Some long standing issues could start to be addressed in Danbury if the proposed bond package is approved in a vote this spring.
Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says one of the most important projects is the West Street drainage issue under the railroad crossing. He called it a complicated issue. A cross pipe is linked directly into the Still River. As the river comes up, water is pushed into the road, instead of allowing water on the road to go into the river. He wants to at least do a survey of the area, do an in-depth investigation and preliminary designs.
The study will look at what it will take to permit and gain easements to resolve the issue.
Another project would involve the railroad grade crossings. Mayor Mark Boughton says the poor conditions along Main Street and Balmforth Avenue means people stop short to swerve around the issue, causing safety issues.
For the first time ever, Iadarola says the City had a meeting with the District Office of the Federal Transit Authority. Members came down from Boston last week to discuss the issue. He says the meeting was held to show there's initiative on the City's part to work with the local railroads to get the work done.
Some of the money will go to road repairs that were left unfinished in the previous fiscal year. Boughton says that includes Karen Road, where the drainage is done, but final paving is not completed. Boughton says Long Ridge Road is in horrible shape and is on the list. Backus Avenue in front of the mall is also scheduled for repaving. He notes that it will cost $1.1 million to pave just that one road.
A vote on the bond package could be held April 28th, the same day as registered voters go to the polls for the primary.
More skeletal remains have been found in Ridgefield. State archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni says the remains could also be those of someone who fought in the Battle of Ridgefield in April of 1777.
The Ridgefield Historical Society says 28 brass buttons throughout his chest and arms, including cuff buttons, were recovered. All buttons were badly corroded and need to be cleaned in the lab to look for insignia.
Bellantoni and others continued the excavation, under tunneling for almost three feet to remove the new remains. The first skeletons were unearthed in December when a homeowner was doing renovations in the basement of a private home.
Officials are hoping to be able to determine if these men were soldiers, and which side they were on--British or American.
Forensic experts at the UConn, Quinnipiac University, Yale University, the University of Florida and the University of California-Santa Cruz are involved in the analysis process. The Ridgefield Historical Society has created a Battle of Ridgefield fund to raise donations to help identify and honor the men who died on Ridgefield’s battleground.
The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is looking to add members to the Permanent Building Committee. Applicants should be experienced architects, engineers and construction managers who are registered voters in the Town of New Fairfield.
The Town’s sole building committee oversees and administers all building projects over $250,000, and all maintenance, repair and alteration projects over $25,000.
The Committee will also oversee the design and construction of the new schools through an Owner’s Project Manager. There are two vacancies and town officials say it's critical for the Committee to be fully staffed as members begin reviewing design documents for the new High School and Consolidated Early Learning Academy.
Interested New Fairfield residents can send a Letter of Intent and Resume to First Selectman Pat Del Monaco no later than January 31st.
The State has changed the definition of open space and Ridgefield can no longer count any property that is no longer in its natural state. The Conservation Commission is looking at the Town’s open space properties to protect ones currently owned by the town. First Selectman Rudy Marconi recently updated the Board of Selectmen with the Commission's draft. There was a question of whether the fairway greens at the golf can't be counted, but the woods can. The Town has always counted all the properties, the fairways, the greens, the ball fields, all around the schools. Ridgefield's open space percentage goal is 30-percent. The Selectmen said that the modification should still keep Ridgefield focused on achieving that goal, regardless of the state change.
State Police continue to investigate a fatal accident that happened on I-84 Friday night. Troopers responded to the area between exits 8 and 9 westbound for a report of a car spinning out of control and going into the woods. The 911 caller said there was also fire spotted on the side of the road. Investigators determined that the car crossed both lanes of the highway, went up an embankment and collided with a large tree before becoming engulfed in flames. The Newstimes reports that the body of a woman was found inside the 2016 Mazda6 Touring. State Police have only said that the car was registered to a 54-year-old Danbury woman.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi wants the town to set up their own zoning regulation for 5G cell technology. According to minutes of the Board of Selectmen meeting, there have been some health concerns expressed over the new cellular connectivity. Marconi believes Ridgefield should get out in front of this issue. 5G antennas might be placed on every other telephone pole, and he also called it partly an aesthetic issue. But he says a concern for the health ramifications needs to be looked into and addressed.
