Council member suggested that the Sewer Commission not be asked to pay more of its debt, but that would mean the mill rate would have to go up to 2.29% as a result.  Two other Town Council members made a motion to spread the $1.55 million among all departments by having a uniform percentage change.  Gronbach called it an interesting proposal, but the motion was withdrawn before a vote could be held.

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Public hearing held in Bethel on proposed municipal budget

A $72.9 million municipal budget was discussed in Bethel last night.  A public hearing was held at the Middle School to get resident input on the proposal, which includes a 2.3 percent increase. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says potential substantial school funding cuts from the state have put municipalities in a tough spot.  Knickerbocker says the state not being able to tell towns what to expect has only been a problem in the last four years, and he notes that it gets worse each year.  Town charter requires the town to have a budget meeting in the first week of April, but the state won't release their budget until at least June.

 

Knickerbocker is also concerned about the state forcing municipalities to cover a state run program. He says that may violate the state constitution and prompt legal action.

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Local lawmaker backs bell about voluntary admission to DCF

The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis will meet today about a bill co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  The measure would study the voluntary admission program operated by the Department of Children and Families.

 

The bill would prohibit the agency’s Commissioner from requesting or requiring that parents of children admitted to the department on a voluntary basis terminate their parental rights or transfer legal custody to the department.

 

State Child Advocate Sarah Egan testified in support of the bill. She said it addresses petitions filed in juvenile court proceedings that may lead to a child being removed from a guardian solely due to the child’s specialized mental health or disability support needs.

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Danbury man arrested for February shooting

A Danbury man has been arrested for a shooting that happened in the City last month.  Danbury Police say 19-year old Christopher Watson was arrested at his home on Monday for assault and carrying a pistol without a permit. 

 

This followed an investigation that started February 24th.  The Danbury Hospital Emergency Room reported a gunshot victim suffered a non-life threatening injury to his leg that morning on Chestnut Street. 

 

Watson was held on $75,000 bond.

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Trump keeping tabs on Russia hearing, tweeting

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is keeping tabs on the congressional hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He's tweeting that the FBI and National Security Agency are telling Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes asked FBI Director James Comey, in an unusual situation, to respond to presidential tweets in the middle of his testimony.

 

Himes read the President’s tweet to Comey, because it seemed to differ with what the FBI Director said.  Comey told members of the House intelligence committee that the FBI has offered no opinion, and has no view and no information, on the potential impact on the election because that's not something the FBI looked at.

 

Comey did say earlier in the hearing, however, that there is no evidence that Russian meddling resulted in changes of any vote tallies.

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Danbury company opens fuel cell park in South Korea

A Danbury-based company has announced the dedication of a new 20 megawatt fuel cell park in South Korea.  Fuel Cell Energy says the park supplies ultra-clean power to the electric grid and heat to a district heating system in Seoul, South Korea. Company President Chip Bottone joined Government officials and others to celebrate the operation of this fuel cell park, which was constructed in 10 months.

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$1.5 million budget miscalculation to be addressed in New Milford

A $1.5 million miscalculation will be addressed in a special New Milford Town Council meeting tonight.  The Newstimes reports that the Finance Department inadvertently counted some revenue twice when calculating the proposed tax rate for the coming fiscal year.  The Town Council will have to figure out how to rework the budget proposal so that taxes do go up beyond the planned 1-point-8 percent increase.  The proposed New Milford budget doesn't include any potential state funding cuts.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm at New Milford Town Hall.

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Postal employee accused of stealing laptop from NY office lobby

A part time postal service employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop from a Southeast business office. 

 

New York State Police Troopers were dispatched earlier this month to investigate the larceny.  32-year old Joshua Hoffman of Brewster was arrested on Thursday on a felony grand larceny charge. 

 

He has since arraigned and was ordered held on bond.

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Dog found wandering in Bethel adopted by Animal Control to new family

A dog turned over to Danbury Animal Control with invalid contact information for the owner has now been adopted and on her way to a new home.  Animal Control officials say the husky, Neekah, went through turmoil after being given up to a rescue organization by a man whose wife died, and adopted out, but then abandoned.

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Supreme Court rejects appeal of former Connecticut governor

WASHINGTON (AP) The Supreme Court has declined to disturb the conviction of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland on public corruption charges.

The justices on Monday rejected Rowland's appeal of his 2014 conviction for conspiring to hide his work on political campaigns for two Republican 5th congressional district candidates.

Rowland argued that contracts he prepared that sought to disguise the nature of his work were not falsified records.

A federal appeals court rejected that argument, ruling last year that Rowland was properly convicted of creating documents that falsified his relationships with congressional candidates Lisa Wilson-Foley and Mark Greenberg.

Rowland served as governor from 1995 to 2004, when he resigned and was sentenced to prison in a different corruption scandal. He is currently serving a 2 .5 -year sentence for the latest conviction.

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Lawmakers won't get final say on rail, bus fare hikes

There was a Friday deadline for the legislature’s Transportation Committee to vote on bills, advancing some and killing others. Committee co-chair, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher said she was disappointed that bill requiring legislative approval for the Department of Transportation to raise railroad or bus fares was defeated. Boucher says since the bill did come up for a public hearing, it is possible to add the language to another bill during the remaining legislative process.

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Legislative panel advances bills on tolls

The legislature’s Transportation Committee had a Friday deadline to either advance measures or vote against them from moving on for further consideration.

 

The panel decided that electronic tolling on Connecticut roadways should be discussed further.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a committee co-chair, says a bill that would create a transportation funding lock-box made it out of committee. She says the bill puts the state on a path toward creating something that will make sure money in the Special Transportation Fund can only be spent on transportation projects.

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Bill to kill mileage tax study makes it out of committee

A bill to stop money from being spent a mileage tax study was advanced by the legislature’s Transportation Committee on Friday. The bill would prohibit the Commissioner of Transportation from using state funds for the federal study of an idea, which nearly every elected official has said will not be implemented. Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, co-chair of the Committee, said it makes no sense to waste money on an idea that no one says they want to pursue.

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Danbury Mayor praises Police, Fire Chiefs for recent work

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is praising some city officials for the work they've done over the last couple of months. 

 

At the City Council meeting, Boughton noted that the Fire Department has had significant fire activity to deal with in the last few weeks.  He said they did a great job in particular with a house fire on Stevens Street at the beginning of the month.  It was believed that improperly disposed of fireplace ashes caused the blaze. 

 

Boughton also asked the Council to keep Deputy Chief Charles Slagel in their prayers.  His New Milford home was destroyed by a fire which appeared to have started in the chimney, which was connected to a wood-burning stove.  The family wasn't home at the time. 

 

Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour was also praised.  Without mentioning any specific incidents, Boughton says Ridenhour has had to manage the department through some challenging personnel issues.  Soon after Ridenhour became Chief, an officer was ambushed and brutally assaulted.  A 15-year veteran of the department was charged with breach of peace for allegedly using unnecessary force on the suspect. 

 

Both Officer David Williams and the suspect accused of beating Officer Pooler are due in court next week.

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Volunteer firefighter, teen arrested for breaking into Newtown home, assaulting occupant

A Monroe volunteer firefighter and a teenager have been arrested in Newtown on burglary and assault charges.  Newtown Police responded to a home on Elizabeth Street shortly before 3:30 Saturday morning on a report of a dispute. 

 

The resident reported that two people broke into the house and physically assaulted her companion, punching the victim in the face.  The pair, 18-year old Brian Carriero and a 17-year old, were known to the victim. 

 

Carriero wouldn’t turn himself in, but Police later learned he was attending a firefighter training course in Trumbull. Newtown Police went to that location, removed him from the class and placed him under arrest. 

 

Newtown Police say officers responded promptly, aided the assault victim, and tracked down the offenders.  This was an isolated incident and police don’t expect additional arrests. 

 

Carriero is due in court on Monday.

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Former state Sen. forms education funding reform group

A new campaign has been launched by former Newtown state Senator John McKinney to address how the state funds education.  The movement called Fix the Formula CT has a goal of ensuring every child in the state, regardless of where they live, has access to quality education.  They favor of a single, inclusive funding formula that provides state funding based on precise student need.

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Congresswoman backs bill to help veteran caregivers

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has cosponsored legislation to expand a program that helps those who care for wounded, ill, or injured veterans. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act would open the program to veterans of all eras.  Esty says caregivers, like their loved ones who wore the uniform, make huge sacrifices in service to this nation.  She says the bill will help caregivers receive financial support, but also important mental health services and childcare assistance.

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C.H. Booth Library Director introduced to Newtown community

C.H. Booth Library in Newtown is inviting residents to meet the new Library Director tomorrow afternoon.  Refreshments will be served in the cafe area on the second floor during the meet and greet event with the library's new director tomorrow between 2 and 4 pm.

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Danbury Music Centre hosts spring preview event

A concert is being performed tonight Marion Anderson Recital Hall on Main Street at the Danbury Music Centre.  The concert is a spring preview event for the Danbury Chamber Music Intensive and Artist Concert Series, which will take place this coming August.  The program brings recent graduates of Juilliard and other major music conservatories to Danbury for a week to serve as Artist-faculty who teach and perform with local aspiring musicians.  The performance is at 7:30 tonight.

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6 Hells Angels members arrested on drug, gang charges

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) Federal authorities say six members and associates of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in the Hudson Valley have been arrested on drug and racketeering charges.

The Journal News reports that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York says five of the suspects were arrested locally Thursday morning and the sixth was arrested near Los Angeles.

All six are members of the New Roc Hells Angels, which authorities say primarily operates in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.

Prosecutors say the charges include narcotics trafficking, extortion, money laundering and prostitution.

Officials say members of the New Roc Hells Angels beat a rival motorcycle gang member over the head with a hammer in a Poughkeepsie restaurant in December 2012 in retaliation for encroaching on their territory.

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Kent firefighters receive donation of chest compression device

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department recently received a donation to help patients in sudden cardiac arrest.  The LUCAS Chest Compression System delivers uninterrupted automated chest compressions. 

 

The device was purchased with proceeds from New Milford Hospital's Dave's Day Golf Classic, which took place at Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in October. The tournament was established by friends of Dave Flatau, a Sherman resident who died in 2013 at age 56 of sudden cardiac arrest. 

 

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department is equipped with automated external defibrillators, but until recently was the only department in the greater New Milford area that did not have its own LUCAS device.  Ambulance Chief Mike Petrone said during a presentation ceremony at the department that this new equipment will go a long way in helping the community and saving lives.

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Carmel woman charged with forgery for stealing from relative's 401K

A Carmel woman has been arrested on a grand larceny charge.  New York State Police Troopers were contacted earlier this month by a Queens’ man who reported that someone had withdrawn over $2,000 from his 401K account. The deduction, including taxes, totaled over $3,000. 

 

An investigation revealed that a family member, 55 year old Bonnie Garvey, had applied for a hardship loan from the victim’s account and forged his name on the loan documentation. 

 

Garvey was also charged Wednesday with felony Forgery.  She was arraigned yesterday and remanded to the Putnam County Jail in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.

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Danbury woman hits police cruiser, truck in Newtown highway crash

What started as Southbury officers freeing a car from a snowbank last night, ended with a Danbury woman hitting a police cruiser, speeding away and rear ending a tractor trailer.  State Police say the incident started shortly after 9pm on Southford Road. 

 

42-year old Yavonda Bradley sped away southbound on Route 67 but the pursuit was called off because the officer saw a child in the car.  A few minutes later, officers saw Bradley headed north on Route 67 and trying to get on Interstate 84 from an exit ramp. 

 

The woman came back down the ramp and entered I-84 westbound at exit 15 the correct way.  Three Southbury Officers followed Bradley onto I-84, and were joined by one state police cruiser, but were not pursuing the vehicle.

