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Local Headlines Archives for 2017-04

UPDATED: Fatal crash on I-84 caused by wrong way driver

The driver killed in a two-car crash in Danbury Friday night was driving on the wrong side of the highway.  State Police say 40-year old Marcos Ramon Chillogalli of Danbury was travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes of Interstate-84.  He crashed into a vehicle headed in the proper direction in the area of exit 3, around 10:45pm. 

 

The other driver, 34-year old Julio Mafort of Danbury, was transported to Danbury Hospital with serious injuries. 

 

(Photo: Mark Omasta, DFD)

 

Both vehicles sustained serious damage and were towed from the scene.  Danbury Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Omasta says the large pick up truck, driven by Mafort, required the door to pried open using the jaws of life.  Omasta says the occupant of the compact car, Ramon Chillogalli, was determined to have suffered fatal injuries, and also required extrication from the wreckage.

 

The accident was cleared around 3:45am.  State Police closed the highway westbound at exit 4 during the emergency response.  The Danbury Fire Department provided one volunteer Squad Company to assist at the scene with emergency lighting. Fire units assisted at the scene for approximately two hours.

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Trooper Perrault at 203-267-4306.

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One person killed in I-84 crash in Danbury

One person has been killed in a car accident in Danbury Friday night.   Danbury police said the accident happened around 10:45pm on Interstate-84 Westbound between exits 4 and 3. Police said the road was expected to be closed through early Saturday morning.  The accident was cleared around 3:45am.  Police are still investigating and the identification of the victim has yet been released

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Battle of Ridgefield commemoration events to be held this weekend

A newly restored sign has been unveiled in Ridgefield commemorating General Wooster.  After British troops made their way up to Danbury for a raid, the two sides clashed in Ridgefield.  A reenactment of the Battle of Ridgefield, where Wooster was fatally wounded, will be held this weekend to commemorate the 240th anniversary.  A series of events will be held today, including that reenactment at the Keeler Tavern Museum.  Resident Elaine Cox underwrote the restoration costs.  Ridgefield Representative John Frey took the sign to Designs and Signs in Brookfield for the restoration work.  The sign is along Route 116.

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Esty opposes removing tax on gun silencers

A bill has been introduced in Congress that would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers.  Anyone buying a silencer from a licensed gun dealer will still be required to pass a background check.  But 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill opens silencers up to the internet and gun show loophole.

 

Any person who pays a transfer tax on a silencer after January 9th 2017, may receive a refund.  The bill also amends the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers.  Esty notes that the fees are used to support the background check system. 

 

900,000 silencers have been sold in the United States under the current system. 

 

Gun rights advocates say silencers are a safety device since they reduce the noise associated with firing many firearms.

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Danbury Police to launch summer leadership academy for students

The Danbury Police Department is having a week long leadership academy for local middle school and high school students this summer.  Academy participants will learn what it is like to be a Police Officer.  Applications for the program, which starts July 17th, can be picked up at the Danbury Police Department lobby or from School Resource Officers.

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Brookfield opens bids for school water tank replacement

Brookfield has opened the bid process for High School water system improvements.  The 15,000 gallon atmospheric tank will be replaced with a new one and the water supply will be connected to the fire suppression system.  Bids are due May 10th with work scheduled to begin after the end of the school year on June 22nd.

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Danbury Democrats to host outreach initiative this weekend

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee is hosting the first in a series of outreach initiatives this weekend.  The Community of Compassion forum tomorrow is being hosted by the group's Social Justice Task Force.  It's aimed at engaging with residents and discuss issues that impact Danbury neighborhoods. 

 

The forum tomorrow from 10am to noon is at Danbury Democratic Headquarters on Main Street. 

 

Rather than speculate on what the relevant issues are, DDTC officials say they are reaching out to local activists groups to expand the conversation.  They've been in touch with the Danbury Area Justice Network, CT Students for a Dream, and Act Together CT-Northern Fairfield County. 

 

A community survey will be launched at the "Community of Compassion Forum" Saturday. The Social Justice Task Force will use the results to compile a proactive, working list of issues that the Democratic Party will address this year.

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Danbury area legislators react to GOP alternative budget proposal

New Fairfield state Representative Richard Smith says the Republican alternative budget proposal checks all of the boxes for addressing the root cause of Connecticut's fiscal catastrophe.  He says the plan maintains the property tax credit and restores critical municipal aid for cities and towns.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan called it a blueprint for navigating Connecticut out of the cycle of deficits, job losses, and population decline.  He says the legislature must restore confidence in the state’s ability to govern responsibly and that means producing a budget where Connecticut lives within its means.

 

Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky touted the plan as being transparent, without the trick of moving liabilities off the balance sheet.  He called for streamlining state government and making hard decisions about wasteful or wastefully run programs.  Bolinsky notes that the budget proposal preserves Newtown's 2018 educational cost grants and increases them by about $500,000 in 2019, before entering a ten-year transition into a functional ECS formula in 2020.  Sharing in the cost of state-negotiated teachers' pensions, is off the table under the plan as well.

 

Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson says the plan spares already financially strained and overtaxed groups by not relying on toll revenue or taxing hospitals.  He says the plan would restore confidence in Connecticut at a time when the state finds itself in a historically dismal fiscal crisis.

 

Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding called it a positive first step.  He says the state must mitigate the $1.7 billion deficit without raising taxes on an already overburdened population and provide the proper funding to local schools.

 

Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski says the Republican alternative budget proposal maintains most, if not all, municipal funding and does not raise taxes.  He added that Connecticut's fiscal crisis requires immediate action and severe, long-term structural changes to the budget.  Sredzinski says for too long there has been too much spending, and has been coupled with the two largest tax increases in state history.

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March for Babies event in Danbury Sunday

The annual March for Babies March of Dimes event is being held this weekend in Danbury.  Sunday's event raises money to fight prematurity and birth defects.  NICU nursery graduates and their families will be celebrated with special moments during the event.  A new March for Babies Memory Garden will be open for the first time to participants.  Those who have experienced the loss of a baby can remember them by planting a memorial butterfly sign.  Registration for the March for Babies at Tarrywile Park Sunday starts at 9:30am.

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Two stolen cars, more thefts from unlocked vehicles reported in Monroe

Two more stolen cars and a rash of overnight thefts from unlocked motor vehicles have been reported in Monroe in the last five days. 

 

Police are reminding residents to make sure cars are locked at night, even when parked in driveways. 

 

The crimes are happening at random all over town and throughout Fairfield County.  Patrol officers are out on the streets as a deterrent while detectives are working with those in other towns experiencing the same problem. 

 

If anyone sees suspicious activity overnight or discovers a vehicle missing or entered, contact the Monroe Police Department immediately at 203-261-3622.

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Danbury schools to start after Labor Day due to DHS construction

Due to construction at Danbury High School, all Danbury Public Schools will start after Labor Day for the 2017-2018 school year. 

 

Tuesday September 5th will be a full school day.  The plan is to return to a start date in late August the following school year.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says construction at DHS is on schedule, but they want the an extra week to assure that the building is ready to accommodate students. 

 

The entire school year calendar has been adjusted so that the school year is not unnecessarily extended to make up for the late start.  A half day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, November 22, the day before Thanksgiving break.  A full day has also been added on Tuesday, February 20th, following President’s Day.

 

The tentative last day of school for students will be June 15, 2018.  The new start date will not affect the Early Release days for Professional Development that were built into last year’s calendar.

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Monroe man pleads guilty to cocaine distribution charge

A Monroe man has pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of crack cocaine.  The U-S Attorney's office say 28-year old Dwight Jarvis waived his right to indictment yesterday.  Last October, the DEA's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force searched his Monroe home.  29 grams of cocaine, 25 grams of crack cocaine, 70 dose bags of heroin and other items used to process and package narcotics for street sale were found.  Jarvis was arrested in December and released on bond.  Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

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New Fairfield school nurse charged with DWI in NY

A New Fairfield school nurse has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence with minors in the vehicle.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that 45-year old Sandra Diehl was charged with DWI and for violating Leandra's Law, which makes it a felony count because of the teen passengers.  Diehl was stopped last Friday afternoon after the Sheriff's Department received a call about a suspicious vehicle stopped along Route 22 in Patterson.  The three teens were turned over to other adults for a ride home.  Diehl is reportedly a nurse at Meeting House Hill School.

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Two people arrested for cocaine possession following traffic stop

A New Milford man and a New York woman have been arrested on drug related charges after a routine traffic stop.  New York State Police pulled over a vehicle Wednesday for not having tail lamps.  The driver, 28-year old Brigham Young, and his passenger, 30-year old Bobbi Peltier of Wingdale, were found in possession of cocaine.  They were arraigned and ordered held on bail.  The pair are due in court May 8th.

 

  

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Lawmaker concerned about possible abuse of DOT vehicle fueling procedures

Procedures were open to employee fraud and abuse when it comes to in-house fueling operations for Department of Transportation vehicles, according to a new report by state auditors.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, says the findings are cause for concern.

 

The report found that there were insufficient policies for lost fuel cards, missing items from inventories, federal funds not spent in a timely fashion, late billing and missed paperwork.

 

Boucher says the state credit card should be identified to the vehicle the employee is driving so it can be audited properly.

 

Given the state's fiscal condition, Boucher says it's critical that every dollar spent on fuel be accounted for.  She added that it's important procedures be followed.  Boucher says it's good that the auditors found this out, and now it's time for the DOT management to take corrective action.

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No criminal charges over Choate boarding school allegations

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - Police in Connecticut say former faculty and staff members accused of sexual misconduct at the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school can't be charged criminally because of the statute of limitations.

Choate provided a report from outside investigators this month naming a dozen educators accused of sexual misconduct while at the Wallingford school.

 

One of the teachers identified in the report was Jaime Rivera-Murillo, who denies the allegations.  Even though Choate did not provide a reference or recommendation letter, he went on to teach at Henry Abbott Tech, Newtown High School and, until this month, a regional High School in Litchfield. 

The Meriden Record-Journal reports Wallingford Police Chief William Wright says the statute of limitations for each case expired.

The report includes allegations from 24 former students of misconduct from 1963 to 2010.

Wright says two more Choate graduates accused two faculty members not named in the report of sexual assault this week, but the statute of limitations has also expired.

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Local police departments host 'drug take back' collections Saturday

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is being held Saturday.  It aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating people about the potential for abuse of medications.

 

Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at several police stations and other locations in the Greater Danbury area.  At the end of the event, the medication will be destroyed.

 

Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  He added that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the family medicine cabinet.

 

The take back day collection is from 10am to 2pm tomorrow.

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Danbury School official warn parents about new Netflix series

The Danbury School District has sent a letter home to parents to recommend that they not let their kids watch a new Netflix series, or to discuss the themes if the kids watch the show.  The show, titled 13 Reasons Why, is based on a book about a teenager who commits suicide.  The book and series also depicts the difficult and sensitive topics of bullying, rape and drunk driving. 

 

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says if students are watching the series, he asks that parents engage in thoughtful conversation with their kids about the show and the consequences of certain choices. 

 

He ended his letter saying that school social workers, psychologists and counselors are available to speak with parents and children about these issues.

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Police identify driver killed in weekend car crash in New Fairfield

State Police have identified the man who was killed in a single car crash in New Fairfield on Sunday.  Police say 42-year old Ulysses Nunez of Manhattan was pronounced dead at the scene.  Nunez was headed south on Route 39, lost control and crashed into a utility pole by Ball Pond.  His passenger, 45-year old Victor Declet of Rochester New York, was transported to the hospital with serious injury.  The crash happened shortly before 1am Sunday, and closed the road until 4pm.

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Ridgefield First Selectman hasn't ruled out gubernatorial run

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi hasn't ruled out a run for governor next year.  The Democrat appeared on the  HAN Network’s CT Pulse politics show and was asked about running for the state's top spot.  Marconi filed an exploratory committee in 2010 for gubernatorial bid,  He says some people have asked him to run next year and he's thinking about it, but he's not sure.

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Brookfield Board of Ed meets to trim budget proposal

The Brookfield Board of Education is holding a special meeting tonight to talk about budget cuts.  The Board of Finance tasked the panel with trimming $271,000 from their proposal for the coming fiscal year.  Once that's done, the school budget will be $40.8 million.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Brookfield High School Media Center.

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Police: Danbury man brought child to drug deal

Spring Street residents concerns about illegal drug sales in their Danbury neighborhood have landed a 22-year old under arrest.  Based on surveillance of Xavier Bishop over the last several weeks, investigators determined that he was selling crack cocaine. 

 

Bishop was spotted by Danbury Police leaving his Spring Street home yesterday afternoon, and had a 1-year old with him.  He was followed to Pleasant Street and seen making a hand-to-hand drug transaction. 

 

A substantial amount of crack cocaine, marijuana, money and drug paraphernalia was seized. 

 

The state Department of Children and Families temporarily removed Bishop's daughter and another child from the care of their parents.  Bishop was held on bond for arraignment.

 

Bishop was charged with risk of injury to a child, operating without a license, possession of drug paraphernalia, sale of narcotics, sale within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance and of narcotics, possession of a controlled substance and of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school  possession of a controlled substance and of narcotics with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance and of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school.

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New Milford investigating telephone fraud cases

New Milford Police have received a spike in cases of telephone fraud.  Police say residents in some of the cases lost thousands of dollars.  A caller has been contacting residents and identifying themselves as a public defender in an out-of-state venue. 

 

The caller advises the victim that their relative is in need of bail or money for legal services.  New Milford Police say the caller also tells their victim not to contact the relative because they would be embarrassed.  The scammer asks for a gift card or wire transfer. 

 

New Milford Police have several open investigations of these types of fraud.  They are working with out-of-state police departments and the U.S. Attorneys' Offices to seek prosecution where possible.  

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Man charged for selling heroin to Monroe overdose victim

A Connecticut man has been charged for distributing drugs that led to the overdose death of a Monroe man.  33-year old Careem Bentley, also known as C-Lows, was arrested yesterday as part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users. 

 

According to court documents, Monroe Police responded to a report of an unresponsive male last November.  The 37-year old was pronounced dead. 

 

An investigation determined that the victim bought heroin from Bentley.

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Man fleeing Danbury Police crashes in front of Bethel home

A Waterbury man is facing a number of charges after he crashed his car in Bethel while fleeing from Danbury Police.  Danbury officers responded to a Mountain Road home Monday night on a report of a domestic disturbance, but one party already left. 

 

Police saw the suspect, later identified as 36-year old Jemar King, drive past them.  Danbury Police stopped pursuit at the Bethel line.

 

King crashed along a sharp curve of Reservoir Street.  He ran from the crash, but turned himself in Tuesday.  King was charged by Danbury Police with burglary, disorderly conduct, stalking, disobeying the signal of an officer and improper passing. 

 

Bethel Police are investigating the crash. 

 

A resident of the property where the crash happened said in a Facebook video that there have been at least six crashes since Christmas.  In this incident, King hit a tree stump, mailbox and a tree.

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Brookfield applies for grant for boat decontamination program

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has authorized town officials to apply for a 2017 Candlewood Lake Authority grant request through FirstLight Powers Resources.  Brookfield is seeking $2,40 for the continuation of the boat decontamination program.

 

The program is aimed at controlling invasive species in Candlewood Lake.

 

The boat inspection and decontamination program is a voluntary initiative.  It runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.  The grant will pay to staff the trailer on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says Khols has already given permission to use their parking lot for the program.

 

To pass the inspection, boats need to be clean, drained and dry.  Boats can be decontaminated for free using a machine if they don't meet that standard.  It takes about 20 minutes to decontaminate a boat and several minutes to complete the inspection.

 

The state Department of Energy says this program was the first of its kind in Connecticut.  

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Zoning Commission closes hearing on possible OTB site in Danbury

Another contentious public hearing was held in Danbury about a zone change to allow for off track betting.  The Zoning Commission is considering whether an OTB facility can be an accessory use in a restaurant.  Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and wants to move into the second floor of Two Steps on Ives Street. 

 

Attorney Bill Sweeny argued that this is a text amendment, not a spot zoning move.

 

Chairman Rob Melillo admonished the crowd for talking while a speaker was at the podium.  He reminded them that this was a public hearing and not an exhibition.  Melillo also cautioned that he would clear the room, have people line up outside, and call them in one by one to express comments.

 

Councilman Paul Rotello expressed concerns that there was no cut out for placing OTB in a restaurant near a school, day care or playground.

 

The public hearing was closed, but no vote was held Tuesday night.

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Internal review completed on Easton-Redding school finance controls

An internal review of the Easton-Redding school district's financial controls has been completed.  The Redding Pilot reports that no evidence was found of nefarious, incompetent, or conniving.  Region 9 Superintendent Tom McMorran found that process errors were made by former district finance director Peggy Sullivan pre-emptively transferring a budget surplus into a health insurance safety account and authorizing purchase of a boiler for Redding Elementary School without asking for the Board of Education's approval.  McMorran told The Pilot that a number of policy changes are being implemented.

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New Milford applying for state grants for Boardman Bridge, Pettibone

New Milford has applied for a state grant to rehabilitate the old Boardman Bridge.  Plans call for work to allow foot traffic to cross the bridge.  Mayor David Gronbach says this is an important investment in historic preservation of a bridge whose style and design could not be replicated today. 

 

He notes that it will also help quality of life with bike/walking trails. 

 

New Milford has also applied for a state grant to improve the parking lot at the new Pettibone Community Center.  Gronbach says this meets a lot of the State’s priority of rehabilitating old buildings with mixed use, providing an emergency shelter for the community, and servicing recreation, educational, and social service clients. 

 

The New Milford Town Council also authorized a Phase 1 study to upgrade heating, cooling, and electric generation at Pettibone.  A new roof with possible solar arrays, financed by the energy savings from new technology, was also authorized.  Gronbach hopes to work with UCONN on this project.

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GOP candidate wins special election in Woodbury, Watertown

A Republican will continue to serve residents the 68th House District of Woodbury and Watertown.  Joe Polletta handily won over Democrat Louis Esposito, gaining 78-percent of the vote. 

 

About 19-percent of registered voters in Watertown cast ballots while about 16-percent of Woodbury residents voted. 

 

The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago.  He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business.  Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security.

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Region 9 Board of Ed member charged with risk of injury

A Region 9 Board of Education member has been charged with risk of injury to a minor.  Sara Sobel's husband Jon Sobel was also charged.  They turned themselves in to Redding Police last week and are due in court today. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the couple failed to cooperate with the state Department of Children and Families on a case involving their friend, Stephen Overby.  The man reportedly lived with the Sobels for several months and was recently charged with three counts of sexual assault on a minor.