A Town Meeting will be held in New Fairfield on Thursday night. Residents are being called on to vote on transferring $35,275 from Cap and Non-Animal Control to Animal Control Materials and Supplies. Selectman Khris Hall noted that the reason for this transfer was that the town approved having their own animal control officer last year but needed to wait until March 2020 to get out of the agreement with the Regional Animal Control in order to coincide with their budget year. There is no budgetary impact to this transfer. The Town Meeting on Thursday is at 6:15pm in the Community Room.
Danbury High School Boys’ cross-country head coach Robert Murray has been named a finalist in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year program. Murray was one of eight cross-country coaches selected from across the US. The title was based on criteria that included win/loss record, championship years and tenure as head coach. Finalists will be recognized at an awards banquet in July in Nebraska, where the Coach of the Year will be announced.
Members of the Danbury Fire Department have conducted a second training session at West Conn's Visual and Performing Arts Center on the west side campus. Both groups that have trained are working with theater staff to develop and implement “a rescue plan” to keep students and the public safe in the modern space. The technical staff helped firefighters work through some high angle training, so in the event of something going wrong, they’d be able to effect a safe and efficient rescue. Behind the scenes some hazards include lights, curtains, riggings, cables, and steep staircases.
The town of New Milford's former IT Director has been arrested on 49 counts of computer crime. This stems from an investigation of the town’s information technology systems and practices. Mayor Pete Bass said at the time of the audit that information of town employees who switched to state insurance plans last year was released online. School employees who switched were not affected. 52-year old Kendrick Protzman was IT Director from 2002 to 2019. With the reorganization of the IT Department, Bass asked the new Director to do an analysis of the System, and he uncovered the unauthorized breaches of the network. New Milford is offering free credit card monitoring to its employees for two years as a precaution.
A former Newtown man has been arrested on possession of child pornography charges. Newtown Police traveled to Massachusetts Correctional Facility where they took 51-year old David Anderson into custody Friday. He was transported back to Newtown and held on bond for arraignment later that morning.
The warrant stems from an investigation that was started in November 2012, after a complaint was made to the Newtown Police Department.
The investigation crossed state lines into Massachusetts and New York. Anderson was arrested in Massachusetts and served 7 years in prison. He waived extradition to face additional charges for the crimes that took place in Newtown.
Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says Detectives did an excellent job working with other state agencies, conducting computer forensics, and putting a case together to put this predator away. He added that the community is made safer when individuals such as Anderson are identified and taken out.
The New Milford Police Department is participating in a program meant to improve interaction and communication between officers and drivers during traffic stops.. The state Department of Motor Vehicles and New Milford Police are providing Blue Envelopes for Drivers on the Autism spectrum and Green Envelopes to Deaf/Hearing Impaired Drivers. It holds a driver's license, registration and insurance card, and it includes tips on how the driver and officer can best respond to one another during a traffic stop. Drivers can keep the envelope in the glove box or visor so they can easily find it and hand it to a police officer.
Ridgefield residents are reporting receiving calls asking for donations on behalf of the police department. The Ridgefield Police Department does not solicit donations by phone. The Ridgefield Police Union and The Ridgefield P.B.A only do fundraising through the mail. Ridgefield Police cautioned residents to be wary of phone requests because some fraudulent fundraisers claim that donations will benefit police, when in fact no money goes to the department at all. Police are also cautioning residents to beware of sound-alikes. Some try to fool people by using names that are very similar to those of legitimate, well-known charities or organizations.
In the midst of the snow storm Saturday, the Danbury Fire Department was called to a car fire in the Lake Waubeeka community, reportedly near a house. Out of an abundance of caution, it was dispatched as a structure fire, with West Redding's tanker added to the assignment. Engine 26 of Danbury arrived first and was able to knock the fire down before it spread. Two other Danbury apparatus also responded. There were no injuries and the fire was put out quickly.
Brookfield residents have decided to buy nearly two acres of land near the municipal center complex. A Town Meeting was held earlier this month about purchasing the property for $535,000.
First Selectman Steve Dunn says the property was always intended to be part of the town campus. The family that sold the other land, kept this parcel and gave the town first right of refusal for 20 years. The 20 years have past and the new owner, Joseph Grimes, is offering to sell it to the town. The land is zoned as pre-existing, non-complying contractor yard.
