Local Headlines Archives for 2013-03

Construction closes Bethel Library for weeks

Bethel Public Library will be closed for much of April.  That's because of construction happening on the second floor and in the Seelye House.  Library officials say the work that will be done over the next several weeks means the completion of Phase 1 of construction. 

 

New walls have been built in the historic Seelye House for offices for the Children's and Technology Departments. 

 

(Photo courtesy Bethe Library Pinterest)

 

The first floor is being restored to look like the original library.  It will then serve as the Connecticut History Room. 

 

The partially finished addition has been home to the library since 2005.  The project was stalled for several years because of funding and other issues.

 

(Photo courtesy Bethe Library Pinterest)

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Conn. officials seek info from Newtown charities

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut officials are seeking more information about the amount of money collected and the intended purposes of dozens of charities related to the Newtown school shooting.

Attorney General George Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein sent out letters Thursday with a short survey to 69 charities registered with the state or identified as having accepted donations related to the tragedy.

The letter says donors need information to help make informed giving decisions and to understand the purposes for which their gifts will be used.

Officials cited estimates that more than $15 million has been donated to Newtown-related charities since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December in which 20 children and six educators were killed.

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Unhappy about new limits, gun makers urged to move

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) Firearms manufacturers upset over gun laws and proposals are getting a message from other states: Move here, where the climate is favorable to your products and so are the tax codes.

Politicians in Virginia and West Virginia have said they would welcome Beretta if it chose to leave Maryland. Alaska's House speaker has written a resolution encouraging gun makers to consider doing business in the state.

In New Hampshire, conservative Republicans have sent letters wooing two gun companies that have voiced frustration with proposed gun laws that they say could hurt business.

Several states are considering or have passed tighter gun legislation in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., last year.

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With release of documents, Newtown vote imminent

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Legislative leaders say the newly released search warrants in the Newtown school shooting help confirm the need for many of the gun law changes they've been negotiating for weeks.

Several leaders said Thursday it was chilling to learn the extent of weaponry and ammunition the 20-year-old shooter, Adam Lanza, had amassed inside his home.

Democratic Senate President Donald Williams said it ``absolutely confirms we're on the right track in pursuing a very strong and comprehensive bill.''

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr. says he expects the General Assembly will be ready to vote next week, possibly Wednesday, on a package addressing the shooting.

While Williams said he hopes there will be a vote next week, he stressed that leaders were still meeting on Thursday and hadn't yet finalized a deal.

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Motive remains unclear in Newtown school shooting

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Newly released search warrants in the Newtown school shooting have revealed that gunman Adam Lanza's home was packed with weapons and ammunition, but the documents do not shed any new light on what could have driven him to slaughter 20 children and six educators inside an elementary school.

Lanza left behind journals, which state police turned over to the FBI for analysis, but if investigators have any ideas about his motive, they aren't saying.

Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was among the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said she has come to grips with the fact that she may never know why Lanza carried out the massacre. But she's focused on measures to prevent violence.

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Redacted search warrants unsealed in Newtown shooting investigation

Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky has released 5 redacted search warrants related to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  In an emailed statement accompanying the documents, he released some details about what happened at the school on December 14.

 

"Recovered from the person of the shooter, in addition to more ammunition for the handguns, were three, 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds. Located in the area of the shootings were six additional 30-round magazines containing 0, 0, 0, 10, 11, and 13 live rounds respectively. One-hundred-and-fifty-four spent .223 casings were recovered from the scene.  It is currently estimated that the time from when the shooter shot his way into the school until he took his own life was less than five minutes."

 

According to one search warrant, a responding Police officer said there were numerous school children and school personnel located dead from apparent gun shot wounds in the first two classrooms located off the main hallway.  That's also where a white male dressed in military clothing was located.


A person, whose name was redacted, told investigators "...rarely left the house...considered a shut in, was an avid gamer...played Call of Duty".  This person also said there was a gun safe with at least 4 guns in the home.  The unidentified witness said Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook Elementary and that the school was "his life".

One of the search warrants was for the car that Lanza took to the school.  In addition to DNA evidence, there was a shotgun with two magazines containing 70 rounds.

Receipts and emails documenting firearm ammunition and shooting supplies, printed email conversations located in the living room and books about Asbergers, Autism and the NRA guide to basics of pistol shooting were recovered from the home.  Police also seized 3 Samurai swords, a BB gun, 9 knives with blades ranging from 5 inches to 12 inches, a rifle scope and other similar items.

 

There was also a holiday card with a check, made out by Nancy Lanza, to Adam Lanza for the purchase of C183 firearm.