 

(Photos: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue, Facebook)

 

Bradley struck Southbury Officer John Joseph Jaskolka's cruiser on the passenger side by exit 11. Officer Jaskolka was not injured. Bradley then lost control and struck the rear of a tractor trailer. 

 

 

Bradley and the 4-year old were transported to the hospital for evaluation. This incident remains under investigation and charges are pending.

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Defense: Man's murder trial should exclude death of daughter

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) An attorney for an Ohio man accused of killing his wife more than 20 years ago is seeking to exclude any reference to his client's slain daughter from his trial in Massachusetts.

Robert Honsch is charged with killing 53-year-old Marcia Honsch, whose body was found in October 1995 in western Massachusetts. He also faces a murder charge in Connecticut in the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, whose body was found in September 1995. The family lived in Brewster, New York at the time.

The Republican reports a Springfield judge on Wednesday heard a defense motion to exclude any evidence about Elizabeth Honsch's death. The defense argued it could prejudice the jury against the 73-year-old Honsch.

Prosecutors say excluding evidence about the daughter would impair their case.

The judge took the matter under advisement.

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Redding firefighters put out house fire Thursday

There was a fire at a Redding home early yesterday morning.  Firefighters were able to put out the blaze on Wayside Lane within half an hour, but the damage was reportedly extensive.  Georgetown and West Redding firefighters were aided by companies from surrounding towns.  There was no immediate report of injury.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton said in a Facebook post that two cats were on the loose after the fire.  A small dog which ran from the home has been found.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Trial continues in Mambo Cafe murder case

The murder trial of a Bridgeport man charged with shooting another man outside Mambo Cafe in Danbury in 2014 continued Thursday.  The Newstimes reports that a prosecutor showed the jury a gun allegedly used by Garfield Sanderson to kill Jeiel Kingston. 

 

Without the jury present, it was reportedly disclosed that DNA on the gun matched Sanderson's and that a bullet removed from the victim's body matched one fire from the gun.  The published report says that the defense attorney questioned whether other bullet casings were found at the scene or if any witness said if there could have been a second gun involved that night. 

 

The trial continues today.

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Lawmakers consider legalizing recreational marijuana use

Connecticut lawmakers have heard public feedback on the first of several bills filed this session that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.  The Public Health Committee discussed legislation that would require the Department of Consumer Protection to create and administer a program that allows people 21 years and older to legally purchase and cultivate marijuana.  The bill also requires the Department of Revenue Services to create and administer a system for taxing the drug.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony opposing this legislation saying it directly violates Federal Law.  Former United States Attorney for Connecticut David Fein told him that unless it is a federally authorized research program, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is a direct violation of federal law.

 

McLachlan also said the bill would pit state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies against one another.  He also noted that President Trump does not support the use of recreational marijuana use and has signaled law enforcement to strictly follow federal law regarding marijuana usage.

 

Supporters of the proposal cited the impacts in Colorado, including a surge in new jobs to support the industry which brings in taxes and fees annually.  Some say Colorado has been able invest in greater efforts for educating youth and boosting law enforcement. 

 

A 2015 poll by Quinnipiac found that 63-percent of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adult use.  Eight states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Vermont and Rhode Island are also considering legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

 

Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

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Esty opposes bill making it easier for veterans in crisis to get access to firearms

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called on Congress to reject a bill called “Veterans 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act”.  Esty says the bill would severely undercut the current process the Veterans Administration uses to identify veterans who are prohibited from gun ownership because of mental health concerns. 

 

Esty was backed in her effort by Captain Mark Kelly, a Navy combat veteran, who co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

 

Esty noted that the decision to end a life is often spontaneous, that's why she wants limited access to firearms to those in crisis, like veterans suffering from PTSD.

 

Esty is concerned that the bill would upend the bipartisan compromise agreed to in the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed three months ago. The Act created a system to ensure due process for veterans, allowing beneficiaries to present evidence from a mental health professional and be represented by counsel at incompetency hearings. 

 

Esty said 20 veterans die by suicide per day, the vast majority by firearm.

 

Former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus also opposed the bill, saying it would make it easier, not harder, for veterans in crisis to get access to a firearm.   

 

The bill was approved on a vote of 240 to 175.

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Some bills on marijuana use in Connecticut advance

A bill that would create a tax system for and legalize recreational use of marijuana in Connecticut was referred Thursday to a joint judiciary committee meeting.  A bill imposing a tax on medical marijuana up for a hearing today.  Lawmakers this week also advanced a bill to waive fees for veterans who are qualifying medical marijuana patients.  The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis received the referral Wednesday and are slated to act on the 20th. 

 

The joint Committee on Transportation was forwarded a bill yesterday that would have notice sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles of juvenile matters involving marijuana-related infractions and driving under the influence offenses. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says there was a big spike in usage when possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized.  She says it's a false narrative to look at how much revenue is coming into Colorado because of legalized recreational use.  She said it would be more accurate to look at what's being spent in response.  Boucher cited an increase in car accidents, people in drug treatment and health care costs.

 

Boucher says it's a sad indictment of the state of things that the state is considering using something she views as a health risk to make money.  She also called it a hollow idea.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan submitted written testimony opposing this legislation saying it directly violates Federal Law.  Former United States Attorney for Connecticut David Fein told him that unless it is a federally authorized research program, growing, distributing and possessing marijuana is a direct violation of federal law.

 

McLachlan also said the bill would pit state and federal law enforcement officers and agencies against one another.  He also noted that President Trump does not support the use of recreational marijuana use and has signaled law enforcement to strictly follow federal law regarding marijuana usage.

 

Supporters of the proposal cited the impacts in Colorado, including a surge in new jobs to support the industry which brings in taxes and fees annually.  Some say Colorado has been able invest in greater efforts for educating youth and boosting law enforcement. 

 

A 2015 poll by Quinnipiac found that 63-percent of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adult use.  Eight states and Washington, D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  Vermont and Rhode Island are also considering legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

 

Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

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Metro North bans booze on St. Patrick's Day

If you're commuting between the Greater Danbury area and Grand Central today on Metro North trains, you won't be able to have alcohol on board.  The MTA Police Department will enforce a ban on alcoholic beverages through 5am on Saturday.  Any alcoholic beverages found by the MTA Police will be confiscated.  The ban is in place as some extra trains are added for the St. Patrick's Day parade and celebrations in New York City.

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New Milford police search for grocery store shoplifting suspect

New Milford police are looking for a man who allegedly stole nearly $1,000 worth of product from a local grocery store.  On Sunday afternoon, the man was caught on surveillance video at the New Milford Stop and Shop stealing about $914 worth of merchandise.  Police are asking the public to help identify the man in the photos.  Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police at 860-355-3133.

 

 

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Monroe police investigating more car break-ins, thefts

In the last several weeks, Monroe and the surrounding communities have experienced a rash of overnight motor vehicle thefts and thefts from unlocked motor vehicles.  Monroe Police say the latest were reported on Monday.  Residents are being reminded to lock their cars at night and not to leave their keys or any other valuable items inside.  Monroe Police say two vehicles, which were unlocked with keys inside, have been stolen recently. Several more vehicles were unlocked and entered.  The owners later discovered that items such as credit cards and jewelry were stolen.  If anyone discovers a vehicle missing or entered overnight, contact police immediately.

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Sherman residents approve funding for capital improvement projects

Sherman residents have approved funding for a number of capital projects at a recent town meeting.  Among the funding was $8,326 for emergency mold remediation and associated bathroom repairs at Happy Acres Farm.  $7,000 will be used to buy five HeartStart FRx defibrillators for the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department.  Up to $10,000 will buy a washer-extractor for the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department. 

 

Funding for office furniture for the Social Services office and stackable arm chairs for the Senior Center was also approved.  Up to $10,000 will be used to development of a new website for the town. 

 

The biggest allocations included $34,500 to construct new docks, as requested by the Parks and Recreation Commission.  $99,000 will go toward construction of three new post tension tennis courts at Veterans Field.

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Blumenthal calls on Metro North to install Positive Train Control technology

Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling on Metro North to take action to install Positive Train Control technology.  This follows a new report from the Federal Railroad Administration showing that next to no tangible progress has been made on implementation. 

 

The FRA has exempted terminal stations from implementing PTC, including Danbury and Grand Central Terminal. 

 

There is a December 2018 deadline to install the system.  Blumenthal says nearly a full decade since Congress first mandated this lifesaving technology, not a single Metro-North track is equipped with it. 

 

Blumenthal says PTC technology would have prevented four Metro-North passengers from dying at Spuyten Duyvil in December 2013, and more than 300 other deaths nationwide since 1970 when the National Transportation Safety Board first urged railroads to implement it. Despite the technology’s proven track record, PTC is operational nowhere on Metro-North’s 384 miles of track, and according to the report Blumenthal says the railroad has made little progress over the past 12 months towards installing the system.

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Working Cities Challenge Grant awarded to Danbury

A $15,000 Working Cities Challenge Grant has been awarded to Danbury.  The funding will be used to improve the lives of low-income residents as part of a collaboration between the United Way of Western Connecticut and Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut.  The grant will be used to create a plan which will make Danbury eligible for a $500,000 grant.  Ten of 16 eligible cities were awarded the Boston Federal Reserve funding to promote economic growth throughout cities in Connecticut and New England.

 

United Way CEO Kim Morgan says the goal is to dramatically reduce under and unemployment of people who are struggling.  The focus will be on job training in the areas of childcare, healthcare, and manufacturing.  The plan will create strategies to tear down barriers to employment, such as limited education, English language skills, transportation and childcare.

 

Morgan says the grant is especially welcome in Danbury, where the foreign-born population has grown to 32%, many of whom do not have a high school diploma, and 50% of whom earn less than $35,000 per year. The child poverty rate has grown from 6% in 2007 to 21% in 2015.

The collaboration now includes the City of Danbury, CityCenter Danbury, Danbury Public Schools, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Connecticut Institute for Communities, Western Connecticut State University, Western Connecticut Health Network, Tribuna, and the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.

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FuelCell Energy receives Conn. Green Bank credit for Danbury facility

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has received a $5 million credit facility from the Connecticut Green Bank to support a utility scale power project in Danbury.  That project was previously announced and will showcase their electrical efficiency, enabling utilities to affordably and cleanly solve power generation challenges in land-constrained areas. 

 

FuelCell President Chip Bottone says this will address energy, environmental and economic policy goals of utilities and governments.  Construction is currently in progress and commercial operation is expected this summer. 

 

Connecticut Green Bank partners with private-sector investors to create low-cost, long-term, sustainable financing to implement green energy measures.

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Putnam County deputies to patrol on St. Patrick's Day

Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith is urging motorists to plan a safe ride home from St Patrick's Day festivities and not to get behind the wheel after drinking.  Deputies will be cracking down on drunk drivers as part of the statewide law enforcement. 

 

Smith says they are encouraging the proper commemoration of St. Patrick, the display of pride of heritage by people of Irish descent, and the recognition of contributions made to the country by Irish immigrants.  But he added that revelers must celebrate responsibly and that includes not driving if they have been drinking. 

 

Statistics recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that, on average, about every 51 minutes a person is killed in a drunk-driving crash in the United States.

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Fire Departments asking for help clearing snow from around fire hydrants

When clearing snow, Newtown Hook and Ladder officials are reminding residents to shovel out any fire hydrants you see because it could save a house, or even a life.  Fire Departments around the region ask for a three-foot radius around hydrants.  The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department says uncleared hydrants will cause a significant delay in the event of an emergency.  There are over 2,00 fire hydrants in Danbury and Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says they can't get to them all after a storm to clear snow from around them.  He also asked residents to pitch in an make hydrants on their property.