No new contractor yards are permitted in Brookfield. Dunn says they've had contractors setting up in the parking lot of the bowling alley and the town had to kick them out. He added that contractors occasionally park their equipment in yards in residential areas as well.
Town Equipment could be stored in the garage while the town rents the house to the current tenants. The garage is heated and has a work space. Vehicles not used regularly could be stored indoors, out of the elements.
At some point Brookfield will have to expand the police station. Preliminary designs are done, but given the current property, a lot of that would have to be in the form of another level. Dunn notes that it's much less expense to build an attachment than to build up. He estimates that the town could probably save the entire purchase price on the cost of a new police station.
The money for the property purchase would come from the town’s capital nonrecurring fund and rentals.
A public information meeting was held this week in Danbury about a proposed 62 million dollar bond package. Some of the money would be dedicated to adding new classroom space at the middle school level and renovating the Osborne Street Administrative Building into classroom space.
Mayor Mark Boughton says after engineering and architecture plans are drawn up, they may determine a pre-k center is needed to centralize those operations. He added that the City could decide a new school is needed, but that has yet to be determined.
Boughton says it's frustrating for everyone when an elevator at Danbury High School goes down for two months. He says it's not for lack of paying the bills or lack of money in the budget, it's because the infrastructure is so old that the City can't get the parts anymore. The building department has struggled for years to fix the elevators because it could take two to three months to have special pieces machined and then installed.
The bond package calls for new elevators at DHS, Broadview Middle School, and Rogers Park Middle School. Boughton says this is critical to meeting ADA and Special Education requirements. C and D wing have elevators from the early 1960s. In E wing, Rogers Park and Broadview, it will be a modernization.
That part of the bond bill is estimated at $1.5 million.
Student athletes at West Conn have earned the NCAA Team Works Community Service Competition award. The Division III award went to West Conn. 430 student athletes participated in the campus wide Day of Service, including youth clinics and A Walk to End Alzheimer's. The teams contributed over 2,800 hours of service this academic year. The student athletes will receive their awards this spring on campus. This is the 6th competition, a partnership with volunteer management and tracking platform Helper Helper.
The Women's Center is currently looking to hire a Family Violence Victim Advocate,a Bilingual Child Counselor and a Part-time Residential Counselor.
The primary role of Family Violence Victim Advocate is to provide services to family violence crime victims who are involved in criminal court cases. These services include providing information and civil advocacy from arraignment and throughout the court process. The advocate works in the court as part of the Family Violence Intervention Unit and provides immediate and ongoing services within the legal system and throughout the community.
The post provides counseling and advocacy support services to residential and non-residential clients. The Residential Counselor is needed to help those who come to the Women's Center for shelter services through domestic violence, sexual assault and resource programs.
Required qualifications are posted on the "Career Opportunities" page of the Women's Center website.
Danbury officials are looking for a food truck to operate at Rogers Park. The City is accepting proposals from experienced parties interested in operating a Vending Truck for the 2020 season. A copy of the complete Scope of Work is available from the Purchasing Department at City Hall. Bids will be accepted until 2pm on February 5th.
A division of the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services would be eliminated under a bill passed in the House. 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division was formed in 2018.
Hayes says the bill saves taxpayer money by eliminating the Division, which was created to enforce a refusal of care rule that she says would jeopardize access to medical services, including abortion and gender affirmation surgery among others.
Hayes has been vocal about her personal faith, but says nobody should be forced to live their life according to the religious values of another.
Despite receiving significant funding, Hayes says the Division handles a minuscule amount of cases annually. In Fiscal Year 2018, there were 784 complaints, of which only 6% were closed, and 5% didn’t require any formal investigation at all. During the same period, there was a nearly 50% increase in civil rights cases and a nearly 20% increase in health information privacy cases.
The Department of Health and Human Services requested a more than $1 million funding increase for the Division – covering six new staffers – while making deep cuts to other Divisions in the Office of Civil Rights with significantly heavier caseloads. The bill does not end religious exemptions, instead it eliminates what Hayes called a wasteful government division.
