Local Headlines

Newtown Police to buy speed display signs for Toddy Hill Rd

Money has been earmarked in Newtown for two solar-powered electronic speed display signs to be located on Toddy Hill Road.  Police Chief James Viadero said during a recent Police Commission meeting that the funding was found for the devices to deter motorists from speeding.  Stepped up police patrols have been operating in the area, but now that it's winter, the current battery-powered portable speed display sign is in storage.

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Stabilization work continues on Octagon House in Danbury

Crews continue to make emergency repairs to the Octagon House in Danbury.  Construction Services worked with the City Engineer and Planner as NAC Industries re-mobilized and performed some additional work to the second floor fascia boards, requested by the architect.  The work has been completed and the scaffolding has been removed.  Public Works is fencing the property in to secure the building.

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Kent Parks & Rec Board has an opening

The Kent Park and Recreation Commission has an opening for a commission member to fill a three-year seat.  The commission meets the third Monday of the month at 7pm in Kent Town Hall.  The commission is charged with oversight of the Town’s recreational programs and two parks. Residents interested in being considered should submit their intention and background in writing to Kent Park and Recreation Commission, P.O. Box 678, Kent 06757 or email parkandrec@townofkentct.org.  

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Housatonic Habitat, Danbury use grant money to expand Senior Repair Program

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity and the City of Danbury are partnering to use grant money from the Older Americans Act to expand Habitat's Senior Repair Program.  The grant funding is from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging.   The home repair and painting service, known as A Brush with Kindness, is aimed at helping senior homeowners with fixed incomes.  Danbury Director of Elderly Services Susan Tomanio says they will use the funding to serve about 20 seniors in the first year.  Her department will screen all inquiries and submit requests to Housatonic Habitat that meet selection criteria, which include financial need. The pilot program is geared to repairs such as interior painting, drywall, and light repairs to doors, windows and screens. Seniors must live in Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Newtown, New Milford, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, or Brookfield to apply for the pilot program.

 

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Bethel Police schedule Coffee with a Cop event

The Bethel Police Department is hosting a Coffee with a Cop event next month.  The gathering  usually involves meeting at a neutral venue, but officials say they wanted to give the community a second chance at seeing the new building.  Coffee with a Cop will take place on February 9th from 9:30am to noon at their new headquarters on Judd Avenue.

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Bethel Public Utilities Director receives quote to replace pump 2 at Paul Street facility

The Bethel Public Utilities Director has received a quote to replace pump number 2 and the motor at Paul Street.  The quote was for $58,000.  Pump #2 is the worse of the three and the plan is to replace one a year over the next three years.  The Public Utilities Commission voted to accept the quote.  The Director also relayed to the Commission that Eversource Gas stated it is feasible to get gas to the Paul Street facility to replace the existing oil boiler with a hi-efficiency gas boiler. He is working with Eversource on the numbers and will need an easement.

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Danbury Police: Shooting victim was intended target, suspect at-large

A preliminary investigation has found that a shooting in Danbury yesterday afternoon was not random and that the victim was the intended target.  While the unknown shooter is still at large, Danbury Police say there is no indication that he poses an imminent threat to the general public.  The person who was shot in the arm sustained non-life threatening injuries.  The investigation is ongoing.  The incident happened in the area of Ellsworth Avenue near Danbury Hospital and Wooster Cemetery.  The suspect is described as a young man wearing a blue dew rag and black NorthFace backpack.  The incident prompted a brief lockdown of area schools and West Conn due to their proximity to the scene. 

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Danbury launches initiatives to help federal employees impacted by gov't shutdown

Several initiatives have been announced in Danbury to provide relief for federal employees and their families affected by the government shutdown.  A food donation drive at City Hall and at all Union Savings Bank branches will collect non-perishable food donations now through February 16th.  Gas station gift cards are also being collected and will be distributed through the Danbury Health Department. 

Among those impacted are the 260 employees at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, who are working without pay.  There are 100 officers and the balance are doctors, nurses, teachers, and the warden. 

