Local Headlines

Downed utility poles replaced, South Kent Road reopens

South Kent Road has reopened.  It was closed early yesterday morning by downed trees, wires and poles.  Eversource completed the repairs this morning and the road was reopened to traffic.  The trees were removed form the wires by 6 o'clock last night.  Two new poles, cross arms and wires then were installed.  A crane had to be brought in for that process.  Kent Emergency Management officials cautioned yesterday morning that the closure would be needed for an extended period of time between Spooner Hill and Bulls Bridge.

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Work van fire extends to exterior of Monroe home

A work van on fire in a Monroe driveway was quickly extinguished yesterday.  Monroe Volunteer Fire Department says the van was very close to the Lynn Drive house.  The van fire had extended to part of the exterior of the home and attached garage area, but they were able to extinguish the flames before they got into the house. The homeowner was able to help tamp down the blaze while firefighters were enroute, which limited the damage. The cause was accidental in nature.  Stevenson and Stepney Fire Departments also responded.  There were no injuries but firefighters operated for about an hour in high temperatures.  Shelton Fire Department covered the town and responded to a separate fire alarm during this incident.  Monroe Police and EMS assisted on scene.

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Newest Brookfield Police Officer graduates from Connecticut Police Academy

Brookfield’s newest Police Officer has graduated from 6 months of training at the Connecticut Police Academy.  Travis Kullgren now begins a 12-week Field Training program.  He grew up in New Milford and was part of the Newtown Police Explorers while in high school.  After graduating in 2016, Kullgren joined the Marine Corps. He served four years, with several overseas missions. Kullgren was sworn into the Brookfield Police Department on January 4th.

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Public hearing tonight in Danbury on proposed pot moratorium

A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury on the proposed temporary moratorium of recreational marijuana sales in the City.  The Zoning Commission received a positive referral from the Planning Commission, which met last week.

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says it would be a year or less and would prohibit applications, petitions and issuances of permits related to cannabis establishments.  The zoning regulations would define cannabis establishments, though there are definitions contained in the state legislation.  The local decisions would also be about how to regulate cannabis-associated uses, where the appropriate places would be, evaluate what the legislation means for Danbury, and what the city can do should officials decide to allow these establishments. 

Medical dispensaries are permitted under existing zoning regulations, but those businesses are now allowed to apply to sell recreational pot under the recreational cannabis bill.  The moratorium would apply to new medical marijuana applications as well.  

The regular meeting starts at 7:30pm, but people can join after 7pm.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85317337594?pwd=TmNPS1lXNVNBcndtSFU5SjdEZVpBZz09

Meeting ID: 853 1733 7594

Passcode: 957284 

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Internal Affairs Investigation continues into Danbury Police response to incident

An internal investigation is continuing into the Danbury Police officers who responded to the library last month when a YouTuber was filming inside, against library policy.  In body camera footage obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media through a Freedom of Information Act request, one officer told another that the man would have been on the ground 5 years ago and would have been dead 20 years ago.  The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that the comments are blood curdling and incredibly revealing.  The discussion between the two officers was not included in the edited video posted by the so-called First Amendment Auditor after the June incident, in which it appears he intentionally provokes the officers.  Five officers responded to the Danbury Library incident. SeanPaul Reyes was involved in two other incidents in Danbury. One that same day at City Hall, and then on July 15th at City Hall.  During the later visit, he was charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace.

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Some cell phone customers report issues reaching 911

Some mobile customers have reportedly had trouble getting through to 911 on their cell phones.  Danbury officials say Verizon subscribers in the area may be experiencing issues completing phone calls to 911 and City departments.  They have informed Verizon of the magnitude of this issue and caution users to dial 911 from an alternate phone line if possible.  Texting 911, a service implemented in Connecticut in late 2018, appears to be working.  This may be affecting users throughout the region, but Danbury officials say the City will stay in contact with the phone company until the issue is resolved.