 

The published reports says that one of the Sobels reported the possible sexual assault to police and the couple initially declined to have the victim examined by a doctor working with DCF.  They eventually agreed. 

 

According to court documents, the Sobels revoked consent for DCF to speak with a school guidance counselor and private therapist.

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Committee suddenly halts planned vote on state spending bill

The legislature's budget-writing committee has suddenly halted plans to vote on an alternative to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal.

Democratic leaders of the Appropriations Committee made a surprise announcement Tuesday that they were adjourning without taking the scheduled vote, expressing disappointment there wasn't bipartisan support for the two-year, $40.3 billion proposal.

It's unclear whether a spending bill can be passed before the committee's Thursday deadline, or whether a separate tax bill will be voted on as well.

Democrats say they didn't know until recently that Republicans weren't supporting the spending bill and instead planned to release their own budget. But the GOP leaders say they've been upfront for weeks about their budget proposal, expressing concerns with proposed Democratic tax increases.

Democrats hold a slim majority on the committee.

 

A local lawmaker is critical of what he said was a tone-deaf budget proposal.  Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski says a 5.2 percent spending increase was proposed, and then a vote quickly cancelled. 

 

The Democratic spending plan did remove some of the governor’s more controversial proposals to substantially redistribute local education aid and to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities.  But Sredzinski says the plan would have spent $403 million more than what the governor proposed.  He railed against the his Committee colleagues saying it's another example that the majority doesn't grasp how angry and frustrated taxpayers are.

 

He added that Connecticut will not tax its way out of this problem and the legislature needs to proceed with that mentality.

 

Earlier this week, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research announced an update to revenue projections indicating a shortfall of more than $260 million based on tax collections. 

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Newtown residents approve budget, capital items

There was relatively low voter turn out in Newtown yesterday for the budget referendum, just 20-percent.  Residents did overwhelmingly pass the municipal and school spending plans, along with all six of the capital items on the ballot.  On the advisory questions, residents said that if the budgets hadn't been approved they should not be increased.

 

Charter revisions meant that this was the first time certain capital items weren't decided on at Town Meetings.  They were listed on the ballot at random.

 

According to unofficial tallies, the $40.39 million municipal budget was approved 2,227 to 1,130.  The $72.99 million education budget was approved 2,150 to 1,214.

 

$1.8 million for middle school improvements was approved 2,053 to 1,292. 

 

$3 million for a new senior center was narrowly approved 1,930 to 1,391.

 

$750,000 toward the final phase of high school auditorium improvements got a total 2,026 yes vote and 1,295 no vote.

 

$850,000 for a roof replacement at Hawley School was approved 2,158 to 1,196.

 

$1 million for paving was approved by the largest margin of 2,841 to 485.

 

$300,000  to begin the design phase for a new police station was approved 2,214 to 1,109.

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Sandy Hook teen charged for January gas station robbery

A Sandy Hook teenager has been charged for allegedly robbing a gas station in Newtown.  Police arrested 19-year old Stephen Violet Tuesday on a 1st degree robbery charge.  The incident happened at the Citgo Gas Station on South Main Street January 20th. 

 

Violet has been detained since January 23rd on charges filed by Norwalk Police. 

 

Bond in the Newtown case was set at $75,000.  The Newtown case is still active and Police say other suspects are being investigated as taking part in this robbery.

 

Violet was charged by Norwalk Police with stealing a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance.  He is due in court on May 11th on those charges.  He is also facing charges of robbery, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny for incidents in Norwalk on January 6th, 11th and 14th.  He is also facing one count of threatening.

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Women's Center urges participation in 'Denim Day'

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is participating in Denim Day today as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

 

Denim Day was originally started by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove them, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the victim.  Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

 

The Women's Center asked people to participate today in making a social statement by wearing jeans.  Officials say the activism provides an opportunity to start discussions about consent and what consent really is.

 

Western Connecticut State University and the Women's Center will talk about consent from 11am to 2pm in the Student Center on the university’s Midtown campus on White Street.

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Couple arrested for alleged retail theft scheme

Two Brewster residents have been arrested by Connecticut State Police for an alleged scheme to steal from Home Depot stores in Fairfield and New Haven counties.  28-year old Marissa Ghiazza and 31-year old Kenneth Mathews were each charged Friday with organized retail theft, larceny and two counts of conspiracy. 

 

  

 

They were ordered to appear in court on May 5th. 

 

State Police launched a three month investigation into the scheme due to the number of jurisdictions involved in the case. 

 

An internal investigator for Home Depot identified the suspects, who lived in Bridgeport at the time.  Generally, one of the suspects would select an item from the store and bring it to the return counter, presenting an older receipt for the item.  They would then be issued a store credit gift card.  The pair allegedly purchased the same item at a different store and would pawn it for cash. 

 

Mathews was allegedly responsible for $27,837 in theft while Ghiazza was responsible for about $2,996.  Mathews had 87 refunds associated with him between January 2016 and January 2017.  Ghiazza was identified in 19 of the videos.  In all of her instances and 53 of his, an infant child was present. 

 

Stores in Danbury and New Milford were among the 12 affected. 

 

10 returns were made in Danbury between August and December of last year, for a total of $2,920.  Mathews completed 8 of the returns while Ghiazza completed two of them.  Video evidence for four of the returns showed an infant with the couple.  A single refund was issued to Mathews at the New Milford Home Depot for $105.  Ghiazza and the infant were present at the time.  

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial planned in New Milford

Plans for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the New Milford Town Green have been unveiled. Local veteran Ray Crawford worked on these plans for a number of months.  Mayor David Gronbach says the cost is estimated at $3,000 and the VFW will be accepting donations to offset that cost.  New Milford is providing financial backing.  The Memorial is proposed on what Gronbach says is a conspicuously empty space on the All Wars Memorial at the south end of the Green.

 

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Danbury company makes presentation at National Coal Council meeting

Officials from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy contributed to the clean coal discussion at the recent National Coal Council’s Annual Spring Meeting.  They highlighted the company's fuel cell carbon capture solution that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in an affordable way, while simultaneously producing power.  FuelCell Energy says about 70 percent of the smog producing nitrogen oxide in the coal flue gas is destroyed by the fuel cells.  Vice President of Advanced Applications & Technology Development Tony Leo told the gathering that the benefits are industry-changing from an environmental, economic and energy standpoint.

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Meeting in Newtown tonight about revaluation process

An informational meeting is being held in Newtown tonight about the 2017 Revaluation Project.  Newtown is currently in Phase 2: Market Analysis. 

 

Newtown Officials say a variety of resources are used to analyze the real estate market. While the physical data is being collected by Vision data collectors, appraisal personnel will be analyzing sales that have taken place over the last few years to determine which market factors influenced property values. 

 

Once all the data is collected and reviewed for accuracy, the appraisers will determine land value and set neighborhoods that rate the desirability of locations throughout Newtown.  Individual property values will not be discussed at this meeting.

 

New property values will be announced at a later date. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 6:30pm at the Municipal Center.

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New Milford Town Council approves properties for sale

Two properties owned by New Milford will be put up for sale.  The Town Council voted Monday to list a vacant 1.64-acre lot on Perry Drive and the 19 acre Still Meadow property.  The Council also opted to send out a bid request for 25 Church Street, which once housed the New Milford Art Commission's gallery.  The recommendations came from the Surplus Properties Subcommittee. 

 

New Milford bought the Perry Drive property in 2001 through the foreclosure process, and will be listed at $50,000.  While that decision was unanimous, there was one dissenting vote on the Still Meadow decision.

 

The Newstimes reports that two parcels on Route 7 will be listed at $2.2 million, slightly more than the town purchased it for in 1998.  Republican Paul Szymanski said more big-box stores could come to New Milford if the property is listed.  Democrat Scott Chamberlain asked Szymanski to recuse himself because Szymanski had done work on the land for his engineering firm. 

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Metro North recognizes workers who saved colleague's life

The MTA recognized five employees at yesterday's Metro-North Railroad Committee meeting.  They were thanked for saving a colleague who suffered a heart attack at the Brewster Yard last month.  Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti says their swift thinking and compassion saved a man's life.

 

A colleague asked Jeff Ballard, a Brewster Yardmaster who lives in New Milford, what a heart attack feels like.  Ballard, who worked for 20 years as an Emergency Medical Technician, took his colleague’s pulse and recognized that he was having a heart attack.  Brewster Mechanical Office Foreman Jeff Boyle, who heads up the emergency response team, as well as EMT Brendan Szabo, were called in.

 

Harlem Line Superintendent Michele Salvatore called 911. Trainmaster Andrew McClellan, from Danbury, directed the EMS to their colleague.

 

When EMS arrived, they confirmed that the man was experiencing a true cardiac emergency, and he was transported to Danbury Hospital. Boyle and Szabo stayed with the man in the ambulance.

 

(Michele Salvatore, Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, Jeff Ballard, Jeffrey Boyle, Andrew McClellan, Brendan Szabo, MTA Police Chief Owen Monaghan, MTA Board's Metro-North Railroad Committee Chair Susan Metzger)

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Gunnery School looks into allegation against former teacher

The Gunnery School in Washington Connecticut is looking into an allegation against a former teacher.  The private boarding school sent a letter to parents and alumni this weekend about Jaime Rivera-Murillo.  He worked at The Gunnery from 1996 to 1998 prior to teaching at Choate Rosemary Hall. 

 

Choate released a report earlier this month about allegations of sexual assault by 12 faculty members, including Rivera-Murillo. 

 

He was fired from Choate in response to the allegations, but the school did not alert authorities or tell the districts where he was subsequently hired.  Those schools included Henry Abbott Tech and Newtown High School. 

 

According to the Choate report, Rivera-Murillo admitted drinking with students, but denied engaging in sexual misconduct.

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Newtown residents to vote on budget today

Newtown residents are voting on a budget today.  The proposed municipal budget is $40.3 million.  The proposed education budget is $72.9 million.  Debt obligations are 7.9 percent of the total budget.  There is a .27 mill rate increase included in the plan being voted on today.  Spending is up about .82 percent.  Newtown officials cautioned that state revenue is expected to decline. 

 

Six capital items are also being decided today.

 

$850,000 for a new roof at Hawley School, $1.8 million for improvements to the Middle School and $750,000 for Phase 2 of the Newtown High School auditorium project are on the ballot. $1 million for paving, $300,000 for planning of a new Police Station and $3 million for a new senior center are also being voted on.

 

Residents can vote at Newtown Middle School until 8pm.  

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Danbury Zoning Commission to hear input on OTB proposal

One of the items on tonight's Zoning Commission meeting in Danbury is a continuation of a public hearing on a proposed zone change that would allow off track betting in the City.  It would make an OTB facility an accessory use to a restaurant.

 

Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to renovate the first floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street into a sports bar and restaurant.  OTB gaming would be added to the second floor. 

 

If the Zoning Commission gives their OK, the City Council must approve the application. 

 

During the meeting earlier this month, resident Ken Gucker voiced concern that this was "spot zoning" for the benefit of one person, which he believes is illegal. 

 

The Chairman of the Jericho Partnership also spoke out against an OTB site in Danbury.  He says to add more gambling to the City sends the wrong message as Danbury struggles to fight substance abuse, human trafficking and address fear in the immigrant community.

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Special election today in Watertown, Woodbury

There is a special election in the 68th Assembly District of Woodbury and Watertown.  The seat was vacated by Republican Eric Berthel--who was recently elected to the state Senate.  Democrat Louis Esposito and Republican Joe Polletta, both of Watertown, are running. 

 

There is no Election Day Registration for special elections.

 

The 70-year old Esposito is a retired postal worker, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and a former Town Councilman.  He wants to advocate for seniors and supports tolls.

 

The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago.  He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business.  Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security .

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Esty opposes proposal to withhold vet pay to expand GI Bill

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty opposes draft legislation that would institute a monthly reduction in pay for troops as a means of offsetting the cost of expanding G.I. Bill eligibility and longevity for future veterans.  She is concerned about asking the troops, who she says have already sacrifice more than enough, to bear any additional burden in exchange for the benefits they deserve.  Esty says asking the troops to pay for their own benefits while the country is still engaged in conflict sends the wrong signal.  Esty is a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

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Dunsby announces bid for 3rd term as First Selectman

Easton First Selectman Adam Dunsby will seek a third term in that role.  Dunsby told the Easton Courier that he plans to run in November for the part time position.  The Easton First Selectman also serves as state Representative for the 135th District of Easton, Redding and Weston.  That is also a part time position.  Dunsby was unopposed when he ran for a second term.  In the House, he serves on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the Education Committee, and the Environment Committee.

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Police Officer recognized for D.A.R.E. service

Easton Police Officer Mark Pastor has been selected to receive the Daryl F. Gates D.A.R.E. Lifetime Achievement Award.  Pastor is being recognized for over 27 years of teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum to students.  He was selected from numerous entries from across the country.  He's been an instructor throughout the northeast and is the lead senior mentor for the Connecticut State Police.  Pastor will be honored during the 30th Annual D.A.R.E. International Training Conference in July.

 

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Easton Police investigating more cases of items stolen from unlocked cars

The Easton Police Department has had recent reports of vehicles entered at night and items taken.  All vehicles entered have been left unlocked and valuable items were left inside--especially keys and electronic devices.  Easton Police are reminding residents that these are crimes of opportunity.  They are calling for a a community-wide effort to remove the opportunity by remembering to remove all items from cars and to make sure your vehicles are locked at all times.

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Attorney in Danbury murder trial hospitalized

The defense attorney in a Danbury murder case has been hospitalized, raising concerns about the future of the trial.  The Newstimes reports that the Public Defender for Garfield Sanderson failed to show up in Danbury Superior Court for closing statements last week.  Officials did not disclose the nature of Michael Courtney's illness or how long he might be hospitalized.  Sanderson's next court appearance is scheduled for tomorrow.  He is accused of shooting alleged rival gang member Jeiel Kingston in 2014 outside a Danbury bar.  The published report says that the Judge is concerned jurors could be forced to drop out if there are further delays. 

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Newtown Police investigating fatal motorcycle accident

There was a fatal motorcycle accident in Newtown yesterday evening.  Newtown Police responded to Currituck Road around 7:45pm on a report of a single vehicle crash.  The driver was identified as 27-year old Jaclyn Ann Schultz.  Police says the Newtown resident was transported to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.  Witnesses have been interviewed, but anyone else who may have seen the accident is asked to call Newtown Police as it remains under investigation.  Police say additional details may be released at a later time.

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New Fairfield man charged for alleged sex acts with minor

A New Fairfield man has been arrested for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a minor.  New York State Police say 50-year old Richard Spring was charged Thursday with 4 counts each of Criminal Sexual Act and endangering the welfare of a child. 

 

Troopers partnered with the Dutchess County Child Advocacy Center to investigate a sexual offense reported to an agency's Child Abuse Hotline.  State Police say Spring subjected a teenage boy under the age of 17 to sexual contact at a Pawling home. 

 

He is also accused of offering the victim alcohol and marijuana. 

 

Spring was stopped on Milltown Road for operating under the influence of drugs and charged for driving while ability was impaired by drugs.  He was arraigned and ordered held on $50,000 bond. 

 

This investigation is ongoing and the State Police believe that there may be additional victims.  Anyone with additional information regarding Spring is encouraged to contact the State Police at (845) 677-7300. All calls can remain confidential.

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One dead, one injured in fiery New Fairfield crash

One person was killed and one seriously injured in a single car crash in New Fairfield yesterday.  State Police say a driver headed south on Route 39 lost control and crashed into a utility pole by Ball Pond.  The vehicle then caught fire.  The driver, who has not yet been identified by police, was pronounced dead at the scene.  The passenger, 45-year old Victor Declet of Rochester New York, was transported to the hospital with serious injury.  The crash happened shortly before 1am, and closed the road until 4pm.  State Police say the accident remains under investigation.

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Brookfield to apply for STEAP grant for Four Corners Streetscape Phase II

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has authorized the First Selectman to apply for STEAP grant funding for Phase II of the Four Corner Streetscape project.  Brookfield is applying for up to $500,000 in Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says he's not sure if funding will be awarded because of the state's continued financial problems.  But he says it's a good thing anytime 50-percent of a project can be paid for with a grant.

 

Selectman Sue Slater asked about a time frame.  Dunn said he expects to hear back in three to six months.  He noted that the state will likely wait to finish their budget process before sending out award notices because that's been the process in the past.

 

The state signed off on the first phase of the Four Corners streetscape project last week after some adjustments were made ot the plans.  Brookfield residents voted to borrow $1.7 million for the project, with the balance of the $3.5 million paid for with grants.  The project calls for sidewalks, planters and other beautification in the Four Corners area.  Construction on the first phase could begin as soon as next month.

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Crackdown on distracted drivers continues

An aggressive crackdown on distracted drivers is underway.  Several Police Departments in the Greater Danbury area are participating in a campaign to stop drivers talking or texting on their cell phones. 

 

Brookfield Police say officers are stationed around town and say there's been no shortage of motorists to stop.  They are reminding drivers that if they have a cell phone in one hand, they'll get a ticket for the other.  Brookfield Police are asking motorists to put the phone down and just drive, and drive safely.

 

Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says texting while driving is more than just personally risky, it makes you a danger to everyone around you.  Carroccio urged passengers to speak up if they see the dangerous activity.  He says no one likes to criticize a friend, but notes that it's worse to get caught by law enforcement doing something wrong.

 

The fine is $150 for the first offense.  The fine is $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses. 

 

The enforcement effort runs through the end of the month.

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Sunday is Volunteer Firefighter Day in Connecticut

Sunday is Volunteer Firefighter Day in Connecticut, and kicks off National Volunteer Week.  More than 60 fire departments will hold open houses Sunday from 10am-2pm.  Visitors to the fire houses will be able to talk with volunteer firefighters about the work they do, see demonstrations, explore fire apparatus and turnout gear, get a tour of the fire house, and fill out an application.

More than 80 percent of all fire personnel in Connecticut are volunteers.  Officials say the majority of fire departments throughout the state are experiencing a volunteer shortage.