Also seized were three photographs with images of what appeared to be dead people covered with plastic that had blood visible, an article about the shooting at Northern Illinois University, 1 military style uniform and a box of personal writings from Adam Lanza's bedroom.

As previously reported. investigators found a smashed computer hard drive, a gaming console and a gun safe in what is believed to be Adam Lanza's bedroom.  

In another search warrant, the contents of a gun safe was detailed.

 

The search warrants can be viewed here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five

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Two training sessions in Redding for School Resource Officers

The National Association of School Resource Officers will be at John Read Middle School in Redding for two weeks this summer for a basic school resource officer course and for an advanced course.  There are fewer than 50 spots for each course and is open to any municipality in the area. 

 

The basic course will be held August 5th through the 9th and is intended for officers with less than two years experience in schools and for school administrators.  Those attending the sessions will recieve a National School Resource Officer Basic Course Certificate. 

 

The course will focus on working as a problem solver, developing teaching skills and working as a police officer in a school setting. 

 

The Advanced Course will be August 12th through the 14th.  That course is designed for officers already working in an education environment and will advance their knowledge nd skills as a law enforcement officer, informal counselor and an educator.  The program will also help SROs identify and diffuse potentially dangerous situations. 

 

Those participating are asked to bring a laptop and copy of their Memorandum of Understanding. 

 

More districts are employing School Resource Officers in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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Malloy, Segarra to appear at gun violence event

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra are participating in a national effort to end gun violence.

Both are scheduled to appear at Hartford City Hall for a news conference this morning as part of The National Day to Demand Action, which is being organized by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

The coalition is co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Organizers say similar events are being held at more than 100 locations across the country. They're planning petition drives and calls to congressional district offices, demanding support for gun laws such as comprehensive background checks.

Malloy has often spoken of the need for federal legislation following the deadly Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

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Boehringer signs lease renewal at Matrix Corporate Center

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals has signed a new 10-year lease for 327,000 square feet of office space at the Matrix Corporate Center.

 

The $90-million lease is an extension for the space the world's largest privately held pharmaceutical company in the United States is currently located.  This lease keeps some 900 jobs in Danbury. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says this is a major hold for the city's employment rolls.  He notes that Boehringer is making a tremendous committment at their nearby campus, with continued expansion this summer and fall.

 

 

The negotiations for the lease, which ends in December 2022, took about a year and a half. 

 

Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President Steven Bull said the Matrix is a world class facility and worked hard to keep a world class business here.  He called it a testament to the business climate in Danbury that BI has decided to stay in the city.

 

Boughton says the employees will continue to shop and dine along Mill Plain Road, at the mall and elsewhere in the Greater Danbury area.  He called the lease renewal a great economic spinoff for all.

 

In the first lease in 2002, there was a redesign agreement for the intersection with Old Ridgebury Road and tax breaks, but there was no incentive included in the new lease. 

 

BI is redesigning the space into an open floor plan to employ more people in the same footprint.  Boughton called it a more efficient use of the space.

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Malloy wants comprehensive response to Newtown shooting

As the General Assembly works on gun control reforms in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Governor Dannel Malloy weighs in on the pace of progress.

 

Lawmakers are slow in making progress on gun control reforms in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School according to Malloy.  He says whatever bill is passed in Connecticut will have meaning, regardless of if the federal Government takes similar action.

 

Malloy says some would like to see high capacity magazines already owned not be included in the bill--to have them "grandfathered in", but he doesn't think that's the right solution.

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Two Conn. towns approve armed guards for schools

ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) Enfield officials have approved putting armed guards in all 11 public schools starting in the fall in response to the Newtown school shootings.

The Board of Education voted 5-4 Tuesday night in favor of a series of security measures including armed guards.

There's mixed reaction to the plan. Some parents worry the guards might scare children and others say extra security isn't needed.

Police Chief Carl Sferrazza says all the guards will be trained and the town is looking to hire retired law enforcement personnel for the jobs.

Enfield appears to be the second Connecticut town to approve armed guards for all schools, after North Branford. School officials nationwide are considering doing the same, following December's killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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CT GOP to honor Llodra

Connecticut Republicans are honoring Newtown's First Selectman.  Pat Llodra is set to receive the Women's Leadership Award at the State GOP Party's annual Prescott Bush Dinner, taking place next month. 

 

State GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola says Llodra demonstrated exceptional leadership under extraordinary circumstances.  The group also cited her lengthy experience in both the public and private sector and her record of leadership in the award announcement.

