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Women's Center renamed The Center for Empowerment and Education

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury has announced that the organization will be renamed The Center for Empowerment and Education. The new name is accompanied by a new identity that officials say better reflects The Center’s commitment to saving and rebuilding lives and building stronger communities. 

President and CEO Pat Zachman says the words “empowerment” and “education” are the two key pillars that guide everything The Center does to end violence in the 13-community service area. Beyond offering emergency and transitional shelter for individuals in crisis, The Center also provides crisis intervention, counseling, advocacy, education and referral services.  

A new facility for women and children in transition will open soon, an effort to provide support to even more people in crisis.

Officials say the rebrand reflects the inclusivity of their mission and services that improve lives, strengthen families, and prevent violence through education.  In describing the importance of the rebrand, Zachman says the new name is vital to underscore that they serve everyone in need of support, including women, men, and children.

After 46 years of growth that addressed the changing needs of the community, she says this new identity direction expresses the Center's commitment to a wide geographic area and greatly diversified programs and services.  Communities served by The Center are Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, and Washington. 

Each year, the Center serves over 30,000 individuals from area communities with confidential services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are provided at no-cost.

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Danbury officials address flooding around Main, West streets

West Street in Danbury wasn't closed from flooding yesterday until later in the evening.  The Public Works Department recently cleaned out debris and sediment from the Still River, and did some work on the embankment to prevent the river from rising above its banks onto the road. 

West Street was closed last night in the area of the railroad overpass and remained closed into this morning.

Danbury officials may have come up with a plan to alleviate flooding on Main Street.  The street was closed Monday night into yesterday afternoon because of water over the roadway.  Mayor Joe Cavo, who recently retired as Superintendent of Apparatus for the Fire Department, proposed using a pump to clear the flooding.  The Public Works Department started that work around 11am yesterday in the area of Elmwood Place. 

Cavo says an investigation after the last flooding determined that it stems from a culvert, likely constructed in the 1920s. Tree roots are blocking the pipes.  Danbury has designed a project to install a new pipe, but wants the state Department of Transportation to take on the work since Main Street is technically Route 53. 

The state would need to obtain an easement from a private property owner. 

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New Milford Town Council votes to use ARPA funds to repair dam

A public hearing has been held in New Milford about using some federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to repair the Reservoir Dam #4.  The New Milford Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the idea. 

About 50 people attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the repairs, rather than removal. 

The 17-foot dam dates back to around 1900, when Town Farm Brook was stopped to create a recreational area.  A valve, installed around 1918, won’t shut.  There are disjointed overflow pipes, water seeps through parts of the wall and there are mortar issues on the spillway.  Repairs are estimated to cost around $1.2 million.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has classified the dam as a significant hazard, the second highest hazard classification.

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Danbury man been charged for January voyeurism incident at mall

A Danbury man has been charged for a January voyeurism incident at the mall.  Danbury Police arrested 47-year old Edvin Menendez-Maldonado on Thursday for allegedly trying to record a female shopper in a changing room at Old Navy. 

The victim told police she was trying on dresses, noticed a cell phone on the floor face down and notified a store employee.  According to the warrant, the employee looked through a hole where the shopper said the phone had been and saw the camera portion facing her.  They opened the door of the next fitting room and found the man who then fled. 

Police reviewed surveillance footage and were able to obtain a warrant.  He was arraigned and held for an appearance in court on the 12th. 

Menendez-Maldonado was arrested on similar charges in February 2020 for allegedly attempting to record an 11-year-old girl in a changing room at a different store in the mall.

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Foodshare ending drive-thru emergency food distribution this month

Foodshare is ending its drive-thru emergency food distribution sites at the end of the month, including at Danbury High School.  The distribution was started at the beginning of the pandemic to address food insecurity as food pantries were overwhelmed with need.  The Danbury location is open on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm, in a partnership with the United Way of Western Connecticut and Walnut Hill Community Food Pantry.  Foodshare has provided over 14 million meals through these sites since April 2020.

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Driver rescued from pond in Easton

A driver was rescued from a pond in Easton on Monday night off Banks Road.  The volunteer fire department was about to start a training session, when they received the emergency call.  Police, Fire and EMS helped the driver out of the car and through the waist deep water.  The car was about 30 feet from shore.  Firefighters then had to suit up in cold water rescue suits and help the tow driver hook up to the car. The driver was transported to the hospital for evaluation.  He reportedly hit a vehicle on Route 136 and fled the scene, but the other driver followed him and the Sandy Hook resident lost control on a curve and crashed. The driver was charged with evading responsibility and passing in a no passing zone.