Volunteer Firefighter Day is part of Everyday Hero CT, a program to increase the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the state.  It's a partnership of the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

 

Below is a list of some volunteer departments in the area:

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company
92 Pocono Road, Brookfield

Easton Volunteer Fire Company
1 Center Road, Easton

 

Kent Volunteer Fire Department
28 Maple Street, Kent

 

Northville Volunteer Fire Department
359 Litchfield Road, New Milford

Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
34 Hawleyville Road, Newtown

Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Department
55 Dodgingtown Road, Newtown

West Redding Volunteer Fire Department
306 Umpawaug Road, Redding

 

Weston Volunteer Fire Department
52 Norfield Road, Weston

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Earth Day to be celebrated in Bethel

Earth Day is being celebrated in Bethel today.  Bethel Community Earth Day is co-sponsored by the Town of Bethel, Bethel Parks & Recreation, and the First Congregational Church of Bethel.  They are calling on the town to come together to build and support a healthy environment.

 

The Bethel Community Earth Day event, which will be hosted on the lawn of the Bethel Municipal Center, will include local vendors, non-profit organizations, community groups, artists, craftspeople, farmers, animals and animal lovers, and others who are dedicated to environmental awareness and preserving the planet. Throughout the day there will be live music performed by local musicians, a kid’s activity station, and service projects including a town clean-up. 

 

The event is from 9am to 4pm.

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LGBTQ Pride Parade being held in Bethel Sunday

An LGBTQ Pride Parade is being held in Bethel Sunday.  Hailey Gesler and her friend Marcella Antunes are organizing this parade to show support for others in the community that need a place to feel like they can be themselves.

 

About a month ago the 12 year old was tasked by a school project to pick an issue that affects society and write about it. She chose LGBTQ rights. She also said that she wanted to organize a parade for people in the area to come and support people from all walks of life.

 

The parade will officially kick off on main st by the church and end at the municipal center in downtown Bethel.  Several speakers are slated to make remarks.

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Newtown lawmaker touts work of Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky participated in the Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter Lobby Day at the State Capitol Wednesday.  Bolinsky, who personally serves as a caregiver, says this disease should not be viewed as a political matter.  He called it a public health priority to find ways to ensure adequate funding for accessible support systems. 

 

Bolinsky says the statewide Respite Care Program is resource for families to create contingent care plans and also offers services for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and related dementias.  He is advocating for the full restoration of funding in the upcoming budget.  

 

More information on the Respite Care Program can be found by calling the State Department of Aging at 1-866-218-6631.

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New traffic pattern on Route 57 in Weston

Starting next week, there will be a traffic pattern change in Weston.  The state Department of Transportation is rehabilitating the Route 57 bridge over Kettle Creek.  Route 57 in Weston will be open with one lane in each direction on the east side of the road with temporary precast concrete barrier in place to protect the work zone. This is a change from the travel pattern during stage 1 which allowed one lane in each direction on the west side of the road.

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Squantz Engine to hold ceremony for new fire truck

Some firefighters in New Fairfield are taking part in a traditional ceremony today for their new fire engine. 

 

A Wet Down ceremony will be held by Squantz Engine where their new truck will be sprayed with water.  The two other fire companies from New Fairfield will be in attendance.  Assistant Chief Timothy Pfeiffer says firefighters from Sherman, Putnam Lake, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont will also be on hand.

 

Connecticut is one of the last places to hold wet down ceremonies.

 

All of their rigs will be out and opened up for visitors to see.  If there's enough interest, Pfeiffer says they might take people for a ride around the block in the engine. 

 

The wet down ceremony and open house is from noon to 4pm at 255 Route 39.

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Drawing of proposed Monroe roundabout released

Renderings of a proposed roundabout in Monroe have been released.  The roundabout would replace the intersection of Routes 110 and 111.  The stone wall around firemen's field in the rendering will not be included after the state opted instead for natural vegetation. 

 

 

The project is aimed at addressing operation and safety concerns at the intersection of Routes 110 and 111.  The project consists of removing the existing flashing beacon and constructing a modern roundabout. The proposed work includes converting Hurd Avenue to a cul-de-sac, as well as installing sidewalks throughout the project area. Landscaping and other decorative features will also be included. 

 

The estimated construction cost for this project is approximately $4.1 million, anticipated to be undertaken with 80% Federal funds and 20% State funds.

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New Milford police search for tool thief

New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a suspect wanted for stealing tools. The incident occurred on Bridge Street overnight April 16th into 17th.  The window of a work van was broken in order to gain access.  New Milford Police say a roofing-nailer, a hand grinder and other items were stolen. Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police at 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000 or by sending an email to TIPS@newmilfordpolice.org.

 

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New Fairfield Finance Board advances budget proposal

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has signed off on a no-increase budget for the towns and schools.  But town officials caution that pending cuts in state aide could add 4-percent to tax bills.  The proposed school budget was reduced by $1.5 million.  The Newstimes reports that 6 new employees will not be hired by the Board of Education and two restoration projects will be put on hold.  Those two changes account for $670,000 of the needed reductions.  The municipal budget is pegged at $10.91 million.

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Wilton school artificial turf field lawsuit dismissed

A Wilton resident's appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision has been dismissed by a superior court judge.  William and Eliot Patter filed a suit in 2015 about an artificial turf field being installed at Middlebrook School.  The Wilton Bulletin reports that the application by Wilton Youth Football's application for an amendment to a special permit and for their sight plan approval.  They claimed the commission arbitrarily and illegally decided because Wilton Youth Football lacked standing to submit the application.  The judge reportedly decided that because the has been actively running youth football programs there, it had sufficient interest in the property.

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Two more victims of alleged human trafficking ring sign on to lawsuit

Two more men who claimed to be victims of a Danbury-based human trafficking ring that preyed on men with mental illnesses are looking to join a lawsuit against two of the men arrested last month.  The Newstimes reports that a motion was filed Thursday to add the new plaintiffs to the suit against 72-year-old William Trefzger of Westport and 63-year old Bruce Bemer of Glastonbury, who were charged with patronized a trafficked person. 

 

The lawsuit seeks to freeze about $10 million in assets from the two defendants.

 

There were at least 15 victims.  Authorities say the men coerced into prostitution had severe psychological disorders and were addicted to drugs.  Danbury Police say the men were plied with drugs and money and delivered to wealthy clients to have sex for money after they had built up substantial drug debts.

 

A third man, Robert King of Danbury, is the accused ring leader.  More arrests are expected. 

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Gretchen Carlson headlines 'Conversations with Extraordinary Women' in Danbury

The 7th Annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women event was held in Danbury last night. The discussion hosted by the Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce featured Gretchen Carlson.  She became the face of sexual harassment in the workplace last year and is now promoting having a safe work environment for all women.

 

Motivational speaker Holly Dowling says there’s a good way for women to feel empowered in the work place, and noted that it’s something that is cross cultural. She believes women should give themselves permission to stand up for and fall in love with who they are. Dowling said it’s not about waiting for the world to hand you something, it’s about standing up for yourself.

Moderator Christine Palm is the head of the state Commission on Women, Children and seniors. She was asked if it’s been a challenge to oversee the merged Commission. Palm noted that the biggest legislative initiative this session is paid family leave, which affects all three groups. She notes that women are still the primary caregivers of children and elderly parents. She says this is a turbulent time right now and a lot of women’s issues have been brought to light. Palm noted that the two speakers have experienced the yin and yang of corporate life. Palm says it was a powerful message about how everyone can take ownership of their own destiny and affect policy.

 

(Gretchen Carlson, Holly Dowling, Christine Palm, Women's Business Council Director JoAnn Cueva)

 

 


Carlson, just named to TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2017, started the Gift of Courage Fund this year. It empowers young girls by helping them build self-esteem and instill them with confidence. When she sued Fox News leader Roger Ailes for sexual harassment last year, she heard from thousands of women who had similar experiences with sexual harassment. She felt like she had to do something. Besides advocacy, that was setting up a fund to financially support existing organizations that do the same work.

 

Carlson spoke with several members of Congress recently about the issue of arbitration clauses, which are prevalent in business contracts now. She says people are basically signing away the 7th amendment rights. In many cases that go to arbitration, the perpetrator would stay in their job and nobody would ever find out about it because it’s done in secret. Carlson added that 9 times out of 10 the woman has to leave her workplace. She says what’s happened in 2017 is that we’re fooling our culture into believing that we’ve made advances in combating sexual harassment because there’s less talk about the cases. But it’s because many are being forced into secrecy in arbitration.

 

 

Changing the workplace culture should not just be on the shoulders of women, according to Carlson.

 


If it’s just one or two women speaking up, it’s hard to make a change. She encouraged everyone who’s been a victim of sexual harassment in the work place to speak out. But she also encouraged men to be part of the equation. As long as men are still in power in 95-percent of Fortune 500 companies, they need to understand this issue. Carlson called on men not to label women who speak out as “trouble makers” and to celebrate women who come forward. Carlson suggested that the way in which sexual harassment cases are reported may need to be taken out of the hands of HR and instead placed in an outside, independent group that people can feel comfortable going to.

Carlson says he life has worked in mysterious ways. She never expected to be the face of this issue, but the one constant is that she never gives up. Carlson says that’s the one thing that everyone should wake up with, that whatever the challenge—find the strength to never give up.

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Praxair makes 2017 best Corporate Responsibility list

Danbury-based Praxair has been named to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2017.  This is the fifth consecutive year Praxair has been recognized by this publication.

Praxair was acknowledged for its leadership and achievements based on the company’s performance in seven categories: environment, climate change, human rights, employee relations, governance, corporate philanthropy & community support, and financial. 

 

Praxair officials says their customers just in the last year were able to avoid more than twice the greenhouse gases than were emitted in all of the company's operations and to provide safe drinking water to more than 125 million people globally.

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Danbury seeks volunteers for initiative to combat homelessness

Danbury officials are looking for volunteers to help with the second year of the Clean Start program.  The initiative is a joint effort with Jericho Partnership to offer help to the city's homeless population. 

 

Each team of participants is led by volunteers/job coaches.  Jericho Partnership is actively searching for more volunteers to lead teams this summer.  Approximately 1,000 hours were spent on beautification projects by program participants in exchange for gift cards.  Four people found jobs during the program.

 

Last year, participants worked with CityCenter Danbury to clean streets downtown, with the Danbury Department of Public Utilities to paint fire hydrants, with the Danbury Housing Department to clean streets and yards, with Tarrywile Park to widen walking paths and landscape, and with the Danbury Parking Authority to clean and paint.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the initiative to combat the issue of homelessness helps get people involved in the community and begin a pathway to employment.

 

Each volunteer would lead either a two or a four hour shift twice a week, Monday & Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday between 9am-1pm.

 

To volunteer or to find out more information, contact Harry Pugner at Jericho Partnership, 203-791- 1180 / harry@jerichopartnership.org.

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ICE agents pick up man at Danbury Superior Court

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested a man who was making an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on a sexual assault charge.  ICE took 23-year old Jonathan Rubio into custody yesterday for an immigration violation.  The Newstimes reports that the Department of Homeland Security did not detail his country of origin. 

 

Rubio was out on bond for a January 2014 incident in which he allegedly drugged a 15-year old girl with a form of Ecstasy and had sex with her.  He was due in court for a pre-trial hearing. 

 

Last month ICE agents took a 22-year old Ecuadorian citizen into custody on the day he was scheduled to be in court on a sex assault charge.  Julio Virgilio Paida-Morquencho had already pleaded guilty. 

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Accessible Voting System rolling out statewide

When Bethel residents went to their voting place Tuesday, there was a new computer in place for people with sight impairment.  The state is rolling out the Accessible Voting System for people who have difficulty filling in the ovals on the ballot. 

 

The system involves headphones to hear the ballot questions, a keypad to select responses and a touch screen tablet to send the responses to a printer which marks the ballot.  The paper ballot is then placed by the voter into the tabulator, just like all other ballots.  

 

There are no electronic ballots, and there is no electronic record of who used the system and how they voted.  Registrar Tim Beeble explained in a written statement that the tablet system is not linked to the internet. 

 

The vote data is not recorded or stored on the tablet.

 

(Photo: Bethel Registrar's Office, Facebook)

 

 

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Teen charged with DWAI in Brewster

A teenager has been arrested for driving while their ability was impaired by drugs.  New York State Police say a Trooper stopped a car in Brewster for failing to signal and to stay in the lane of travel on Oak Street late Sunday night.  The 18-year old, whose name was not released because of age, was also cited for endangering the welfare of a child because there was a 17-year old passenger in the car.  The passenger was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. 

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Former Newtown Oil owner sentenced on state charges

A former Newtown man serving a federal prison sentence has been given jail time in a state case.  William Trudeau was in Danbury Superior Court yesterday on a charge of violating probation.  A court clerk says the 53-year old was sentenced to five years in prison, to run concurrently to the 16-year federal sentence. 

 

Trudeau, the former owner of Newtown Oil, was sentenced in 2008 to probation for taking $262,000 in payment from elderly customers, but never delivering their fuel.  The 25 year prison sentence was suspended so he could make restitution. 

 

In 2010, federal authorities charged Trudeau in a mortgage fraud scheme, violating his probation in that state case.

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Woman charged in Sandy Hook parent threat back in court

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) The woman charged with sending death threats to a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, has returned to court in Florida.

Court records show 57-year-old Lucy Richards made a brief appearance Wednesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale where she was ordered held without bail. Richards was arrested in the Tampa area after failing to show up at a March 29 hearing for a planned guilty plea and sentencing.

She was to plead guilty to a charge of interstate transmission of a threat to injure for threatening Lenny Pozner, the father of Noah Pozner who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Prosecutors said she told them she believed the shooting was a hoax.

No other court dates have been set.

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Passerby helps put out Danbury house fire

A former Brookfield volunteer firefighter driving through Danbury yesterday afternoon saw a fire and took action to extinguish it.  Danbury Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says a 911 call was made about a porch fire on Cel Bret Drive and firefighters were dispatched. 

 

(Photo: Mark Omasta, DFD)

 

In the meantime, passersby Drew Osgood grabbed a neighbor's garden hose and held the fire in check until firefighters arrived.  The flames were starting to spread toward the attic area of the single family home.  The house suffered damage to the rear deck, along with the outer layers of the house and into the edge of the roof area. 

 

There were no injuries.  The Danbury Fire Marshals Office is investigating.  The Ridgefield Fire Department responded with mutual aide. 

 

Deputy Chief Bernie Meehan credits Osgood with quick thinking that prevented a certain disaster.

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Gretchen Carlson to headline 'Conversations with Extraordinary Women' in Danbury

The 7th Annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women event is being held in Danbury Thursday night.  The discussion is hosted by the Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.  Gretchen Carlson is headlining the event at the Amber Room. 

 

Carlson became the face of sexual harassment in the workplace last year and is now promoting having a safe work environment for all women.  She plans to testify before Congress about workplace inequality and the prevalence of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts that she says often keeps sexual harassment claims shrouded in secrecy.

 

Carlson created the Gift of Courage Fund this year.  The foundation empowers young girls by helping them build self-esteem and instilling within them the confidence of knowing that they can be anything they to be.  A portion of the proceeds from Thursday's event will be donated to the Fund.

 

Global keynote speaker Holly Dowling is also participating in the panel event.  She is an expert in strengths-based leadership, change management, and corporate women's empowerment.

 

The moderator will be Christine Palm, a Communications & Women's Policy Analyst at the CT Commission on Women, Children and Seniors.  She also gives the Commission's Sexual Harassment Awareness & Prevention trainings to state agencies and educational institutions. 

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Google brings online safety presentation to Monroe school

Google’s Online Safety Roadshow made a stop in Monroe Tuesday.  The program to educates students about how to stay safe and secure online was at Jockey Hollow Middle School.  The middle school students learned skills like how to create a smart password and how to identify phishing scams. 

 

The program was created in partnership with principals and child safety groups, National Association of Secondary School Principals and iKeepSafe, to develop a digital literacy assembly that could be shared across the country.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes participated in the 45 minute assembly about share tips, how-to’s and ways to be smart about the content they share online.  Himes says the students were also told about the immediate and future consequences of posting embarrassing things online.  Social media posts can impact college admission or future job offers.

 

(Photo: Jim Himes, Twitter)

 

There are people that deliberately target users to steal data, get to bank accounts or to meet children online.  Himes says the students were taught how to protect themselves from those elements.

 

Bullying can be as bad or worse online, with potentially the entire school seeing the bullying.  It can also be anonymous.  Google taught the students to be positive online and support people rather than tear them down.

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Lynn Deming Park to temporarily close for 1 week in May

Lynn Deming Park in New Milford will be temporarily closed to the public May 1st through May 5th.  The closure is for grading and paving work to create a safer and expanded parking lot. 

 

(Photo: Mayor Gronbach, Facebook)

 

The paving work is weather dependent.  It's part of a bigger project to revitalize the lakeside park. 

 

The work includes adding a fishing dock, playground, trails into the woods, kayak/canoe/paddle board racks, a building for Parks and Rec equipment, benches and grills, new swimming docks, and other improvements. 

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New Milford police station gets upgraded lighting

New Milford has been awarded a $10,000 grant to upgrade the lighting at the Police station.  The upgrade to LEDs is estimated to save 56,857 kWh per year and reduce yearly energy costs by approximately $9,300.  The grant came from Energize CT.

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Redding officials hold meeting to set budget referendum date

A meeting is being held this afternoon in Redding to set the time and date for the annual budget referendum.  The Board of Selectmen voted March 20th to send the budget to a machine vote.  Today's meeting is at 3pm in the hearing room of Redding Town Hall. 

 

After a reduction by the Board of Finance, the education budget proposed to voters will be $20.7 million.  The municipal budget of $14.7 million was accepted as is.  It's a 2.9 percent increase.

 

The referendum date  will likely be set as May 2nd.

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Car clipped by train after bypassing crossing gate at Danbury intersection

Metro North train service was suspended for about three hours last night after a car was clipped by a train as it went through a crossing by the Danbury station.  Metro North officials say the incident involved a train leaving the Danbury station headed for South Norwalk shortly after 9:30pm.  A car, which has not yet been located, went through the Taylor Street crossing while the gates were down.  There was a handful of passengers on the train at the time, and there were no reported injuries.  MTA officials say the crossing was not damaged during the incident.

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Newtown Police investigating fatal motorcycle accident

A fatal motorcycle accident is under investigation in Newtown.  Police responded to the one vehicle crash around 5:30 last night.  The motorcycle crashed off Riverside Road.  Newtown Police say 37-year old Martin Amidon of Newtown was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The accident remains under investigation.  Any one who witnessed the crash is asked to contact Newtown Police.  