 

Labriola says Llodra has made service to others her life's work, whether it's serving on the PTA, the Board of Education or helping the community heal.  Llodra served as Leader-In-Residence with the state Department of Education, was interim principal at Newtown High School, served on the Legislative Council and was elected First Selectman in 2009. 

 

The 35th annual dinner is being held on May 20th.

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Patriots to hold football clinic for youths at Newtown High

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots will hold a free youth clinic for kids in Newtown on May 18th. The Patriots say current and former players will gather at Newtown High School to give tips on running, tackling and throwing to Newtown students.

 

Patriots owner Robert Kraft the team admires ``the Newtown community for their strength'' following the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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Vote on Newtown bill possible next week

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. is optimistic the Connecticut General Assembly will be ready to vote next week on a bill addressing the deadly Newtown school shooting.

The Democrat had hoped for a vote Wednesday, but said Monday that legislative leaders now plan to wait for the expected release of more information in the Dec. 14 massacre.

Williams said Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky III told legislative leaders Friday that search warrants in the case and the completed return of the search warrants, which typically includes a documented inventory of property seized, will be released late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Williams said the leaders met with Sedensky for about an hour but did not learn any new information about the case. They were only allowed to ask questions of the prosecutor.

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Conn. considering statewide antiques trail

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a Connecticut Antiques Trail, an effort to highlight the state's numerous antique shops.

Sen. Rob Kane, a Republican from Watertown, proposed the legislation. In 2009, he worked with the state Department of Transportation to erect signs along Interstate 84 to highlight a collection of antique hopes in his district.

Kane said it makes sense to expand the trail statewide to connect more antiques dealers with collectors, likening his idea to the Connecticut Wine Trail.

Ed Dombroskas, executive director of the Eastern Regional Tourism District, supports the bill. His organization recently put together an antiques brochure for his region and received thousands of inquiries seeking copies.

The bill awaits a vote in the General Assembly's Commerce Committee on Tuesday.

 

Kane's district includes Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Roxbury, Washington, Watertown, and Woodbury.

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Conn. lacking research on well water contamination

WESTON, Conn. (AP) Connecticut health officials say they've received numerous reports in recent years of arsenic and other contaminants in residential drinking water across the state, but a published report says little research on the source or location of the pollution is being done.

State Department of Public Health officials say well water contamination is a sporadic but statewide problem.

An estimated 400,000 private wells in Connecticut serve nearly 527,000 people, but it's not known how prevalent contamination is. The state only requires water testing when new wells are installed.

30 percent of 104 wells tested in Weston showed arsenic levels above acceptable limits, and some residents report health problems. In Stamford, arsenic was detected in 24 of 227 well water tests since 2010.

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Newtown residents upset about NRA robocalls

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Some residents in Newtown, Conn., say they're outraged they've been getting robocalls from the National Rifle Association only three months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Town residents say the automated calls began last week and urge people to tell their state legislators to oppose gun control proposals. Lawmakers are debating whether to ban military-style assault weapons, prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines and other measures in response to the school shootings.

Dan O'Donnell lives in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown and tells WVIT-TV that the robocalls are ``ridiculous and insensitive.''

Messages seeking comment were left with the NRA, which like other nonprofit groups is allowed to make robocalls under federal law.

A gunman killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself in December after shooting his mother to death.

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Connecticut a.g. sees no basis for Newtown lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's attorney general says he sees no basis for lawsuits against the state or Newtown over the shooting deaths last December of 20 children and six educators.

Attorney General George Jepsen said in an interview on WFSB-TV's ``Face the State'' on Sunday that he believes there's no basis to sue Connecticut for anything it may have done. He also said he doesn't believe there's a reasonable basis to sue Newtown.

A lawyer earlier this year withdrew a claim to sue the state for $100 million on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor of the Dec. 14 school massacre. Irving Pinsky withdrew the lawsuit but said he might refile.

He said he is reviewing new evidence on security at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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Thousands run to help Sandy Hook shooting victims

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Organizers say a 5K to benefit the victims and others affected by the Newtown school shooting has raised more than $438,000.

Thousands of runners and well-wishers turned out for Saturday's run through the streets of Hartford, Conn.

The start of the Sandy Hook Run for the Families was preceded by a moment of silence as a solitary bell tolled 26 times in tribute to the children and educators killed when a gunman attacked the elementary school on Dec. 14.

Some 15,000 people were registered to run and thousands of others lined up along the route.

Gov. Dannel Malloy was among the runners. He called the run ``an amazing and healing experience.''

The charity run benefited the Sandy Hook School Support Fund administered by the United Way of Western Connecticut.