 

FCI Danbury Union President Drew Ueberroth says a lot of people are concerned about putting food on the table, paying their mortgage and having enough money to put gas in the tank to get to work.  Many are not coming in, making the tough decision on what is best for their families. 

Ueberroth says this shut down feels different than the 17-day shut down several years ago.  He says neither side is 100-percent right, both sides are wrong.  He believes someone else on each of the negotiating teams should be in the room to try to resolve the issue because it's affecting the public and the bigger picture.

If the shut down continues for a more prolonged period of time, Mayor Mark Boughton says SNAP benefits and other meal programs could slow payouts. 

There are more than 8,000 federal employees in the state of Connecticut, and an estimated 1,500 have been affected by the government shutdown.

Union Savings Bank is also offering a zero-interest 90 day loan, with 120 day maturity, for impacted workers.  The bank will do a credit check, but federal employees just need to provide two previous pay stubs to get cash within 24 hours, equal to five pay periods.

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New Milford seeks stricter permitting for proposed Candlewood Mountain solar project

The Town of New Milford has filed a petition with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection seeking a stricter permitting process for the proposed stormwater management plan of a controversial solar power operation on Candlewood Mountain.  The 20 megawatt project would be on a 163 acre site. 

The petition asks that a declaratory ruling prevent the project from proceeding.  New Milford is looking for a ruling requiring the developer to apply for an individual permit because of the potential adverse environmental impact.  The town cited a proposed 54 acres of deforestation. 

The petition is also asking for the comment period to be extended for 90 days.  In its filing, town officials say the proposed project may destroy the public trust in the natural resources of the state. 

An advocacy group, Rescue Candlewood Mountain, filed an administrative appeal of the Siting Council's ruling in favor of the project.  The trial of the appeal began on December 4th in New Britain Superior Court and is continuing.  In its appeal, the group argues that the project would cause the massive destruction of core forest and other adverse environmental impacts.

 

 

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Tree trimming to cause lane closures in New Fairfield Saturday

Tree removal work over the weekend will lead to lane closures in New Fairfield.  Despite the winter precipitation in the forecast, the state Department of Transportation plans to do tree removal on Route 37 on Saturday. Work hours will be 8am to 1pm.  Drivers should be aware that modifications or extensions may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

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Hayes appointed to U.S. House Agriculture Committee

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has been appointed to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture. Hayes notes that the District is home to thriving cities as well as rolling hills and rural farming communities.  She says this committee will serve as a bridge between them and looks forward to being the voice of small family farmers, dairy farmers, conservationists, and all concerned with the future of agriculture and the protection of our waterways.  Hayes says another priority will be to ensure that food insecurity is not a reality for any family, by securing the future of food safety net programs like SNAP and school meal programs.

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Man charged for sending threatening letters to Sheriff, Judge

A Bronx man has been arrested for sending threatening letters to members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department and others.  46-year-old Eugene Vitello was charged with several counts of Aggravated Harassment and Stalking. 

The letters first arrived in November with one addressed to Sheriff Robert Langley, the second time a letter threatening harm and criminal offenses against his family was received within a year.  A few weeks later, multiple letters were sent to the Cold Spring Police Department and the court.  Vitello was arrested there in 2013 for Stalking and Harassing a business owner and that Sheriff Langley, who was a retired Law Enforcement officer at the time, had been a witness in that matter which had been adjudicated in front of the threatened Judge.

Orders of Protections were issued for all affected parties and their family members.

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Freshman lawmaker launches online survey to find constituent priorities

A freshman state lawmaker has launched an online survey for residents in the 2nd House District, which includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown.  Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says he wants to hear from constituents as the state faces many tough choices in the year ahead.  There is a series of issues that may come up during the session which people can click "Support" or "Oppose" so he can better represent the district at the State Capitol.  The issues are enacting family medical leave, increasing the minimum wage, legalizing recreational marijuana, tolls, sports bettering, expanding investment in renewable energy, allowing early voting and authorizing another casino, potentially for Bridgeport’s Steelpointe Harbor.  Allie-Brennan then included a list of issues, asking that people choose up to three of the most important, in order to find out about the most pressing issues facing constituents. 

