Local Headlines

Bethel Fire Department launches veteran fundraiser

Veteran's Day is fast approaching, and the Bethel Fire Department has members who have honorably served in the military.  As a salute to them, they're selling a limited edition Bethel Fire Department Veteran's T-shirt.  A portion of the proceeds will go to Mission22, an organization dedicated to supporting service men and women once they return home, and lowering the veteran suicide rate.  Shirts are $25 and can be reserved by emailing us at memberdirector@bvfdinc.com.  A link to an online store to pick up orders is expected soon.

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Brookfield firefighters caution drivers to slick roads with wet leaves

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is cautioning drivers to slick roadways over the next 24 hours with heavy rain and leaves in the street. They asked that drivers give ample space between you and the car in front of you as stopping distances may be longer with wet leaves.

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Commemorative Suffragist 'I Voted' stickers in Conn. this year

2 million Commemorative Suffragist 'I Voted' stickers have been distributed to Connecticut's 169 cities and towns.  The project was initiated by Wilton resident Pamela Hovland, a graphic designer and Yale University faculty member.  The Secretary of the State's Office has also made digital versions of the stickers available.  Hovland worked with Newtown resident Julie Hughes, who works in Wilton Library’s history room, and Peggy Reeves, a member of the Wilton League of Women Voters who is a consultant for the secretary of the state’s office.

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Danbury steps up enforcement of COVID-19 regulations at businesses

There's been a lot of arguing and vitriol on Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's Facebook page lately when he announced COVID-19 numbers for the City.  That's why, starting next week, the statistics will only be posted to the City's website. 

Boughton says he knows people want to get back to normal, but in order for that to happen people have to follow the state's guidance.  He knows it's tiring and tedious to wear a mask, but notes that people aren't wearing the masks as vigilantly as they used to. 

Boughton also reminded people to properly dispose of their masks, and not litter the streets with the medical waste.

On Sunday there were five Danbury residents diagnosed with COVID, 45 on Monday and 21 yesterday.  That's the highest daily number since the spring.  Over the course of the previous week, 163 new cases were reported. 

Boughton acknowledged that the school's distance learning decision came late, but says they wanted to wait until the last minute to see if the numbers would trend back down.  17 staff members also had to quarantine.  He says it might have been better if the district put out word on Wednesday that the numbers were starting to spike up.  Boughton says more communication is always better than less communication. 

A new date to return has not been set.

Acting Health Director Kara Prunty is stepping up enforcement of state regulations in businesses, potentially issuing injunctions and temporary restraining orders so they don't open.  Boughton says the Department is working on one closure notice and if the business doesn't comply, the City will take the establishment to court and get an order to make them close.  He says this is being done because they're a menace to the public health of the City. 

He added that enforcement action is never the first step and businesses are given advice, warnings and other chances to voluntarily comply with COVID-19 prevention measures.

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After two decades, the 111th House district to get new state representative

After two decades, the 111th House district of Ridgefield will get a new state representative.  John Frey, who was first elected in 1998, is not seeking reelection in November.  Republican Selectman Bob Hebert and Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo recently took part in a League of Women Voters debate. 

Hebert chaired the Ridgefield Housing Authority, is a member of CERT, coached hockey, softball and baseball, and spent 10 years on Wall Street.  He owns and manages a private equity fund.  Berger-Girvalo was operations manager for Hard Rock Cafe International and Gap, and worked as an instructional para-educator in Ridgefield Public Schools, and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist, providing in-home and in-school behavioral and educational services to children on the Autism Spectrum.

On the 8-30g affordable housing statute, Hebert says there is some merit to the law, but the 10 percent minimum unit requirement is unachievable in Ridgefield.  He says the town has done good a job in getting affordable units, but not all of the homes are deed restricted and therefore do not qualify.  Hebert called for keeping zoning decisions local.  Berger-Girvalo says the law does a great job in serving big developers and real estate investors and doesn't help bring those who work in the community to live in the community.  She says seniors are very concerned about how they will be able to age in place.

The police accountability bill was addressed.  Berger-Girvalo says she supports the local police department and called for everyone to take a breath and get this right.  She maintains that the most important piece is bringing communities to the table.  Berger-Girvalo says officers can still objectively perform in good faith.  Hebert says additional and ongoing training and police body cameras are good things.  But he says the way the bill was done in Special Session with limited public input, didn't leave time to analyze the implications of the bill. 

