Local Headlines

Sherman Trooper investigating suspicious person entering unlocked car

The Sherman Resident state Trooper is investigating a report of a person entering an unlocked car at a private home.  State Police say a red Dodge caravan with a Connecticut license plate parked on Edmonds Road around 6pm last Thursday.  The car was driven by a white male with glasses, approximately 5'-foot-7, with a thin build, approximately 35 to 40 years old, wearing a dark blue/gray sweatshirt and jacket with a hood.  He was confronted by the homeowner, and ran back to his vehicle and drove north on Route 39 towards Route 55.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sherman Resident Trooper Shermanresidenttrooper@gmail.com, Phone: 860-354-3715.


Aquarion Water starts water main project in New Milford

Aquarion Water is beginning their water main project in New Milford on Wellsville Avenue.  The contractor performing the work expects to begin cutting the road tomorrow.  Typical working hours are between 7am and 5pm.  The trenches will be filled daily.  The fill will be compaction tested and paving will occur on Fridays.  The New Milford Department of Public Works will be assisting with permits.  The town will be installing drainage before the end of October so the road can be repaved next spring.  Drivers are cautioned that there could be delays and are advised to take alternate routes.


Newtown receives award from Secretary of the State

Newtown is being recognized for voter turnout in November.  Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has presented an award to Newtown officials for the town winning the Democracy Cup in the Mid-Sized category.  Newtown was also one of only three towns across the state that had over 90% turnout.


Ridgefield firefighters help Girl Scout with Gold Award project

The Farm to Firehouse initiative in Ridgefield is taking shape and making progress.  Firefighter Kindschi and Captain Cerulli assisted in making and setting up the garden beds.  A local Girl Scout is working on her Gold Award Project and  chose to construct a vegetable garden at Station #2.  Her goal is to boost mental health through healthy eating and outdoor living.  Fire officials say the goal is to help members with PTSD through healthy eating and outdoor living.


Danbury City Council foregoes referendum, approves $99 million school bond

The Danbury City Council has voted to take advantage of a gubernatorial executive order and have the 21 members vote on a $99 million bond, rather than hold a referendum for all City residents to weigh in. 

The money would be used for the proposed middle and high school Career Academy on the City's west side, with 80-percent reimbursement from the state. 

In a normal year, residents would have been asked to go to the polls to sign off on the massive funding for the project.  The executive order allowed municipalities to take public health and safety into account and cast a de facto vote.  Some Council members objected to not going to referendum, noting that there were higher COVID-19 infection rates and no vaccinations when residents went to the polls for the November elections. 

Superintendent Sal Pascarella touted the academy, calling it the first of its kind in Connecticut.  He says it's a win for Danbury children as the district deals with growing enrollment, and a win for education as a whole as a model in the state. 

The academy would be constructed at The Summit, a mixed-use development in the 1.2 million-square-foot former Union Carbide world headquarters, which was later the Matrix Center.  Danbury must meet an October 1st deadline for state reimbursement. 


Bethel residents approve budget with low voter turnout

Bethel residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year, with very low voter turnout.  The $32.9 million municipal plan passed with 59-percent of the votes.   The $49 million for the schools was approved with 58-percent of the vote.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there was just 11.7 percent voter turnout yesterday.  The tax and spending plan increases the mill rate 1.9 percent.  One of the big drivers of the budget increase is debt service from previously approved projects coming online, specifically the Rockwell and Johnson renovations and the new Police Station. 


COVID-19 vaccine yellow van coming to Danbury today

One of the yellow mobile minivans from the state Department of Public Health will be in Danbury today.  The van will be at the Harambee Center on West Street from noon to 6pm.  The vans were slated to administer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shots, but now are stocked with Pfizer or Moderna.  Governor Lamont has compared them to an ice cream truck where people can walk up, get vaccinated and be on their way.  Another van will come back to Danbury three or four weeks later to administer the second dose to those who receive a shot today.


