Local Headlines

PURA orders Eversource to respond to a joint request by Ridgefield and Newtown

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has ordered Eversource to respond to a joint request by Ridgefield and Newtown asking for an investigation into their response to power restoration following Storm Isaias. 

Eversource must coordinate with Ridgefield and Newtown to identify areas where the health and safety risk to residents is amplified by the power outage, and prioritize power restoration efforts in these areas, as consistent with Eversource’s approved Emergency Restoration Plan. 

The Eversource incident commander or municipal liaison must community with each of Ridgefield’s and Newtown’s Office of Emergency Management to identify the additional resources to be made available for storm response in each respective town, and to provide detailed estimates for the remaining power restoration efforts. 

PURA also ordered the utility to comply with its obligation under its Emergency Restoration Plan to provide its “communities with accurate, timely, and consistent information” by regularly updating the Towns on its restoration progress. Specifically, Eversource shall immediately notify the Towns of any delays to the estimated restoration times.

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Danbury Police show off Officer's community connection amid storm response

Danbury Police are highlighting the efforts of one officer to connect with the community.  Officer Howley was checking the areas of Danbury that were hardest hit by the storm when he came across a group of kids playing football.  He took the opportunity to challenge them to a 1 on 1 and got a run for his money.  Howley spent 20 minutes playing ball with the young children.

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Putnam County experiencing rash of car thefts, break ins

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says there have been a huge spike in auto thefts recently.  An  investigation has shown that the majority of vehicle thefts and vehicle break-ins have occurred between the hours of 3am and 5am.  Any suspicious activity or person should be reported immediately to local law enforcement regardless of the hours of the day. 

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Danbury Schools to send out confirmation of fall learning program choice

By the end of next week Danbury families will receive a confirmation of the school program selection for next fall. The Hybrid Model will be divided up by alphabet, A-L (Blue) will be Monday & Tuesday and M-Z (Orange) will be Thursday & Friday. Everyone will use Distance Learning on Wednesday. This will divide the school system to better ensure social distancing for a safer return.  The first day of school in Danbury will be September 8th.  Students who opted for all Distance Learning are still able to continue their schooling at home. The hybrid is for students who opted for that or who did not respond.

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Bethel Emergency Management assesses damage for FEMA reimbursement

As the Bethel Emergency Management team completes their Preliminary Damage assessment to submit to the State for possible FEMA assistance, they are asking for help.  Any homes or businesses that suffered damage as a result of trees or debris striking structures and causing damage, and the owner doesn't have insurance is asked to reach out.  People can email eoc@Bethel-ct.gov with name, address, and description of damages.  Bethel officials will respond to make a visit and obtain more information.  They have already received reports of several homes damaged that have homeowners insurance, but are looking to only capture uninsured losses at this time.

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Prospect man charged for criminal mischief incident in Newtown

A Connecticut man has been arrested for allegedly taking the keys out of a truck and throwing them into a swampy field at Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown.  Police, with the assistance of the Naugatuck Police Department, identified the man as Kasdyn Click of Prospect.  The 25-year old was charged with breach of peace, criminal mischief and larceny for the July 25th incident.  He was due in court this week and arraignment is set for September 23rd.

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Local municipal officials decry lack of communication from Eversource

In addition to the seeming lack of utility crews staged in areas where they would be needed the most, municipal officials say there is another big issue that needs to be addressed. 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says there's been a complete lack of communication and coordination with town leaders.  He says they haven't been able to get assessment of crews coming in and out of town.  In prior storms, municipal officials knew exactly where the crews are working. 

Bass says that's also a departure from requirements by PURA following the 2011 storms.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's worse than just a lack of communication by Eversource to municipal officials.  He says the mutual aid crews weren't able to get timely details about restoration work they were supposed to be doing.  He says they're doing the best they can, but aren't getting critical information. 

Marconi says finally got a call on Day 8 that the town was getting trucks coming in, and where they would start.  He called that unforgivable and demanded action against the utility. 

Marconi says Connecticut deserves better and called on Eversource executives to step forward and admit their wrongdoing.

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Council of Small Towns files to be part of PURA investigation into storm response

The Connecticut Council of Small Towns supports PURA’s decision to pursue a comprehensive investigation into the failure of Eversource and United Illuminating to adequately prepare for and respond to last week's Tropical Storm. 

COST President Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Eversource failed to adhere to well-established “make safe” protocols to address life safety issues, which he called inexcusable.  Knickerbocker says that put residents, including individuals with serious medical conditions and the elderly, in grave danger for a long period of time. 

He believes measures ordered by PURA and implemented in response to 2011 storms have been abandoned.

Knickerbocker says the lack of communication with town officials severely undermined efforts to protect residents and restore power in a timely manner.   He says electric utilities should have worked closely with municipal officials to address electrical hazards caused by downed wires, identify blocked roads, and prioritize power restoration to critical facilities, such as elderly complexes, nursing homes, police stations, fire stations, water and wastewater facilities.