Hebert says there's no silver bullet to correct the state's fiscal woes.  He says there's been decades of unchallenged spending.  He called for a reduction in state mandates and a rollback of unfunded mandates on municipalities.  Hebert wants to put sunset rules on some financial-related laws so they don't stay on the books for a long period of time.  Berger-Girvalo says there is no easy answer, but the state can't look at just short-term solutions.  She wants to close tax loopholes and says there are a lot of 1-percenters in the state who are not contributing in the way that working class people are contributing.  Berger-Girvalo suggested cost sharing, opportunities for consolidating and bringing in new revenue through new industries.

The candidates were asked about whether the state legislature should try again to implement no-excuse absentee voting.  Berger-Girvalo says she supports any legislation that secures voting rights.  Hebert agreed that he would support voting laws that ensure every eligible individual has an easy way to vote.

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Bethel First Selectman adds 4th item to pandemic reminder list

In addition to the now routine reminders to people to wear a mask, socially distance and practice good hand hygiene, a local elected official is adding a 4th reminder to that list. Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is calling on people to stay home if feeling ill.  He says the days of “toughing out” a cold or “sweating it out” at the gym need to be a thing of the past. One of the reasons for the increase in COVID-19 cases that Bethel is seeing today is from people who thought they were experiencing nothing more than a cold or a seasonal allergy and continued about their daily business. It turned out to be COVID-19, allowing the virus to gain a foothold in their family and start to spread.

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New Fairfield encourages one-way trick-or-treating

As COVID-19 infection numbers continue to trend upwards in New Fairfield, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco asked that residents follow State Department of Public Health guidelines for Halloween activities.  The town's Health Director asks that people participate in “one-way” trick or treating by preparing grab and go goodie bags to be place outside the home for Trick or Treaters, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.

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Annual Halloween Walk in Ridgefield cancelled, Spooktacular Drive-Thru still on

The annual Halloween Walk in Ridgefield has been cancelled. The Spooktacular Drive-Thru Halloween Event at the Lounsbury House will still take place on Halloween from 10am to 2pm, sponsored by the Ridgefield Police Department and the Ridgefield Theater Barn. The event is open to Ridgefield residents only and requires pre-registration.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's important to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.  He asked that people keep wearing a mask, in all public spaces whether on sidewalks, in common areas, while shopping or at sporting events.  With the holidays, families look to have gatherings, but Marconi says that increases the chance of spreading COVID.  He asked that residents consider themselves and others in the community by rethinking holiday plans.

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Nuvance Health CEO expects second COVID-19 peak in mid-January

The next surge of coronavirus in Connecticut will be more manageable, according to one local doctor.  Nuvance Health CEO Dr John Murphy says the next peak is expected in mid-January, but he notes that health care workers have learned to treat the disease.  Now when patients arrive, they’re given anti-coagulant medication early as they're at a higher risk of potentially fatal blood clotting.

He says the percentage of people testing positive back in March, April and May who were under age 18 was 4 percent, now it's a quarter of everyone testing positive.  Murphy added that the average person admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in May and June stayed about two weeks, and now it's just under 7 days.  He says they also have fewer comorbidities.

Murphy noted that with he holidays coming, there is a tendency for people to gather, potentially with out-of-state visitors.  He warned of a second peak in mid-January.  Murphy says the prediction is based on six different models after the second wave in the fall and winter.  Murphy says the state is in for a “tough winter.”

The state has seen a steady uptick in cases of COVID-19 recently, but the average of those testing positive is 2.2 percent.

He notes that many more individuals are wearing masks. Even if you are going to get sick, Murphy says it is likely you get less severely ill because the size of the viral exposure is significantly reduced by wearing a mask.

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28th state Senate District candidates square off in repeat of 2018 contest

The candidates vying for the 28th state Senate District seat are looking to represent Newtown and other southern Fairfield County towns.  Republican incumbent Tony Hwang is being challenged by Democrat Michelle McCabe, who unsuccessfully challenged him two years ago.  They recently took part in a candidate forum hosted by the Newtown Bee. 

Hwang says there are ways to make Connecticut affordable for seniors to retire here, and attractive for young people to move to the state.  Hwang says people are moving away from urban centers and business recruitment needs to happen.  But he says the key is to attract workforce talent.  McCabe Connecticut is not friendly to businesses because of the permitting process.  She says it needs to be streamlined, with a renewed focus on a skilled workforce.  She also advocated for a public-private partnership with student loan forgiveness.