Car shot on Route 22, 18-year old charged

A youthful offender has been arrested in New York for allegedly shooting near a vehicle in Patterson, striking the car.  New York State Police from the Brewster barracks arrested an 18 year old for criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a weapon and Environmental Law violation Illegal Discharge of a Weapon.  Troopers received a complaint on Friday from a driver on Route 22 saying they heard 3 or 4 loud pops.  When they got home, damage which looked like bullet holes were found on the driver side of the car.  The teen was target shooting with an unsafe “downrange” towards Route 22.


Some local COVID-19 vaccine clinics now taking walk ins

A couple of local COVID-19 vaccine clinics are now taking walk ins. 

Starting today, the New Milford Clinic will be open to anyone, with or without an appointment, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5pm-7pm and Saturday from 7:30am to noon.  For people looking to make an appointment, the link to the closed clinic can be found on the New Milford town website. 

16 and 17 year olds need parental permission. 

Ridgefield has extra appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine available this week at their mass vaccination site in Yanity Gym.  The clinic tomorrow from 9am to 4pm is offering the Moderna vaccine.  Residents can also call or email the Ridgefield public information office to schedule a time to come get vaccinated. 


Hundreds of West Conn students get first COVID-19 vaccines

Hundreds of West Conn students have taken advantage of a COVID-19 vaccine clinic held on campus yesterday.  Some 220 students made appointments to get the Pfizer shot on the midtown campus.  A walk in clinic is planned for tomorrow, with some appointments booked for that time as well.  The Community Health Center is running the clinics, with the help of West Conn nursing students.  Some professional nurses and juniors and seniors in the nursing program are vaccinating students.  West Conn changed plans last week after a paused on the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  Second dose Pfizer shots will be administered during finals week. 


Danbury Spring Leaf Pick-Up program now under way

The Danbury Spring Leaf Pick-Up program got under way this week.  The courtesy service to help residents with yard clean up allowing free disposal of leaves will run through May 28th. 

The Leaf Pick Up program is divided by I-84; Section A is to the south, zip code 06810, and section B is north, zip code 06811. Section A will be picked up the first week, Section B the second week, and residents are asked to place their bags curbside Sunday evenings. 

Pick-up dates are subject to change throughout the program depending on weather and the Highway Department’s work schedule. 

Leaves must be in paper bags, without tape.  No plastic leaf bags will be collected.  No large debris, grass, rock or dirt will be collected.  Branches, cut into lengths no longer than 4 feet, no larger than 4 inches in diameter will be picked up separately.  Branches must be bundled with twine in bundles no heavier than 35 pounds.  No other brush or tree stumps will be collected. 

Ferris Mulch accepts leaf bags as well as tree and organic yard debris, free for Danbury Citizens.


Jim Steinman, hitmaker for Meat Loaf and Celine Dion, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Jim Steinman, the Grammy-winning composer who wrote Meat Loaf’s best-selling “Bat Out Of Hell” debut album as well as hits for Celine Dion, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler, has died, his brother said. He was 73.

Bill Steinman told The Associated Press that his brother died Monday from kidney failure and was ill for some time. He said Jim Steinman died in Connecticut near his home in Ridgefield.

“I miss him a great deal already,” Bill Steinman said by phone Tuesday.

Jim Steinman was born on Nov. 1, 1947, in New York City. He got his start in musical theater and was known for writing and producing epic, operatic rock songs and power ballads throughout his prolific career.

Steinman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012 and won album of the year at the 1997 Grammy Awards for producing songs on Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You,” which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month and featured the Steinman-penned power ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”

He wrote the music for Meat Loaf’s classic album “Bat Out of Hell,” released in 1977 and one of the top-selling albums of all-time. It has reached 14-time platinum status by the RIAA, which is equivalent to selling 14 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Steinman also wrote Meat Loaf’s 1993 album, “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” another commercial and multi-platinum success that featured the international hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He also worked on 2006′s “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose,” which closed the “Bat Out of Hell” trilogy.