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Air quality alerts in Conn. due to western wildfires

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is forecasting moderate air quality today with some smoke and haze back in the region.  The agency in charge of issuing air quality alerts warned that smoke from massive wildfires burning in the western United States and Canada prompted an air quality action day for all of Litchfield, and northern Fairfield counties among other places in the state yesterday.  The alert means fine particles from the wildfire smoke may approach or exceed unhealthy standards.  In Litchfield County, emergency responders received complaints of haze and an odor of smoke.  The entire state was under an air quality alert last week because of smoke from the western fires.

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CERT to provide update to Ridgefield officials on pandemic response work

A meeting to discuss best practices will be held Thursday in Ridgefield about public safety.  CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team, will provide a presentation on its pandemic response.  Ridgefield’s police and fire chiefs, Health Department Director, First Selectman and representatives from  the Office of Emergency Management, among others, will be at the meeting.  CERT was organized about a decade ago to serve residents during disasters, local emergencies and community-wide events.  Volunteers traditionally have staffed the Emergency Operations Center and phone banks, along with coordinating damage assessment and searches for missing persons.  More than 30 people recently completed CERT certification requirements and training.

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Parcel of land could be turned over to Ridgefield Conservation Commission

A parcel of land in Ridgefield will be turned over to the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission.  The Board of Selectmen discussed reasons for protecting the property at Turner Road and Barnum Place in perpetuity verses leaving it as is once the Town acquires it.  If not protected, the land could potentially be used for another purpose other than open space in the future.  It will be assigned to the Conservation Commission, contingent on the conveyance taking place and property ownership being given to Ridgefield.   

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Brookfield Library applies for grant for sterilization equipment

Brookfield Library is applying for a grant to benefit the library staff and patrons by cleaning and sterilizing all surfaces including the outside of books and shelving. If awarded, the $22,000 would be used to purchase a SteraMist Disinfecting System.  The portable, hand-held unit is an EPA-registered solution and equipment fogger featuring hydrogen peroxide as the sole active ingredient.  The technology can reach the toughest spots and goes beyond manual cleaning and other disinfection methods.  It's a broad-spectrum surface disinfectant from a direct mist application.  It kills bacteria and inactivates viruses, which may reduce the risk of potential exposure in treated spaces.  The manufacturer says the system is effective against MRSA, COVID-19, Salmonella and Norovirus among others.  The grant would cover the cost of training and support.     

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Danbury sees slight uptick in COVID-19 cases

Like most of Connecticut, and the country, Danbury is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.  Though the Health Department notes that the numbers are not yet approaching the caseload of even a few months ago.  During the first half of the month, there were 8 days where Danbury reported no new cases.  In the last week, 1 to 4 cases were reported each day in the City. Anyone not fully vaccinated is encouraged to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces. Masks are required when visiting Danbury City Hall.

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Region 9 Superintendent search enters public input phase

The Easton, Redding and Region 9 Boards of Education will be hosting three opportunities today for community members to share their insight on the hiring of the next Superintendent of Schools.  The first was held this morning.  Dr. Joseph Erardi, the search consultant working with the Boards of Education, will be facilitating a 4pm and a 7pm meeting to gather information from attendees which will then be shared with the hiring committee.  Meetings will be held in the Learning Commons at Joel Barlow High School in  Redding.  School protocol on mask-wearing will apply and will be posted at the front entrance.

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State bonding approved for Norwalk River Valley Trail in Redding

The state Bond Commission has approved $300,000 for Redding.  The town will use the money for construction of their first section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.  The design for the trail is complete and was paid for via private community donations.  Recreational Trail Improvements funding Friday included recent projects funded through the Connecticut Recreational Trails Program, which provides funding for projects that include planning and design of trails; construction of new trails; maintenance and restoration of existing recreational trails; access to trails by persons with disabilities;  purchase and lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment; acquisition of land or easements for a trail, or for trail corridors; and operation of educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection as related to recreational trails.   