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10 car crash reported in Fairfield during storm

There was a 10 car accident in Fairfield yesterday afternoon.  State police say a car was travelling on Interstate-95 and struck a metal beam guardrail and a light pole, knocking it down on top of another car.  Four other cars hit the light pole, which was pushed into a seventh vehicle.  The eighth car ran over the pole causing two other cars to hit the light pole, which became lodged under the last car to hit it. 

 

Only one person sustained injuries in the 10 car crash, and that was the initial driver who went off the roadway. 

 

Also at the scene of the accident, two cars crashed into each other and into the light pole, sending one person to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

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New Milford emergency responders react to blizzard

Water Witch Hose Company in New Milford answered a number of calls to service yesterday including a vehicle fire, smoke alarms, mutual aid for a structure fire, and EMS assists throughout the storm. New Milford Public Works, New Milford Ambulance and Water Witch Hose Company were able to facilitate transport of patients in the peak of the storm.  Fire company officials said it was that teamwork that make days like yesterday a success.

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Metro-North Railroad has a modified post-storm schedule

NEW YORK (AP) The Metro-North Railroad is operating on a modified schedule into and out of New York's Grand Central Terminal as it recovers from the snowstorm.

The railroad said Wednesday that it will have some combined and cancelled trains. It said customers should expect some crowds and delays.

Metro-North had suspended service into and out of Grand Central Terminal at noon Tuesday but restored limited service in the evening.

A blizzard warning for New York City was downgraded but the railroad's service includes some of the snowier areas to the north.

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Doctors ask court to reinstate Newtown gun maker lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A group of doctors who treated mass shooting victims is asking the Connecticut Supreme Court to reinstate a lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Lawyers for the doctors said Tuesday that they planned to file a friend-of-the-court brief asking the justices to overturn a lower court decision in October that dismissed the lawsuit against Remington Outdoor Co., of Madison, North Carolina. They say makers of military-style rifles should be held liable for injuries the rifles cause.

Gunman Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster rifle to kill 20 children and six adults at the Newtown school in December 2012.

The lawsuit against Remington was filed by a survivor and relatives of nine people killed in the Newtown shooting.

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Where to put the snow? That's the big question for school parking lots

Several things had to come together before Danbury officials could make the call about closing school Wednesday.  Mayor Mark Boughton says they had to figure out where to move more than a foot of snow, and coordinate with other towns to see if teachers would be able to make it in.

 

There is a significant number of Danbury students that don't take the bus to school.  Boughton says they had to see if sidewalks would be clear and safe for them.  The other problem with this volume of snow is the sightlines at the corners.  The big piles of snow make it so driver's aren't able to see kids walking to school, some in the dark.

 

Not a lot of accidents were reported yesterday in Danbury.  Boughton says residents cooperated and stayed home, businesses stayed closed and that helped snow clearing operations.

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Danbury tows car left on streets after parking ban

Not everyone in Danbury followed the parking ban and will now have to get their vehicles out of the impound lot.  More than 200 cars were towed by noon.  Mayor Mark Boughton said that police would be out towing cars as long as their lots could accommodate mroe vehicles.  Some people sent photos to the Mayor on social media of cars blocking streets making it so that snow plows couldn't get through to clear the foot of snow that fell yesterday.

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Municipal public works crews work overtime to clear snow from Tuesday blizzard

Public works crews in the Greater Danbury area had a big job to do yesterday and overnight. 

 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's been a while since this level of intensity has been seen in just a day span.  He noted that crews slept at the highway garage and didn't go home between shifts because of the snowfall rate.

 

Municipal officials say for the most part, residents heeded calls to get their cars off the streets so plows could push through without any obstacles.

 

Knickerbocker says the snow removal budget took a hit with this storm, but noted that the town should be fine for the rest of winter since Spring is around the corner.  Bethel budgets fairly conservatively for snow removal operations, expecting a harsh winter each year.  Knickerbocker says luckily there weren't event that many freezing dates this year that salt and sand had to be put down to handle snow and ice.

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Danbury Police patrolling for travel ban violators

Danbury Police Sgt John Krupinsky was out on patrol and offered an update on the roads.  While he was on patrol Krupinsky said there was no one else on the road and that was for good reason--he says North Street was extremely hazardous around 11am.  Police were actively looking for drivers violating the state travel ban on Route 53, 37 and elsewhere.  Krupinsky said they don't want to ticket people, but would hand out those 92-dollar fines if drivers were on the road.

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Travel ban lifts at 5pm Tuesday

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the travel ban on state roads will be lifted at 5 p.m.

The ban went into effect at 5 a.m. Tuesday as the winter storm began to ramp up. The Democrat says limiting travel on state roads ``dramatically reduced the potential for accidents'' and provided road crews ``with much greater access to clear the roads faster.''

Malloy says he's still strongly advising residents to stay off the roads if at all possible because Department of Transportation crews are still clearing the roads and black ice continues to be a concern. Third-shift state employees are being told they should not report to work Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, power outages in Connecticut have grown to approximately 3,500, a figure that includes mostly Eversource customers.

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State Police respond to minimal accidents during travel ban

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday that state troopers have responded to nearly 90 calls to help motorists and 28 accidents with no major injuries totals he says would be much higher without the travel ban.

The National Weather Service says western Connecticut could see 2 feet of snow, while coastal areas may only get 4 inches because the snow changed to sleet and freezing rain. Litchfield County already has 17 inches of snow in places.

About 2,700 power outages are reported statewide.

Malloy says the Red Cross canceled 11 blood drives Tuesday, putting a strain on the blood supply. He urged people to donate blood on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service says there's a foot of snow in Litchfield and North Granby. Only 3 inches of snow are reported in coastal areas, where snow changed to sleet and freezing rain. Some areas could get 2 feet of snow by the time the storm ends.

A travel ban on state roads remains in effect. State police say troopers responded to 14 accidents with no injuries and more than 340

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Municipalities prepare for blizzard

Municipal officials met with Public Works Departments and Police and Fire Departments to prepare for the Nor’easter. 

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is alerting residents that there is a Level Two Snow Emergency in effect from 5am.  That includes a parking ban.  Patriot garage will be open with free parking for residents.  Vehicles will be towed if left on roadway during snow storms.

 

New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman says they have a new plow ready to deploy in this storm. It’s the town’s first automatic.  Chapman ordered generators hooked up at the Senior Center and the High School in case of prolonged power outages.

 

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says the High School will be prepared as an emergency shelter, if needed.  An Emergency Operations Center has been set up.  He noted that they are all set to feed plow crews, police officers and firefighters so they can do their jobs and response to this storm.

 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they are well supplied with sand and salt to treat the roads.  Since this will be a long duration storm, the crews were let out early Monday and sent out on the roads before dawn.  He urged drivers to stay off the road so plow crews could effectively clear the streets.

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says emergency services as well as Public works and Parks and Recreation are fully equipped with materials and supplies and are staffed for response.  Newtown's emergency officials ask residents to be sure that generators are properly installed and vented away from the house, and to never run a generator indoors.

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Gov. issues statewide travel ban effective at 5am Tuesday

Governor Malloy has signed an order declaring a civil preparedness emergency in the State of Connecticut ahead of the major winter storm that is expected to impact the state on Tuesday. With dangerous weather conditions anticipated that will last throughout the day, the Governor has also signed an order activating a statewide travel ban that will begin at 5am on Tuesday and remain in effect until further notice.  In addition, the Governor is fully activating the state’s Emergency Operations Center starting at 5am. He is also directing all nonessential first and second-shift state employees to not report to work on Tuesday.

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30-percent budget cuts to certain agencies draws criticism in New Milford

There's some debate brewing in New Milford over proposed cuts to nonprofits in the municipal budget.  Opponents are critical of a proposed 30-percent cut to the Children's Center, but Mayor David Gronbach is defending the move.  The Town Council voted to apply a 30-percent cut across the board.  He says the Children's Center will receive about $25,000 more than last year, a total of $104,000.  Gronbach compared that to other municipal spending, noting that the Economic Development Department receives $111,000 and Farmland Preservation gets $7,500.

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Fairfield County Giving Day raises nearly $1.5 million

More than 13,000 people participated in Fairfield County’s Giving Day, donating nearly $1.5 million to non-profit agencies in the region.  Fairfield County’s Community Foundation created the day to rally the community together to give where they live and work.  More than 410 nonprofits participated to raise funds and to increase awareness about the work they do throughout the region.

 

The Ridgefield Chorale received 261 donations, raising $22,090

Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS) received 193 donations, raising $10,825

Wilton Library Association received 105 donations, raising $5,245

Ridgefield Library Association, Inc. received 82 donations, raising $5,203

Ann's Place, The Home Of I Can received 79 donations, raising $4,480

Ben's Lighthouse, Inc received 63 donations, raising $3,261

Women's Center of Greater Danbury, Inc. received 53 donations, raising $3,395

Danbury Youth Services, Inc. received 46 donations, raising $2,196

Musicals at Richter Inc. received 42 donations, raising $3,030

Newtown Youth and Family Services received 42 donations, raising $2,325

Friends of the Bethel Public Library received 38 donations, raising $3,135

The Ridgefield Playhouse received 38 donations, raising $2,770

The Newtown Foundation received 37 donations, raising $1,450

Keeler Tavern Preservation Society, Inc. received 35 donations, raising $2,160

Ben's Bells, Inc. received 32 donations, raising $2,595

Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary received 32 donations, raising $2,906

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Boyfriend of mom who live-streamed son driving car also filmed similar incident

The boyfriend of a Monroe woman arrested for allegedly letting her 10-year-old son drive her car has also been arrested.  40-year old Henry Hamlet has also been charged with risk of injury. 

 

38-year old Lisa Nussbaum allegedly recorded her son driving on public roads and streaming it on Facebook Live.  Monroe Patch reports that Hamlet was charged after an investigation turned up a second live video of the same child and posted it to his girlfriend's Facebook page. 

 

Police say several residents complained to officers after watching the video.  Nussbaum hinted in published reports after her arrest that there may be more to the story. 

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Brookfield Police continue investigating car break-ins

Brookfield Police are making progress in finding out who has been rifling through unlocked parked cars.  The Department released home security camera footage from last month showing three teens trying to get into three cars, one of which ended up being unlocked. 

 

As a result of several recent arrests, Brookfield Police say they now know that the juveniles came to the Brookfield area from the Waterbury area. 

 

Brookfield Police say car break ins have been plaguing Fairfield County for the past few months and detectives have been working with neighboring towns on an ongoing effort.  They are also working with the Waterbury and Meriden police departments as they investigate this type of criminal activity.

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New Fairfield man arrested for alleged shoplifting at Home Depot

A New Fairfield man has been arrested by New York State Police for alleged shoplifting from Home Depot in the town of Southeast.  Store security called Troopers on Saturday about a man accused of placing copper fittings in his pants and passing all points of sale without paying for the items.  45-year old Gendriz Valle Rodriguez was charged with petit larceny and ordered to appear in court on the 21st.

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Garage fire quickly extinguished in Brookfield

There was a fire in a Brookfield garage Saturday evening.  Candlewood Volunteer Fire Company responded to the structure fire on Clearview Drive and were able to put out the flames quickly.  Members of both Brookfield volunteer fire companies stayed on scene to vent the smoke and meter the house.  There were no reported injuries.  The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Brookfield Fire Marshal.

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Ridgefield commissions legal brief about teacher pension contributions

A legal brief has been commissioned by Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi about the governor's proposal to have municipalities pay one-third of teacher pension costs.  He and other elected officials have said that idea likely violates the state constitution. 