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Conn. man arrested in connection to fatal 2016 Southbury crash

A Connecticut man has been arrested for a fatal crash that happened nearly a year ago in Southbury.  State Police arrested 30-year old William Foley of Northfield yesterday.  He was wanted on a warrant for misconduct with a motor vehicle and failure to obey a traffic signal. 

 

The accident happened last May when Foley's dump truck allegedly t-boned a Subaru. 

 

First responders found 69-year old Ruth Grant of Southbury unresponsive.  She was later pronounced dead at Waterbury Hospital.  Foley struck the driver's side of her car on Main Street North and was uninjured.  The crash closed the road for several hours.  

 

Foley was held on bond and will be arraigned today.

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Newtown board asks Trump to reject conspiracy theorists

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Board of Education in Newtown, Connecticut, is waiting to hear back from President Donald Trump after asking him to take a stand against conspiracy theorists.

A letter it sent to the president asks him to publicly reject those who question facts regarding the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the radio host Alex Jones.

The White House this week told The Associated Press that Trump has been clear that "we, as a nation, are united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms."

One man whose son was killed at Sandy Hook says he doesn't think the president would be able to help much because conspiracy theories are rooted in mistrust of government.

Leonard Pozner (POH'-znur) is among the victims' relatives who have faced harassment from people who claim the shooting was staged.

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Danbury couple charged for toy auction fraud

Two Danbury residents have been arrested for a toy auction fraud scheme.  Danbury Police launched an investigation into New England Toy Train Exchange Auction in November.  Police say more than 60 victims lost nearly $700,000. 

 

54-year old Donald Karagianes and 52-year old Naomi Karagianes were charged yesterday with larceny and conspiracy.  They were released on written promises to appear in court at a later date. 

 

The state Department of Consumer Protection and Connecticut Attorney General assisted with the investigation.

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I-84 project in Danbury named one of the country's biggest 'boondoggles'

Nine proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $10 billion – have made a list of Highway Boondoggles.  ConnPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group just published report that includes the proposed widening of I-84 in Danbury.  The $715 million project is 4th on the list. 

 

The report found that while congestion is a problem, traffic has been roughly stable over the last 15 years.  Daily traffic at one of the highway’s busiest points increased by 5 percent in total between 2000 and 2015. 

 

This comes as ridership on Metro-North has been rising sharply, including on the Danbury branch.  Despite including Danbury branch electrification and an extension up to New Milford, the projects are not in the state’s immediate plans.  A 2016 state study concluded that “investment in these two improvements is not justified at this time.” 

 

The boondoggle report says Connecticut should prioritize public transportation, as well as repairs to existing highway infrastructure, over expansion projects because of recent trends in rail ridership and vehicle travel, along with research documenting the inability of highway widening to reduce congestion.

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Man found asleep behind the wheel at fast food drive thru gets DUI

A Roxbury man will be in court this week on a drunk driving charge after police found him asleep behind the wheel.  New Milford Police responded to McDonald's on Danbury Road earlier this month on a report of a man asleep at the drive thru.  An investigation determined that 26-year old Thomas Farrell was under the influence.  He is due in Bantam Superior Court on Wednesday.

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Esty meets with veterans in Danbury to discuss drug and alcohol addiction

A roundtable discussion has been held in Danbury about Veterans Health Administration services.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty met with others at the Danbury War Memorial Monday about how to most effectively combat drug and alcohol addiction amongst veterans.

 

Among the speakers at the meeting were Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Connecticut, Yale University faculty members, the Chief of Community Based Outpatient Clinks and a Readjustment Counselor from Danbury Vet Center.  Members of the Connecticut National Guard and veterans were also in attendance.

 

Esty then made a stop at the United Way of Western Connecticut to talk about the services they provide, and to hear their concerns about possible budget cuts.  Esty also took a tour of the New Fairfield Senior Center, and spoke to seniors there about their concerns.

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Bethel residents approve budget

With low voter turn out, Bethel residents have approve a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Bethel Registrar of Voters has released the following vote counts:

 

Town Budget:
Yes: 1301
No:   841
Too High: 1216
Too Low:   550
 
School Budget:
Yes: 1285
No:    858
Too High: 1113
Too Low:  672

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Esty: I will not run for Conn. governor

With Governor Dannel Malloy's announcement last week that he won't seek reelection to a third term, there's been a lot of speculation about which Democrat would head the top of the ticket in 2018.  One politician is a firm 'no'.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will not be running for governor.  Esty said in a statement that at this critical juncture, she believes she can best serve Connecticut by continuing to give her all in Congress.

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Danbury starts leaf pick up, seeks volunteers for Clean City Day

Danbury is getting ready for the annual Clean City Danbury Day being held May 6th. 

 

The City is looking for volunteers to pick up litter in a neighborhood, park or waterway.  Last year, nearly 1,000 volunteers picked up litter throughout the city. The city provides trash bags, safety vests, and gloves. 

 

Volunteers are also needed at each of the five dumpster location.  Those volunteers are tasked with assisting residents in the drop-off process.  The dumpster locations are at City Hall, Rogers Park, the P.A.L. Building, Public Works Building and WCSU Westside Campus.

 

Danbury's free Spring Leaf Pick-Up Program started this week and will run through the end of next month. 

 

Only leaves bagged in Paper Leaf Bags with No Tape will be collected from the curbside in front of homes.  Branches will be picked up separately.  Tree limbs must be no longer than 4 feet and no larger than 4 inches in diameter.  Branches must be bundled with twine, no heavier than 35lbs. 

 

The collections will be done every other week in neighborhood by zip code.  Collections this week are in the 06810 zipcode.  Collections next week move to 06811 neighborhoods.  This cycle will be repeated through May 26th.

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Newtown First Selectman offers extra office hours for budget talks

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra will have extended office hours, starting tomorrow, for residents and taxpayers to learn more about the proposed municipal budget.  The plan is set to go to referendum on April 25th.  The office hours will be held in the small conference room located in the Selectman's Office at the Municipal Center. Llodra is calling on residents join the conversation, ask questions, and share thoughts and ideas. 

Wednesday 4/19 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Thursday 4/20 4:30 - 6:30 pm

Saturday 4/22 1 - 3 pm

Monday 4/24 6 - 7 pm

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Two construction projects underway in Bridgewater

Two construction projects are underway in Bridgewater.  One is a new entryway at the Senior Center, partly underwritten by the Town but mostly by private donations to the Senior Center Building Fund.  The other project is a new Pavilion concrete floor and fireplace at the Recreation Area. Bridgewater officials say the supporting posts also require a new anchoring system to improve long term structural integrity.  Both jobs are expected to be finished by June 1st.

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Local school leader reacts to Choate report on sexual misconduct

A local school official is weighing in on a report that came out last week identifying 12 former faculty and staff members of Choate Rosemary Hall who allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with students.

 

One of the teachers identified in the report was Jaime Rivera-Murillo, who denies the allegations.  Even though Choate did not provide a reference or recommendation letter, he went on to teach at Henry Abbott Tech, Newtown High School and, until this month, a regional High School in Litchfield. 

 

Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi sent an email to parents and staff saying the Choate report contained “deeply troubling information."  He added that their paramount concern as a school district has always been, and will continue to be, the well-being of students.

 

Choate officials reportedly did not alert authorities or other school districts about the allegations at the time.

 

Rivera-Murillo was a Spanish teacher at Choate from 1998 to 1999.  He previously taught at The Gunnery.

 

According to the report, Rivera-Murillo was interviewed in March.  He acknowledged drinking with the students, but denied engaging in sexual misconduct.

 

An investigator hired by Choate Rosemary Hall released the report that graphically recounts the alleged experiences of 24 former students between 1963 and 2010.  The report notes that in some cases the school acted quickly in response to the alleged sexual misconduct, but in other cases it did not. 

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Joel Barlow rallies for 6 injured in Redding car crash

Students at Joel Barlow High School are rallying for four classmates who remain hospitalized after they lost control of their car and crashed it over the weekend.  The Connecticut Post reports that two students from a nearby high school were also injured.


Students kicked off a card campaign yesterday, after a weekend spent worrying about the six teenage students injured in the single-car crash Friday evening.  All six students remain hospitalized, and police say they are unable to provide information on their conditions.

 

The occupants have been identified as 18-year old Thomas Bull of Fairfield, 18-year old Ryan Capozziello of Fairfield, 16-year old Grant Ciccarello of Redding, 16-year old Ryan Gombos of Easton, 17-year old Allison Loder of Easton and 16-year old Janelle Pompea of Redding.

 

A driver headed north on Route 107 lost control and the car struck a tree.  The vehicle then caught fire.  It's not clear which of the teens was driving.

Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says many details of the crash are still under investigation, adding that investigating crashes like this can take months.

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New Milford Police K-9 gets hit on pot during traffic stop

A routine traffic stop in New Milford turned up marijuana in the trunk.  Officers pulled over 29-year old Spencer Tillman  earlier this month for speeding on Litchfield Road.  Narcotics K-9 Kira alerted to a controlled substance in the vehicle.  An ounce of pot was located.  Tillman was charged with possession of a controlled substance and speeding.  He was released on bond for an appearance in Bantam Superior Court Tuesday.

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Bethel budget up for referendum vote today

A referendum is being held in Bethel today on a budget.  The $28.6 million municipal budget and the $44.3 million school spending plan, is an overall 2.3 percent increase over the current fiscal year.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called it a reasonable budget, under the rate of inflation. 

 

The budget maintains school programs like the Junior ROTC, AP classes and Pathways to Professions Program.  On the municipal side, the town has eliminated two government positions due to new efficiencies.  Knickerbocker says the budget does however move social services from part time to full time, due to an increase in demand.

 

The tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee opposes the budget.  Representatives of BAC say further efficiencies can be found.

 

Bethel residents can cast ballots until 8pm.

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Connecticut lawmakers hear about dueling casino bill

Lawmakers held a public hearing Monday on a proposal that could lead to someone else developing a new Connecticut casino besides the federally recognized tribes.  The proposed legislation requires state agencies to develop and issue a request for proposals for a business or tribe to develop, manage, operate and maintain a possible casino.

 

Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky testified in support of the bill.  The Kent-based tribe wants to open a casino in Western Connecticut.  He says during their 300 years of state recognition, there have been broken promises and stolen opportunities, but that this bill gives them a chance to compete on a level playing field.

 

Velky says this bill gives them a pathway to compete with the two federally recognized tribes.

 

The General Assembly is considering a Special Act allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a satellite casino in East Windsor to compete with a planned Springfield, Massachusetts casino.

 

Velky says that plan is designed to disrupt MGM, not spur economic growth.

 

Among other things, the legislation up for a hearing Monday would require a nonrefundable $50 million state licensing fee and agreement to invest not less than $500 million.  Velky said this bill finally takes the expansion of gaming seriously.

 

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs revoked federal recognition from the Schaghticokes in 2005.  At that time, Velky says they had the backing of several casino-minded investors and had already drawn up plans with developers, investors, casino operators and local mayors.  Velky says they continue to have the vision and backing to build a casino in southwestern Connecticut.

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Ridgefield Little League looks to create ballpark off Route 7

A public hearing has been scheduled for next month in Ridgefield on an application to create a little league field.  The Ridgefield Little League wants to create a small park on a vacant 2.5 acre property off Route 7 owned by the state.  The Ridgefield Press reports that a dollar-a-year lease from the state to the town, and then to the Little League has been proposed.  The plans call for a 59 spot parking lot, a small grandstand, batting cages, picnic tables, indoor bathrooms, a storage space, a snack shack, and LED stadium lights.  The property is near the intersection with Simpaug Turnpike.

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Man arrested for Wilton bank robbery, admits to robbing other banks

A Norwalk man has been arrested for a February bank robbery in Wilton--and also confessed to police that he robbed three other banks in Fairfield County.  34-year old Joseph Boccuzzi was arrested Friday for robbery and larceny. 

 

He was held on $150,000 bond for arraignment today. 

 

Wilton Police worked in collaboration with Police Departments in Fairfield, Stamford, and Norwalk. 

 

Boccuzzi allegedly robbed the Fairfield County Bank branch on Danbury Road in the Georgetown section of Wilton on February 24th.  He allegedly did not show a weapon and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

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Easter: NYC costume spectacle meets elegant tradition

NEW YORK (AP) - Fifth Avenue in New York City came alive on Easter Sunday where costumes mingled with elegant bonnets fit for St. Patrick's Cathedral and nearby churches. The secular spectacle was a takeoff on a New York tradition from the 1800s, when the city's elite paraded their Sunday best to mark the holiday.

 

Cynthia Gable, of Easton, attended Sunday Mass wearing a shocking pink suit and a hat exploding with matching-colored feathers, while her husband, Scott Doerr, wore a black top hat. 

 

(Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

 

New York's Easter parade is now an outdoor free-for-all of participants and spectators from around the world. Weeks were spent making costumes.

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Monroe woman accused of live streaming 10-year old driver applies for probation

An application for a special form of probation is being applied for by a Monroe woman accused of recording her 10-year old son driving her car and posting the video to Facebook.  38-year old Lisa Nussbaum could be sentenced to two years probation under the accelerated rehabilitation program, which could result in the charges being erased from her record.  Her next court appearance is scheduled for May 5th.

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Sandy Hook parents tout 'upstanders' program on '60 Minutes'

There was a segment on "60 Minutes" last night about Sandy Hook Promise.  The piece featured Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, who each lost a son on 12-14.  They co-founded Sandy Hook Promise, and the televised segment showed the lasting impact and recovery from the gun violence that happened more than 4 years ago.  The pair also showcased a program they created called "Know the Signs", which teaches kids and adults how to be upstanders instead of bystanders.

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End of Watch: Newtown Police K9 Saint Michael

Newtown Police K9 Saint Michael passed away last night.  Saint had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  Newtown Police said in a Facebook post that they sincerely appreciate the medical staff at NVS Animal Hospital of Newtown for trying to give Saint a fighting chance.  Despite his cancer diagnosis earlier this month, police Ofc. Felicia Figol said he was very playful and in great spirits.  Officials believed that with the right treatment plan, and with his great physical condition, his life could have been extended for at least a year if not more so his death was not expected. 

 

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Pot found by probation officers during routine check

A New Milford man who got a visit from his probation officer earlier this month was found with more than four ounces of marijuana.  Police responded to Michael Basso Junior's home to assist Adult Probation officers and charged the 23-year old.  He faces one count each of possession of marijuana, sale of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Basso was released on bond for an appearance in Bantam Superior Court today.

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Erratic driver found in possession of heroin during traffic stop

Heroin was found in the car of an erratic driver in Newtown Friday night.  State Police pulled over a driver on I-84 near exit 11 after receiving calls about a car weaving in and out of lanes from Southbury and headed west.  Police say narcotics K9 Favor found three bags of heroin under the driver's seat of 30-year old Michael Mcaward.  He was charged with illegal possession of narcotics and cited for motor vehicle violations.  Mcaward was held on bond.

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Special election coming up in Watertown, Woodbury

Time is running out for people to register to vote in Connecticut's latest special election.

Tuesday marks the deadline for eligible voters to register by mail or online for special elections in the 68th Assembly District. April 24 is the deadline to register in person.

The district includes Watertown and Woodbury and the was seat vacated by Republican Eric Berthel--who was recently elected to the state Senate.

Democrat Louis Esposito and Republican Joe Polletta, both of Watertown, are running. 

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State Police recover stolen dirt bike during motor vehicle stop

A man has been arrested for riding a stolen dirt bike after he popped wheelies on the highway, in front of State Police troopers who were assisting a motorist.  Troopers were parked in the shoulder of I-84 by exit 4 Saturday afternoon helping with a disabled motor vehicle when two dirt bikes approached at a slow speed.  The bikers were doing wheelies as they passed the troopers. 

 

The cruiser pulled out behind the dirt bikes with lights and sirens, but the drivers refused to stop.  The pair got off the highway at exit 4 and continued on Mill Plain Road.  The trooper followed, but without lights and sirens. 

 

One of the dirt bike operators tuned onto a dead end and the trooper boxed him in.  The dirt bike had been reported stolen from New Milford last year. 

 

 

20-year old Jose Javier Garcia-Polanco of Bethel was charged with larceny and several motor vehicle violations.  He was released on $1,000 bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court May 5th

 

State Police say the operator of the second dirt bike was located and issued infractions for motor vehicle violations.  The other driver’s name was not immediately released.

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Man arrested on weapons charge during Brookfield traffic stop

A Danbury man has been arrested on a weapons charge for having a small spiked bat and a knife on him during a traffic stop.  State Police Troopers were patrolling Route 7 Saturday morning when they saw a motorcycle speeding up to their cruiser. 

 

The motorcyclist, later identified as 49-year old Domingos Reis, slowed down to 35 miles an hour and wouldn’t pass the State Police car.  Troopers pulled the man over near exit 12 in Brookfield. 

 

The small bat had spike strips at the end and appeared to be a bludgeoning weapon.  Reis was charged with several motor vehicle infractions as well.  He was released on $1,000 bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court May 5th.

 

 

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Esty backs Conn. petition to EPA on air pollution regulations

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is supporting a petition by Connecticut and 8 other states that would require upwind states to reduce air pollution emissions that are carried to the Northeast by prevailing winds.  Esty says despite Connecticut being a national leader in reducing air pollution, families here still suffer the serious health consequences of pollution.  Esty says air pollution causes an estimated 168 deaths in Connecticut, higher than any other New England state, and more than 470 hospitalizations each year.

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Congressional App Challenge winners visit Capitol Hill

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty recently welcomed the 2016 Congressional App Challenge winners to Capitol Hill.  The four winners from the district, Raul Calderon, Joseph Grenier, Matthew Jones, and Veronika Cordero, created an app called “Unmutable.” 

 

It's aimed at providing a voice to people who are unable to communicate verbally. To use the app, the user must type what they would like to say, and the word is then spoken aloud by the phone.  

 

Esty says she hosts the Congressional App Contest every year because it enables students across Connecticut to showcase their creativity and build skillsets that will serve them well throughout their lives. 

 

Approximately 100 students from over 50 Congressional Districts traveled to Washington D.C to demo their winning apps to an audience of 400 people, including 38 Members of Congress.  The 2017 Congressional App Challenge will begin on July 26th, and run until November 1st.

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Local lawmaker pushes for changes to state budget timeline

Recent municipal budget increases proposed by Sherman and New Fairfield first selectmen have prompted state Senator Mike McLachlan to push for a bill that would require the legislature to adopt portions of the state budget by March 1st of each year. 