COST represents 115 small towns throughout Connecticut.

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Bethel Police warn of high tech car theft trend

Bethel Police are sharing some safety information about car thefts.  Vehicles have been entered or broken into and stolen frequently over the past few years.  While Police have always recommended not leaving valuables in unoccupied cars and locking them, they're adding new advice.  Bethel Police say thieves are now using signal boosters to steal locked vehicles while the key fobs are inside homes.  Faraday boxes or pouches are one potential way to prevent the signal boosters from being effective.  For people who can't find these items, Bethel Police say there's a low tech option: tin foil may successfully disrupt the signal.  If you are unable to lock and unlock the car while the keys are inside the foil, that's a possibility.  When all else fails, Bethel Police recommend keeping the key fobs in a location further away from where the vehicle is parked.

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New Fairfield plans to reopen with full-time in-person schooling

The first day of school in New Fairfield will be September 2nd.  The district plans to reopen with full-time in-person schooling.  Parents were given the option to have children start the school year on remote learning.  Plan A calls for having September 2nd, 3rd and 4th as Early Dismissal days, though New Fairfield HIgh School will have a special schedule during those three days.   All schools will be open on Tuesday, September 8th for full days. The New Fairfield School District has planned for having small class sizes to accommodate physical distancing.  Administrators will work with the local health department so if the number of cases increase in New Fairfield and the state, a hybrid or fully remote plan will be triggered.

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Assault weapon found at home of man who threatened law enforcement

Court documents have been unsealed in a case involving a Redding man who allegedly made threats toward law enforcement. Police responded to Greg McGuiness's home last month after a friend called saying that the 37-year old posted a photo holding a gun, captioned with a message about killing himself and shooting at police.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that Officers were told that McGuiness may have an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle. 

After the man was taken to the hospital for observation, he told officers he had been drinking and denied having an assault rifle.  The owner of the Indian Hill Road home allowed police to search.  They found multiple firearms, air guns and facsimile firearms, but not the gun in the picture. 

Officers had McGuinness draw a map to where he hid the gun, which was located near a tree and ferns.  According to the affidavit, the gun had a high capacity magazine, folding bayonet, folding stock and pistol grip--qualifying it as an assault weapon by definition. 

It was found with a round in the chamber. 

McGuiness was charged with possession of an illegal firearm, criminal weapon possession, reckless endangerment, negligent storage of a firearm, illegal possession of a large capacity magazine, illegal possession of an assault rifle, threatening and breach of peace.

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Local lawmaker calls for ratepayer credit when power is out more than 48 hours

As House Chair of the Energy Committee. Danbury State Representative David Arconti says he supports requiring utilities to offer residential customers $100 bill credit a day for outages lasting longer than 48 hours.  He says constituents have reached out to him with concerns that they cannot handle the financial burden of replacing food and medication, especially given the constraints of the ongoing pandemic.  Arconti added that many have lost pay because they didn’t have electricity for over a week while most are working from home.

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New Milford temporarily waiving fees for burn permits

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is waiving fees for burn permits until September 27th.  The Fire Marshall is asking that residents still fill out the permit application.  Bass says Frontier Communications has restored phone and internet services to the greater part of areas in Connecticut affected by storm-related power outages.  Storm-related impacts, including losses of commercial electric power, continue causing isolated phone and Internet service disruptions due to power outages and storm damage to cables, remote cabinets, or localized equipment that serves individual locations.

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Local lawmaker calls on utilities to reimburse ratepayers for lost food, medicine

Danbury State Representative David Arconti, chair of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, has requested Eversource CEO James Judge to attend a hearing and investigation into the utility company.  Judge has not addressed community leaders trying to navigate Eversource’s mess. 

Arconti says the committee wants to find a way to deliver reliable, and affordable electricity in Connecticut.  He hopes to strengthen customers confidence in Eversource by investigating not only the storm response, but also the recent distribution fee increases.  

Arconti says too many residents have been struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot absorb the impact of not having power for a week or longer.  He's calling on Eversource and United Illuminating to reimburse ratepayers up to $500 for medication loss and $500 for food loss during this outage. 

Eversource has notified investors it does not expect a “material impact” as a result of power restoration expenses.  That was included in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Monday. 

The utility has not yet issued a preliminary estimate on the cost. 

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Eversource in response to the Tropical Storm.  The suit, filed by 3 residents and a business owner on behalf of everyone who lost power, accused the utility of negligence, breach of contract, recklessness, and violating the Connecticut fair trade practices act.

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Danbury City Council meeting postponed again due to power outages

The virtual Danbury City Council meeting was postponed again due to power outages from last week’s tropical storm.  The council was supposed to meet virtually the night of the storm, but was postponed due to outage.  Many residents, council members and others were still without internet service this week.  The monthly meeting is now scheduled for Monday at 6pm.  The public comment period remains open until noon Monday.