 

During a hearing at the state capital recently, Marconi said the proposal would mean Ridgefield owes $4.4 million to the state. 

 

Marconi, who serves as the Vice President of the Council of Small Towns, shared the legal brief with COST.  Municipal contributions are not allowed as a funding source for teacher pensions under state law.  The legal brief also said that this proposal would also likely violate bond covenants. 

 

State Treasurer Denise Nappier advised against changing the contributions in 2015.

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Danbury officer rescues woman from attacker

A Danbury Police officer who saw a car with no headlights on and a door open found a woman in distress, and now the driver is under arrest.  Danbury Police say an officer on patrol early yesterday morning then spotted a woman flagging him down from the open door. 

 

The woman told police she had picked up the driver, 37-year old Mario Guaman of Newtown, at El Milenio after he had fallen asleep at the bar. 

 

They reportedly argued about who would drive and he pulled her out of the car, pushing her against it.  The victim said that she was also strangled and punched.  The woman was found bleeding with her clothing ripped. 

 

Guaman was charged with driving with a suspended license, assault, strangulation and unlawful restraint.  He was held on bond.

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Esty denounces lack of hearing on bill to remove veterans' mental health records from background check system

5th District Congresswoman Esty opposes a bill to remove veterans’ mental health records from the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System, without first holding a hearing.  She offered a substitute amendment Wednesday calling for a study on the effectiveness of the background check system at protecting veterans in mental health crisis.  

 

She said the bill would upend the bipartisan compromise agreed to in the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed three months ago. The Act created a system to ensure due process for veterans, allowing beneficiaries to present evidence from a mental health professional and be represented by counsel at incompetency hearings. 

 

The bill passed the Committee by voice vote and will likely head to the House floor for consideration in the next few weeks.

 

Esty said more than 20 veterans die by suicide per day, the vast majority by firearm, and the bill being considered would make it easier, not harder, for those veterans in crisis to get access to a firearm. 

 

A Department of Veterans Affairs report provided to Congress in 2015 showed that of the approximately 170,000 veterans whose names were previously shared with NICS:

· 19,522 were diagnosed with schizophrenia;

· 15,171 were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder;

· 11,084 were diagnosed with dementia;

· 5,462 had Alzheimer’s; and

· 3,981 had serious depression.

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Another special election planned to fill legislative seats

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Another special election is being held to fill vacant seats in the Connecticut General Assembly.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced Friday that voters will go to the polls on April 25 in the 7th Assembly District of Hartford and the 68th Assembly District of Watertown and Woodbury.

Both openings occurred after the incumbent state representatives, Democrat Douglas McCrory and Republican Eric Berthel, were elected to the state Senate in the Feb. 28 special election.

Besides McCrory and Berthel, West Haven Democrat Dorinda Keenan Borer won the 115th Assembly District seat last month. All three filled vacancies created by incumbent lawmakers who resigned in January to pursue other jobs in state government.

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Small dog rescued from house fire in Danbury

A dog was rescued from a house fire in Danbury early this morning.  Firefighters responded to Fleetwood Drive around 4:45am Sunday and found a single family house with flames running up the side of the structure. 

 

Assistant Chief Mark Omasta says firefighters were able to limit damage to the basement and exterior wall.  The rest of the house was heavily smoke damaged.

 

(Photos: Danbury Fire Dept., Mark Omasta)

 

The family of five, along with one of their two small dogs, made it out of the house when their smoke detectors sounded.  With the temperature in the single digits, Omasta says firefighters fought the blaze and began searching the house for the Shih Tzu dog.  Within minutes, Firefighter Jason Biroscak found the dog under a couch, and removed her to a nearby ambulance.  Oxygen was administered and the dog appeared to be fine.

 

 

Omasta says there was an added challenge to their response because a car was parked in front of the nearest fire hydrant. 

 

The Danbury Fire Department is reminding residents check the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time.  Fire officials are also reminding drivers not to park in front of fire hydrants.

 

 

The American Red Cross is assisting the family with temporary housing. The Danbury Fire Marshals Office is conducting the fire investigation, and there were no injuries.

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Fire Official: Check smoke detector batters when making Daylight Savings time change

It's time to Spring Forward this weekend and Greater Danbury area fire officials are reminding residents to change the batteries in smoke detectors as you change your clocks.  Carbon Monoxide alarms should also be tested and the batteries changed.  Smoke and CO detectors should be replaced every ten years.  According to the National Fire protection Association three out of every five fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.  The organization says ensuring that smoke and carbon Monoxide detectors are working cuts your risk of fire death in half.

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Law enforcement plans beefed up presence for St. Patrick's Day

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith is urging motorists to plan a safe ride home from holiday festivities and not to get behind the wheel after drinking.  Deputies will be on patrol will be cracking down on drunk drivers as part of the statewide law enforcement STOP DWI initiative.

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1,500 books collected at Harrybrooke Park event

A book drive has been held by a freshman state lawmaker from New Milford.  Representative Bill Buckbee teamed up with Representative Stephanie Cummings for the “Share a Book at Harrybrooke” event to collect books for the  Waterbury Reads Gently Used Children’s Book Drive. 

 

collected about 1,500 books for the program. 

 

Buckbee, who serves as Executive Director of Harrybrooke Park, said coming together to help kids is one of the many positive projects connecting the people of Connecticut. 

 

Harrybrooke Park is a private park endowed by a trust left by Frank A. Harden and managed by non-profit volunteer organization to preserve the park’s natural beauty and upkeep the park’s facilities and the Harden House Museum. The park hosts several community events year round.

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Congressman looks to take back war decleration powers

The Reclamation of War Powers Act has been introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  He say the power to make war is explicitly granted to Congress and for many decades, the power has migrated to the President.  Himes says Congress has abdicated its constitutional duties for years, and the body must hold debates on the decision to wage war.

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Newtown legislator weighs in on ivory, rhino horn bills

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky has voiced opposition to a bill prohibiting the sale and trade of ivory and rhino horns in Connecticut.  He says it will be hurtful to the state's Antiques Trade, which is already subject to federal regulations aimed squarely at preventing the trafficking of illicit ivory.  He instead voiced support for ending the slaughter of elephants and rhinoceroses at the source, in Africa and Far Eastern countries.  Bolinsky said outlawing antiques will not bring back a single majestic animal and he fears the proposal will have unintended consequences, like creating a black market for counterfeit antique-items.

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New Milford lawmaker recognizes Boy Scouts in ceremony

A ceremony was held recently by New Milford freshman lawmaker Bill Buckbee.  The state Representative recognized Boy Scout Pack 58 during the Arrow of the Light ceremony.  According to the Boy Scouts of America, to earn the Arrow of the Light Badge, these scouts had to be active within their troop for at least six months since completing the fourth grade, or at least six months since becoming ten years old. Additionally, they have completed each of the required adventures with then den, or family, and at least one elective adventure of the den or family's choosing.

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Seymour coupled busted for selling narcotics

A six month investigation into drug sales has led to the arrests of two Seymour residents.  24-year old Katherine Peralta-delrosario and 23-year old Wilberto Colon were arrested Wednesday by State Police as part of a statewide narcotics sting. 

 

 

 

They were each charged with operation of a drug factory, sale of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of a sawed off shotgun or silencer and two counts of possession with intent to sell.  State Police found 2,212 grams of cocaine, a sawed off shotgun, scales and $15,460 in cash. 

 

Their 3-year old child was taken into the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

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Burglars cut hole in liquor store roof, steal cigarettes

A burglary at a Danbury liquor store is under investigation.  Danbury Police received a call from the owner of the Mill Plain Package Store around 6am yesterday saying that someone cut holes in their roof to gain entry into the building.  The suspect or suspects stole an undetermined amount of cash and cigarettes.  Surveillance footage was turned over to the Detective Bureau.  The investigation is continuing.

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Newtown First Selectman speaks out against teacher pension contribution plan

As the state budget process moves forward, The Council of Small Towns is urging the legislature to take off the table Governor Malloy's proposal to have municipalities pay a third of teacher pensions.  Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says it would have a devastating effect on their budget and on taxpayers.  She called on lawmakers to take a thoughtful, comprehensive approach that will address the issue fairly and without overburdening municipalities.

 

Llodra says the proposed budget would pass on a tax increase of almost 6-percent without taking into account local needs.  She says they will be forced to cannibalize their own programs. 

 

She called the idea a tipping point to disaster.

 

Small town officials question the legality of the proposal saying it may violate pension obligation bonds.  The Governor's office disagrees.  Because the Teachers' Retirement System is a state-run, state-managed pension fund, officials question if this proposal is legal. 

 

Teachers pay 6 percent of their salaries into the fund.  The state pays 100 percent of the employer's share.

 

The proposal requires cities and towns to contribute $407.6 million in fiscal year 2018 and $420.9 million in fiscal year 2019.

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Brush fire burns in Bridgewater

There was a 20 acre brush fire in Bridgewater.  The fire broke out around 11am near Main Street South and Sarah Sanford Road East.  Mutual aid from Brookfield, New Milford and Roxbury also responded to help battle the blaze.  Fire officials also requested that the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's fire unit respond.  Emergency management officials in the state recently said low humidity and gusty winds increased the risk of fire spread.

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Over 1,000 petition signatures collected opposing proposed waste transfer station

Two Danbury officials have submitted a petition to the City Council in opposition to the proposed Plumtrees Road Waste Transfer Station. 

 

A permit was granted by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in November to MSW Associates, LLC and Joseph Putnam.

 

City Councilmen Tom Saadi and John Esposito collected more than a thouasnd signatures of Danbury residents urging City officials to continue supporting decisions by the Danbury Zoning and Planning Commissions.  Saadi says the fight is not about just one neighborhood, but about the right of Danbury to uphold reasonable land use laws.  He believes the previous denials balance the interests of neighborhoods and responsible businesses and the right not to have onerous and irresponsible projects forced on the City.

 

A similar project was first proposed about a decade ago.  The Danbury Planning Commission issued a denial in 2007 to construct a smaller waste transfer station at that site.  A superior court judge upheld that earlier denial for a special exception.

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WCSU nursing department ranked as best training program in Conn.

The Department of Nursing at Western Connecticut State University has been ranked ahead of Yale University as the top RN training program in the state.  RegisteredNursing.org noted that West Conn has consistently maintained pass rates exceeding 94 percent for graduates taking the RN licensure exam. 

 

With this recognition, West Conn touted the department's 100 percent job placement in the health care workforce for all nursing students in the bachelor's degree program within six months of graduation. 

 

Later this month West Conn is opening a new state-of-the-art instructional facility--for nursing care simulations of actual clinical conditions.  The university is preparing for an increase in nursing enrollment that will roughly double the number of students in Western's core bachelor's degree program in nursing within three years.

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Putnam County Executive delivers 'State of the County' address

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell delivered her State of the County Address last night.  It celebrated the Year of the Millennial, and was a summary of the work that has been accomplished on behalf of Putnam taxpayers, as well as the County's direction moving forward. 

 

A Technology Marketplace was held before the address focused on the Age of Technology and its impact on the Putnam County community. 

 

Several of the presentations and technology exhibits were from businesses and others focused giving millennials more reason to choose Putnam County as a place to live, work and recreate.

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Texas Roadhouse restaurant set to open in June

An opening date has been announced for the Danbury location of Texas Roadhouse restaurant.  The chain said on their website that the goal is to open the Newtown Road location in June.  The former Action Motors site will also be home to a dental office, an urgent care facility and a Popeye's restaurant.