 

Municipalities are concerned about massive proposed cuts in education aid coupled with mandates like paying for teacher pensions and resident state troopers--and have increased their budgets to make up for the potential shortfalls.  McLachlan says passing this bill would stop the guesswork in local budgets and force legislators to be more accountable to their constituents. 

 

The legislature's Appropriations Committee has until April 27th to take action.

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Women's Center raises $245,000 for critical programming

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury raised more than $245,000 during their annual gala event held last week.  Local Law Enforcement from the 13 towns served by the Women's Center were the 2017 Women's Center Founders Award recipients.  The money raised will support Women's Center's critical programs and services.

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New Milford residents approve borrowing for capital items

A Town Meeting was held in New Milford this week where residents gave approval for capital improvement projects.  $3.45 million with short-term financing will be borrowed.  A bulk of that money, $2.1 million, is for road improvements.  $1 million will be for bridge renovations.  State and federal funding will help pay for the renovations to Aspetuck Ridge, Mud Pond, and Mill Street bridges.  The balance of the short-term borrowing is for part of the improvements being made at Lynn Deming Park.

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Man arrested for alleged drug sales in Danbury

A Danbury man has been arrested after an investigation that was started in response to neighbor complaints of drug sales.  Danbury Police say 25-year old Douglas Meireles was stopped yesterday evening while he was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car on Triangle Street.  

 

Danbury Police say Meireles was in possession of a substantial quantity of illegal drugs.  Investigators then searched his apartment and found additional illegal drugs and other evidence. 

 

Meireles was charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.  He was held on bond for arraignment.

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Monroe Rep. applauds bill for new police training program

Monroe State Representative JP Sredzinski is touting a bill passed by the House this week to create a state-wide police training program on best practices for locating and communicating with children with autism who wander from home or adult supervision.  The bill was approved Wednesday, which was Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol.  In his advocacy for awareness of Angelman’s Syndrome, Sredzinski said he recognizes the unique set of skills needed to help all non-verbal children. 

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New Milford lawmaker backs bill on brownfield remediation

New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee co-sponsored a bill which was approved on a nearly unanimous vote this week.  The bill seeks to improve brownfield remediation efforts by creating a legal blueprint for organizing and operating local nonprofit land banks to acquire and remediate tracts of land that have been identified as brownfields. 

 

Buckbee says only government entities have previously been allowed to apply for brownfield remediation incentives, such as tax credits, but by allowing qualified nonprofit organizations to also access these resources is a win-win.  According to Buckbee, for a nonprofit to qualify as a Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank it must apply to the Department of Economic and Community Development. 

 

The bill passed with only one dissenting vote and now awaits further action in the Senate.

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Report: Sexual abuse at boarding school went on for decades

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new report names 12 former faculty and staff members at an elite Connecticut boarding school who allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with students that went on for decades.

An investigator hired by Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford released the report Thursday that graphically recounts the alleged experiences of 24 former students.

The report says the alleged sexual misconduct took place between 1963 and 2010 and included "intimate kissing," ''sexual intercourse" and "forced or coerced intercourse."

No current faculty or staff members have been implicated in the misconduct claims and there are no reports relating to any current students.

The report notes that in some cases the school acted quickly in response to the alleged sexual misconduct, but in other cases it did not.

The school has issued an apology.

 

One of the teachers identified in the report was Jaime Rivera-Murillo.

 

Even though Choate did not provide a reference or recommendation letter, he went on to teach at Henry AbbotT Tech, Newtown High School and, until this month, at a regional High School in Litchfield.  He was placed on leave last month after Choate wrote to the superintendent informing him about the matter.  Rivera resigned last week.

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GOP gubernatorial candidate reacts to Malloy announcement on 2018 run

A Republican gubernatorial candidate is weighing in on Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy's announcement not to see a third term.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton called it a sign that Connecticut is ready for a comeback.  Boughton says the damage caused by Malloy's leadership has harmed Connecticut tremendously.  He cited GE's exit and the two largest tax increases in the state's history.

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Brookfield firefighters extinguish car fire

Both Brookfield fire companies responded to a vehicle fire early Thursday morning.  When firefighters arrived, the car parked on Johns Road was fully engulfed in flames.  The fire spread to an adjacent wood pile, which ignited.  The bulk of the fire was extinguished within minutes.  There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brookfield Fire Marshal's Office.

 

(Photo: Facebook)

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Danbury man sentenced on drug, firearm charges

A Danbury man has been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for drug and firearm offenses.  40-year old Ramon Monroig, also known as Ray Rock, was also ordered yesterday to three years of supervised release.  Investigators made several cocaine purchases from Monroig last year. 

 

A search of a Danbury property he used as a stash house turned up an AK-47, a handgun, ammunition, 22 grams of cocaine, 313 grams of marijuana and drug packaging materials.  A search of his car turned up 24 grams of cocaine and 200 grams of marijuana, all of which was packaged for sale. 

 

Danbury police were getting ready to carry out a search warrant of a storage unit owned by Monroig when they saw a suspicious vehicle.  The car sped off, but was stopped nearby.  Monroig, his sister and her boyfriend were found with $8,400 in cash and prerecorded bills that investigators used to buy narcotic from Monroig. 

 

He forfeited two firearms, two iPhones, a Chevy Camaro and $9,582 in cash.  Brookfield Police and the FBI assisted Danbury in the investigation.

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Danbury Hospital receives $4.5 million grant

Danbury Hospital has been awarded a $4.5 million grant  to serve as a model for advanced integrated health services for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Danbury Hospital was chosen as one of 32 health systems in the nation for the award. 

 

The five year grant will establish a program to address health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.  The program will screen 75,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and direct them to appropriate services based on needs such as transportation, housing, food insecurity, access to utilities and domestic violence.  Danbury Hospital was the only Connecticut-based group to receive the Track 3 “Alignment” designation.

 

Danbury Hospital worked with the Value Care Alliance hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, behavioral health and community organizations.  They also partnered with Norwalk, Griffin, Middlesex, and St. Vincent’s hospitals in developing the proposal, and will collaborate in expanding this innovative model throughout their respective service areas across the state. 

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Kenosia Avenue bridge replacement could begin next month

If you've driven on Kenosia Avenue in Danbury over the last several months, you've noticed orange cones and signs about a narrow bridge. 

 

A temporary repair was done in conjunction with the state because two outside beams completely rotten.  The state Department of Transportation says the structure was in need of immediate repair.  City officials recently redesigned plans with construction slated to potentially start in May. 

 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the structural plans were forwarded to the pre-caster and the City has received the Prestressed Structural Beam Slabs shop drawings which were reviewed and approved. 

 

A detour route has been developed, but Iadarola is concerned because it's pretty long.  He is contemplating whether to close the road to expedite construction, or have alternating one-way traffic.  

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Newtown Legislative Council accepts SAC field donation for Sandy Hook memorial

The Newtown Legislative Council has voted unanimously to accept a donation of land proposed as the site of a Sandy Hook permanent memorial.  The commission charged with planning for a memorial found out that the SAC field property owner wanted to donate it for that use.  The 5.3 acre plot is appraised at $16,000. 

 

The Boys Social and Athletic Club of Sandy Hook was incorporated with the state in 1949 to hold community events and play other clubs in various sports.  With the modernization of the Parks and Recreation Department, SAC fell into disuse and lost its standing with the state in 1989.

 

George Lockwood Sr., representing SAC, donated two other portions of the property to town organizations.  The parcel with a house on it was donated to Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company.  Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue was gifted the plot containing a red steel building, where NUSAR is currently housed out of.

 

The property abuts Treadwell Park and not far past the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, just past Dickenson Drive.  The property consists of a meadow, and two baseball fields.  It also includes two ponds that are slightly wood, which used to be the old swimming hole.

 

The Planning and Zoning commissions have reviewed the donation, which has also been approved by the Board of Selectmen.  The donation includes easements for possible public access from Riverside Road.  Discussions about the permanent memorial will come in phases.

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Danbury students rally in Hartford for institutional financial aid

While on spring recess, students from Danbury, Stamford, and UCONN marched in Caps and Gowns to the Capitol Building.  They were rallying in support of immigrant students and the Afford To Dream campaign for equal access to higher education. 

 

Among the speakers yesterday were the UConn Dean of Students, the President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and the Executive President of the American Federation of Teachers union. 

 

Bills being considered by the state legislature would make undocumented students eligible for institutional financial assistance at state-run colleges and universities--funded by tuition payments from all students. Advocates say the current system is unfair to the immigrant students, who must pay into the fund but can't apply for the money.

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Wilton man ate pot stash to try to avoid drug charge during traffic stop

A Wilton man ate his marijuana stash when he was pulled over by police in an attempt to hide it.  New York State Police say 25-year old Alexander Orsher was pulled over Monday night on Main Street in Brewster for changing lanes unsafely. 

 

Troopers saw green leaf pieces stuck in his teeth and on his shirt.  The odor of marijuana could be smelled coming from the car. 

 

Troopers conducted Standardized Field Sobriety Tests on Orsher and determined that he was impaired by drugs.  Orsher was charged for operating while ability was impaired by drugs, felony tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of marijuana. 

 

He is due in Brewster Court next Tuesday.

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Easton Police charge man for home invasion, threat with knife

Easton Police have arrested a Bridgeport man for allegedly breaking into his girlfriend's parents home and threatening her.  Easton Police say a resident called 911 last night to say her daughter was being verbally abused by 34-year old Charles Grace.  He allegedly brandished a knife and damaged items in the home.  Grace was charged with home invasion, threatening, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.  He was held on $50,000 bond for arraignment today.

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Brookfield Commission recommends 9 revisions to town Charter

The chair of the Brookfield Charter Revision Commission has presented recommendations to the Board of Selectmen of changes they want brought forward to voters.  They are recommending 9 changes be listed as separate questions on a ballot.

 

1. Increase the Board of Selectmen from three members to five

 

2. Make a 10 day minimum for Boards to appoint replacement members. 

 

3. Standards, authority and jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics would clarified under a proposal when it comes to the authority the Board has under state statute.

 

4. A clarification of what items can be petitioned to a town meeting

 

5. Having separate votes for First Selectman and Selectmen.  The losing First Selectman candidate would not be eligible to run for or be included in the Selectmen vote.  Currently if the defeated First Selectman candidate garners enough votes, they could become a Selectman.

 

6. Review budget transfers allowed to be made by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance.  Consider raising or eliminating the dollar amount they could reallocate in a budget at any time before going to a town meeting for approval.

 

7. Clarify the Charter so that wide scale transfers cannot be made early in the fiscal year

 

8. Add the ability to restore individual line items at the annual town meeting, but only to levels approved by either the Board of Selectmen or Board of Finance

 

9. Consider increasing the number of members on the Library Board of Trustees to 9 regular members

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New Fairfield official again pushes for walk-in ban at Squantz pond

With the warmer weather, thoughts are turning to summer.  New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman told the Newstimes she wrote to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner this week about capacity at Squantz Pond. 

 

Chapman has been pushing for a ban on walk-ins for several years.  She wants the ban to take effect when parking lot capacity is reached, but the state Regulation Review Committee rejected the proposal in January.  Chapman is concerned because the parking lot cap was put in place to control crowds, but allowing foot traffic could strain staff resources. 

 

Committee members were concerned because the language on the ban was vague.

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Danbury woman suspected of illegal drug trafficking nabbed in fast food parking lot

A Danbury woman and a Stamford man have been arrested after neighbor complains of illegal drug sales in Danbury.  Based on a surveillance, investigators were able to detect activity consistent with 27-year old Katrina Cordeiro trafficking illegal drugs. Search and seizure warrants were issued by Danbury Superior Court. 

 

Cordeiro was stopped by police yesterday in the driveway of a fast food restaurant and found with drugs in the car.  Investigators then went to her Nabby Road apartment, where 28-year old Andrew Coke was located.  Illegal drugs, and a substantial sum of money believed to be drug sale proceeds were seized. 

 

  

 

Cordeiro was held on bond.  Coke was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date. 

 

Cordeiro was charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

 

Coke was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school.

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Bethel man asks for check of Sen. Murphy's 'Fight Back Connecticut' group

A Bethel man is asking the state Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate Senator Chris Murphy’s just-launched Fight Back Connecticut initiative.  Former state Representative Dan Carter told the Connecticut Post that federally earmarked political contributions to Murphy's 2018 re-election campaign should not be used to bolster state and local candidates. 

 

When Murphy launched the initiative, he said it would be to help fund and organize aid to grassroots groups to block the President's agenda. 

 

In his opposition, Carter pointed to the fine handed down by the SEEC to the state Democratic Party for using a federal Get Out The Vote account to pay for a mailer supporting Governor Malloy's reelection.

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NY National Guardsman named Army photographer of the year

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A member of the New York Army National Guard has been named the U.S. Army's Military Photographer of the Year.

National Guard officials say Wednesday that Sgt. Harley Jelis, a New Milford, Connecticut resident, was selected for the honor during the Army's annual Keith L. Ware Communications Award competition.

The competition is named after a major general who ran the Army's public affairs efforts in the 1960s. It recognizes the work of Army photographers, journalist, and broadcasters in the active duty Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.

Jelis is assigned to the 138th Public Affairs Detachment at Camp Smith Training Site in Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County.

He's scheduled to receive his award during an Army-wide public affairs conference in November.

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Connecticut House votes to allow automated liquor machines

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Self-service liquor machines may soon be coming to a Connecticut bar near you.

The House of Representatives voted 129-19 Wednesday in favor of legislation allowing businesses with state liquor permits to offer automated machines that dispense beer and wine to customers.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate.

Under the proposal by Danbury Representative David Arconti, a person verified to be at least 21 years old can purchase a payment card and then obtain up to 32 ounces of beer or 10 ounces of wine. The alcoholic beverage would be dispensed in single-serve 12-ounce glasses.

Proponents say the machines are novelty items, allowing customers to sample different flavors in small amounts before making a final purchase.

But Rep. Devin Carney, a Republican who voted no, said he worries such automation might lead to fewer jobs.

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Meet the congressman who is pushing for a Charles Darwin Day

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jim Himes has taken on the role of being a chief proponent of Darwinism in the House of Representatives.

For the third year in a row, the Connecticut Democrat has proposed perennial, longshot legislation that commemorates the birth date of Charles Darwin. The late British naturalist developed the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection.

Himes realizes the bill's chances of passage are slim. But he took it over from a retiring lawmaker because "science and truth remarkably always need advocacy against the forces of nostalgia and fear and irrationality."

Himes says that message is especially important now as skepticism surrounds science.

Himes was accused by his recent political challenger, Republican John Shaban of Redding, of offering the bill as a political stunt.

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Danbury Zoning Commission hears input on OTB proposal

The Danbury Zoning Commission met for nearly four hours Tuesday night about a zone change to allow for an off track betting facility as an accessory use to a restaurant.  The panel decided to keep the public hearing open, continuing it to April 25th.

 

Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to renovate the first floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street into a sports bar and restaurant.  OTB gaming would be added to the 2nd floor.  Only 18 OTB licenses are allowed statewide.  If approved, the Danbury location would be the 17th OTB site in Connecticut. 

 

The Danbury Planning Commission has already signed off on the plan.  If the Zoning Commission gives their OK, the City Council must approve the application.  The state Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division must also inspect and approve the facility before operations can begin. 

 

A state statute sends 3.5-percent of gross revenue to the state General Fund, with the state keeping 1.9-percent.  Sportech would provide 1.6-percent of gross revenue to the City.  But Commissioner Candace Fay noted that the state statute providing that money back to the host community was repealed in 1993.  In 1993, Sportech paid $12 million for exclusive rights, in perpetuity, to operate these types of facility.  The company attorney provided citation for where that statute language was added at that time.

 

Plans call for adding an elevator and converting the upstairs private dining room into an exclusive wagering area.  The OTB area will be limited to people 21 and over.  Sportech plans to hire 8 to 10 employees.  Hours of operation have not been determined.

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Two teens arrested for New Years Day fight in Redding

Redding Police have made two arrests in connection to a New Years Day fight.  The Redding Pilot reports that a 17-year old and 15-year old from Easton were charged Friday with assault.  The younger juvenile was also charged with criminal mischief and breach of peace.  Neither were named because of age, and they were released to their parents.

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Esty introduces bill aimed at strengthening Social Security system

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is co-sponsoring legislation she says is aimed at strengthening and expanding Social Security.  The measure cuts taxes for Social Security recipients and provides a benefit bump for current and future beneficiaries.  Esty says this will ensure the system stays solvent through the next 75 years.  There are more than 600,000 retired workers, disabled people, and families who depend on Social Security to pay their bills in Connecticut.  Esty notes that includes 135,000 in the 5th district.

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New Fairfield scales back plans to add herbicides to Candlewood Lake

New Fairfield has scaled back its plans to add herbicides to Candlewood Lake.  The revised proposal is to add a milfoil killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove, down from 60 acres, and to not use copper sulfate at all.  The Newstimes reports that originally copper sulfate would have been added to 160 acres to treat blue-green algae.  Shoreline residents opposed the initial plan during a public hearing.  More than 26-hundred people signed an online petition against the proposal.  New Fairfield will have to apply to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a permit.  Some testimony in support of the pilot program by cove residents has already been submitted.

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Film about pioneer in the field of dyslexia to be screened in Bethel

A film is being screened in Bethel tonight about the teaching method of Connecticut resident Diana King, a pioneer in the field of dyslexia.  "One by One" showcases the multi-sensory literacy instruction she provides to students aged 5 to 15 years old.  In the film, King discusses the importance of early intervention, motor memory and teacher engagement.  She shares concrete tools, techniques and best practices for early intervention and working with students, particularly those with dyslexia and learning differences.  There is a Meet and Greet Reception with King at 6:30pm followed by a screening and panel session at 7:30pm at Bethel Cinema.  

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Bond reduction denied for man charged in trafficking ring

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - A judge has refused to reduce bail for a man accused of involvement in a sex trafficking ring that preyed on men with mental illnesses.

Seventy-two-year-old William Trefzger of Westport is being held on $250,000 bail.

Trefzger appeared Tuesday in Danbury Superior Court on charges that he patronized a trafficked person.

His lawyer argued he is not a flight risk, but the judge cited a prior sex assault conviction and said Trefzger is accused of taking advantage of some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Danbury police say they have identified about 15 victims. Authorities say the men coerced into prostitution had severe psychological disorders and were addicted to drugs.

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Connecticut lawmakers praise plans to drop mileage tax study

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut legislators are praising a decision by the state Department of Transportation to drop plans to participate in a multi-state study of a possible mileage tax.


Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says such a tax would place a financial burden on commuters.  She says there's no reason to spend $300,000 for a study that's going nowhere.  Boucher notes that it would have been irresponsible to move forward after Governor Malloy and others distanced themselves from the study.

A mileage tax is essentially a user fee that's based on how much someone drives.

DOT Commissioner James Redeker sent a letter last week to the Coalition, explaining how his state agency is facing large budget cuts that prevent it from providing about $300,000 in state matching funds to help pay for the study.

Redeker says he still supports the study.

The coalition includes transportation agencies, toll authorities and other groups from Maine to Florida that focus on transportation issues of common interest.

 

Boucher had been spreading the word about an online petition to de-fund the state study.  She and other lawmakers want the $300,000 to instead be put toward keeping rest stop toilet facilities open in Danbury and elsewhere.

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Esty tours Bethel manufacturer, Roxbury farm

While Congress is on break from session in Washington, D.C., Representatives are spending time in their home districts.  Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty toured Del-Tron Precision Tuesday morning.  She met with its President, Ralph McIntosh, Jr., to discuss the advanced manufacturing industry. 

 

Del-Tron is a family owned business that specializes in creating anti-friction linear bearing slides.  The company also produces positioning stages, ball and lead screw actuators, and other linear motion devices—many of which are used in today’s science and medical equipment, 3D printers, and many other products. Del-Tron currently has 43 employees at its corporate offices located in Bethel, as well as distributors throughout the United States, Germany, and Singapore.

 

Esty also toured Toplands Farm in Roxbury to highlight Connecticut's agricultural economy.  The farm, though historically a dairy farm, now primarily focuses on hay production, as well beef, pork, and egg products. Toplands Farm is also home to the largest collection of restored antique tractors and farm equipment in the Northeast.

 

Esty then met with entrepreneurs at Makery Coworking, an incubator space in New Milford.  Makery Coworking opened in February and allows professionals to work with likeminded individuals with access to shared resources.  Freelancers, small business owners, and nonprofit personnel can rent a workspace in the facility for a small membership fee.

 

Esty was joined at the site for a tour and conversation with Makery Coworking Founder Tony Vengrove and New Milford Mayor David Gronbach.  New Milford's Economic Development Director, the Small Business Administration's District Director and people who have used Makery Coworking were on hand for the discussion.  

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Danbury Zoners consider OTB site downtown

A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury about a zone change to allow for an off track betting facility in Downtown Danbury.  The Zoning Commission will be considering if an OTB facility at Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street can be an accessory use in a restaurant. 

 

Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center.  Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the second floor. 

 

The Zoning Commission is meeting at 7:30pm at Danbury City Hall.

 

The Zoning Commission rescheduled the public hearings on two other applications.  One is a petition to add Municipal animal control facility a particular zone.  Danbury residents recently approved bond money for a new facility to be built.  That hearing was postponed from tonight to May 9th  The public hearing to clarify regulations about drive-in & drive-through facilities in a certain zone was bumped to April 25th.

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Three people arrested for alleged armed robbery in Monroe

Three people have been arrested for an attempted armed robbery of a 16 year old Monroe resident Friday.  Police say the teen told officers he was confronted by two men with a gun while riding his dirtbike.  The teen was allegedly punched and kicked as the suspects tried to take his cell phone. 

 

Police located the getaway car nearby.  They found a juvenile in a booster seat in the vehicle with the suspects.  An altered bb gun was also found. 

 

19-year old Justin Zarzuela of Monroe was charged with robbery, criminal attempt larceny, assault and criminal mischief. 

 

20-year-old Michael Dawson of Bridgeport was charged with robbery, criminal attempt larceny, assault, threatening, alteration of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal violation of a standing protection order and brandishing a facsimile firearm.  

 

20-year-old Kristi Kemper of West Haven was charged with weapons in a motor vehicle, risk of injury, criminal liability for the acts of another for larceny and criminal liability for the acts of another for robbery. 

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Monroe Town Council member announces run for First Selectman

A Monroe Town Council member has announced his intention to run for First Selectman in November.  Democrat Dan Hunsberger previously served on the Board of Finance and Inland Wetlands Commission.  Current First Selectman Steve Vavrek announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.  Hunsberger ran against Vavrek in 2013.  Republican Town Council member Ken Kellogg has also announced his intention to run for First Selectman.

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State backs Four Corners streetscape Phase 1

The state has signed off on the first phase of the Four Corners streetscape project in Brookfield.  First Selectman Steve Dunn reportedly called the Department of Transportation yesterday to follow up on adjustments the agency had asked for.  Brookfield residents voted to borrow $1.7 million for the project, with the balance of the $3.5 million paid for with grants.  The project calls for sidewalks , planters and other beautification in the Four Corners area.  Construction could begin as soon as next month.

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Ex-journalist pleads not guilty to threatening Jewish groups

NEW YORK (AP) - A former journalist from St. Louis has pleaded not guilty to charges he made threats against Jewish organizations.

Juan Thompson entered the plea Monday during a brief appearance in federal court in New York.

Prosecutors have accused the 32-year-old Thompson of making threats against Jewish community centers, schools or other facilities to harass his ex-girlfriend. They said he sometimes used her name.

They said in one message he claimed he had placed two bombs in a Jewish school and was "eager for Jewish Newtown," a reference to the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The government says it's collecting evidence from about two dozen laptops, tablets and cellphones seized from his home.

Thompson was fired from the online publication The Intercept last year.

His next court date is May 18.

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CSCU system to hold forums about proposed changes to services, resources

The head of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has proposed a "Student First" plan to direct more resources to teaching and student services, but the plan is drawing fire from 15 Faculty Senate presidents and union leaders.  They released a group statement about the plan saying a 15-page PowerPoint Presentation was completely lacking in details about how savings would be achieved. 

 

The system is facing a $35 million deficit for the coming fiscal year. 

 

System President Mark Ojakian has scheduled a listening tour of all 17 campuses to hear from students and faculty. He will be at Western Connecticut State University April 20th at 9 am. 

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Three people injured in Monday morning highway crash

Three people, including a baby, sustained minor injuries in a car accident yesterday morning that closed two lanes of Interstate 84 in Danbury.  State Police say a driver was slowing down because of heavy traffic by the exit 6 westbound off ramp and another driver rear ended the SUV. 

 

 

37-year old Ryan Thomas Mack of Danbury was issued a misdemeanor for operating under a suspended license and following too closely.  Police say a nearly 8-month old girl was in a passenger in his vehicle. 

 

The other driver, 35-year old Luz Velez of Danbury, also sustain injury.  Both vehicles had to be towed.

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Wilton Loop of Norwalk River Trail reopened following coyote encounter

The Wilton Police Department approved the reopening of the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail late yesterday afternoon following a dog-coyote encounter Saturday.  The yellow tape and notices were removed after monitoring the Trail since the incident.  Animal control found no evidence of current coyote presence.  But trail officials reminded users that coyotes are common in the Wilton area.  On Saturday a dog broke free of its leash and owner when a coyote was spotted.  The dog was uninjured during the close encounter.

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Clothing retailer Bob's Stores closing Danbury location

Bob's Clothing Stores is shutting down nine of its Connecticut locations, including the Federal Road store in Danbury.  Bob's parent company Eastern OUtfitters LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. British sporting goods retailer Sportsdirect.com has put in an offer to buy "substantially all" of its assets.  This is the second round of bankruptcy proceedings for the company.

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Brush fire extinguished in New Milford

About two acres of land in New Milford were scorched by a brush fire yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters responded to Route 7 near Faith Church.  Mutual aid from Brookfield and elsewhere was called in to help extinguish the brush fire.  State Officials are warning of a high probability of brush fires today.

 

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Man charged with patronizing trafficking ring to make court appearance

A hearing is being held in court today for one of the men arrested recently for patronizing a trafficked person.  72-year old William Trefzger is seeking have his bond reduced.  The Westport resident is a convicted sex offender and was one of three men charged in connection to the Danbury-based trafficking ring.  Trefzger was given a $250,000 cash bond, which he says is punitive, because it would have to be paid in full.  He is being held in the hospital at Bridgeport Correctional Center.

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Danbury looks to reallocate unused money from previous fiscal year

Danbury saved about $4 million in the last fiscal year. The City Council will look into taking $3.7 million of that and using it for two separate projects.

 

One is a $2 million reserve for unused vacation time to reduce the financial stress on current operations.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it's a legacy benefit for people who’ve been long-time City employees. The ability for non-union employees to roll over vacation ends July 1st.  As a result of the modification to the non-union pension ordinance, auditors are requiring this reserve fund be established  Boughton says this will allow vacant positions to be filled immediately if necessary.

 

The other part is a $1.7 million reserve for capital projects. $75,000 for a major emergency elevator repair at ACE would be used immediately.  A $325,000 capital fund for emergency projects, authorized by the Mayor’s Office, and $1.3 million for capital projects in the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget would be set aside

 

The elevator at ACE, which is needed for handicap accessibility, has not been working for several months. It required more money than was available in the Public Works budget. The money for emergency repairs is being set aside so that Boughton doesn’t have to keep calling in the City Council every other week because a boiler burst at a school, for example.  This would be different than the contingency fund, which is for bigger capital items. 

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Sandy Hook mom writes book about healing, hope after 12-14

When her daughter was killed at Sandy Hook, Alissa Parker found the light and goodness.  She has written a new book called "An Unseen Angel: A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing".  She says by processing the loss of Emilie, she saw a larger picture.  Alissa drew strength from the acts of kindness during that time. 

 

The book started as a way to preserve the Parker family's story for their daughters, Samantha and Madeline.  "An Unseen Angel" went on sale last week.

 

Parker says she often thinks of her last conversation with Emilie.  Her daughter had just gotten ready for school and discovered something special on the wall behind her bed.  Two flowers painted in pink, black and blue were connected.  Emilie was excited to show her mother how many connections there were, and Alissa says that was a powerful insight into the world she was unknowingly about to enter on 12-14. 

 

Parker leaned on the lessons from Emilie's example to get through the last few years, looking for the good and seeing connections around her.

 

Alissa and her husband, Robbie, created The Emilie Parker Art Connection to honor their daughter, by continuing to support the things that she loved. Emilie was an artist, and this foundation brings funding for art programs in the community and schools.

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UNIT: $219 issued for illegal dumping in Danbury

An investigation of illegal dumping in Danbury has led to tickets being issued by the police liaison for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team.  Bulk debris was found off long Ridge Road, along with some pieces of mail.  That person was contacted by UNIT, and denied wrongdoing.  The resident said he helped a friend order items online and that could be why his information was found.  The friend told UNIT that he hired two people to bring garbage to Winters Brothers, but said they must have dumped it instead. 

 

The offenders admitted to dumping the items in order to keep the money.  They cleaned the entire area and got a $219 ticket. 

 

UNIT and police did not immediately release details about the offenders. 

 

UNIT also addressed an issue on Eden Drive, again linking the illegal dumping to pieces of mail with identifying information.  The resident denied dumping the items, but agreed to clear the area to avoid the $219 ticket.UNIT will continue to monitor the Eden Drive and Long Ridge Road locations and coordinate cleanups as needed because they are frequently used as dumping grounds.

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Absentee ballots available for Newtown budget referendum

Absentee ballots are available now in Newtown for the April 25th budget referendum.  There are capital improvement projects also being decided.  The municipal budget is proposed at $40.39 million.  The schools are asking for just shy of $73 million.  Newtown residents can also say if the revised budget should be higher if they aren't approved on the 25th. 

 

$850,000 for a new roof at Hawley School, $1.8 million for improvements to the Middle School and $750,000 for Phase 2 of the Newtown High School auditorium project are on the ballot.  $1 million for paving, $300,000 for planning of a new Police Station and $3 million for a new senior center are also being voted on. 

 

Hawley School's roof replacement would be for the 1948 and 1997 sections.  The Middle School improvements include a boiler replacement, new LED lighting and converting from oil to natural gas.  PHase 2 of the NHS auditorium program includes replacing stage lighting, lighting controls, AV equipment, rigging components, stage draperies, electrical components and catwalk safety enhancements. 

 

The existing police station is located at Town Hall South at 3 Main Street, and is a tight fit for the 45-member force.  The funding on the ballot would go toward a schematic drawing, artistic rendering of a new facility , further site selection progress and analysis of what the actual cost would be for a new police facility. 

 

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OTB site in Danbury being considered

An off track betting facility could be coming to Downtown Danbury. 

 

The Zoning Commission is meeting tomorrow about the proposal for the second flood of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street.  The Newstimes reports that the Commission will have to figure out if OTBs can be an accessory use in a restaurant. 

 

The Planning Commission has given approval already and the idea would have to go to the City Council if a zone change is allowed.  The published report says that Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center.  Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the 2nd floor. 

 

The Zoning Commission is meeting at 7:30pm at Danbury City Hall.

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United Way releases data about type of calls to 211 info line

The United Way has released data about the type of calls that came into the state's 211 help line last year.  In the Greater Danbury area, there was a higher percentage of calls from people looking for mental health and addiction services compared to other parts of the state.  211 call takers are trained to respond to a number of issues and to refer callers to local social service providers.  The data from Connecticut can be found online at CT.211counts.org.

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New Milford Board of Finance trims budget proposal again

The New Milford Board of Finance has made another round of cuts to the proposed budget.  $968,000 from the municipal spending plan and $532,000 from the schools will make up for a $1.5 million revenue miscalculation by the town's finance director.  Initially Mayor David Gronbach included the sale of some town properties to offset the problem.  The New Milford school budget is $62.8 million, with $38.2 million for the town. 

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Newotwn man charged for alleged real estate fraud scheme

A Newtown man has been charged for allegedly stealing more than $900,000 from five victims through real estate investment schemes.  The U.S. Attorney's Office charged 61-year old Thomas Murtha with wire fraud last week. 

 

He allegedly was retained by the victims to handle real estate transactions, but instead of sending the appropriate funds to them, he converted the money to his own use.  One victim invested more than $600,000. 

 

Murtha allegedly told one victim that he needed an additional $100,000to purchase a $1.5 million commercial property in Bethel to build condos.  But Murtha used the money to buy a house in Michigan instead. 

 

He resigned from the bar in September after three grievance complaints were filed against him.

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Light It Up Blue ceremony to be held at Danbury City Hall

City Hall will be Blue tonight.  A Light It Up Blue event is being held in Danbury to mark World Autism Month.  The lighting ceremony will be a sensory friendly event with a lower sound level, a designated quiet area and ear muffs available--so that all families can attend the ceremony in their honor.  The event is being organized by Emanuela Palmeras, whose son is on the Autism Spectrum.  The ceremony is at 6:30pm.

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Danbury nanny makes brief court appearance

A Danbury nanny facing nearly two dozen counts of risk of injury to a minor made a brief court appearance on Friday.  32-year old Lidia Quilligana was arrested in 2015 for allegedly burning a 3-year old girl's hands and beating her. 

 

Prosecutors say she repeatedly assaulted the girl and her 1-year old twin siblings. 

 

The Newstimes reports that Quilligana's attorney argued some of the 23 counts should be consolidated or dismissed.  She will have a judge decide her case rather than a jury. 

 

Quilligana has been held on a million dollars bond since her arrest.  She rejected a plea deal last year.  

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DOT Commissioner to attend forum on Danbury branch line improvement

The state Department of Transportation Commissioner will be in Wilton tonight for a forum about how to improve the Danbury branch of Metro North. 

 

Tonight's forum is being billed as a listening session rather than a presentation.  Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle organized the meeting with James Redecker to best understand what kinds of changes would really make a difference to commuters. 

 

A bipartisan group of nearly a dozen lawmakers who represent districts on the branch line are backing a proposal to require previously authorized bonds be reallocated for service improvements.  During a public comment period on the bill, lawmaker heard some suggestions from commuters.  They asked for more afternoon or evening trains, improved connections with the main line, to have more doors open at station stops, and for conductors to be provided with more information on delays or service issues to help them respond to passengers' questions. 

 

The listening session is being held at Wilton High School's Clune Center on Route 7 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.

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Proposal to remove mandate on school funding under consideration

A bill that will help communities take more control of spending decisions will be considered by state officials tomorrow.  The Act is about the amount a School District may reduce its minimum budget when it experiences a decline in student enrollment.  Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says this bill basically prevents the state from forcing communities to spend the same amount of money to educate fewer students.  He says paying the same amount of money for a shrinking student population is a senseless mandate.  The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis will meet tomorrow about the measure.

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Final construction phase of DHS renovations set to go out to bid

Progress is being made on the renovations to Danbury High School.  There are six phases, but because there's significant state grant money, the City just just got approval for the last construction phase  Bidding will open this month.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says $8.5 million will go toward work in the front of the school. 

 

An addition to the current building would include a two story gym, an academic floor and a level for science and computer labs, with the possibility in the future for another level.  The design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy.

 

The last phase of the overall project is to purchase furniture and equipment.

 

The DHS 2020 project includes construction of a theater, two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the exiting cafeteria. Various other upgrades to the building's existing infrastructure are also planned.

 

The goal is to have everything finished by the start of school for the 2018-2019 school year.

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Bill to restore honor guard funeral services to state budget moves to House

A bill has been placed on the state House calendar to permanently restore funding for honor guard rifle salutes at veteran’s funerals.  Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says the Act Honoring Deceased Veterans is necessary because the Governor has once again sought to cut the funding.  He says these services shouldn't be subject to the budgetary whims of a governor or legislature.

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Danbury lawmaker backs bill to fund campus centers for vets

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan is touting a bill making its way through the General Assembly to boost veterans' services at state colleges and universities.  The proposal would create Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service Members, or OASIS centers.  The facilities provide support and outreach to help veterans succeed at college.  The bill was referred by the state Senate this week to the Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement.

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Esty calls for funding of the NICS background check system

A bipartisan group of 167 members of Congress are requesting a minimum of $75 million in funding for the National Instant Background Checks Systems Improvement Amendments Act.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill gives grants to states seeking to upgrade their electronic databases and to ensure critical information, like mental health records and domestic violence restraining orders, is available for the NICS system.

 

Esty says the NICS Improvement Amendments Act has been severely underfunded in years past, and keeping citizens safe should be Congress's top priority.  She notes that over the past 20 years, the system has helped stopped 2.6 million sales of guns to people like felons, the dangerously mentally ill and domestic abusers.