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Jersey auction raises money for Newtown

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) Quinnipiac University's soccer program is remembering one of the Newtown shooting victims by auctioning off soccer jerseys from around the world.

Most of the jerseys display the number 26, in memory of the 20 children and six educators who were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary school on Dec. 14.

Money raised in the auction will fund a scholarship in memory of Rachel D'Avino, a teacher's aide who was among those killed. She was a cousin of a former Quinnipiac soccer captain, Lauren Carmody-Grenier.

The online auction has so far raised more than $10,000. Items still on the block include a Barcelona jersey signed by the entire team and another from Argentina's national team signed by superstar Lionel Messi.

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Danbury Whalers win FHL title

The Danbury Whalers have done something no other Danbury hockey team has been able to do, bring a trophy home to the City.  The Danbury Whalers announced that the end of December 2009 that they would called the Hat City home. 

 

The Danbury Whalers have won the Federal Hockey League Championship during game 3 of the Commissioners Cup, played Friday night at the Danbury Ice Arena.  They took the first two games in Dayton and returned to Danbury to finish the best-of-five series. 

 

The team defeated the Dayton Demonz 6-3. 

 

 

The Whalers made the only goal of the first period, but soon into the second, Dayton tied it up.  In practically no time, the Whalers regained the lead.  Then the two teams repeated that a few minutes later.  The Whalers also sank another goal in the second.  Dayton was able to only score once more in the third period.

 

(Photo contributed from fan)

 

Goalie Mike Brown was named MVP.

 

(Photo contributed from fan)

 

The Whalers were invited to participate in Danbury's St Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday.  The parade runs along Main Street from St Peter's Church, takes a left on West Street and ends at the Irish Cultural Center on Lake Avenue.  The Whalers will ride on two flatbeds and a 1970 Chevelle Convertible.  

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Father of Newtown victim gets Rangers 1st pitch

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The father of a 6-year-old girl who was among the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut will throw the ceremonial first pitch before the Texas Rangers’ home opener.

 

Robbie Parker is a longtime Rangers fan who grew up in North Texas.

 

Parker’s 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was among 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

 

The Rangers said Friday that Robbie Parker will be accompanied by his wife, Alissa, and daughters Madeline and Samantha for the first-pitch ceremony April 5 before the game against the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Robbie Parker took Emilie to several Rangers games in Arlington, Seattle and Boston.

 

The Rangers said thousands of dollars have been donated by individuals in North Texas to Emilie’s Fund, which assisted families of those impacted by the tragedy. Earlier this year, Parker’s brother, Jeremie, who still lives in North Texas, read a message of gratitude on his brother’s behalf on the team’s flagship radio station.

 

‘‘I am so proud to be a Ranger fan, because I know that as a fan I actually belong to a community. I am glad I was able to share the community with my precious daughter and that the same community has reached out to her and let our family know that she is remembered and loved,’’ part of the message read. ‘‘Thank you for all you have done to support our family through this time.’’

 

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Newtown parents meet with legislative leaders

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The parents of four children slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School went to Hartford to meet privately with legislative leaders, who are trying to craft a bipartisan response to the massacre in Newtown.

Mark Barden, whose seven-year-old son Daniel was killed, told reporters Friday that the parents traveled to the Capitol ``to applaud the efforts'' of the lawmakers, who are focusing on ways to address gun violence, mental health and school security issues following the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

While gun control advocates criticized lawmakers Friday for taking too long to pass legislation, the parents appeared more patient.

Barden said ``they're doing a great job trying to address these issues'' and remains hopeful Connecticut will ultimately have ``the strongest, most effective laws.''

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Higher college tuition approved for Conn.

The Board of Regents for Higher Education has voted to increase tuition and fees on student next year.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher, a member of the higher education committee, says she is extremely disappointed that the Board would approve a nearly 11-percent increase in tuition and fees on students.

 

Boucher called the costs a huge burden.  She says during this still difficult economic period, the state should refocus its priorities.  She would like to see money invested in training the future workforce.  She cited figures that show Connecticut is losing its 18-to-30 year old population at the fastest rate of any state in the country.

 

Boucher called it unconscionable to ask hardworking students and parents to pay more during one of the most challenging economic periods since the Great Depression.

 

The increases would affect students at 12 community colleges, Charter Oak State College and students attending the Western, Central, Southern and Eastern Connecticut State Universities.

 

For in-state students living on-campus at universities, tuition and fees increase next year by 4.1 percent.  In-state tuition at Charter Oak State College was increased by $13 per credit, to $258, and fees increased $9 per semester to $180.  Community colleges will charge 5.25 percent more.