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New Milford Police, DEEP patrolling areas along the Housatonic

New Milford Police and Fire officials are again talking about River Safety, especially by the Bleachery Dam. They note that the Housatonic River is not for swimming due to powerful currents and undercurrents that can trap swimmers under the water.  They also say there are PCBs, the industrial chemical, on the bottom of the River.  Police Chief Spencer Cerruto urged people not to walk on the dam which is dangerous for anyone who falls in as the water over the dam can produce a powerful undertow. For those that fish, boat, canoe, or kayak the River, all safety protocols should be followed. New Milford Police and DEEP are now patrolling some areas along the Housatonic River.  Cerruto says there are areas, especially on Picket District Road by the dam head, where parking for access to the River by the dam is not permitted.

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Mark Twain Library Book Fair back on this year

The Mark Twain Library Book Fair is taking place again this year.  The event in Redding is one of the largest and oldest book fairs in New England.  The 60th annual Book Fair will be held Labor Day weekend.  The "back room" volunteers have been busy sorting, pricing and boxing books for two years and the deadline for donating items is this Saturday.  Volunteers are needed to help with the event, including set up, sales, and tear down.  Set-up days are Monday August 30th through Thursday September 2nd. Sale days are that through Monday, with take-down day Tuesday, September 7th.  The Town of Redding has a form on their Facebook page for volunteers to fill out.

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2nd arrest made in fatal drive-by shooting in Danbury

A second juvenile has been charged for the June fatal shooting in Danbury.  As the police investigation into the murder of 18-year-old Yhameek Johnson has been ongoing, an arrest warrant was granted by the Court for a 17-year-old male.  Police say the youth was charged Thursday based on his level of involvement and later released.  The Stratford teen was charged with tampering with physical evidence, hindering prosecution, interfering with the duties of an officer and larceny.  Police say since the level of severity doesn't rise to the charges facing 17-year-old Elvis Anthony Agramonte, their identity will not be released.  Court documents related to the case have been temporarily sealed as the investigation continues.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Danbury Police Detective Justin Williams at 203-796-1601 or j.williams@danbury-ct.gov. Anonymous TIPS Line is 203-790-8477.

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Bethel Police investigating complaints about rental property scams

The Bethel Police Department has recently received numerous complaints about rental property scams in which a person poses as a property owner and requests security deposits or other rental related expenses be paid to a Bitcoin account or other similar transaction. While a property may be legitimately available for rent, Bethel Police say the scammers copy the listings to other websites such as Facebook Marketplace, and replace the contact information with their own.  Police recommend that people refrain from sending any payments related to rental properties to anonymous persons.

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New Fairfield reporting breakthrough COVID-19 cases

Like most of the country, Connecticut and New Fairfield are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.  In June, New Fairfield had fewer than 5 cases, but in the past three weeks, the town has had 12 new cases and the case rate has climbed to  3.1 per 100,000 population.  The town's test positivity rate is 2.3-percent.    First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says New Fairfield's vaccination rate is below the state average and the lowest among surrounding towns.  Although much lower than at the peak in the spring, she says the upward trend is concerning.  While the majority of new cases are occurring in unvaccinated people, there are also a few breakthrough cases in vaccinated residents.  Del Monaco urged those who are unvaccinated to wear a mask and practice social distancing.   The delta variant is responsible for 80% of current cases in Connecticut and is reported 60-percent more transmissible than other variants. 

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Candlewood Lake reports low blue-green algae toxin levels despite small blooms

Despite some spotty problems the Candlewood Lake Authority says every test for a toxin sometimes released by blue-green algae on Thursday was far below the state threshold.  The Lake Authority has been receiving reports of small blue-green algae blooms in some coves around the lake, following days of rainfall and then nice days of sunshine, which creates the right conditions for blue-green algae growth.  The testing program at the Town Beaches on Candlewood Lake runs throughout the summer.