 

Since 1995, Connecticut has received more than $16 million in National Criminal History Improvement Program grants.  These grants support the state’s efforts to maintain complete and accurate criminal history records for the purposes of background checks.

 

CT Against Gun Violence Executive Director Ron Pinciaro says the number of statewide homicides dropped to 53 in 2016, the lowest number in recent history.  He says no single law has been more instrumental in keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people than the Brady Background check bill.  He added that no bill has been more significant in bolstering the Brady bill than the NICS Improvement Act.

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Danbury students headed to Connecticut Invention Convention

16 Danbury students have been selected  to present their inventions at the 34th annual Connecticut Invention Convention on April 29 at UConn.  They were chosen at a regional invention competition last weekend at Western Connecticut State University.  The Invention Convention is part of the science curriculum.  School officials say the invention convention is aimed at fostering interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning.

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Three teens charged for stealing a car in Danbury and fleeing police

Three teenagers have been arrested for an armed carjacking in Danbury.  Police responded to Austin Street shortly before 10am Friday on a report of three people threatening the owner of a vehicle in the process of being stolen.  Danbury Police say a woman had started the car and went back into her house to retrieve an item.  The teens jumped into the car and were confronted by the male owner, and that's when they pulled out a knife. 

 

A officer shortly spotted the vehicle heading northbound on Tamarack Avenue a short time late. He attempted to pull it over, but the driver continued on.  Numerous Officers, assisted by the Connecticut State Police, responded to the area near the PAL building, as three teens were spotted running in that area.  Two female juveniles and one juvenile male were apprehended. 

 

The victim confirmed that they were the suspects.

 

The three were all charged with larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery.  One of the girls was also charged with reckless driving, disobeying the signal of an Officer, and operating without a license.

 

Hayestown School and Saint Gregory School were briefly placed on lock-down during the situation.  They were in lock-down for about 10 minutes as a precaution.

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WCSU students earn Kennedy Center awards

Western Connecticut State University has taken home a number of awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.  Seven WestConn students are being recognized for Distinguished Achievement by an Actor of Actress in a Musical.  Production, Director, costume design, choreography, and Ensemble recognitions were also awarded to Western for work in the eight regional festivals that were held from January through March.

 

Outstanding Production of a Musical—The Drowsy Chaperone, Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, Western Connecticut State University

 

Outstanding Director of a Musical—Tim Howard, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

 

Distinguished Achievement in Costume Design:
Sharon Sobel, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

 

Outstanding Choreography— Elizabeth Parkinson, Scott Wise, and Tim Howard, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

 

Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical —Jillian Caillouette, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University


Distinguished Achievement by an Actress in a Musical:
Shaylen Harger, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

 

Distinguished Achievement by an Actor in a Musical:
Ryan J. Taylor, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
T.J. Swetz, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Sergio Mandujano, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Manuel Torres, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Jared Starkey, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

 

Outstanding Ensemble of a Play or Musical —The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University

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Esty urges federal funding for veteran suicide prevention programs

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is leading a bipartisan effort to urge House leaders not to cut federal funding to veteran suicide prevention and outreach programs.  She and more than 125 representatives sent a letter to officials that requests  $173 million in funding--the same level as this fiscal year --to address the veteran suicide crisis. 

 

20 veterans take their own lives each day, according to a comprehensive 2016 study conducted by the VA.

 

The study found that in the year 2014 alone, more than 7,400 veterans committed suicide. Veterans account for about 18 percent of all suicides in the United States, despite making up less than 9 percent of the population. 

 

VA suicide prevention and outreach programs include a 24/7 Crisis Line; screening, assessment, and early intervention procedures for at-risk veterans; in-person counseling; TeleMental health services; peer-to-peer support; coaching for family caregivers; partnerships with educational and health institutions; and social media outreach.

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Danbury Education Foundation awards grants for teacher projects

The Danbury Education Foundation has made $10,000 in funding available to support educational projects and events at seven district schools.  The grants and scholarships takes applications from schools for needed items, such as field trips or equipment.  The projects that received funding this year include Little Free Library Outreach to Heart Rate Monitoring in Physical Education.

 

Darren Wittko and Mary Fee, Broadview Middle School: “Creative Publishing and Production.”

 

Debbie Ireland, Stadley Rough Elementary School: “Little Free Library Outreach.”

 

Susan DeMattio, Danbury High School: “Student Centered Learning.”

 

Tracey Scalzo, Morris Street School: “Hatching Baby Chicks.”  Students will see the developmental stages of chicks as they grow in their eggs. The chicks, once hatched, will be donated to a local organic farm.

 

Mark Ottusch and Will Hauser: “Heart Rate Monitoring in Physical Education.”  Students will use heart-rate monitors during physical education class. Parents will also have the opportunity to log in through a portal to track their children’s progress.

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Broadview Middle School named ‘Unified Middle School of the Year’

Broadview Middle School has been named ‘Unified Middle School of the Year’.  The Danbury school will be honored at a ceremony on the 24th for the statewide award which recognizes middle and high school students of all abilities who exemplify sportsmanship, enthusiasm and teamwork as participants in Special Olympics Unified Sports.  Unified Sports combines equal numbers of athletes with and without an intellectual disability on sports teams for training and competition.  Broadview has participated in the program for the past 17 years.  Christine Miller, a social skills counselor at Broadview, is also being recognized as Unified Middle School Coach of the Year.

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Two Danbury schools briefly locked down as police searched for carjackers

Two schools in Danbury were briefly placed on lockdown this morning because of nearby police activity.  The lockdown was in place at Hayestown School and St. Gregory School for about 10 minutes.  Danbury Police were searching for carjacking suspects.  The suspects were reportedly armed with a knife.  The investigation is ongoing, but a police spokesman says all suspects have been arrested.

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Water main break reported in Danbury

There is a water main break in Danbury.  Public Utilities Crews are working at the intersection of Great Plain Road and Germantown Road. Excavation and repair are expected to last through midday.  Danbury officials say they do not anticipate needing to shut down water to any customers and emergency vehicle traffic should not be impacted by the repair work.

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Danbury Police K9 discharged from service due to brain tumor

One of Danbury's Police K9s has been discharged from service due a tumor on his brain.  K9 Koda joined the force in 2011. 

 

Similar to efforts in Newtown to raise money to cover medical bills for their K9, a friend started a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Koda.  45 people surpassed the $9,000 goal in just one day for the Danbury K9.  That included a $4,000 donation on behalf of Wilton-based Blue Buffalo pet products. 

 

 

Officer Kupchok's parents also made a large donation to the medical bills saying that Koda has watched over and protected their son, noting that they have an unbreakable bond.

 

Koda was purchased for Danbury Police with a $10,000 donation.  The Hungarian-born German shepherd went on patrol with his handler, Officer Travis Kupchok, and was also trained to sniff out narcotics.  

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'Walking School Bus' program in Danbury receives grant funding

A two year grant worth $100,000 has been awarded to a program in Danbury that encourages kids to walk to school.  The Walking School Bus program is aimed at combating absenteeism and encouraging exercise.  It was implemented in 2015 at Park Avenue School.  The funding from the Aetna Foundation will be used to add signs to walking bus routes in Danbury and to expand the program to a second elementary school.

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Bethel High School freshmen participate in 1st annual Community Service Day

Members of the Bethel High School class of 2020 have participated in the first annual Community Service Day.  Assistant Principal Mari Lerz was brought an idea from Applied Studies Department business teacher Jennipher Israelite, who used the program at her previous school. 

 

April 5th was testing day for upperclassmen, giving the freshman class an opportunity to serve the community without missing class.  Principal Chris Troetti says instead of staying home Wednesday morning, the students spent signed up for something they were interested in.  If they didn't sign up, Lerz and Israelite gave them an assignment. 

 

There are 230 students in the BHS freshman class and close to 100-percent participated this week. 

 

Bethel has a community service credit that students earn throughout their four years.  All Bethel High School students must complete 60 hours of community service over their four years, but Troetti says a majority of students complete that before their Junior year.

 

Troetti says he's proud of the efforts of everyone involved and thanked community members who supported the project.  This will now be an annual event.

 

The students created artwork for the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, cleaned up around Meckauer Park, worked at the community garden at Berry School, and read to elementary students.  They also made tiaras for participants in the SCOTTY Fund picnic.  The SCOTTY Fund is a local non-profit which provides financial and family support to children with life-threatening and critical illnesses and their families.

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Danbury officials to study space issue at ACE

Once the Freshman Academy is open at Danbury High School, the City will turn its attention to ACE, the Alternative Center for Excellence.  A study about how to best to utilize the Locust Avenue building was included in the DHS expansion project.  The building is short of room for about 25 students, among other issues. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says they've had some success with the temporary classrooms at Shelter Rock Elementary School so that kind of model may be used at ACE.  But he notes they still have to see if that kind of building will work on Locust Avenue.  He says they're inexpensive and could help get a full complement of 125 students into the program. 

 

The program for at-risk students has a class size of about 10 students each.  The students must meet DHS graduation requirements and receive a diploma from DHS upon graduation.

 

The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  The building opened in 1896 as an elementary school.  It was later used as a laboratory school for recent teacher training school graduates to work with students before they obtained teaching jobs.  It has housed the ACE program since 1977.

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NY man found at rest area with pot, gun and stolen license plates

A New York man stopped at a Pawling rest area has been arrested for having a large amount of marijuana in his car. 

 

State Police say 28-year old Aaron Cintron has also been charged for having a firearm in the car.  Because the vehicle had stolen license plates on it, Cintron was also charged for that.  He was taken into custody without incident Tuesday night. 

 

Cintron was arraigned and ordered held on $10,000 cash bond.

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Bethel Historical Society receives donation from Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust

The Bethel Historical Society has received a donation from the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust.  The $4,600 will be used to complete the website section of the Historical Society's Museum in the Streets initiative.  It's a project highlighting about 30 historic Bethel locations.  The organization has the first group to be installed in downtown Bethel listed on their website.  They plan to make update over the next several months as the number of sites grow.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed to meet about cutting budget request

The Ridgefield Board of Education has been directed to reduce their budget request for the coming fiscal year by $884,000.  The Board of Finance decided unanimously this week to hold education spending increases to 2.5 percent. 

 

The municipal spending plan is proposed at $37.39 million.  It's a 2.2-percent increase in spending over this year.  In order to keep the tax increase under 2-percent, at 1.92, Ridgefield officials are opting to use $1.8 million from the fund balance.  

 

The state budget, as presented by the governor, would zero out education funding for Ridgefield. 

 

The Board of Ed will meet April 19th to go over where to make cuts.  The annual town budget meeting will be held May 2nd at 7:30pm at the Ridgefield Playhouse. 

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FOI complaint filed by New Milford resident about renovations to Pettibone School

Work that's been done to convert the former Pettibone School in New Milford into a community center is the topic of a second Freedom of Information request from a town resident.  The Newstimes reports that Greg Mullin withdrew one complaint seeking information about a November meeting between Mayor David Gronbach and members of the Board of Ed.  Mullen's second FOIA complaint seeks copies of all documents on work that's been done at the building.

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Brookfield to appeal judge's ruling about paying legal fees of former Registrar

Brookfield officials have decided to appeal a judge's ruling ordering the town to reimburse the former Republican Registrar of Voter's legal fees.  The fees were racked up in a case involving Thomas Dunkerton and former Republican Town Committee chairman invoking a little used state statute to remove Jane Miller from the party.  Miller unsuccessfully sued the pair.  A judge found that Dunkerton was acting in his role as a town employee not as a party official when he removed Miller from the voter rolls.

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WCHN official opposes Gov.'s proposed hospital tax

Hospital officials turned out at the state capital yesterday to urge lawmakers to reject Governor Dannel Malloy's proposal to allow cities and towns to tax hospitals.  Western Connecticut Health Network CEO Dr. John Murphy says eliminating hospital's property tax exemption would impact the care hospitals provide.  He says this would close the door that permits access to health care.

 

Connecticut hospitals collectively pay $556 million in taxes.  Murphy says for WCHN, that's $1 million a week in taxes. 

 

Murphy says the state must stop taxing hospitals for the care they provide to patients.  He also wants the state to adequately fund Medicaid.  Connecticut's Medicaid reimbursement is the lowest in the United States.  He says the current rate undermines access to care.

 

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says he's trying to explore other possibilities to do the same thing as ending the property tax exemption, including new investments in cities and encouraging hospitals to take advantage of all available federal reimbursement opportunities.

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Victims seek to freeze assets in sex trafficking case

Two victims of a Danbury-based human trafficking ring police say exploited young men with mental health issues are looking to file a civil suit against two men charged last week.  A motion has been filed to freeze the assets of 71-year old William Trefzger of Westport and 63-year old Bruce Bemer of Glastonbury. 

 

A hearing on the case is set for the 24th.  

 

The pair have been charged with patronizing a trafficked person.  A third man, Robert King of Danbury, is the accused ring leader.  More arrests are expected. 

 

Authorities say the men were plied with drugs and money and delivered to wealthy clients to have sex for money after they had built up substantial drug debts. 

 

Police have identified at least 15 victims.

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Southbury woman killed in Newtown crash

A Southbury woman has died from injuries she sustained in a head-on collision in Newtown on Tuesday afternoon.  Police responded to Mount Pleasant Road near Taunton Lane to find that a Buick and a GMC had collided. 

 

Both drivers and a passenger in the GMC were unable to provide police with information about the accident due to their injuries.  That passenger, 86-year old Delores Hake, succumbed to her injuries at Danbury Hospital. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.  Preliminary findings are that the Buick driver, 32-year old Terrelle Anderson of Bridgeport, crossed the double yellow line and collided with 85-year old Forest Herron of Southbury who was travelling in the opposite direction.

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Newtown Police K9 diagnosed with rare form of cancer

Newtown Police K9 Saint Michael has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  The emergency animal hospital determined that Saint Michael had cancer in his spleen area.  The K9 was brought to the vet last week and his spleen was removed. 

 

 

Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says the K9 is an asset to the police force and he will return to the job on modified assignment as soon as possible.  With the diagnosis, he will be limited in terms of being an aggressive-type of dog.  He will do more sniffing and tracking rather than chasing criminals.

 

Saint Michael joined the Newtown Police force in 2014 and serves with his handler Officer Felicia Figol. 

 

(Photos courtesy: Facebook)

 

Bahamonde says they are looking into holistic treatment and chemotherapy.  They are looking to offset the costs, which can get expensive.  The department wants to treat Saint Michael and prolong his life as long as they medically can, with a good quality of life.

 

Budgets everywhere are tight, and this kind of immediate need will be tough to handle, so the Newtown Police Department is seeking donations to help offset the $5,000 to $7,000 related to his diagnosis.  Bahamonde says the donations will help cover the costs of his medical treatment and potentially save his life.  

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Danbury completes purchase of Tuxedo Junction building

Danbury has purchased the Tuxedo Junction building. The one-story, 7,000 square foot space will be turned into a community theater.  The $395,000 purchase was completed Thursday, just under the list price.

 

Money for the renovation work wasn’t included in the budget proposal given to the City Council Tuesday, but Boughton says he’s going to see how to make it work. He believes it can be done fairly quickly and inexpensively, while also providing a first class venue for concerts and shows. 

 

The building is on Post Office Street, the walkway off Main Street, and does not include the adjoining bar on Ives Street.  The nightclub closed after 21-year old operator Ian Bick was sentenced to prison for an investment fraud scheme. 

 

Boughton says Tree House Comedy Club has reached out to City officials about renting the space for 50 nights a year. An inquiry has also been made by Richter Park Musicals.  The Danbury Music Centre could also use that space.  

 

The City Council first met in executive session at their February meeting about buying the building. 

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Greater Danbury area police departments step up search for drivers using cell phones

Put your phone away or get ready to pay.  Brookfield Police will be out in force through the end of the month looking for drivers as part of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign.  The high-visibility effort is aimed at enforcing distracted-driving laws.  Captain Pete Frengs says everyone knows texting and driving is illegal and dangerous, and everyone knows they shouldn’t be doing it—but they see it happen all the time. 

 

Monroe police are also participating in the enforcement effort.  They are asking drivers to put the phone down when behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and park your vehicle in a safe place first. 

 

Drivers who are ticketed can be fined $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.  

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Easton police investigating two cases of stolen vehicles

Vehicles stolen from Southbury and Easton are being investigated by Easton Police.  Two suspicious cars were reported early Tuesday morning on The Circle at Bartling Drive.  A caller said they shined their lights on the side-by-side cars, and the drivers took off. 

 

The vehicles were seen back in the area a short time later.  One driver got into the other vehicle, which then left.  Officers arrived and monitored the area. 

 

Due to recent burglaries from motor vehicles, Easton Police towed the car.  The vehicle was later reported stolen by a Southbury resident.  During a follow up door to door investigation, an Easton resident realized that their vehicle was stolen sometime overnight.  

In both the Southbury and Easton cases, the vehicles were unlocked and keys were left inside.

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Paving, flood mitigation included in Danbury capital budget

Of the $3 million Capital Improvement budget in Danbury, about $1 million is going to paving. Mayor Mark Boughton says $1.7 million will be used for continued clean up of the Still River.  This builds on the $1.5 million spent last year to mitigate flooding in the downtown area cause by trees, debris, and brush.  He believes residents will start seeing a difference in some of the areas that traditionally flood.  Some of the other capital budget funding will be used to replace Tasers for police officers, police cars that needed work and equipment for the public works division.

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State Police release details of weekend rollover in Danbury

State Police have released details about a weekend highway rollover accident. 

 

Trooper Cassavechia responded to  Route 7 Northbound near I-84 Exit 3 in Danbury on Saturday .  He found a driver injured and trapped in the car.  He was able to crawl into the wrecked vehicle and provide first aid until Danbury Fire and EMS arrived.  The driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 

 

Danbury Deputy Fire Chief Bernie Meehan says Trooper Cassavechia exemplified a public safety professional with his response.

 

(Photo courtesy: Bernie Meehan)

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Brookfield residents weigh in on proposed budget

Brookfield residents have sounded off about a proposed $40.8 million school budget and an $18.6 million municipal spending plan.  The Board of Finance held a public hearing last night on the proposal.  $1.2 million for capital projects and $4 million for debt service has also been presented.  Taxes would go up 1.8 percent under the proposal.  The annual town meeting will be held May 2nd, with a referendum vote likely to be held May 16th.