The New Milford Health Department is offering free radon test kits for home use. In partnership with the state Department of Public Health, the goal is for residents with elevated levels detected to take corrective action. Radon gas, which is odorless and invisible, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It occurs naturally and is found in rock, soil and water. It’s a low risk when outside, but can become a health hazard if it enters buildings. New Milford residents can make an appointment to get a free radon test kit by calling the town’s health department at 860-355-6035. A limited number of kits are available through the end of the month. A sanitarian from the department will help residents start the test and then collect it at the end.
New Milford residents have approved accepting 25 acres of land into the town's open space portfolio. Native Meadows is located next to Veterans Bridge. The Northwest Conservation District purchased the property several years ago. The GE settlement money could not go to a town, so the conservation district bought the land with the intention of turning it over to New Milford. Some members of the Town Council were reluctant to take ownership over concerns about maintenance costs.
A joint meeting of the Brookfield Boards of Education, Selectmen and Fiance was held this week to talk about soaring costs for special education. The Superintendent says three new students with special needs have joined the district this past week. The Newstimes reports that their education plans are still being discussed, but it could bring the number to 8 of students who could be placed out of district. The budget overage is estimated at between $730,000 and $995,000. Outplacements are considered a last resort, with districts trying to provide appropriate services to students in their home community. The selectmen approved $208,000 from town savings in the budget for the known increase. The Board of Finance will consider the request next month.
The Newtown Legislative Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing tolls. One of the proposed gantries would be on the Rochambeau bridge on I-84 in Newtown.
The resolution approved Wednesday night says they are concerned about the unintended consequences of shifting a significant amount of traffic on Newtown's roads as drivers attempt to avoid the cost burden. The Legislative Council is specifically concerned about the dramatic increase in the number of tractor-trailer trucks and heavy duty trucks on local roads, the damage to the roads, the cost to the town for repairs and the financial burden on Newtown residents.
The resolution points to the existing traffic congestion in Sandy Hook Center, around Exit 11, by Newtown High School and Church Hill Road. They also point to safety concerns of increased local traffic potentially delaying emergency personnel. The Council is concerned that it would discourage retailers and shopping, putting the local businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
The town's delegation has expressed bipartisan opposition to tolls. The resolution is being sent to the Governor and the state legislature.
A bipartisan group of legislators is supporting a bill that prohibits employers from asking the age, date of birth, or graduation dates of job applicants, unless a particular age is a bona fide occupational qualification.
With 436,000 workers in their mid-50’s, Connecticut has the 6th-oldest workforce in the nation, with a median age of 41, as of 2017. Some 20% of Connecticut employees were over the age 54 in 2008; today that figure is 26.5%, with the health care, manufacturing, educational services and retail trade industries employing the most workers over age 54.
A 2018 AARP survey found about 60% of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 76% of them see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job. Meanwhile, nearly a third of U.S. households headed by someone age 55 or older have no retirement savings or pension, meaning they’ll have to continue working or rely on Social Security in order to survive financially.
“Today, no one walks into a business and asks for a job application. Everything is done online,” said Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner, who is Senate chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. “Today we’re announcing our intention to make a real difference for older workers in Connecticut. They should be evaluated on the merits of their skills and experience. When an employer does that, Connecticut businesses are going to find a wealth of talent in the pool of older applicants. To rule someone out simply because of their age is not only wrong, it’s also bad for businesses.”
“Age discrimination is real, and this legislation accomplishes many good things. I’ve been advocating for this for years,” said Newtown State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky. “First, it gets older workers in the door, considered, and interviewed on the strength of their work, not the date on their resume. Second, it’s important to know that it doesn’t mandate employers to do anything they don’t already do when considering their best-fit, new employees. In fact, it may help them meet some of the hardest-working, dedicated employees out there. Third, there’s a lot of current conversation about enriching Connecticut’s talent pool. Fact is, there is a wealth of talent in our state’s older workers, and this simple bill will showcase that.”
The bill, which will be formally introduced once session begins in February, will closely the follow the language of a similar bill introduced last year, House Bill 6113. That bill noted that, “except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need,” employers are not allowed to “request or require a prospective employee’s age, date of birth or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application.”
Last year’s bill passed the Labor Committee in March but was never raised in the House for a vote.