The board's finance committee recommended the increases last week.

Schools must set aside 15 percent of tuition for financial aid, so more will be available.

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Danbury Hospital applies for FEMA grant to study firefighter health

Danbury Hospital is applying for a grant of up to a million dollars to do a study of firefighter cardiovascular health.  Research and development in firefighter health and safety is one of the FEMA grant opportunity categories.  

 

City Councilman Paul Rotello asked what the likelihood of Danbury getting this grant would be.  There is some $400-million in FEMA funding for grant opportunities. 

 

Fire Chief Geoff Herald recently told the City Council that the study will determine how well the testing program works for Danbury Hospital and how it works for the fitness of the fire service.

 

Danbury firefighters already have their annual physicals done at Danbury Hospital, so their records can be used for a baseline study.  The study will involve Danbury Hospital staff running checks on volunteer and career firefighters every three or four months and recommending exercises or dietary restrictions.   Some grant money would be set aside to outfit the department with equipment to increase cardiovascular exercise and to have a nutritionist visit the firehouse to help with dietary issues.

 

The study would be for a year and requires no money from the City.

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Newtown parents frustrated with gun debate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Parents of the Newtown school shooting victims say they're frustrated with the opposition to gun control proposals prompted by the massacre and are calling on Congress to act.

One parent has even invited the head of the National Rifle Association to her home on Easter weekend to try to reach middle ground. Nelba Marquez-Greene's 6-year-old daughter Ana was among 20 first-graders and six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

Neil Heslin was among several parents of children killed in the shootings who joined Vice President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in Manhattan on Thursday to call on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and other measures.

Heslin says he's ashamed that Congress ``doesn't have the guts'' to pass gun control measures.

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Lawmakers tackle mental health, gun trafficking

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel Malloy's advisory panel that's reviewing the Newtown school shooting is turning its focus to mental health.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is scheduled to hear today from experts on issues related to mental health care, public awareness and discrimination.

The meeting comes days after the commission forwarded the governor some preliminary recommendations on gun laws and school security, including universal background checks for guns.

Commission members expect to present the governor with a comprehensive final report within the year.

Meanwhile, gun control advocates plan today to deliver letters to legislative leaders, who are crafting a bipartisan bill that addresses the shooting. The letters come from Newtown victims, survivors, clergy and other groups who support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and other gun control measures.

 

Some Connecticut legislators hope recent interest in stopping gun violence will prompt lawmakers to adequately fund the task force charged with enforcing the state's gun possession and trafficking laws.

Funding and staffing for the Statewide Firearms Trafficking Task Force has dwindled since the entity was created in 2000. Today there is only one state police detective assigned to the unit.

Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, a Republican from Stafford Springs, and Rep. William Tong, a Democrat from Stamford, have proposed separate bills to fund the task force.

Guglielmo says the task force has a good record of removing illegal guns from the streets.

Both bills are scheduled to be discussed today at a public hearing before the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee.

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Malloy: Conn. officials to release Newtown details

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the Chief State's Attorney will release additional information to the public about the Connecticut State Police investigation into the deadly Newtown school shooting.

Malloy said Thursday he was ``disappointed and angered'' certain information about the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was reportedly disclosed by a top state police commander at a law enforcement seminar.

Malloy said he's concerned victims' families may have heard the news for the first time. A column published this week in the New York Daily News, citing an unnamed police officer who attended the seminar, reported that Col. Daniel Stebbins discussed evidence that has been uncovered.

Malloy said additional information about the investigation will be released by March 29. His spokesman confirmed it will be released publicly.

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Newtown names interim schools superintendent

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown officials have named former town schools chief John Reed to serve as interim superintendent while they search for a permanent successor to Janet Robinson.

Reed was superintendent of Newtown schools for two decades until 2002 and recently has volunteered at the relocated Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Monroe. Students were relocated there after the December school shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Robinson is stepping down as superintendent in June to become superintendent of Stratford schools. School board members say Reed will work with Robinson and take over after she leaves until a new superintendent is hired.

School board Vice Chairwoman Laura Roche says the board wanted someone highly knowledgeable about Newtown to serve as interim superintendent in the wake of the school shooting.

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Newtown names interim schools superintendent

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown officials have named former town schools chief John Reed to serve as interim superintendent while they search for a permanent successor to Janet Robinson.