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Virtual career fair for New Milford businesses next week

A virtual career fair will be held for New Milford businesses next week.  The Economic Development Department and the Corporation for New Milford Economic Development event was rescheduled to this coming Monday and Tuesday due to the Tropical Storm.  14 companies are participating and have nearly 100 job openings.  The virtual career fair is also being hosted by Indeed so job seekers can create a profile and upload a resume in advance. https://events.indeed.com/event/45895/.

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Car hits house in rollover accident in Bethel

A rollover accident involved a house in Bethel early yesterday morning.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Benedict Road around 1am and found that a car went airborne and hit the upper part of a garage.  Officers were able to free the single occupant from the vehicle and begin medical treatment. The driver was transported to Danbury Hospital with unknown injuries.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Ridgefield to become a party to PURA investigations of Eversource

Ridgefield will be pursuing what First Selectman Rudy Marconi says is two major failings on the part of Eversource during this recent storm.  One is their initial “make safe” response and the other is their communications to the town.  He met with Senator Richard Blumenthal yesterday to stress the failings of Eversource.  The Board of Selectmen approved becoming a party to the PURA investigations into Eversource’s response to the storm.  In spite of extensive power restoration, Marconi says there are many downed wires and much clean up to be done.

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Bethel First Selectman believes Eversource outage map is wrong

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Eversource did not quite meet their goal of 99-percent restoration by 6pm Tuesday night, and that their online outage map is inaccurate.  The map showed about a dozen outages yesterday afternoon, but based on emails to his office, Knickerbocker believes there were more than that.  The town cataloged every address and sent them to Eversource.  He asked that residents email or call when power does come back on so the list can be updated.  Knickerbocker says some the last outages are related to damage to underground equipment and individual service lines.

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Redding Highway Department picking up the debris

The Redding Highway Department is out every day picking up the debris from last week's storm. The crews are collecting only storm debris road by road so please be patient. There will not be a town wide storm pick up for residential brush.  Residential brush may be brought to the Transfer Station during regular hours Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 7:30AM to 3PM. The Transfer Station will also be open for brush drop off ONLY Tuesday August 18th from 7:30AM - 3:00PM. 

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Distance learning materials to be distributed in Bethel next month

Bethel School District officials say distance learning is meant to be a temporary measure during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Parent who chose that option for the fall will have their children take part in a combination of synchronous live instruction along with independent work.  All materials families will need to participate in Distance Learning will be distributed on September 3rd and 4th so students are ready for the September 8th start to the new school year.  The distribution will include textbooks and Chromebooks, along with supplies needed for core and elective classes.  In order to plan for a timely distribution, Bethel Schools are asking the parents of pre-k through 5th graders if a school-issued device is needed for at home in a distance learning or hybrid model.  Parents should indicate this when updating demographics in the Parent Portal.

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Conn. Senators call for answers from Remington CEO following bankruptcy filing

Following the announcement of Bushmaster Remington’s second bankruptcy filing in two years, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal called on the firearm manufacture to ensure that the Sandy Hook lawsuit can continue regardless of their bankruptcy proceedings.  The pair also asked Remington's CEO to make sure that no sale of the company happens unless they can ensure they can pay out monetary damages.  They say Remington’s bankruptcy filing has, for the moment, halted progress in the families path to justice.  Murphy says Remington’s decision to omit any mention of these Sandy Hook families or their claims from both the initial bankruptcy filings and its listing of the Top 40 Unsecured Creditors raises concerns about the potential use of the bankruptcy process to selectively shed its liability to these families while paying off other similarly situated creditors.

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Bethel Schools need parents to respond to technology need question

Bethel students who are assigned to Cohort B won't start in person classes until September 10th.  The district wants to ensure that they have technology to attend Distance Learning on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In order to accomplish this, Bethel schools will be distributing Chromebooks on September 3rd and 4th.  For planning purposes, parents of Pre-K through grade 5 students will be asked in the Parent Portal to determine if kids will need a school-issued device to learn at home.

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Kent official: Eversource not counting outages related to underground wire issues

The Eversource crews made massive progress in the last 24 hours. There were over 20 crews in Kent yesterday working on the residual outages. Eversource is reporting only four remain without power, but that does not factor in where they've brought in generators due to underground wire issues.  Any Kent resident still without power is asked to reach out to the town's Emergency Management so they can follow up with the utility.

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Ridgefield added staff to fire station shifts during storm

During the past week, Ridgefield firefighters responded to about 200 calls for service related to the Tropical storm, with most being for wires down, trees down, trees on houses, and trees on cars.  There were also calls for traumatic injuries, Motor Vehicle accidents, Medical alarms, Fire alarms, missing persons calls, smoke in the building, water issues, and many carbon monoxide emergencies related to generators.  While the Ridgefield Fire Department usually staffs 8 members at the Ridgebury fire station during normal operations, they bumped that number to 10 to increase efficiency in call response in that section of town.

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