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Lockdown at schools lifted as police search for shooting suspect near Danbury Hospital

One person was shot in Danbury this afternoon.  A person is being treated at Danbury Hospital after reportedly being shot in the arm in near the hospital.  Police are searching for a potentially armed person, last seen the area of Wooster Cemetery.  He is described as a young man wearing a blue dew rag and black NorthFace backpack.  This prompted a brief lockdown of area schools where children were in after-school programs at Ellsworth Avenue, Hayestown Avenue and Broadview Middle schools.  Western Connecticut State University’s midtown campus was on lockdown.  The precaution was  taken due to their proximity to the hospital.  No other details were immediately available.

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I-84 Danbury improvement proposal outlined in flipbooks

Organizers of a state DOT initiative to improve safety, increase capacity, and provide better access on I-84 between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury have published new informational flipbook.  Some have been placed at local libraries and community gathering places for residents to look through. The information is also available online.

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Annual Town Meeting to be held in Kent tonight

The Annual Town Meeting in Kent is taking place tonight.  Following the meeting there will be a hearing to provide information on a proposed sidewalk project.  No vote is scheduled about the streetscape proposal, just information and a question and answer session.  First Selectman Bruce Adams says it's mostly a time for a hearing.  The annual town meeting is scheduled for 7pm.

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January is National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Connecticut says their "Bigs" are being recognized as community builders.  The Mayors of Danbury, Bridgeport, and Milford and the Fairfield First Selectman have issued proclamations vowing to support the work mentors do.  The organization says that work can be life-changing and thanked the municipal officials for their support.

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4 men chain themselves to tractor, block equipment in protest of Cricket Valley Energy Center

Four men chained themselves to a tractor and blocked the transport of equipment from New Milford to New York early Wednesday morning.  It was a protest of the under construction Cricket Valley Energy Center.

Three farmers and an educator were arrested by Connecticut State Police for blocking the escort of a transformer to the power plant in Dover Plains.  The escort, moving turbines from Kimberly Clark along Route 55, came across a tractor perpendicular in the middle of the road. 

38-year old David Epstein of Albany, 38-year old Philip Erner of Wassaic, 52-year old Christopher Iversen of Kingston and 41-year old Benjamin Franklin Schwartz of Wassaic refused a request to unchain themselves and move the tractor. 

(Photos: CSP Iversen, Schwartz, Erner, Epstein)

Gaylordsville Fire Department responded to cut the chains. 

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Intentionally set fire at abandoned building on Southbury Training School campus under investigation

An intentionally set fire is being investigated by State Police.  Troop A was notified shortly before 6pm Tuesday that there was a fully involved fire at an abandoned building on the Southbury Training School property on Village Road.   A school employee saw the glow of the fire and called 911.  The Fire and Explosion Investigative Unit responded and determined that the blaze was intentionally set.  The Fire Marshal’s unit is investigating the cause and looking for anyone with information.  The Connecticut Arson Tip Award Program is offering a reward of up to 25-hundred dollars for information leading the arrest, conviction or prevention of arson fire.  The Arson Hotline is 1-800-8-4-ARSON.

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Local lawmakers get to work on Transportation Committee

The legislature's Transportation Committee has a lot of tough choices ahead this session.  They'll be working with a new DOT Commissioner, Joseph Giulietti, whose previous job was leading Metro North amid a series of crises.  The group held an organizational meeting this week.

Wilton Senator Will Haskell says he views that as a good sign for the direction of the agency.  In order to build a state that's exciting for young people and for businesses, Haskell says they have to think strategically about transportation.  His top priority on the committee is to improve Metro North, including the Danbury branch line.  Haskell's district includes Ridgefield, Redding and part of Bethel as well.

There will be a number of bills coming before the Committee this year which could have an impact on people's wallets.   Whether the group pursues tolling for trucks, tolling all vehicles or reducing the gas tax, members have their work cut out for them.  Among them is Danbury Senator Julie Kushner, who campaigned against tolls.  The freshman lawmaker is a recently retired union organizer who told colleagues that she's traveled to Hartford for the last 25 years on I-84 and has a pretty good understanding of the challenges facing the state.