Reed was superintendent of Newtown schools for two decades until 2002 and recently has volunteered at the relocated Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Monroe. Students were relocated there after the December school shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Robinson is stepping down as superintendent in June to become superintendent of Stratford schools. School board members say Reed will work with Robinson and take over after she leaves until a new superintendent is hired.

School board Vice Chairwoman Laura Roche says the board wanted someone highly knowledgeable about Newtown to serve as interim superintendent in the wake of the school shooting.

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Conn., rifle maker end aid deal after killings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Just days before 20 children and six educators were killed at a Connecticut school in December, state development officials offered the maker of the rifle used in the massacre a $1 million loan to bring new jobs to the state.

The offer, capping six months of negotiations between the Department of Economic and Community Development and Freedom Group, was dropped after private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management announced it would sell Freedom Group, manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15.

The deal was ended four days after the killings.

The Hartford Courant first reported the deal and its unraveling.

Deputy agency commissioner Ronald Angelo said Wednesday that Cerberus' announcement made the deal untenable. He said the killings also were a factor.

Freedom Group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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Parents of Newtown victim met with killer's father

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The parents of one of the 20 first-graders killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre met with the gunman's father for more than an hour in an effort to bring some closure to the tragedy, asking him about his son's mental health and other issues.

 

Alissa Parker told "CBS This Morning" in an excerpt of an interview that aired Thursday the meeting with Adam Lanza's father, Peter Lanza, was her idea. Her 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, died in December's shooting rampage.

 

"I felt strongly that I needed to tell him something, and I needed to get that out of my system," Alissa Parker said. "I felt very motivated to do it and then I felt really good about it and prayed about it. And it was something that I needed to do."

 

It was unclear what they discussed or when the meeting took place. CBS plans to show the rest of the interview with Alissa and Robbie Parker on Friday morning, revealing more details about their meeting with Peter Lanza.

 

No one answered the phone at the Parkers' home Thursday morning. A message seeking comment from Peter Lanza was left with a Lanza family spokesman.

 

The Parkers told CBS they wanted to ask Peter Lanza about his son's medical history, his and his ex-wife's relationships with Adam Lanza and other issues.

 

Robbie Parker was the first parent of a child killed at the school to speak publicly about the massacre. A day after the Dec. 14 killings, he fought back tears and struggled to catch his breath as he spoke lovingly of Emilie at a wrenching, lengthy news conference.

 

"She was beautiful. She was blond. She was always smiling," he said, adding that the world was a better place because Emilie was in it. "I'm so blessed to be her dad."

 

The Parkers have roots in Ogden, Utah, north of Salt Lake City, and had moved to Newtown less than a year before the shooting.

 

Adam Lanza, 20, shot 20 children and six educators to death at the school and killed himself as police arrived. He also fatally shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home before going to the school.

 

Peter Lanza, who was divorced from Nancy Lanza, said in a statement after the killings that his family also was asking why Adam Lanza would go on a shooting spree.

 

People close to the investigation have told The Associated Press that Adam Lanza showed interest in other mass killers.

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Lawmakers want Newtown briefing, media oppose sealing records

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Legislative leaders upset that a Connecticut State Police commander reportedly disclosed information about the Newtown school shooting at a law enforcement seminar in New Orleans say the state police should be briefing them on details of the crime.

Senate President Donald Williams Jr. said Wednesday that any information state police have that wouldn't adversely affect any potential prosecution should be released ``for everyone's greater understanding of the terrible crime.''

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr. said lawmakers have asked several times without success for information would help them as they craft a legislative response to the massacre.

Cafero called it ``really galling'' to read an account in the New York Daily News of comments Col. Daniel Stebbins made to ``strangers to our state'' about evidence in the case.

Several media outlets are opposing the continued sealing of search warrants related to the Newtown school shooting.

The outlets, including The Associated Press, filed a motion in Danbury Superior Court on Wednesday seeking to intervene to oppose any move to extend the sealing of the search warrants.

Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky III successfully argued in December for keeping search warrants related to Lanza's house and the car he drove to the school sealed for 90 days, saying disclosure would jeopardize an ongoing investigation. He said at the time that arrests were not anticipated but had not been ruled out.

The media outlets contend the public has a right to see the records.

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Newtown dispatchers honored for service

The Newtown Emergency Communications Center has been presented with the 2013 "911 Call Center Award".  The presentation was made last night in Washington DC.  The team from the Center is being recognized for working without pause on December 14th to aid and inform emergency personnel, parents and the community. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says call center dispatchers, like other first responders, showed immense bravery in the face of unspeakable tragedy.  He said Maureen Will, Jennifer Barocsi, Robert Nute and others provided comfort, care and courage to the families and the community.