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Hearing to be held on lawsuit claiming funds were misappropriated

A lawsuit is up for a hearing in Litchfield Judicial Court today involving the former Pettibone School renovations in New Milford.  Republican Town Chairman Michael Barnes claims Mayor David Gronbach and the town's finance director misappropriated $225,000 for the renovations to the former John Pettibone School. 

 

Barnes filed the suit on his own behalf, not in his official capacity. 

 

Barnes claims using the money violates Town Charter requirements that any appropriations be approved by the Board of Finance. Barnes previously said in a statement that the Mayor and Finance Director have "marginalized the Board of Finance to the point that its existence is immaterial on important town financial matters."  

 

Gronbach wrote in a statement on Facebook that Barnes has omitted that the money was approved by the Town Council. He called the lawsuit an attempt to intimidate and bully, and that he will defend efforts to make Pettibone a Town and Community Center.

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Action Together CT reads letter at Danbury Board of Ed meeting in support of immigrants

A statement was read at the Danbury Board of Education meeting last night in support of undocumented students and their families.  Action Together Connecticut - Northern Fairfield County Danbury members signed the statement after it was read by member Kate Conetta.  This follows a walkout by some Danbury High School students in response to no criminal action being taken against an allegedly intoxicated man who showed up after school on inauguration day to pick up a student, and yelled about them being kicked out of the country.

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Nonprofits look for financial boost on 'Fairfield County Giving Day'

Today is Giving Day.  It's an initiative of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.  Giving Day is a 24-hour online event to “Give Where You Live” and celebrate the work of all local nonprofits.  Last year, $1.25 million was raised for 410 local nonprofits.  some organizations, like the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut, have set fundraising goals.  Others are giving back incentives to people who donate today.

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Records: Guilty plea for woman in Sandy Hook parent threat

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Court documents show a Florida woman is set to plead guilty to threatening the parent of a boy killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, because she thought it was a hoax.

A federal judge Wednesday set a change of plea and sentencing hearing for 57-year-old Lucy Richards. She previously pleaded not guilty to charges of transmitting threats to Lenny Pozner, father of 6-year-old Noah Pozner who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The plea and sentencing hearing is set for March 29 in Fort Lauderdale federal court. Details of the plea were not announced.

Others linked to the Sandy Hook massacre have reported harassment by conspiracy theorists who argue it was staged to erode support for Second Amendment gun rights.

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New Fairfield Board of Ed puts off action on teacher resignation letter

Acceptance of the resignation of a middle school teacher in New Fairfield has been put off for now.  The New Fairfield Board of Education took up the matter as part of their routine business meeting last week. 

 

The  7th grade math teacher teacher, who has not been identified by school officials, allegedly used zip-ties to restrain a student to his desk in the fall .  District officials have not said when the resignation happened. 

 

The Board of Ed will take up the issue again at their meeting next week. 

 

Board member Doug DeRito said he still hasn't seen the terms of the resignation.  He said he learned of the resignation from a Newstimes article in February.  DeRito has been on the Board for about seven months. 

 

Board member Samantha Mannion said they should receive certain details which wouldn't violate the privacy rights of those involved. 

 

Some parents spoke out at a February Board of Education meeting saying they learned of the restraint incident months after it happened.

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UNIT sends warnings to several residents on one street about blight issues

The Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team is once again taking on a vacant property that's become a blighted eyesore.  UNIT officials reported to the City Council Tuesday night that 30 Rowan Street is owned by an out-of-town landlord who doesn't check in on it routinely.  A few years ago UNIT led a massive clean up, removing 30 unregistered vehicle and demolishing a dilapidated structure.  Since then, vehicles and garbage have been dumped on it, including a large RV.  UNIT has also issued a few orders to neighbors to have their properties cleaned up of bulky garbage around the exterior of their houses.

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Danbury accepting applications for Citizens Government Academy

Another Citizens Government Academy is being held in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton calls it an opportunity for residents to learn the inside workings of various city departments.  This is a seven week course, with sessions held on Monday nights.  The spring Academy session runs from April 10th through May 22nd.  Classes are from 6-8pm. 

 

The first will be held at City Hall in City Council Chambers on the 3rd floor.  Some of the classes are held off site, including at the Fire Department Headquarters on New Street.  Participants will learn about how City firefighters do more than just put out fires.  They will also take a trip to the Police Station for a tour, to meet the Chief and talk about what it's like to be a Danbury Police Officer.  Boughton says in the past they've Tasered a police volunteer. 

 

During the spring session, residents will also learn about the budget process and see where the approximate $230-million go every year.

 

The deadline for submitting applications is April 3rd.

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Two men caught stealing used cooking oil from two restaurants

Two New York men have been arrested for stealing used cooking oil from two Danbury restaurants.  Danbury Police say A restaurateur who had been victimized, staked out his restaurant and saw 44-year old Jose Martinez and 47-year old Mario Garcia of Yonkers last Thursday. 

 

 

(Martinez, Garcia)

 

They allegedly used an unmarked van, containing siphoning equipment and two large tanks to steal his used cooking oil, and the business owner then followed the van to another restaurant.  Danbury Police officers caught up to the van a short time later at Stew Leonard's on Federal Road.  The van was seized as evidence. 

 

Martinez and Garcia were each charged with two counts of larceny and trespassing and once count of conspiracy to commit larceny.

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Bethel seeks volunteers for town boards, commissions

There are some vacancies on Bethel commissions and the town is looking for volunteers to serve in town government. 

 

There are several openings on the Energy Commission, which will oversee the construction of the town's solar farm and recommend future energy policy.  The board meets once per month. 

 

There is one vacancy on the Bethel Housing Authority.  The Board of Directors sets policy for the town's two subsidized housing complex and will oversee the upcoming renovations to the Reynolds Ridge complex, which are about to get under way.  The vacancy was created with the resignation of a Democrat so the seat must be filled by a Democrat.  The term runs through January 2019.

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New Milford police search for grocery store shoplifting suspect

New Milford Police are looking for a suspect who stole Red Bull energy drinks from Big 'Y' on Route 7.  New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the man in newly released surveillance footage.  Anyone with information is asked to call the department at 860-355-3133.

 

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Regional planning organization holds focus group meetings

Focus group meetings held by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments are underway.  The regional planning organization is collecting input from business owners and stakeholders about the strengths and weaknesses they see in the economy.  They are particularly interested in the barriers businesses in the region face. 

 

Feedback will be used to create a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. 

 

One focus group meeting was held in Wilton and was specifically about the Advanced Manufacturing industry.  There was one yesterday with the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce focused on businesses with fewer than 25 employees.  Permitting processes, workforce, resources, and growth were some of the topics discussed.

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Danbury man showed up at a home with a gun, threatened residents

A Danbury man has been arrested on weapons charges after he showed up at a city residence looking for someone.  Danbury Police received a call about a disturbance on Montgomery Street shortly before midnight Thursday. 

 

Officers located 26-year old Victor Omar Fontanez in his car, with a loaded .38 Revolver.  The victims and witnesses were unfamiliar with Fontanez.  He did not give officers a reason for being at the home. 

 

Fontanez was charged with disorderly conduct, threatening with the use of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, having a weapon in the vehicle, and criminal possession of a pistol after previously having been convicted of a felony.  He was also charged with criminal use of a firearm for displaying the handgun while committing a class C felony. 

 

Fontanez was held on $25,000.00 bond.

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Concerns raised about closing Danbury's highway rest stop bathroom

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher has written to the Connecticut Department of Transportation with public safety and public health concerns at Connecticut's highway rest stops.  She says it sends a bad signal to travellers coming through the state, that things are so bad Connecticut can't even keep rest stops open.

 

The DOT recently announcement that there will no longer be any toilet facilities or portable toilets at highway rest areas in Danbury and elsewhere.

 

Boucher is asking the Commissioner whether the lack of rest rooms will create a sanitation problem and if so, what precautions DOT is taking.  She also wants to know whether State Police will be available to ensure the safety of truckers using these areas to sleep.

 

Boucher noted that it's just $84 a month for a portable toilet, with one cleaning a week included.  Extra cleanings, which she said were needed badly, were pegged at 18-dollars each.

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Redding Police Chief supports 'officer safety' bill on gun permits

A bill has been proposed requiring any handgun owner openly carrying their weapon in public to show their permit to a police officer if requested.  Judiciary co-chair Representative William Tong said in a post-Newtown era, the public is easily frightened by openly-carried weapons.  He said police should have the tools to make sure someone like the 12-14 gunman, or someone who is a felon, isn't carry weapons.

 

He said many have still not forgotten Sandy Hook and called this a reasonable safety measure.  Tong says Connecticut has an unfortunate relationship with gun violence, which is why he introduced this bill.

 

Gun rights groups claim Tong's bill could lead to harassment of legal gun owners.

 

Redding Police Chief Doug Fuchs was among the law enforcement leaders supporting the bill.  He called it an officer-safety bill. 

 

Gun-rights supporters argue they shouldn’t have to show a permit if they aren't creating a threat to public safety.  The Chiefs said it's not any different than an officer asking to see a hunting or fishing license to see if the activity is permitted.

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Opinions mixed on marijuana legalization in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Opinions are mixed about whether Connecticut should legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults.

Some state legislators on Tuesday touted the potential benefits of legalization, ranging from better control and regulation of a now-illegal industry to additional tax revenue for the state and communities.

But other lawmakers urged colleagues to go slow and see what happens in neighboring Massachusetts, where a new voter-approved state law legalizing recreational use of the drug will take effect in mid-2018.

 

Connecticut Police Chief's Association chair Monroe Chief John Salvatore spoke in opposition.  He called it a public safety issue.  He says it will diminish the quality of life in the state.  Salvatore said the revenue would be more than offset by the cost of regulation and for policing.

The Public Health Committee held a public hearing Tuesday on the first of several bills filed this session and backed by Democrats and Republicans that would legalize recreational marijuana.

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Ex-volunteer fire official admits to embezzling $5.6 million

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) A former treasurer of the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department in Putnam County has admitted to a $5.6 million embezzlement scheme in which he used the money to buy himself yachts, jewelry and a second home in Florida.

Federal prosecutors say 48-year-old Michael Klein pleaded guilty Tuesday to wire fraud, subscription to false tax returns, obstruction of the grand jury and false statement charges.

Prosecutors say Klein stole the money over a 13-year period beginning in 2002 by writing more than 275 checks to two businesses he owned. He was first elected treasurer of the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department in 2001.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Klein ``violated the trust of his fellow volunteer firefighters.''

Klein faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced June 21.

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Newtown-based NSSF official testifies in favor of Sunday hunting

Sunday firearms hunting would be allowed on private lands under a bill which received a public hearing Monday.  Jake McGuigan of the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation urged support for the bill.  recognizes that social, economic and wildlife conservation benefits would result from a repeal of the ban.

 

McGuigan says the tide has been turning toward Sunday hunting.  Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia recently lifted their bans.  He also noted that archery only hunting was allowed a few years ago, and they want to see that expanded to firearms hunting.

 

He notes that the number of hunting licenses decreased by 22-percent since 1997, and called it a huge lost of revenue for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

 

McGuigan says all of the people and groups in the Sunday Hunting Coalition, it adds up to thousands of Connecticut sportsmen, hunters and gun owners.

 

Wildlife advocates voiced opposition to the bill.  Other opponents are concerned that the sound of gun fire and bullets could hit a person on abutting public land trying to enjoy the quiet.  Equestrians were also concerned about the sound of gun fire startling horses.