Haskell and Kushner are two of the new faces on the Committee.  Wilton Representative Gail Laveille won reelection and held onto her committee assignment.  She wants to advocate for the issues important to Fairfield County.  One of the strongest advocates for tolls, former chairman Representative Antonio Guerrera, is no longer in the legislature. 

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New Fairfield to start revaluation process next week

Every five years, the State of Connecticut mandates towns perform a physical property revaluation, which includes physical inspections of each parcel of real estate.  New Fairfield officials say the purpose of the revaluation program is to develop accurate and uniform assessments based on market value as of October 1st. 

This should result in an equitable tax base throughout the town, distributed among New Fairfield taxpayers. 

Vision Government Solutions has been contracted by New Fairfield to assist in conducting this revaluation, under the supervision of the Town Assessor.  Vision employees will collect and analyze data on all properties in town, including both external and internal physical reviews, beginning on January 22.  

The employees will wear brightly colored inspection vests, carry photo identification and their cars will be registered with the New Fairfield Police Department and clearly marked “ASSESSOR’S OFFICE, POLICE DEPT. REGISTERED VEHICLE” and the Vision Government Solutions logo.

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New Milford ramps up search for new School Superintendent

An online survey is being launched by the New Milford Board of Education as the district looks for a new Superintendent.  The survey is available through the end of the month.  Community forums will be held next Wednesday January 23rd at 10am at New Milford Town Hall and at 7pm at Sarah Noble Intermediate School.  The PTO and booster groups, New Milford departments and officials and school staff will participate in separate forums next week.  A consulting firm specializing in recruiting and placing executive leadership will lead the forums.  All of the feedback from the forum and the online survey will be reviewed by the Board of Ed during their February 12th meeting. 

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Info mailer will be created in Brookfield ahead of school project referendum

A mailer will be created by Brookfield officials to inform residents of the proposed elementary school project.  The mailer will include the overall costs, costs per person and other details.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says they will review the document with legal counsel and it will also go through a review by the state.  He noted that it's illegal to advertise one way or another, using town money.  When a library project was proposed, the library raised private funds for a mailer, which Dunn says anyone can do.  The project includes constructing a building on the Huckleberry Hill campus, tearing down that school and transfer Center School students into the new building.  With anticipated state grant money, the project is pegged at $63.2 million.  A driveway, parking and ball fields would also be added.  The old Center School would be turned over to the town for municipal use. 

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Congressional Update: Hayes searches for Senate Leader, Himes teaches Twitter

A group of House Democratic freshmen, including 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, showed up to the Senate building yesterday to call on leadership there to bring bills to the floor for a vote.  The group of 30 members signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to allow votes on legislation to reopen the government. 

Meanwhile, 4th District Congressman Jim Himes will be one of the members leading a social media use session for members of his party.  Himes will discuss the most effective ways to engage constituents on Twitter and the importance of digital storytelling.  The representative for Ridgefield and towns south, often tweets out details about his downtime including clamming along the Sound and tapping trees to make maple syrup. 

Himes joked with his younger staffers that he can manage his own Twitter unless he's drank more than two beers, something they asked after a tweeting a haiku about the quiet car on the train ride between the district and DC.

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Wilton Police investigating school threat posted to social media

A social media post involving a possible school threat in Wilton was investigated by police yesterday.  The post contained a picture of juvenile male holding what appeared to be a firearm with a caption that read “Don’t come to school Monday.” 

Information from both New Canaan Police and the Facebook Law Enforcement Response Team identified a residence in Wilton that the post originated from.  No one at the home was identified as the male in the picture, but police determined he was a different Wilton resident.  Contact was made with the juvenile and his parents yesterday morning. 

Officers seized a BB gun, which was depicted in the post, as well as an air soft gun.  The juvenile male and parent have been cooperative with the investigation. 

Wilton Police say at no time did there appear to be a viable threat to the public or school community. The criminal investigation remains ongoing.  While police say there is no active threat to the public or school community, they increased their presence and visibility in the school areas.

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