He also composed the rock musical “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” which premiered in 2017 at the Manchester Opera House in Manchester, England.

Steinman was responsible for Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which topped the Billboard charts in 1983 and earned Tyler a Grammy nomination. When Tyler’s song was No. 1, another Steinman production — Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” — peaked at No. 2, giving Steinman the Top 2 spots on the chart.

“There is no other songwriter ever like him,” an emotional and teary-eyed Meat Loaf said at Steinman’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “Here I go getting emotional...

“I can never repay him,” he continued. “He has been such an influence, in fact, the biggest influence on my life, and I learned so much from him that there would be no way I could ever repay Mr. Jim Steinman.”

Meat Loaf and Steinman joined forces again for Meat Loaf’s most recent album, 2016′s “Braver Than We Are.” The songs were written over a 50-year period, and include several originally intended for “Bat Out of Hell.”

Steinman’s only album was 1981’s “Bad for Good,” which featured “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,“ a Top 40 hit that Meat Loaf later recorded with more success on the charts. “Bad for Good” also included the track “Left In the Dark,” which Barbra Streisand recorded for her 1984 “Emotion” album. Meat Loaf also recorded the song.


Local lawmaker weighs in on proposed religious exemption ending for vaccines

A local lawmaker is weighing in on the bill approved by the state House and sent to the Senate that would end the state’s religious exemption for immunization requirements for school. 

Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan notes that this bill does not require students to be vaccinated for HPV, the flu or COVID-19. Allie-Brennan says he understands and respects parental rights and other personal liberties, but that his job is to protect the public health and prevent unnecessary deaths. 

After meeting with constituents on both sides of the issue, Allie-Brennan co-introduced a bipartisan amendment that will extend the grandfather provision from seventh grade to kindergarten.  

Required vaccines include measles, mumps and rubella; diphtheria; pertussis (whooping cough); tetanus; poliomyelitis; and haemophilus influenzae type B.  The bill would expand and enhance the medical exemption process by creating a standardized certificate and providing clear and concise guidance to our health care providers.


Ridgefield COVID vaccine clinic has openings, upper grades go full in-person

There is Moderna Vaccine availability at the mass vaccination clinic at Yanity Gym for today and Thursday April 22 from 9-4.  Walk-ins are welcome on a first come first served basis.  The clinic is located at 60 Prospect St., Ridgefield--(follow the COVID testing signs and go to large arced building). 

Alternatively, you can make an appointment by calling 203-431-2718 or emailing: pio@ridgefieldct.org.

More Ridgefield students have returned to full in-person learning for the first time since the pandemic began.  As COVID-19 cases continued to decline, the district planned for  a full return for grades 6 through 12.  Elementary-aged students have attended classes in person since September.  School officials looked at in-school transmission and factored in the oldest students being eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.


Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center awarded 2021 Award of Merit

The Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center has been awarded the 2021 Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations.  The organization was recognized for its multi-program project initiative, SISTERS.  The program includes public and school programs based on the original play of the same name.  It's the story of a white woman, and a Black woman who lived at the a Hotel, now the site of the museum. The play was staged virtually for school and public audiences last year.  The award will be presented today at CLHO’s Annual Business Meeting.


Bill ending religious vaccine exemption passes Conn. House

The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved a contentious bill that would end the state’s long-standing religious exemption from immunization requirements for schools, beginning with the 2022 school year.  The state House has voted 90-53.  Debate began shortly before 11am yesterday and ended around 3 o'clock this morning.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he’s ready to sign the bill into law.

The legislation stems from an uptick in the number of families in Connecticut who have sought a religious exemption from a host of childhood vaccinations, ultimately lowering the vaccination rate in as many as 100 schools at one point to under 95%. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Department of Public Health reported that an unvaccinated child from Fairfield County contracted measles while traveling internationally.

Roughly 7,600 children in grades K-12 currently have religious exemptions in Connecticut.