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Danbury Zoners hold hearing on liquor permit for Golf Lounge 18 mall location

The Danbury Zoning Commission is opening a public hearing tonight into Golf Lounge 18, which wants to move into the former Red Robin restaurant space at the Danbury Mall.  The virtual golf entertainment chain is asking for a Special Permit for a Cafe Liquor License. 

The Zoom meeting will also be streamed on the Commission's YouTube page. 

In addition to the interior mall entry, the location has an exterior entrance by the parking garage.  There are hourly rental fees, but monthly and annual memberships are also offered by the company.  Patrons can use their own clubs or ones on site.  

The company could hire up to 10 staff in Danbury. 

Bays are set up with technology that allows golfers to simulate a round on virtual renderings of courses, projected onto screens.  The same technology is used by the Dick’s Sporting Goods store at the mall so buyers can try out clubs before making a purchase. 

Golf Lounge 18 has two other Connecticut locations: in Orange and Fairfield.

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Today is last day to register to vote in Tuesday's election

Today is the last day to register to vote in advance of Tuesday’s municipal elections.  Mailed in registrations must be postmarked by today.  Residents can also sign up at their local town hall. Connecticut residents can sign up online at myvote.ct.gov/register.  Online registration is open until 11:59PM  

The Bridgewater Registrars of Voters will conduct the last regular voters registration today.  Applicants may appear in person until 8pm in the Registrar of Voters Office in Bridgewater Town Hall.   

The Bethel Town Clerk’s office will be open on Saturday from 9am to Noon for absentee ballot voting. Residents are asked to download the application and complete it before coming to vote absentee.

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Monroe officials looking into parental interest in COVID vaccine clinic for kids

COVID-19 case rates in Monroe have remained fairly steady, currently averaging approximately 2.5 new cases per day.  The town has placed vaccine orders with the State, in anticipation of running booster clinics for eligible groups starting in a couple of weeks. Monroe officials also anticipate final authorization for a Pfizer vaccine for kids age 5 to 11.  While the vaccine will likely be available through multiple sources, including some pediatrician offices, the town is working with Monroe Public Schools to determine parental interest in conducting a Town-sponsored clinic.

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Controversy over social media posts on scheduling New Milford Mayoral debate

There's a dust up in New Milford's Mayoral race about the candidates debating.  The Ted Hine for Mayor Facebook page posted yesterday morning that it seems there will not be a debate, and called on residents to message the Democrat with any questions.  Republican incumbent Pete Bass later posted on his Facebook page that His campaign offered the Hine campaign manager, Joe Baker, the ability to choose the moderator. He selected the League of Women Voters, but they were only free on October 28th. Baker then reportedly asked for different days because Hine scheduled a “Town Hall” meeting for the 28th.  Bass claims the Hine campaign never responded to an offer that the Chamber of Commerce host a debate on different dates.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged sexual, physical assault

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly sexually and physically assaulting a woman.  Police say 41-year old Daniel Hernandez-Castellanos was arrested last week on charges including sexual assault, threatening and assault.  A woman filed a complaint that said the man, who was known to her, showed up unannounced an assaulted her last month.  According to the warrant, Hernandez-Castellanos allegedly threatened her if she told anyone about the abuse.  He was arraigned and was held on $200,000 bond for a court appearance on Monday.

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Danbury Zoning Commission won't take up homeless shelter hearing tonight

While the Danbury Zoning Commission had been set to continue a public hearing tonight on the proposal to officially turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter, they won't have discussion at their meeting.  The applicant's attorney requested a continuance until the November 9th meeting.  There will be no testimony tonight on zoning regulations to define a new use of transitional shelter for the homeless.  The previous hearing lasted about five hours.  The homeless population has been housed at 3 Lake Avenue since the start of the pandemic under Governor Lamont's emergency order about congregate settings. 

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Flooding, power outages a possibility with nor'easter

Part of Route 53 in Danbury was closed due to flooding last night.  The road closed at Elmwood Place around 10:45pm and there is still water over a portion of the road this morning.  This comes as a strong Nor'easter is set to bring heavy rain and strong winds to the state today. Rainfall totals from last night through this morning could range from three to six inches.

Redding officials are cautioning residents to the possibility of flooding and power outages from the storm moving through the region.   First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says high winds and significant rainfall may translate to downed trees and wires, and loss of power.  