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'Cecil's Law' examined by Conn. Environment Committee

The legislature's Environment Committee took testimony yesterday on an Act Concerning Cecil's Law.  It would prohibit the importation of big five African species.  A Woodbury resident submitted testimony in support of the anti-trophy hunting bill, but called for amendments.  Nadia McCartney supports Humane Society amendments which ensure that federal law doesn't preempt Connecticut's efforts and adds the African buffalo to the list of protected species.  45 airlines have stopped transporting some or all types of hunting trophies, especially that of the Africa Big Five.   The bill is named for a lion killed just outside a National Park in Zimbabwe in 2015.

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Danbury schools recognized by state Education Department

6 Danbury elementary schools have been named as Schools of Distinction by the Connecticut Department of Education.  Danbury schools were also among 15 selected from the 30 alliance districts. 

 

The new standards set by the Department of Education rely on 12 indicators that measure how well a school is preparing students, not just test scores and graduation rates.  In addition to measuring academic achievement, the standards also focus on student growth over time.  Key indicator assessments also include assessment participation rate; chronic absenteeism; and preparation for postsecondary and career readiness. 

 

Ellsworth Avenue, Hayestown Avenue, Mill Ridge Primary, Morris Street, Park Avenue and South Street elementary schools were among the 116 recognized statewide.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed discusses later school start times

The Ridgefield Board of Education has issued a statement about plans to change school start times to later in the morning.  The Board voted unanimously to develop and implementation plan for health school start times.  The implementation could be carried out for the 2018-19 school year.  As part of the study on changing school start times, school bus routes and a three-tiered bus system are being researched.  The Strategic Planning Committee has been asked to make a presentation to the Board of Education at their May 22nd meeting.

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Special Town Meeting in Bethel on school renovation funding

There is a Special Town Meeting in Bethel tonight about funding for $140,000 for preliminary expenses for Stage 2/pre-referendum costs for the Rockwell and Johnson School renovation projects. 

 

Among the areas in need of upgrade are the electrical systems, heating systems and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in the bathrooms. Possible asbestos also needs to be addressed.  A study about possible renovations was conducted in 2010 and found that $50 million to $60 million worth of work was needed at the two schools.

 

Johnson School was built in 1980 to house grades 4 and 5. Rockwell School, which was built in 1971, was renovated in 1977. Rockwell is one of two schools in Bethel to teach kindergarten through third graders. 

 

Tonight's Special Town Meeting is set for 7pm at the Municipal Center.

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Ridgefield firefighters union files complaint of procedure changes

A complaint has been filed by the Ridgefield firefighters union to changes in procedures for calling in off-duty paid firefighters.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the local union is asking the state Board of Labor Relations to order the town to negotiate the changes with the union. 

 

The complaint filed with the state Department of Labor says the union feels the standard operating procedure, in effect from February 6th, threatens the health and safety of its members. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Press that the town didn't meet with the union over the complaint and learned of it from the state.  He explained that the career department has 34 members and 2 firefighters have to go out on any vehicle that leaves the fire station.  They started having an 8-man minimum shift this year so that all 4 vehicles could go out on calls.

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Monroe police search for gas station robbery suspects

Monroe Police a searching for gas station robbery suspects.  A clerk at Henny Penny Gas Station on Route 34 told police on Friday morning that there were two suspects, and there was a physical altercation.  The suspects fled the scene in a Silver four door sedan, possibly a Ford 500.  Monroe Police obtained the surveillance videos and the Department is now looking for the public's help in identifying the vehicle and suspects.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Monroe Police at 203-452-2831.

 

 

 

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Explosion unlikely in New Milford house fire case

New Milford fire officials say there doesn't appear to be evidence of an explosion at a home that was destroyed by fire on Friday.  Official say the blaze appears to have started in the Mare Lane home's chimney, which was connected to a wood-burning stove.  The American Red Cross is providing assistance to the family, a couple and their adult daughter, who have been left homeless by the fire.  The family wasn't home at the time.  One firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

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Fireplace ashes likely cause of Danbury house fire

Improperly disposed of fireplace ashes are likely to blame for a house fire in Danbury yesterday.  The Fire Department responded to 32 Stevens Street yesterday afternoon to find heavy smoke in the area.  There was fire at the rear of the two-story, wood framed home.  Fire officials say the fire was extinguished quickly.  The residents were out of the house before firefighters arrived and there were no reported injuries.  The investigation into the official cause is still underway.

 

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Police: Mom live-streamed son, 10, driving car on town roads

MONROE, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut woman has been accused of letting her 10-year-old son drive her car on public roads and streaming it on Facebook Live.

Monroe resident Lisa Nussbaum was charged Friday with risk of injury or impairing morals of a minor.

Police say Nussbaum was arrested after several residents complained to officers of a live-streaming video on Facebook showing a child driving a car.

Police say officers determined Nussbaum was recording her son drive the car on public roads throughout the town. Police say the video was taken from the passenger seat of Nussbaum's vehicle.

The Connecticut Post reports Nussbaum on Monday hinted there may be more to the story. Nussbaum was released on a promise to appear in Superior Court in Bridgeport on Friday.

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Danbury officials look to donate Mallory Hat site to Women's Center

Danbury could donate the Mallory Hat site to the Women's Center for a new transitional housing center.  Mayor Mark Boughton is calling for a City Council Committee to review the donation of city owned property at 89 Rose Hill Avenue. 

 

Boughton says the property does contain levels of environmental contamination, but wants the City to work with the Women's Center to seek grants and other funding opportunities to make the project happen. 

 

The Women's Center has provided a safe haven to victims of domestic and sexual violence since its founding in 1975.  The Center serves 20,000 people in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties each year. 

 

In making his case for the project, Boughton cited a statistic from Forbes magazine.  It found that 24-percent of adult women and 14-percent of adult men have been physically assaulted by a partner at some point in their lives, but as long as the symptoms go unnoticed and unpunished, nothing changes. 

 

He believes it's time for Danbury to do its part and break the silence.

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Legislative committee gets mixed testimony on bear hunting bill

The legislature's Environment Committee took testimony yesterday on a bill that would require the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with regulations and standards for black bear management, including hunting seasons and permit eligibility. 

 

A Sherman resident submitted written testimony in support of the bill saying that bear-human interactions necessitate a Hunting Season, and noting that hunting is often done to keep species levels at or below the Biological Carrying Capacity of the Habitat. 

 

A Redding resident submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, favoring education as a way to reduce human-bear interactions and conflict--noting that slow reproduction rates make bear populations susceptible to overhunting.

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Danbury officials drafting maintenance-only budget

Danbury officials are crafting a maintenance-only budget.  Mayor Mark Boughton says he is freezing some departments hiring to try to make up for state funding losses.  He says it's been a more challenging year because of the unsettled state budget.  Since the state is likely cutting so much municipal aid, Boughton says the City is working to manage those cuts--but that it could mean the loss of some services.  He notes that there is some time before the municipal budget has to be finalized, so there's a lot of uncertainty remaining.  Boughton wants to be able to get to something that will pay the bills, while providing services the City needs to provide.

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Danbury lawmakers propose renaming Route 53 for veterans

The Danbury state legislative delegation has introduced a bill to rename part of Route 53 as "Danbury Veterans Memorial Highway".  It would be the stretch of Main Street between Interstate 84 and South Street.  The bill was up for a public hearing before the legislature's Transportation Committee. 

 

State Senator Mike McLachlan says they requested this bill because it's important to honor veterans.  He says Danbury takes great pride in its commitment to veterans and ensuring that current and future generations remember the sacrifices that veterans have made in protecting our freedoms. 

 

McLachlan added that the Danbury Council of Veterans, 6 veterans organizations, is very active in the city.  He touted the Council for organizing ceremonies to mark historical events at the Danbury War Memorial, which is on Route 53.

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Bethel Planning and Zoning approve revised police station plans

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has approved changes to the proposed police station on Judd Avenue.  At their meeting last week the group approved site plans and a special permit application.  The 26,000 square foot building project can now go out to bid again.  Initial estimates came back about $1.5 million over the approved $13.5 million budget.  Construction is expected to begin this spring.  The current police station on Plumtrees Road was built in 1974 and officials have said it doesn't have enough storage space, floods and can't accommodate the size of the force.

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Danbury Animal Control looking to solve case of Husky found wandering

There's a mystery surrounding a dog found in Danbury on Shelter Rock Road, and turned in to the Bethel dog pound.  Danbury Animal Control officers say the man who dropped off the husky left a phone number that didn't turn out to be valid. 

 

The dog is microchipped to a Cromwell couple, but the previous owner said Neekah had gone to a rescue after his wife's death and may have been adopted by a man named Garrett from Bethel. 

 

Animal Control officials say they are still working to resolve the case and try to get the dog back to her adopted family, if lost, or re-home Neekah under other circumstances.

 

(Danbury Animal Control)

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Ground broken in New Milford for park improvements

Ground has been broken in New Milford for an overhaul of Lynn Deming Park.  Mayor David Gronbach says the project, which has been discussed for more than two decades, is finally coming to fruition. 

 

 

The work includes adding a fishing dock, playground, trails into the woods to the north, kayak/canoe/paddle board racks, a building for Parks and Rec equipment, benches and grills, new swimming docks, and other improvements.  A safer and expanded parking lot is also in the works. 

 

The grand reopening is set for Memorial Day weekend.

 

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Danbury men arrested on drug charges after SWAT raid

Two Danbury men have been arrested on drug possession charges after a raid by the Danbury Regional SWAT team on Thursday.  Danbury Police said in a statement today that a warrant was issued after an investigation was launched weeks ago into neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales from a Division Street apartment. 

 

Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says there was the possibility of firearms being present and the occupants had lengthy criminal histories so the SWAT team was called for assistance.  9 people were found at the apartment.

 

61-year old Raymond Henderson and 50-year old Anthony “Lewis” Jones were found in possession of packaged cocaine and heroin packaged for sale. 

 

 

(Henderson, Jones)

 

Drugs, drug proceeds and drug paraphernalia were seized.  Henderson and Jones were each charged with possession of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school. 

 

They were held on bond.

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Connecticut lawmakers considering bear hunting season

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - With bear sightings on the increase in Connecticut, lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the animals to be hunted.

The General Assembly's Environment Committee will hear testimony Monday on a bill requiring the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with regulations and standards for black bear management, including hunting seasons and permit eligibility.

Days before the hearing, numerous opponents and proponents had already submitted written testimony on the bill, originally proposed by 30th District state Senator Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford and Brookfield.  He is the committee's Republican Senate chairman.

Opponents contend bears are a slow-to-reproduce species and would be susceptible to overhunting.

But proponents note how bears are moving into more urban areas and can be costly for the state to handle. They say a regulated hunting season would save the state money.

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Small fire at Huckleberry Hill Elementary extinguished

There was a small fire inside a Brookfield school yesterday.  Both  Brookfield fire companies along with Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and the Danbury  Fire Department responded to Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.  The fire started inside an air heating/cooling unit and was contained quickly.  There was minimal damage and a moderate smoke condition inside the building.  The school was unoccupied at the time.

 

(Brookfield Vol. Fire Dept. Candlewood Company Inc)

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New Milford home destroyed by fire, explosion

A fire and explosion has leveled a New Milford home.  The two story home on Mare Lane was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters responded late Friday night.  The structure fire ignited a two to three acre brush fire in the surrounding woods.  Water Witch Hose Company officials say the house is a complete loss.  No one was home at the time and there were no pets inside.  The New Milford Fire Marshal, with assistance from the State Fire Marshals Office, is investigating the cause.  Mutual Aid from Water Witch, Bridgewater, Gaylordsville, Washington and other area departments for coverage were dispatched.

 

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Congresswoman addresses wide range of issues at Town Hall Meeting

Congressional committees are investigating Russian interference in last year's U-S presidential election.  At a town hall meeting in the 5th district yesterday, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was asked about speculation on what, if any, meddling was done.