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Bethel elementary schools grade reconfiguration to be discussed tonight

Changes to grade levels in Bethel's elementary schools will be discussed at a community forum tonight.  The Board of Education has voted to make Berry Elementary a pre-K through 2nd grade school, and Rockwell a kindergarten through 2nd grade.  Johnson School would house 3rd through 5th graders.  Berry and Rockwell are currently K-3 schools with Johnson only serving grades 4-5.  Renovation projects are planned at Rockwell and Johnson, with state funding possibly covering about half of the expense.  Tonight's forum in Bethel is at 7pm in the Johnson School Media Center.

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Public hearing tonight in New Milford on budget proposal

There's a public hearing in New Milford tonight about a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  Taxes would increase 1.87-percent under the plan, which includes about $39 million for the town and $63 million for the schools.  Overall spending is up about 2.7 percent.  Most of the school spending increase is for contractual obligations and health insurance hikes.  A controversial part of the proposal is a 30-percent cut to nonprofits.  The plan also includes $1.2 million in revenue from sales of town-owned properties, which have not yet been sold.  The public hearing at New Milford High School is at 7pm.

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Fatal accident in Woodbury under investigation

There was a fatal accident in Woodbury yesterday afternoon.  Woodbury and State Police responded to the crash on Good Hill Road shortly before 2:30pm and found a head on collision between a Honda Civic and a pick up truck.  Police determined that 49-year old James Hlinican of Grahamsville, New York had crossed the double yellow line and struck the pick up in the opposite lane of travel.  Hlinican was pronounced dead at the scene.  The other driver, a 50-year old Coventry man, was transported to Waterbury Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  The case remains under investigation.

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Man arrested for attempted Bethlehem home invasion

A Bethlehem resident called 911 last night saying that someone was trying to break into his house and kill him.  State Police Troopers responded to the East Street home, but the suspect was gone.  The man, 30-year old Joseph Fortunato of Bethlehem, was known to the victim. 

 

A perimeter was set up and a K9 officer arrived to begin a track which yielded negative results.  Fortunato was later located at his home and arrested without incident. 

 

State Police say the pair have had arguments in the past. 

 

Fortunato was charged with attempted home invasion /unarmed burglary, criminal mischief, breach of peace and threatening.  He was held on $100,000 bond for arraignment next week.

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Lawmakers hope to address Danbury human trafficking ring

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they want to pass legislation this session that addresses a Danbury-based human trafficking ring police say exploited young men with mental health issues.

Authorities say the men were plied with drugs and money and delivered to wealthy clients to have sex for money after they had built up substantial drug debts. Three men have been arrested so far in connection with the case. More arrests are expected.

The General Assembly's Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to forward a bill that creates tougher crimes for human trafficking. Stamford State Rep. William Tong, the committee's Democratic House chairman, says lawmakers are ``well aware'' of the Danbury case ``and want to do something on it.''

The bill will likely be changed after it moves to the House of Representatives.

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Danbury Mayor proposes budget to City Council

A status quo budget has been presented to the Danbury City Council. The school budget is $2.6 million more than last fiscal year. City spending is up 2.6 percent. That's statutorily under the new state spending cap of 2.5 percent because some state spending doesn’t count toward the cap. The mill rate is going up .24, a less than one percent increase. The average household’s property tax bill will go up about $50 for the entire year.

 

Boughton is proposing the creation of two new basketball courts, and the expansion of the Library parking lot.

 

There will be no increase in sewer and water rates because the City is waiting to see if the new EPA reduces phosphorus removal mandates.

 

Spending is going up, because a new wing of the high school, the Freshman Academy, is opening up this fall. Staffing the new academy is the biggest driver in the budget. 12 vacant municipal positions will be filled at a later date saving the city $500,000.

 

None of the new revenue from the state was included in the budget so that the City can be in the best possible position when the state finally adopts a budget, for example Boughton didn’t assume that the City could start taxing Danbury Hospital. He says he didn’t want to be put in a position of having to send out supplemental tax bills based on what the state does, nor be in the position of operating with a huge surplus.

After 14 years, Boughton says City officials have been able to wean Danbury off using the savings account to help offset tax increases. No money from the savings account is being spent this year. There's no one-shot sources of revenue, selling off properties and the like.

 

With the exception of $3 million in notes, all capital spending—roads, bridges, roof repairs—is pay as you go. Boughton says that way taxpayers can know that the City is not racking up a long term debt for future generations.  

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WCSU hosts panel discussion on legalizing recreational use of marijuana

Western Connecticut State University has hosted a panel discussion about legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut.  Panel moderator, Law Professor Dr George Kain says students, community members, law enforcement members and legislators talked about the pros and cons last night.

 

Kain notes that Massachusetts legalizing recreational use will have an impact on Connecticut, regardless of what is done in this state.The state's budget woes may be making some lawmakers softer on the issue, but Kain called that a short-sighted approach.

 

One of the areas covered was taking possession out of the criminal justice system and treating it as a public health issue.  Kain says the criminal justice system is not equipped to handle the drug problem, and he suggested more treatment and intervention programs.

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Bethel residents send budget to April 18 referendum

The Bethel budget proposal has been approved to go to referendum.  During the annual town meeting Monday night, residents nearly unanimously sent the budget to an April 18th vote.  The plan represents a 2.38 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said under the circumstances, that's a reasonable increase.  He noted that it's below the average rate of inflation and modest by modern standards.  Knickerbocker says the budget maintains school programs like Junior ROTC, AP classes and Pathways to Professions. 

 

On the town side, two positions have been eliminated from the budget due to new efficiencies. 

 

There was a motion raised that could have saved the town about $5,000.  Bethel Action Committee founder Billy Michael says the tax watchdog group wants legal notices published in the Penny Saver rather than in a daily circulated newspaper.  Michael says the less expensive medium goes to every household, and is currently used by Brookfield and Hamden.  

 

State statute required published written notification of meetings and votes.  

 

But Knickerbocker says the Town Charter calls for notice in a newspaper of general circulation, and the Penny Saver doesn't fit the legal definition.

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Monroe Police team up with surrounding departments for new traffic unit

The Monroe Police Department is part of the Southern Fairfield County Traffic Unit.  As of Thursday, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Easton, Stratford and Monroe Police Departments entered into an agreement allowing the agencies to work in a coordinated effort to help reduce traffic crashes and enhance traffic safety.  The joint venture will allow them to share resources, participate in training opportunities, and further enhance communications that cross jurisdictional lines.  Officers from these six departments may be working in each others towns during pre-planned traffic details with a certain objective.  It ranges from seatbelt enforcement to DUI checkpoints.

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New Milford gets positive bond rating from S&P

New Milford has been assigned a AA+ bond rating from S&P, with a healthy financial outlook .  The rating is the same level as the existing Moody’s rating, which was assigned 7 years ago.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says the rating is above average for the State and demonstrates the town's strong financial position.  The town's short term financing was rated at the highest possible level. 

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Danbury woman found with ecstasy during traffic stop

A Danbury woman was found with ecstasy in her possession during a routine traffic stop over the weekend.  New York State Police say a driver was stopped Saturday for not maintaining the lane of travel on Route 6.  A passenger,  27-year old Taniqua Scott, had marijuana and Tylenol with Codeine in her possession as well.  Scott was charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in addition to unlawful possession of marijuana.  She was ordered to appear in court April 11th.

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UPDATED: Motorcyclist pinned by pick up truck in head-on crash

A Danbury man has been charged for failure to yield while making a left turn in connection to an accident yesterday involving a pick up truck and a motorcycle. 

 

Danbury Police say 58-year old Edmund Smith struck 54-year old Ismael Ruiz of Bethel on Newtown Road.  Ruiz was pinned under the front-end of the pickup truck and had to be extricated by members of the Danbury Fire Department.  Ruiz was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment.  Smith remained on the scene and was ticketed.   

 

(Photo courtesy: Mark Omasta)

 

The truck driver was not injured. 

 

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says firefighters used the Jaws of Life and steel plates to lift the pick up truck off the victim.  The "TL-9" adjunct tool was among three that were recently purchased by the Danbury Fire Department after members trained on its use at the Danbury Fire School.  The "TL-9" was designed and manufactured in Connecticut by a retired Waterbury Firefighter. 

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Newtown man's conviction over a stolen credit card heads to state Supreme Court

A Newtown man is set to appear before the state Supreme Court today in his case against the state.  Frank Schovanec was charged with larceny in 2013 over the alleged theft and use of someone else's credit card. 

 

The 45-year old argues that, in spite of the state's claim to the contrary, there was direct evidence of someone else having used the credit card.  Schovanec, who has a history of petty theft in Newtown, claims that police didn't investigate purchases made in Waterbury. 

 

Two gas station attendants in Newtown identified Schovanec as having used the card.  But surveillance video allegedly showed three hispanic men using the credit card at Burlington Coat Factory in Waterbury. 

 

Schovanec is requesting the state state Supreme Court reverse and remand the case for a new trial, and to include instructions to vacate the larceny conviction.

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Newtown police identify man killed in driveway accident

Newtown Police have identified the 19-year old who was killed in an Indian Hill Road driveway when the car he was working on rolled off the jack and onto him Sunday.  Police say Ryan Fetchick was pronounced dead on scene.  An investigation is ongoing, but police say it appears at this time that his death was the result of a tragic accident.

 

The first officers to arrive on scene attempted to provide first aid, but once a paramedic arrived on scene it was determined that the injuries were so severe that any further efforts would have no chance for survival.  The State Medical Examiner was called to assist with the investigation. 

 

Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said no words can express the sorrow felt for the individual, his family and the first responders who tried their best to save this man’s life during this most tragic accident.

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Woman charged in Sandy Hook parent threat arrested

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The woman accused of sending death threats to a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, has been arrested after failing to show up in court.

Jail records show 57-year-old Lucy Richards was arrested on Saturday in Hillsborough County in the Tampa Bay area.

A judge issued an arrest warrant March 29 after Richards failed to show up in federal court in Fort Lauderdale for a change-of-plea hearing and sentencing.

She was set to plead guilty to a charge of interstate transmission of a threat to injure for threatening Lenny Pozner, the father of Noah Pozner who died in the shooting at the Sandy Hook school. Prosecutors said she told them she believed the shooting was a hoax.

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Southbury woman charged for fatal hit and run accident in New Haven

A Southbury woman has been charged with manslaughter and other charges for a fatal hit and run accident in New Haven over the weekend.  Police say 43-year old Veronica Pierce of Southbury was also charged with DUI, evading responsibility, operating with a suspended license and driving the wrong way on a one-way street. 

 

New Haven Police say the victim was struck on Ella Grasso Boulevard Sunday as he cycled along the side of the street. 

 

Witnesses were able to provide a description of the vehicle, which was located after another driver called to say that they were nearly struck on the highway.  That caller said the vehicle had a damaged windshield. 

 

Pierce failed field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit at .206 percent.

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New Wilton Police Chief sworn in

The Wilton Police Commission has sworn in John Lynch as Chief of Police.  Lynch joined the Department in 1985 as an auxiliary officer.  He helped created the community bike patrol division.  Chief Robert Crosby retired at the end of last year.  The ceremony was held at Wilton Library Monday afternoon.

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Zebra mussel spotting in Candlewood turned out to be Asian Clams

While members of the Brookfield Police Department took part in a cold water training dive recently, they investigated a report of possible zebra mussels in Candlewood Lake.  What they found were Asian clams, a different non-native mussel.  Those have been spotted in the lake for years. 

 

While similar in size, Candlewood Lake Authority officials say they do have a different shape and coloring/pattern from the zebra mussels.  Asian clams live in the sediment, while zebra mussels are usually found attached to hard surfaces. 

 

To date, the CLA does not have any confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Candlewood Lake.

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DEEP discusses Bantam Lake state boat launch upgrade proposals

Proposed renovations to the Bantam Lake State Boat Launch in Morris have been discussed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Plans are to make the launch a state-of-the-art, handicapped accessible facility. 

 

The ramp will be replaced with a single, grooved, concrete slab surface along with a separate car top launching area.  Concrete pavers will be installed along the ramp sides to prevent erosion.  An ADA accessible, floating dock system will be added to make launching and retrieval of boats safer and more efficient.

 

In addition, a solar powered street light will be installed near the ramp to assist boaters launching or retrieving boats at night, and a protected concrete portable toilet pad will be installed.

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Ridgefield police cracking down on distracted drivers

The Ridgefield Police Department is participating in the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” initiative– an effort to crackdown on motorists who choose to text, talk or otherwise distract themselves from the task of driving.  The Ridgefield Police Department will have extra patrols on certain days specifically looking for cell phone and texting violations. The fine for a first offense is $150, a 2nd ticket will cost a driver $300.  Each subsequent violation carries a $500 fine.  The Ridgefield Police Department, through the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, received funds to pay for this enforcement initiative.

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Conn. considers bill allowing police to use weaponized drones

The legislature’s Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill that would authorize police to operate a drone that could release tear gas, an explosive or incendiary device. The bill also outlines penalties for people who are not police officers who fly weaponized drones.

 

A now 20-year old Connecticut man posted widely viewed videos online of drones that could shoot bullets and flames. Austin Haughwout hasn’t been charged in connection with the 2015 flamethrower and gun incidents, but the FAA is investigating.

 

Several Greater Danbury area lawmakers are members of the Judiciary Committee and voted in favor of advancing the bill. They include Senators Mike McLachlan and Tony Hwang, along with Representatives Bob Godfrey, Stephen Harding and Richard Smith.

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Farms in New Milford, Suffield protected under state program

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Farms in New Milford and Suffield are the latest to be protected under Connecticut's Farmland Preservation Program.

 

The Department of Agriculture said the purchase of the two farms' development rights will ensure the 53-acre Triple Creek Farm in New Milford and about 60 acres of the Stiles Farm in Suffield will always remain available for agriculture production.

 

Hay grown at the Triple Creek Farm helps to feed a herd of about 250 beef cattle raised by the Stuart Family Farm in Bridgewater. It's one of the largest grass-fed beef operations in the state.

 

Hay, tobacco and vegetables, including sweet corn, are grown at the Stiles Farm.

 

More than 43,000 acres on about 335 farms have been protected from development under the state program.

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Bethel man pleads guilty in connection to two overdose deaths

A Bethel man has waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin and cocaine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 51-year old Paul Mignani distributed heroin, cocaine and fentanyl to a woman who died of an overdose in Bethel. Police also responded to Mignani’s resident on a report of an unresponsive 25-year old, who was later pronounced dead. He was arrested on state charges related to that investigation. Mignani has been detained since his arrest December 28. He will be sentenced on June 20th and faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Road closures in place for railroad track reconstruction in Redding

Metro North Railroad and the state Department of Transportation have notified the Redding Police Department of some road closures through Wednesday or Thursday for track reconstruction. Simpaug Turnpike at Route 7 and Fire Hill Road, along with Topstone Road at the Ridgefield Line and Bayberry Lane will be closed to thru traffic.  This is the Topstone Road Rail Crossing.

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Danbury man charged with threatening Bethel resident

A Danbury man has been arrested by Bethel Police on a threatening charge.  A Bethel resident called police early this morning saying that he was threatened with physical violence by a person he knows in relation to another ongoing police investigation.  23-year old Terral Belin allegedly made comments and physical motions which led to the 911 call.  Bethel Police say the claims were corroborated by a third party witness.  Belin was released on bond for a court appearance on the 17th.

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Newtown man killed in driveway accident

A 19-year old Newtown man has been killed in an accident in his driveway.  Newtown Police say it appears the man was working on his car on a jack lift yesterday morning, the vehicle broke loose from it's position, and rolled over the man.  The vehicle continued across Indian Hill Road and crashed into a neighbor's home directly across the street.  The man was pronounced dead on scene.  The name of the deceased will not be released until all family members are notified. 

 

An update is expected to be released today.

 

The first officers to arrive on scene attempted to provide first aid, but once a paramedic arrived on scene it was determined that the injuries were so severe that any further efforts would have no chance for survival.  The State Medical Examiner was called to assist with the investigation. 

 

 

Lt. Aaron Bahamonde said no words can express the sorrow felt for the individual, his family and the first responders who tried their best to save this man’s life during this most tragic accident.

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Swastika, racist graffiti found at Ridgefield High School

A Peace Out event is being held today at Ridgefield High School in response to racist and ant-Semitic graffiti being found last week. 

 

Principal Stacey Gross says a swastika and another spray painted message were found on an outside area of the school.  In a letter to parents, Gross said that those who create such statements offend everyone in the Ridgefield High School community and that it is not considered acceptable behavior. 

 

Police are investigating. 

 

During today's Peace Out event, students and staff are being encouraged to draw or write what peace means to them in chalk outside the school's main entrance.

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Easton man pleads guilty in 'Operation Juicebox' case

An Easton man has changed his plea in a federal steroid distribution case. 49-year old Raymond Martin, a former police commissioner pleaded guilty last week to unlawful possession of a controlled substance. The investigation centered on former Newtown Police Sgt Steven Santucci, who received shipments of steroid ingredients from China and manufactured wholesale quantities. Certain members of the conspiracy also distributed prescription pills, including oxycodone, as well as cocaine. Martin will be sentenced July 5. Santucci was sentenced to 16 months in prison. Several others await sentencing.

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Danbury teen accepted into West Point

Three students in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District have been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, including one from Danbury. Joseph Waldron reached out to Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for a nomination to accompany his application.

 

Esty says she was impressed with the students’ academic, social and professional achievements. A congressional nomination is required for, but does not guarantee, admission.

 

Waldron served as a Cadet Commander and has previously been honored with awards from the Civil Air Patrol. He received the Billy Mitchell Award, the Commanders Commendation Award, the Connecticut Congressional Award, the Air Force Association Cadet Aerospace Education Officer of the Year Award for the Northeast Region and the Air Force Association Squadron Cadet of the Year Award.

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Danbury to conduct fire hydrant flushing

The Danbury Water Department will be flushing fire hydrants beginning today. It will take about 9 weeks to complete the entire process. Officials say the annual activity will help provide better quality water and fire protection. Customers may experience fluctuations in pressure and discoloration of their water during hydrant flushing. During periods of discoloration, postpone washing clothes and limit your use of hot water until the cold water clears.

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VITA centers in Danbury now open to help with tax returns

The Greater Danbury Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coalition is again running a program sponsored by the IRS to help low and moderate-income families prepare and file state and federal tax returns.  Families who had an income of $54,000 or less in 2016 may qualify for free tax preparation services.  Last year, trained volunteers in Danbury prepared almost 500 tax returns, which included $208,420 in federal Earned Income Tax Credits which may have otherwise gone unclaimed.

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