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Redding Ridge Fire seeks approvals for demolition, rebuilding

The Redding Ridge fire station can be overhauled. The Redding Zoning Commission has signed off on the fire district's plans, as long as the Building Department also gives approval. The existing structure on Blackrock Turnpike would be demolished, the parcel would be expanded a new building for the volunteer firefighters could be constructed.  Construction would be done in four phases, over several years.  Overall work also calls for parking lot expansion and septic system installation.  The architect’s plan involves building a retaining wall to filter stormwater into the wetlands.  Plans are being drawn up for the building department so a construction estimate can be obtained.  The cost is expected to be around $4 million.  Taxpayers in the fire district will eventually vote on funding for the project.  During the work firefighters would operate out of the center firehouse and a member would store one of the engines in their heated barn.

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Investigative report released into allegations against Pmperaug Health District director

An independent investigator has found wide-ranging, systemic and cultural problems in the Pomperaug District Department of Health.  The investigation was opened into allegations involving director Neal Lustig.  He was suspended in June after a complaint was filed by a new deputy director and an office incident with another employee.  He served 33 years in the district that serves Southbury, Oxford, and Woodbury.  The office incident was fully redacted in documents from the health district.  Hearst Connecticut Media reported that an “independent, third-party Human Resources investigation” conducted interviews with employees though Lustig did not participate in the interviews.  The report recommends office-wide behavior training and behavioral coaching, anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination training.  The investigation was paid for by the district.

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Three arrested after neighbor complaints of illicit drug sales in Danbury

Resident complaints about drug sales in Danbury have led to the arrests of three people.  Danbury Police charged Dontee Heyliger and Duane Usher Perkins on Thursday for various drug offenses.  Police set up surveillance at the Bayberry Lane home of the 38-years-olds and saw Heyliger driving away to a parking lot of an office building on Germantown Road.  He was seen meeting with a woman, waving her arms in the air as he came into view. 

The pair engaged in a hand-to-hand transaction, and police stepped in.  Heyliger and 64-years-old Linda Andreasen of New Milford, were found in possession of illegal drugs.

A search of the home led to a substantial quantity of Ecstacy tablets and money, powder cocaine and drug paraphernalia.  All three were charged and later released.

Both men were charged with two counts each of possession of a Controlled Substance, possession with intent to sell, possession within 1,500 feet of a school, and possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, and one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a school.  Heyliger was charged with one addition count each of possession and possession with intent to sell. 

Andreasen was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

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Danbury legislative delegation tout bonding for I-84 widening design

Members of the Danbury legislative delegation are touting $10 million in state bonding approved yesterday for the design and engineering to widen I-84 between exits 3 and 8.  Senator Julie Kushner says this represents advances and improvements in vital transportation infrastructure.  She notes that it's not just Danburians that depend on I-84 to access businesses and recreational opportunities. Kushner says 15-minute drives are transformed into 45-minute traffic jams on a daily basis, adding that fixing this bottle neck is long overdue.  Kushner noted that widening the highway has shown vital improvements in removing traffic snarls in Waterbury, among other Connecticut roadways.  Representative David Arconti says investments in the state's transportation infrastructure are long overdue and essential for commerce and anyone travelling on the roadway. 

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Down ballot candidates nominated by Danbury political parties

The Town Committees in Danbury have nominated down ballot candidates for  November's municipal elections.  The Democratic party has nominated Henry Hall for Treasurer and Party chairwoman Andrea Gartner for Town Clerk.  The Republican party has nominated two incumbents to run for another term.  Town Clerk Jan Giegler and City Treasurer Dan Jowdy each secured nominations this week.  The two parties also nominated slates of candidates for the City Council, Board of Education and Zoning Commission.

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Blood drive scheduled in Sherman at the end of the month

A blood drive is being hosted in Sherman by the Julia's Wings Foundation. Pre-registration is required for the blood drive on July 31st in Charter Hall at the Sherman Volunteer Firehouse.   The Foundation was established in 2013 in honor of Julia Malsin, who died in January 2012 after a year long battle against Aplastic Anemia, a rare bone marrow failure disease.

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