When it comes to getting the state's fiscal house in order, Hwang says Connecticut has the highest unfunded pension liability in the country, per capita. He wants to find a way to pay down that debt while honoring the commitment that past legislatures have made.  He notes that the other critical factor is helping small businesses.  McCabe agreed that workforce development is important and called for benefits reform.

The pair also addressed the pandemic.  Hwang says the public health concern, but the economic fallout was devastating.  He says any decision needs to rely on the science, but there has to be a plan to take progressive steps to reopen.  He called for a bipartisan collaboration on the work ahead.  McCabe says the state should help businesses to prepare to pivot.  She notes that a lot has been learned since March and that should be applied to building an infrastructure to help businesses.

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Ridgefield Police investigate three business break ins

Three breaking and entering incidents have been reported in Ridgefield.  Police say burglars forced entry by breaking a door window and unlocking the door of three businesses--two on Main Street and one on West Lane.  The incidents happened in the early morning hours Sunday into Monday.  The cash registers at two businesses were removed and cash was taken from the other business.  Police say anywhere from 100 to 200 dollars was taken from each.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Ryan at 203-431-2794 or the department’s tip line at 203-431-234.

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New Fairfield to hold in person registration

Today is the last day to register to vote in Connecticut before Election Day.  New Fairfield will have in person registration from 9am to 8pm.  Residents are asked to wear a mask and go to the window just to the right of the front door at Town Hall.  Anyone who wants to register should bring a form of identification and a pen.  There will be a limited registration session in New Fairfield on Monday, November 2nd from 9AM to 5PM for those who turned 18 years of age, became a US citizen or moved to Connecticut after today's date.  This session is also available to members of the armed services who were discharged in the past year.  Election Day Registration will be available at New Fairfield Town Hall from 6am to 8pm on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd.

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REdding Registrar holds registration session

The Redding Registrar of Voters will be holding a registration session today from 9am to 8pm, by appointment only.  In order to register to vote, residents must have proof of residency and proof of citizenship such as a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate or social security card.  Mail in registrations postmarked after the 27th and online registrations will not be processed.  Those turning 18 years old after tomorrow, but before November 3rd, may apply at the Registrar’s office on a daily basis until the opening of the next limited session on November 2nd, from 9am to 5pm.

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Newtown Police investigating two more Zoom hacks

A virtual assembly of Newtown High School freshmen and their advisers was Zoom bombed.  Newtown Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in a letter to parents over the weekend that hackers used the n-word and other hate speech.  She called incidents like these not only disruptive, but highly offensive to students and staff.  The Newtown Non-Profit Council also experienced Zoom bombing last week, again with racist hate speech.  Newtown Police Chief James Viadero says these latest incidents, coupled with the Newtown constituent meeting featuring Congresswoman Jahana Hayes are an apparent coordinated hack.  All three are under investigation. 

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Danbury bar owner arrested again for violating public health emergency policies

A Danbury bar has been cited for a third time for violating public health emergency orders.  35-year old Erika Fajardo-Sumba, owner of La Costeñita Bar & Restaurant on Ives Street, was arrested on Friday on a warrant from a June 30 licensed business inspection.  Danbury Police say officers went to inspect the Ives Street establishment but were denied access.  Police say the doors were locked and the employees turned the lights off, but they could see people drinking inside the bar.  That's a violation of Governor Lamont’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions.  Police also referred the matter to state liquor control.  Fajardo-Sumba was also charged twice over Fourth of July weekend for “multiple violations” including employees not wearing masks, tables too close together, lack of partitions at the bar, and people drinking without food being ordered at the bar. 

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Brewster Fire Department responds to first chimney fire of the season

The Brewster Fire Department responded to the first chimney fire of the season last night.  No injuries were reported and damage was kept to a minimum.  The Brewster Fire Department recommends chimneys be inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney sweep before lighting your first fire of the season. The reason to clean a chimney is to not only remove a build up of soot and creosote, but also debris such as twigs, leaves, birds nests and whatever else may have found its way into the chimney.

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Bethel's COVID-19 case load is beginning to rise

Bethel’s COVID-19 case load is beginning to rise. While still not near the level to threaten business closures, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this is not where the town should be.  Since last week’s reporting period, Bethel’s daily case rate climbed to 6.9 new cases per 100,000residents, up from 4.9 the week before.Knickerbocker says practically anyone you come in contact with, unless they have been quarantined for the proper amount of time, has the potential to have contracted the virus unknowingly, and can spread it to you unknowingly.