 

Senator Chris Murphy says the entire team of the Center remained composed while handling some of the most horrifying emergency calls imaginable.  He says the team managed the emergency response with tremendous courage.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the group displayed professionalism and committment to the community on the darkest of days in the most difficult of circumstances.  She says the Center used sound judgement and quick action to mobilize a response, adding that they went beyond the call of duty in the weeks that followed.

 

Angel Arocho is chairman of the nonprofit NG9-1-1 Institute that is among the groups honoring the Newtown center. He says the workers helped emergency personnel to act quickly and reunite parents with frightened children.

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Newtown sees jump in gun permit applications

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Applications for gun permits have jumped in Newtown, Conn., since a school massacre there revived the national debate on gun control and led to worries about new restrictions.

Newtown in recent years has issued about 130 gun permits annually. Police say the town received 79 permit applications in the three months since the Dec. 14 massacre, well over double the normal pace.

Robert Berkins, records manager for Newtown police, says many applicants are expressing concerns that their gun rights will be taken away.

Firearms sales have surged around the country, driven by Washington's new focus on gun control.

The killing of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School has led to proposals for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

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'Sunday Kind of Love' singer Fran Warren dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) Fran Warren, whose 1947 recording of ``A Sunday Kind of Love'' was one of the classic hits of the big band era, has died.

Alan Eichler, a spokesman for the singer-actress, says Warren died March 4 of natural causes at her home in Brookfield, Conn. She was 87.

Warren's career spanned more than 50 years with hits that included the Tony Martin duet ``I Said My Pajamas (and Put On My Prayers),'' the Lisa Kirk duet ``Dearie'' and ``It's Anybody's Heart.'' Her films roles included ``Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.''

She frequently appeared and performed on the talk shows hosted by Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Steve Allen.

Warren is survived by two daughters, a son-in-law and two nieces.

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General Assembly: Gun bills progress, focus on college security

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A legislative commission is sending along several gun-related proposals as legislative leaders continue closed-door talks, seeking to come up with a bipartisan response to the school shooting in Newtown.

Members of the General Assembly's Public Safety and Security Committee on Tuesday approved bills that would require criminal background checks for all private firearm sales and toughen the rules against carrying a loaded weapon while intoxicated, lowering the threshold for drunkenness.

The committee also voted to require local authorities to issue permits for gun shows in their communities.

Another bill that cleared the committee requires the state's Emergency Services and Public Protection commissioner to use the statewide police emergency radio network to notify all local police of a shooting involving multiple victims.

Legislative leaders are expected to continue their discussions Wednesday.


Connecticut lawmakers are considering ways to boost security measures at the state's colleges and universities, in addition to primary and secondary schools, following the deadly massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Members of the General Assembly's Higher Education Committee on Tuesday heard testimony on a bill that would require each state and independent higher education institution to submit an up-to-date security protocol plan to the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection by Oct. 1.

The schools would also be required to establish trained threat assessment teams for their campuses.

Rep. Roberta Willis, the committee's co-chairman, said a bipartisan legislative task force had originally planned to review higher education security but did not have enough time. The members decided to instead focus on primary and secondary school safety measures.

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State Police criticize conference leak, mum on Sandy Hook investigation

A state police spokesman is taking another police officer to task over the release of confidential information related to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

State Police spokesman Lt Paul Vance's statement follows Monday's story in the New York Daily News quoting an unnamed person who attended last week's International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels mid-year meeting in New Orleans.  He says the recent seminar was designed for law enforcement professionals only.

 

The report focused on an alleged 7-foot long 4-foot wide spreadsheet in the shooter's possession with names, body counts and weapons used in other mass murders. 

 

Vance says the Connecticut State Police has not and will not speak publicly on the Sandy Hook investigation.  He the families of the victims continue to be a priority in this investigation and that fact was clearly stated at the seminar. 

 

He called it unfortunate that someone in attendance chose not to honor Colonel Stebbins' request to respect the families' right to know specifics of the investigation first. 

 

The final Connecticut State Police report is still likely several months away.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission submits interim report

An interim report has been released with 42 recommendations in response to the shooting in Newtown.  Governor Dannel Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is recommending universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers, the registration of all firearms, and bans on high-capacity magazines. 

 

Commission member, Former Newtown State Representative Chris Lyddy says they are also suggesting a ban on the possession or sale of guns capable of firing more than 10 rounds of ammunition without reloading.

 

The panel also believes Connecticut officials should consider requiring all K-12 classrooms to be equipped with doors that can be locked from the inside and hardware that's capable of implementing a full perimeter lockdown. 