Kent Representative Maria Horn says the science is overwhelmingly clear that  vaccines save lives.  She understands that they don't work for all people, but for everyone who can they should be, in order to protect the vulnerable population.  She noted that it's a difficult issue, and pushed for a stronger medical exemption.  Horn says, if she were to conduct a poll, a majority of her constituents believe in the power of vaccinations. 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the state should not force parents to get their children inoculated in order for them to attend public school.  He says denying families that have made this alternate choice, half of one percent of the school population, feels wrong and segregationalist. 

The strong feelings surrounding the issue were evident early in Monday’s House debate when lawmakers, on a bipartisan vote of 106-36, amended the bill to expand the number of children with existing religious exemptions who wouldn’t be affected. Instead of grandfathering the exemptions for children currently in 7th grade and older, the amended bill would grandfather children in kindergarten and older.

Bolinsky says it's wrong even though it would grandfather individuals enrolled in kindergarten or higher who submitted a religious exemption prior to the bill’s passage.  He is concerned about one constituent family, with kids aged 2, 4, 7 and 9.  He notes that half of the children will not be given the opportunity to have a public education.

This marks the third year in a row that lawmakers have considered removing the religious exemption for vaccinations. It’s been an emotionally charged debate. Both legislators who support and oppose the legislation have reported receiving hostile emails and social media posts over the issue.

This year, nearly 2,000 members of the public signed up in February to testify at an unprecedented 24-hour, virtual legislative hearing on the issue. Many, including parents concerned about the safety of vaccines, argued that stripping the exemption will infringe on their religious and parental rights and on their child’s right to a public education.

While proponents said the change was more fair to parents who’ve already sought exemptions for their children and help ensure those children aren’t pulled out of school, critics argued it was still discriminatory.

The legislation would take effect on Sept. 1, 2022.

Redding Representative Anne Hughes broke ranks with the Democrats and voted against it.  Meanwhile Representative William Petit, a physician and ranking member of the Public Health Committee, voted in favor of the legislation. 

Connecticut is currently one of 45 states with a religious exemption from childhood vaccinations. The medical exemption will remain in place available for families.


Bethel budget referendum today

The Bethel budget referendum is being held today. Residents are voting on a $32.9 million municipal plan and $49 million for the schools.  Polls are open until 8pm at all three polling places. All residents legally registered to vote in the Town of Bethel are eligible. 

If approved, the tax and spending plan would increase the mill rate 1.9 percent. 

There's a 2.33 percent increase in education funding a little less than a 1-percent increase in town spending.  There's been a reduction in non-tax revenue, reduced program fees and interest income due to COVID-19, and low interest rates nation-wide. Debt service is increasing because of the Rockwell and Johnson renovations and the new Police Station. 

Anyone casting a ballot in person is asked to wear a mask when inside the building and observe social distancing protocols while waiting in line. Poll volunteers will be sanitizing all surfaces and equipment during the day, but residents are encouraged to bring their own pen in order to to minimize contact with equipment and materials. A black felt-tipped marker will work best.


Danbury ranked as one of the 10 most Diverse Cities in America

Danbury has been ranked as one of the 10 most Diverse Cities in America.  Danbury came in 10th overall and is ranked 3rd when compared to only other small cities, those with fewer than 100,000 residents. 

The findings by personal-finance website WalletHub determined the places in the U.S. with the most mixed demographics.  The organization compared the profiles of more than 501 of the most populated cities across five major diversity categories: socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious.  WalletHub limited each state to no more than 10 cities each. 

The top 5 overall most diverse cities were found to be Houston, Jersey City, New York, Dallas and LA.
Diversity in Danbury (1=Most Diverse; 250=Avg.):
18th – Income Diversity
126th – Educational-Attainment Diversity
78th – Racial & Ethnic Diversity
21st – Linguistic Diversity
138th – Birthplace Diversity
126th – Industry Diversity
142nd – Occupational Diversity
215th – Worker-Class Diversity
246th – Marital-Status Diversity
33rd – Age Diversity

Overall rankings for other Connecticut cities:

16. Stamford

21. Norwalk

23. Bridgeport

64. New Britain

98. Waterbury

113. New Haven

115. Hartford

225. West Hartford

247. Bristol



Danbury woman killed in crash on Route 202 in Washington

A Danbury woman was killed in a car crash in the Town of Washington over the weekend.  State Police say 39-year old Sharon May Piech died en route to the hospital. 