 

She has looked at the classified, and said they are not reassuring.

 

Esty called for a 9-11 style commission to get to the bottom of the matter.  Esty says an independent body with subpoena authority that can look at classified documents is the first step needed.

 

Unlike some of the contentious constituent meetings held elsewhere in the country, Esty received a standing ovation when she entered.  It was a wide-ranging town hall meeting.  Residents from Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown, New Milford and New Fairfield were among those who asked questions.  The gathering was only scheduled for an hour and a half, but Esty stayed to answer questions about twice as long.  Esty said afterward she wasn't surprised at the turn out because her office received some 1,000 to 2,000 communications each week.

 

Residents asked what could be done to reduce college loan costs, called for a halt to the Dakota Access pipeline, and suggested reforms to make the Social Security program solvent.

 

Esty was asked to weighed in on several cabinet appointees.  She said she is very uncomfortable with the new Education Secretary, noting that she is wary of vouchers.  Esty said the Administration is basically giving up on public schools.  Esty was asked whether she will call for U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions to resign over failure to disclose his campaign-season contacts with a Russian ambassador.  She didn't call for his resignation, instead calling for that 9-11 style commission.

 

Esty also addressed two gun-related bills being considered.  One would deregulate silencers.  She said that was a solution in search of a problem.  The other one is about concealed carry reciprocity.  Esty said because some states have no gun free zones and allow 18 year olds to carry, that would become the nationwide standard.  If a police officer asked to see a license, Esty says the officer could be civilly sued by a teen who brought a gun to the classroom if the bill is approved.

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American Bar Association adopts resolution crafted by Sandy Hook man

The American Bar Association has adopted a resolution written by a Sandy Hook man who is the President of the Connecticut Bar Association.  Monte Frank says the measure reaffirms and expands existing ABA policy regarding refugees. 

 

It calls for increased funding and legislation to process and handle refugee applications, and urges Congress to pass legislation that would provide for timely assessments of refugee applications.  The vote was cast at the ABA's midyear meeting in February. 

 

Frank relayed the story of his background, the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors and the great-grandson of those killed in Nazi death camps.  His ancestors were relocated to Palestine and eventually became refugees in New York, where they lived with family.

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Newtown students learn about Regional Emergency Services Unit

At the 2017 Newtown Student Police Academy at Newtown High School this week, students got a visit from the Danbury Regional Emergency Services Unit.  Several Newtown officers are a part of that group. The students got to go for a ride in the 'Bearcat' armored truck, which is used by the unit for emergency response to critical incidents.

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DHS robotics team headed to regional competition

The Danbury High School robotics team is headed to the Southern New England Regionals this weekend in Massachusetts.  They will compete to qualify for the Vex Robotics World Championships. Of the seven qualifying events this season, the Danbury team has taken Tournament Champion five times.

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Redding state lawmakers hold town hall listening session

Some state lawmakers held a town hall meeting in the Georgetown section of Redding this week.  About 100 people turned out to hear from Representatives Adam Dunsby and Gail Lavielle along with Senator Toni Boucher.  They fielded questions about education funding, environmental protections and the state budget among other topics.

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Congressman calls on AG Sessions to resign

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is calling for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Himes says the position requires the very highest level of trust and faith from the American people, but that his commitment to clarity and truth are now in question.

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Newtown man injured in Rt 15 crash

A Newtown man sustain serious injuries in a crash on Route 15 on Thursday.  State Police say 46-year old Paul Kus was driving in the left lane in North Haven around 8pm when he veered off the road.  The car struck the center median metal guardrail, continued for several feet and crossed the highway coming to rest on the right shoulder.  The vehicle then caught fire.  Kus was transported to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.  The crash remains under investigation.

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NY woman makes court appearance on wrongway driving, DWI charges

A New York woman was in court yesterday on charges stemming from a wrong-way driving incident last month.  State Police monitoring traffic on 684 saw a car headed north in the southbound lanes.  The driver, 22-year old Ashley Bonner of Yorktown was determined to be intoxicated.

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Newtown liquor store owner arson case gets initial court hearing

The owner of a Newtown liquor store who reported a robbery, fire and anti-semitic graffiti at his South Main Street business in January has had his first court appearance.  39-year old Scott Young was charged with arson, insurance fraud and providing a false statement, among other crimes.  He pleaded not guilty Thursday to all charges and will be back in court April 6th.

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Monroe man sought for Holy Land vandalism

Two people have been arrested for vandalizing Holy Land Cross in Waterbury last week and police have identified a 3rd suspect.  18-year old David Riddick and a 17-year old girl, who was not named because of age, were charged with trespass and criminal mischief.  Waterbury Police say the 3rd suspect, 24-year old Erik Siclari of Monroe, is being sought.  

 

Several green pentagrams and a large letter T were spray-painted near the bottom of the 52-foot-tall cross.  The vandalism was visible from Interstate 84. 

 

Mayor Neil M. O'Leary bought the 17-acre property atop Pine Hill with a partner in 2013. He calls the vandalism troubling.  The cross was placed on the site in 2013 and is illuminated at night by color-changing LED lights. It replaced a larger cross that stood on the site since 1956 as the centerpiece of the former biblical theme park. 

 

Holy Land was closed in 1984.

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Love trial, gang activity identified as motives for fatal Danbury shooting

A Bridgeport man was in Danbury Superior Court yesterday on murder charges in connection to a 2014 shooting that left a 23-year old man dead.  The Newstimes reports that prosecutors said gang activity and a love triangle were Garfield Sanderson's motives.  A court clerk says the trial against Sanderson is scheduled to start Tuesday.  Yesterday's court session was about phone calls he made from jail.  The published report says Sanderson admitted to being in the area around Mambo Cafe and that authorities had no leads tieing him to the crime until people started talking.

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Read Across America Day encourages reading, celebrates birthday of Dr. Seuss

Read Across America Day is celebrated with rhyming books by Dr Seuss.  So many to chose from, including Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose.

 

Schools around the nation take part in this celebration.  Teachers use the author's birthday to encourage kids to read.  They share stories by a man who wrote 54 books, to take the lead.

 

I made my voice boom yesterday when I visited a classroom.  The Kindergarteners sat on a reading mat.  As I told the story of The Cat in the Hat.

 

 

Danbury Police Officers took time to read to students at City schools yesterday.  

 

The Brookfield Police Department also took part in Read Across America Day.  Police Chief Purcell was joined by Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn and nearly a half dozen others who volunteered to read to children at the Brookfield Public Library.

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Public hearing held in New Fairfield about adding herbicides to Candlewood Lake

Dozens of residents have sounded off about a proposal to add some herbicides and algaecides to part of Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield.  Solitude Lake Management made a presentation last night before a crowded room.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is accepting comments on a permit application. 

 

Solitude, a consulting company, was brought in by New Fairfield officials to address issues posed by blue-green algae blooms and invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.  The proposal calls for treating 50 acres in Town Park Cove and 10 acres in Shelter Harbor Cove.

 

Most of the concerns were about effects of the chemicals on the environment, and possible health risks. 

 

$30,000 of the $52,400 cost is being paid for with surplus funds from last fiscal year's budget.  The town has applied to lake owner FistLight Power Resources for a grant to cover the balance.  DEEP will accepted testimony emailed to deep.pesticidepermitting@ct.gov for two weeks after the application is received.

 

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March4Trump event to be held in Southbury

A local rally is being held as part of a nationwide March4Trump this weekend.  Marchers will complete a 2-mile circle in Southbury in support of President Trump on Saturday.  The event is scheduled for 1pm at Southford Falls State Park. 

 

The march will be along Routes 188 and 67. 

 

The Newstimes reports that Kathryn Dennen and Dorothy Aiksnoras-Vallee, who also hosted a “DeploraBall” the night before the inauguration, set up the Connecticut rally.  Republican state Representative David Labriola and the newly elected 32nd District state Senator Eric Berthel are slated to attend. 

 

49 March4Trump events are planned in 33 states.

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Sandy Hook families file lawsuit against gun maker with state Supreme Court

A brief has been submitted to the Connecticut Supreme Court calling for the lawsuit by some Sandy Hook families against the manufacturer of the AR-15 to be reinstated.  Attorney Josh Koskoff argues that what happened on 12-14 was not an accident, but rather "gratuitous, senseless proof...[that]...preparation is no match for an AR-15”. 

 

The case by 10 families was dismissed last year when the judge ruled that Remington is protected by federal law against claims when people misuse firearms.  The new brief maintains that Remington was liable, saying the company negligently marketed the weapon. 

 

Remington has until May 1st to respond. 

 

The company has said in the past that they manufactured a legal gun that was lawfully sold.

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Bill adding fee to plastic bags advances out of committee

A bill which would impose a 5-cent fee on single use plastic bags has been advanced by the legislature's Environment Committee.  The revenue would be used to help fund state parks.  Proponents say Connecticut is one of the few states to rely exclusively on General Fund revenue to pay for park operation and maintenance.  Opponents say it's an arbitrary tax. 

 

Brookfield State Representative Steve Harding questioned if the goal is to eliminate plastic bags, saying that adding a tax is the wrong way to go about it.  He fears that by adding a fee, they would be adding a revenue source the state will become dependent on.

 

State Senator Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford, supported the bill.  He called it a good environmental step forward.

 

The bill passed out of committee on a 19 to 10 vote.

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Berthel to be sworn in today as 32nd District State Senator

Three people will be sworn in this morning at the state capital.  Two new state senators and one new Representative will take the oath of office after winning special elections on Tuesday.  The state Senate will continue to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.  The two incumbents who resigned to seek other state jobs will be replaced by a member of their own party. 

 

Despite a large influx of outside money, the 32nd Senatorial District will continue to be held by a Republican.  Watertown State Representative Eric Berthel defeated Democrat Gregory Cava and petitioning candidate Daniel Lynch.

 

Democrats are taking credit for narrowing Berthel's margin of victory in the traditionally GOP district. 

 

As a member of the state House, Berthel was a member of the Housing, Banks, Insurance & Real Estate, and the Finance, Revenue & Bonding committees.  Berthel is a former Board of Directors member of Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union and served on the Watertown Board of Education.

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Public hearing in New Fairfield about adding herbicides to Candlewood Lake

Solitude Lake Management will make a presentation tonight in New Fairfield about adding herbicides and algaecides to part of Candlewood Lake.  Representatives from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will explain the state permitting process at tonight's public hearing.  Members of the Candlewood Lake Authority will also be offering comment. 

 

The public hearing is slated for 7 to 9pm at Meeting House Hill School, but residents are encouraged to sign up starting at 6:15pm. 

 

Solitude, a consulting company, was brought in by New Fairfield officials to address issues posed by blue-green algae blooms and invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.  The proposal calls for treating 50 acres in Town Park Cove and 10 acres in Shelter Harbor Cove. 

 

$30,000 of the $52,400 cost is being paid for with surplus funds from last fiscal year's budget.  The town has applied to lake owner FirstLight Power Resources for a grant to cover the balance.

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New Milford Zoning Commission says community center project needs special permit

The New Milford Zoning Commission says a special permit is needed to turn the former Pettibone School into a community center.  This contradicts what New Milford Mayor David Gronbach said when he pushed forward with the plans this week.  He withdrew a permit application last week when the Board of Ed decided not to move from the East Street building because of a change in the agreement on how that move would be funded.  Gronbach says the Youth Agency and Parks and Rec Commission offices can moved into Pettibone without a special permit because they've held gatherings there in the past.

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Monroe police investigating a series of car break-ins

A recent rash of thefts from cars is being investigated by Monroe Police.  The Department is working with the Shelton Police after a series of these crimes were reported across the two town's borders this week. 