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Redding Police locate 'trespasser'

The Redding Police Department responded to a reported four-legged trespasser on a property this weekend. The suspect in question was a horse.  Officer Livingston was able to quickly find and locate the animal, which was safely escorted home.

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Monroe firefighters to host drive up Trick or Treat event

This Halloween, Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is inviting parents to bring the kids to their drive up Trick or Treat event at the Route 110 fire station.  Families will be handed a pre-packaged treat bag. Kids dressed as a firefighter get a special bonus.  The event is on Halloween from 6:30pm to 8pm, while supplies last.

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department has created a 13-minute video for children that gives them a virtual tour of the fire truck and equipment.  They also provide age-appropriate fire safety tips. Hosted by over a dozen of our volunteer firefighters, the fire company says its a great way to wrap up Fire Prevention month while they've had to put off school and daycare center visits.
https://youtu.be/RklQKD0tZwI

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Hazard buoys to be removed from Candlewood Lake

The Candlewood Lake Authority is removing the hazard buoys from the water.  Anyone who is still out on Candlewood is asked to use cautioning while navigating the waters during the off seasons.

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Brookfield firefighters remove Marine 25 from service for the winter

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Candlewood Company has wrapped up the first boating season of the new Marine 25 vessel.  It was taken out of the water for its yearly maintenance and to be put in storage until next spring.  Fire company officials say this year has been the busiest year on the lake in recent memory and say accepting delivery of the new Marine 25 last year was very fortunate.  This year covered the gamut of fires, water rescues, and dive calls with the Brookfield Police Department.  Their smaller boat, Marine 24 which is housed at Candlewood Company, stays in service all year. During the winter months, Candlewood Company firefighters continue to train on ice rescue tactics for emergencies that occur on Candlewood Lake and Lake Lillinonah year round.

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Danbury cracks down on house parties, trick-or-treating

Danbury is cracking down on house parties.  The State has clarified that under Phase 3, private house parties whether they are indoor or outdoor, are limited to 25 people.  The City has had a large number of house parties reported this past weekend. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the police and Health Departments will be conducting enforcement action as needed. 

When it comes to Halloween, police could be in one neighborhood.  Deer Hill Avenue, a popular trick or treating location, is not open for trick or treating this year.  The neighborhood approached City officials and the Police Department and asked for assistance in discouraging trick or treating. Given the thousands of people who usually turn up, Boughton says its a smart move because there's no way for social distancing. 

Homeowners are encouraged to use a bowl or box to place candy outside - avoiding face to face contact with trick-or-treaters if they plan to participate in the traditional activity.  Handing out candy at the door is considered a high risk activity for transmission of coronavirus.  Anyone who plans to skip Halloween is urged to leave the outside light off, and ask that people respect homeowners decisions.

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Ridgefield middle schools have distance learning today

Ridgefield middle schools will have distance learning today because of four positive COVID-19 tests at the two middle schools.  There is one positive case among the Scotts Ridge Middle School community and two at East Ridge Middle School. Contact tracing is being done for the 4th case, out of Scotts Ridge.  Remote learning is set only for today as the school district consults with the local Department of Health.  A decision about in-person classes tomorrow will be announced today.

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Danbury man charged for alleged assault of woman in Bethel

A Danbury man allegedly broke into a Bethel woman's home and attacked her. Police charged 62-year old Jose Espinal last week.  Police say the victim found her male acquaintance in her bedroom when she came out of the bathroom Tuesday.  Police say the victim had injuries to her face and head.  She told officers that Espinal struck her in the head, choked her, and she lost consciousness.  When she came to, Espinal was gone.  He was later found involved in a car accident in Trumbull and hospitalized.  Espinal was charged with burglary, home invasion, strangulation, assault and criminal attempt to commit assault.

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Ridgefield Police seek to hire Connecticut certified police officers

The Ridgefield Police Department is accepting applications from Connecticut certified police officers for the position of patrol officer. Candidates must have at least 2 years of continuous service with their current Connecticut department, and in good standing with their current department.  Applications will be accepted through December 21st.   The salary starts at 67,000 and the cap is about $98,000.  Salary step will be based on years of experience as Certified police officer. Applicants must complete staff interviews, background investigation, drug screening, medical and psychological exams, and polygraph and physical agility tests.

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