Emergency responders were called to the intersection of Litchfield Turnpike and Garland Road on a report of a multi-vehicle crash around 1:30pm Sunday.  State Police say the Danbury woman was headed westbound when her car crossed into the opposite lane and sideswiped a vehicle, before crashing head-on with a pick up truck. 

The 66-year old pick-up truck driver and three passengers, ages 65, 11 and 9, were transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of suspected minor injuries.  The other driver and his passenger reported no injuries. 

Connecticut State Police are urging anyone with information about the accident to call Trooper Steven Kieltyka at 860-626-7900.


Masuk students participate in Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event

The Center for Family Justice’s White Ribbon Campaign is hosting their 9th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event.  Due to COVID-19, the walkathon will be held virtually throughout this month.  Masuk School Resource Officer Larsen has been working with the Masuk Interact Club, and they have arranged for students to walk a mile during their gym classes on April 19th and 20th, to help support and raise awareness for this cause.  Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event focuses awareness on the impact and prevention of sexual violence on women and girls. “Team Masuk”, is raising funds to support The Center for Family Justice’s Camp HOPE America - Bridgeport, a summer camp and year-long mentoring program for young people ages 7-17 who have experienced the trauma of domestic or sexual violence.


New 112th House District Rep sworn in

State Representative Tony Scott has been sworn in for his first term, at the halfway point of the 2021 legislative session.  The 112 District covers all of Monroe and part of Newtown.  Scott was elected in a Special Election earlier this month to replace JP Sredzinski who resigned in February.  Scott says he is concerned about the impact of new taxes on his district as the state's economy recovers from the pandemic.  He says the cost of government should not be a burden on those it serves.  The session is scheduled to run until June 9th.


New Fairfield building sustains serious structural damage in fire

A two-story building in New Fairfield sustained serious structural damage in a fire yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters responded to a self-storage building on Dunham Drive shortly after 3pm.  The call was initially believed to be a car fire, but emergency personnel were told that the building was involved.  Firefighters held the flames in the original unit where the fire started.  No injuries were reported and the New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.  Mutual aid was provided by Danbury, Sherman, and Putnam Lake New York fire departments.  A Danbury Fire Department truck was used to gain access to the roof and overhaul the exterior of the building.  Tankers assisted with water supply. 


Chimney fire in Bethel extinguished

A chimney fire in Bethel was quickly extinguished on Friday evening.  Firefighters responded to Whitney Road on a report of the minor fire downtown.  Bethel Fire & EMS officials say April isn't the traditional times for chimney fire season, but urged residents to keep up with safety precautions.  They note this is especially important as brush fire season winds down.  Residents should obtain a permit from the fire marshal's office and check the fire danger before burning brush.


Motorist drags cone at accident scene after illegal u-turn

While Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was on the scene of a car accident on Friday, a vehicle made an illegal u-turn in the middle of Route 25 and struck a hazard cone.  The cone was dragged underneath the car for over half a mile, before it dislodged itself.  Brookfield Emergency responders called on motorists to be mindful of road closures, cones, signs and most importantly, the directions firefighters or police are giving at the scene.


COVID-19 cases in New Fairfield remain elevated

There have been 33 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield over the past week.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says although improving, New Fairfield continues to have a COVID infection rate and test positivity rate well above State averages.  The infection rate has decreased to 24.7 cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate has dropped to 5.2 percent. The case rate represents an average daily rate of infection calculated over two weeks.  State data indicates that 69-hundred New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. That's about 50-percent of the town.  As infection rates remain high in the region, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco urged residents to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.



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