 

All reported incidents happened during the overnight hours to vehicles left unlocked in residential driveways. No forced entry was reported. 

 

Residents are urged to call the police, regardless of the time of day, when they hear or see suspicious activity in their neighborhood.  Monroe Police are reminding residents to lock up their cars and not leave valuables in their vehicles.  Anyone with information about the recent thefts is asked to call the Monroe Police at 203-261-3622.

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New Milford Police investigate alleged threatening social media post

A social media post by a New Milford High School student allegedly threatening to bring a gun to school prompted a police investigation.  The New Milford School Superintendent sent an email out to parents late last night about a student's social media post. 

 

Joshua Smith wrote that the High School administration became aware around 8:15pm of an Instagram post from a student that raised concern.  Administrators worked with the New Milford Police Department to investigate. 

 

The Police Department has since completed their investigation and said at no time was there any risk to students or staff. 

 

Smith said they take student safety extremely seriously.  He thanked the Police Department and school administrators for their prompt attention to the matter.

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Newtown officials testify about a new education funding formula

A proposal calling for development of a more equitable Education Cost Sharing formula received a public hearing yesterday. 

 

Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding President Herb Rosenthal, a Newtown Selectman, called for an education adequacy cost study.  He says that is a necessary prerequisite to developing a rational and constitutional education finance system in Connecticut.

 

Unlike the arbitrary, budget-driven efforts of the past and present, this study would provide real world data on student needs and what resources are necessary to meet the state constitutional responsibility to deliver an equitable education opportunity for every K-12 public school student in Connecticut.

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra noted that her town received more than $5 million this fiscal year.  In Fiscal Year 2018, Newtown is proposed to received $969,688 in ECS fund, a more than $4 million difference.  Llodra said everyone should pay their fair share and no one should benefit greater than his or her neighbor, according to his or her needs.

 

Danbury school officials have said the district is underfunded by about 50-percent.

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Danbury Police Department welcomes new K9 officer

Rocky, a 23 month old Labrador/pit mix, is now on the job for the Danbury Police Department. The K9 officer is partnered with Sgt James Antonelli, who also serves as the K9 Unit Supervisor.  Danbury also has two German Shepherds on the force; Zeke and Koda. 

 

Rocky was purchased with part of a $100,000 donation from the Gleszer estate through Renbar Kennels in New Milford.  He cost $9,000 which is slightly less than the German Shepherds cost, and that included the price for training. 

 

 

Rocky has been assigned to the Community Conditions Unit and will be used in narcotics investigations.  He is trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.   Rocky is expected to be on the force for about 10 years. 

 

All of the cruisers have a K9 insert, so the backseat comes out and they have the whole area.  It's heat monitored and if the temperature gets too hot a siren will go off.  A pager will alert the officer.  For the patrol dogs, there is a door popper in case the officer needs it. 

 

Chief Ridenhour says they are looking to use some of the donated funds for a third patrol dog so that there can be one on each shift.  He says the German Shepherds are "jack of all trades" and good for crowd control, community's relations and are very protective of their handlers.  

 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the school children like seeing the police K9 so Sgt. Antonelli will do some demonstrations once Rocky gets settled into a routine. 

 

The Gleszers lived in Danbury and donated to other departments as well.  They also have to seeing eye dogs and comfort & therapy dogs.

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President Trump signs two bills into law authored by Esty

President Trump has signed into law two pieces of legislation co-authored by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty to promote women in science.

 

The two measures, the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act and the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act passed the House and the Senate by unanimous consent.  Esty says the new laws will help women launch careers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields where they are underrepresented and will encourage women to start their own STEM-focused small businesses.

 

Esty says no matter how contentious political disagreements may get, Congress must never stop working toward common solutions that will improve people’s lives.

 

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act improves federal support for women entrepreneurs in the STEM fields.  It expands the mission of the National Science Foundation to include supporting entrepreneurial programs for women that extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.

 

The INSPIRE Women Act calls on NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in aerospace.  It directs NASA to encourage women to enter the STEM fields through three existing programs: NASA Girls, Aspire to Inspire, and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.

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Redding Police raise money for childhood cancer research

For the second year, Redding Police are participating in a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser for childhood cancer research.  If the officers can raise $2,500 by the 13th, they will shave their heads.  The event will be that morning at Joel Barlow High School, in conjunction with the school's annual fundraiser.

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Carmel man charged with marijuana possession and DWI following traffic stop

Police who stopped a Carmel man for speeding could smell both marijuana and alcohol in the vehicle.  New York State Police pulled over 28-year old James Klett on the Taconic State Parkway on Monday.  He failed a field sobriety test. His blood alcohol content was .08.  An investigation turned up concentrated cannabis and over 495 grams of marijuana.  Klett was arraigned and ordered held at Dutchess County Jail on bond. He is due back in Court on Friday.

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Unlicensed driver injures passenger in single car crash

One person was transported to the hospital after a driver lost control, hit a concrete divider on the highway and rolled onto its side.  State Police responded to I-84 in Danbury Monday afternoon on a report of a single car crash in the eastbound lanes. 

 

The investigation determined that 54-year old Oliver Brown of Danbury swerved into the center median and then travelled across the highway by exit 5 and ended up flipping the car in the grassy embankment off the right lane. 

 

His passenger, 46-year old Charlotte Abraham was treated for leg and chest pain.  Brown was uninjured. 

 

He was issued a ticket for failing to maintain a proper lane and driving without a license.

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'Operation Wear Red' raises awareness of rare disease

If you've driven through New Milford at night this week you may have noticed red street lamp lights around the town green.  It's part of "Operation Wear Red" to raise awareness for Aplastic Anemia.  It's a campaign by Julia's Wings Foundation, named for a 13-year old Sherman girl who passed away in 2012.  The disease affects bone marrow and scientists still don't know what causes the rare blood disorder.  This week long effort is the 3rd annual awareness event.

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State Police looking for information about ATM found in Southbury

An ATM has been found near a wooded area in Southbury.  State Police responded shortly before 7:30 this morning to the back of a building off Main Street South where they located the broken ATM.  Anyone who has information about the ATM is asked to call Troop A in Southbury at 203-267-2200.

 

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New Milford Mayor advances community center project without special permit

The project to create a community center at the former Pettibone School in New Milford will move forward after all.  Mayor David Gronbach had pulled the proposal before a public hearing on a permit for the conversion.  He now says the project will go ahead without a special permit.  He is looking to move the Youth Agency and Parks and Recreation offices into Pettibone because they've operated programs from there in the past.  He says the permit is no longer needed because the Board of Education has decided not to move their offices to Pettibone.  There was a disagreement over how to fund the move.

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Rock slide closed Rt 107 Tuesday

There was a small rock slide on Route 107 in Georgetown yesterday,  The Redding Highway Department closed the for a short time while the debris was cleared.  About half of Route 107 was blocked by the rocks and dirt.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Redding Police)

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Lawmakers rip plan to close NYC-area nuclear plant

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York lawmakers are demanding to know how Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to close Indian Point nuclear plant without disrupting the power supply to Putnam County and elsewhere. 

 

At a hearing yesterday, Republican state Senator Terrence Murphy said the public deserves answers about how the state plans to replace the power lost when the facility 35 miles from the Brewster area shuts down in 2021.

 

State officials say energy efficiency, improved transmission lines and expanded renewable sources like wind and solar will make up the difference. They predicted ``negligible'' to no effect on utility bills.

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Man sentenced for armed robbery of Seymour bank

A former Connecticut man has been sentenced for robbing a Seymour bank.  55-year old Daniel Hamlett Sr was ordered to 5 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Hamlett drove a stolen car to the Seymour bank in April 2013. 

 

He wore a mask, smashed the window of a nearby car and demanded money from the victim, at gun point.  Hamlett took the car keys and cell phone of the victim when he said he didn't have any money.  He then went into the bank, jumped the counter and forcibly took nearly $6,000.  He's been detained since his arrest. 

 

Hamlett drove off but then met his son, who helped him elude police.  Daniel Hamlett Jr has pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

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Case against former Danbury Mayor Eriquez dismissed

A judge has dismissed the assault charge against former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez.  He was set to appear in court yesterday on charges stemming from a May 2016 arrest for a domestic incident. The 64-year old had also been facing charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with an emergency call.  The judge at the time issued a residential stay away protective order, meaning Eriquez couldn't return home.

 

Eriquez is the current chairman of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee, though he stepped away from his leadership duties for a time after the arrest.  The charges were dismissed because he completed a family violence education program.

 

He served as Mayor from 1989 through 2001.

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Bethel Board of Finance to receive budget presentation

The Bethel Board of Selectmen is set to present a budget to the Board of Finance tonight, with a 2.3 percent increase.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called it a tight budget, and a work in progress.  There's a lot of uncertainty for municipalities this year because of the state threatening to reduce aid to schools by substantial amounts.  Knickerbocker says the state was pretty consistent for many years on road construction funding and school grants, but that's changed in the last 5 or 6 years.  Knickerbocker is also concerned about the state forcing municipalities to cover a state run program. He says that may violate the state constitution and prompt legal action.

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Senate to remain equally divided despite special election

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Special election results show Connecticut's state Senate will continue to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.

Three legislative seats, two in the Senate and one in the House, were up for grabs Tuesday after three incumbents resigned to seek other state jobs.

Despite a large influx of outside money, the 32nd Senatorial District will continue to be held by a Republican. Watertown State Rep. Eric Berthel defeated Democrat Gregory Cava and petitioning candidate Daniel Lynch. Democrats are taking credit for narrowing Berthel's margin of victory in the traditionally GOP district.

Meanwhile, Hartford Rep. Douglas McCrory defeated Republican Mike McDonald and two write-in candidates, keeping the 2nd Senatorial District seat Democratic.

In West Haven Dorinda Keenan Borer won the 115th Assembly District seat, keeping it Democratic.

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Two killed, two injured in roll over Washington crash

Two people were killed in a crash in the town of Washington yesterday afternoon.  State Police say a car sped passed a parked state police cruiser on Route 202, ran a red light and swerved to avoid another vehicle before crashing into a metal guard rail near Baldwin Hill Road.  The car went airborne, hit a tree and landed down an embankment on its roof.  The driver, 25-year old Eric Johnson of Terryville was pronounced dead at the scene.  One passenger, 25-year old Alexis Schiappa was pronounced dead at the hospital.  Two other passengers were treated for minor injuries at Danbury Hospital.

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Esty reacts to President's address to Congress

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said the values President Trump talked about in his speech were at odds with the divisive policies he has pursued and the appointments he has made since taking office.  But Esty said she is ready to work together on areas of genuine shared interest like standing up to special interests, securing national defense, and expanding economic opportunity.  She says the President's words must be understood in the context of his actions in the last five weeks and will be judged by the actions he takes going forward.

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Easton lawmaker proposes fine for frivolous FOIC complaints

A proposal aimed at reducing frivolous complaints to the state Freedom of Information Commission received mixed reviews during a public hearing before a legislative committee.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby has proposed a $125 fee for filing two or more complaints with the commission each year.  He says someone filing 10s or 100s of requests are not interested in records, but rather in harassing public officials. 

 

Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, says there should be a complaint process that doesn't discourage people who have conviction that they have a legal issue.  Dunsby says one person has filed 135 complaints, not requests for information, over the last two years. 

 

The President of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information agrees there is a problem that needs to be addressed, but believes the fine is too harsh.  He says the proposal would undermine free citizen access to the FOIC.

 

State FOIC executive Director Colleen Murphy opposes the proposal, saying it will discourage people who are filing legitimate complaints.  Murphy says there may be a more narrow approach that can be taken.

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