Eversource is estimating that 125,000 customers in Connecticut could lose power in today's storm based on the current projections.  Eversource has contacted REdding and provided information on resources available for restoration. Crews are assembled in state, both from Eversource and contracted crews.

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22-year old Hartford woman struck, killed by truck on I-84 in Newtown

A 22-year old Hartford woman was struck by a truck and killed on the highway in Newtown yesterday.  State Police say Samantha Figueroa's car broke down in the left lane near Exit 13 eastbound around 3:30am.  She was reportedly standing in the left lane and trying to flag down passing vehicles when she and her car were struck by a Mack truck.  The woman was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.  The highway was closed for more than 6 hours.  State police are asking that any witnesses to the crash contact Trooper Loughman at Troop A in Southbury at 203-267-2200.

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New Fairfield First Selectman running unopposed for third term

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is running unopposed for a third term leading the town.  New Fairfield is in the process of building two new schools, something she says is long over due.  Del Monaco wants to focus on the near term in continued economic recovery and bringing people back to the center of town.  She notes that an Economic and Community Development Commission has been established over the last 4 years to take on some of that work.  Del Monaco also touted improved safety in schools with SROs, school resource officers, funded for each building.

The last two years have been focused on public health.  Del Monaco notes that they're continuing to monitor the COVID-19 case rate and will provide vaccine clinics as long as there is a need.  A mobile clinic is held twice weekly, on Wednesday at St Edwards and on Saturdays at New Fairfield High School.  She says they're starting to see more community events being held as cases remain low. 

New Fairfield officials are in the process of organizing a sewer study, revitalizing downtown and updating infrastructure.  A committee is considering allocations for those items and others from the town's share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.  The group meets monthly. 

Initial discussions have been held about requirements under the Police Accountability Bill.  The town is working on ordering body and dash cameras.  Del Monaco is also working with the state on safety at Squantz Pond State Park.  She says those discussions take place every spring. 

One issue that's become more prominent as weather events increase in severity is power outages.  Del Monaco says the town has increased the budget for tree removal continuously.  She says this will ensure they're identifying trees on town property and rights of way that may pose an issue during storms.

Residents this year rejected a proposed noise ordinance.  Del Monaco believes there is a need for more noise control, but says they would likely only revisit the matter if the Board of Selectmen receives a petition for it.  She says it's up to the residents and has tried to listen to community interest.  The proposal was brought to a vote because of the many complaints New Fairfield officials received.

Del Monaco notes that the Zoning Commission is holding a series of public hearings on recreational marijuana facilities to find out where residents stand on the issue.

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Danbury man arrested for allegedly breaking into a woman's home

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly breaking into a woman's home and assaulting her.  41-year old Apolinar Vazquez was arrested last week on charges of assault, burglary, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, threatening, and unlawful restraint.  Police say the victim found Vasquez, who was known to her, in her home and asked him to leave, but he fought with her.  Vazquez allegedly held a large cooking knife to the victim’s neck and threatened to kill her, as well as himself.  He remains held on bond and is due in court on the 12th.

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Redding Police investigating fatal single-vehicle crash

Redding Police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle crash.  Police responded to Sport Hill Road Friday afternoon on a report of a car that crashed into a tree.  The accident happened on a sharp curve, about a quarter-mile north of Bridle Road.  The driver was the only occupant and had to be extricated from the vehicle.  Police are awaiting autopsy results before releasing further details.

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Sherman car larceny suspect arrested

A larceny suspect has been arrested in Sherman.  State Police served an active warrant on 18-year old Anthony Berrios for a car larceny that happened July 12th.  He was charged with Larceny, Simple Trespass and six counts of Credit Card Theft.  He was arraigned and remains held on #100,000 bond.  Berrios is due back in court on November 29th.

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Ridgefield Fire named an EMS Silver Achievement Award Recipient

Ridgefield Fire has been named an EMS Silver Achievement Award Recipient by the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline.  Ridgefield was recognized for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks.  Program participants apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to improving quality care for STEMI patients, people who experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction.  Chief Jerry Myers says the Ridgefield Fire Department is honored to be recognized for dedication to providing optimal care for heart attack patients.  He says the program puts proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis so patients have the best possible chance of survival.

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Redding recognizes Oct. as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Town of Redding held a ceremony late last week recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness month.  In the last year, 40 cases of victims of domestic violence from Redding were referred to the Womens Center of Greater Danbury.  The Women's Center also provides educational programs in Redding schools as dating violence is an issue among teens.  The Redding social services Director, Angelica Fontanez, also serves as a resource for residents.  The Womens Center has a crisis hotline and 2-1-1 can also provide assistance and direction.

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Newtown Police hold Department's Awards ceremony

Several Newtown Police officers were recognized during the Department's Awards ceremony.  Officers were cited for lifesaving efforts, completing extensive and complex investigations, community service above and beyond and several other extraordinary efforts.  These individuals were nominated by peers and supervisors, who felt their efforts deserved special recognition. 

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Pedestrian struck by car on I-84 in Newtown

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in Newtown early this morning.  The accident closed part of I-84.  The pedestrian was struck around 4am.  The eastbound side is closed between exits 11 and 13.  It's unclear how long the highway will be closed for.  Authorities did not release any further details about the incident.

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Vigil held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in car accident

A vigil has been held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in a car accident in Colchester on Friday. Friends and family gathered to remember 18-year-old Jacob Chapman and 18-year-old Tyler Graham

State Police said two vehicles were traveling westbound on Route 354 in Colchester when one of the vehicles tried to pass the other, left the roadway and collided with a metal guardrail and multiple trees.  

Chapman, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the hospital and his passenger, Graham, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Another passenger, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, also a West Conn Lacrosse player, sustained serious injuries. 

West Conn President Dr. John Clark says the Counseling Center has met with players and coaches.  Clark says counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three lacrosse team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  

Chapman was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management degree and Graham was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems degree.  Massaro is a first-year student pursuing a B.S. in Justice and Law Administration-Law Enforcement.

Clark says they plan on having a memorial for Jacob and Tyler on campus soon.  Plans are still being developed. 

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Public hearing in Bethel on proposed affordable housing development

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tomorrow by the Planning and Zoning Commission on a proposed affordable housing development at 64 Wooster Street.  The virtual hearing is at 7pm via Zoom. 

The applicant, David Pijnenburgh, would use the state 8-30(g) affordable housing law to create 9 units, with 2 designated as affordable housing.  The three-quarter acre property currently has a home with three rental units and a garage.  There's a parking area at the rear of the existing structure.  The proposal is to construct a new building to the west of the existing one and provide four new one-bedroom rental residential units under 8-30g. Two one-bedroom apartments will be constructed in the existing garage.

Under state statute, at least 15-percent of the units must be affordable for 40 years to families earning 60-percent or less of the median income for the Bethel area, or the State median income, whichever is less.  At least 15-percent must be designated for the same time frame for families earning 80-percent or less. 

Two existing units in the Complex will contain three bedrooms, seven new units will contain one bedroom each.  

17 parking spaces will be provided, with a new one-way driveway into the site to the south of the existing structure.

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Bethel First Selectman running unopposed for 7th term

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is running unopposed for another term leading the town.  He notes that the town is growing rapidly, by 9.5 percent since the last census.  The town is in the process of modernizing town government operations and technology.  Bethel plans to use some federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to do more with less.  Bethel is working on an online permitting system, which is 70-percent complete.  Officials are working on website enhancements that will allow more to be done remotely, and internal record keeping to reduce paper and staff time to reduce overtime.

ARPA funding will also be used to make much needed improvements at Town Hall and the High School.  Some parts of the municipal center, like the general purpose room, have never had air conditioning.  Plans call for renovating the locker rooms, which date back to the 1950s, for when the building is used as the town's emergency shelter.  The front entrance improvements include renovating restrooms that are currently closed off.

Knickerbocker says he's excited about a Sustainability Committee being established.  Bethel was one of the leading towns in setting up renewable energy, including a municipal solar farm and installing electric car chargers.  He wants to expand the initiative to other areas including recreational open space and land conservation and management. 

When it comes to adult use of recreational cannabis, Bethel regulations don't currently allow for a dispensary to locate to the town.  The moratorium was passed after a medical marijuana dispensary located in Bethel.  The facility has since moved to Danbury.  Knickerbocker doesn't object to a new dispensary in Bethel, but doesn't think there's any interest in it.

There are only two candidates for the three-member Board of Selectmen, so Democratic incumbent Richard Straiton and Republican Bryan Terzian will be seated. Bethel incumbent Town Clerk Lisa Bergh has been cross endorsed to retain her seat.  Democratic incumbent Treasurer Pat Smithwick is being challenged by outgoing Selectman Paul Szatkowski.

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