 

Chairman Scott Jackson says the group plans to continue its work, focusing on mental health services.  They are next meeting on Friday.  Members expect to present a comprehensive final report within the year.

 

A copy of the report can be viewed here.

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Legislation proposed to save airport control towers

A group of Republican and Democratic senators is backing legislation that would block the Federal Aviation Administration from eliminating funding for air traffic control towers, including 6 in Connecticut.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says the legislation would make $50 million available in the FAA budget.

 

Danbury Airport Manager Paul Estefan says the funding would be enough for the rest of the fiscal year.  He adds that the FAA hasn't said if the cuts go through when the towers will reopen, if at all.

 

Blumenthal says the cuts are preventable because the money is there.  Danbury Municipal Airport is among the 6 in Connecticut with towers that could close next month if the automatic budget cuts go through.

 

Blumenthal says the measure also makes clear that contract tower programs are subject to the same 5 percent budget cut as other programs in the FAA's budget. The FAA is seeking a 75 percent spending cut at contract air traffic control towers.

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Border tolls in Conn. placed on hold

Even though lawmakers this session didn't write any bills about bringing tolls back to Connecticut's highways, the issue isn't completely closed this year.  No bill will come before the General Assembly about adding electronic arms over the highway, but the state Department of Transportation is being asked to study the issue. 

 

Issues the DOT Commissioner is being asked to study include the appropriateness of the highways as a place for tolls, congestion on the roadways and the ability of the DOT to limit the use of any revenue for transportation purposes only. 

 

The Commissioner is also being asked to report back to lawmakers by next February on if the motor vehicle fuel tax can be lowered when tolls are established. 

 

Brookfield Representative David Scribner says he has not wavered in his opposition to border tolls, but feels the federally funded study a sensible approach.  He says border tolls would disproportionately damage the local economy, but thinks the federally funded study is better than hastily implementing tolls.

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Danbury labor market area has lowest unemployment in Conn.

Data released last week shows the Danbury Labor Market area has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 7.1 percent. 

 

Connecticut's unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in January. 

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says revised data from the state Labor Department proves what he's been saying for months--the state is making progress on job growth.  Malloy says the data throws cold water on his critics who claim despite spending millions on grants and loans to have companies locate or expand in Connecticut, jobs weren't being created.

 

Malloy says there are other positive signs including a strong increase in real estate sales and a rise in new construction permits.  But Malloy added that he understands the frustrations of those still seeking work.

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Malloy's Newtown panel backs expanded gun ban

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel Malloy's commission reviewing the Newtown school shooting is recommending a ban on the sale and possession of all guns that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading.

Such a ban would affect both high-capacity rifles and hand guns.

While some commission members felt the proposal was too broad and unfairly classified guns purchased legally as illegal assault weapons, there was enough consensus to forward the idea to Malloy.

Former Newtown Rep. Christopher Lyddy said he feels badly for law-abiding gun owners, but believes the commission needs to "take a stand and give a damn about those lives that have been lost."

The panel met Friday to discuss what to include in an interim report to Malloy, expected to be released on Monday.  Malloy set a March 15th deadline for the work to be completed.

 

One of the items they discussed was background checks and drug screenings for all staff and volunteers in schools.  Commission chair Scott Jackson says that recommendation does not encourage parent involvement and could have a chilling effect.

 

Newtown teacher Ron Chivinski says many if not all districts use background checks for staff already.  It was decided to leave the language vague on the type to avoid unfunded mandates, but narrow it down to just background checks and only for staff.

 

The interim report is likely to include about 60 recommendations.  The group is planning to meet again next Friday with mental health officials to gather more information.

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Malloy's Newtown panel to discuss early report

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel Malloy's commission reviewing the Newtown school shooting is deciding what to include in an interim report to the governor.

The 16-member Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is scheduled to meet today to discuss possible early recommendations, as well as items that need further consideration. The group is expected to release the interim report publicly on Monday.

Malloy's panel of experts is charged with reviewing current policy and making recommendations on school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention.

Also today, legislative leaders are scheduled to continue closed-door talks on a possible bipartisan package of law changes that address the Dec. 14 massacre. Lawmakers are expected to review the interim recommendations from Malloy's group.

The leaders have said the General Assembly may vote on a bill this month.

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On edge at times, Newtown school tries to cope

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- They relocated the entire student body to a new school unstained by blood. They brought in counselors to soothe shattered nerves, and parents to comfort the distraught.

 

But authorities know they cannot erase the lingering effects of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School - students and faculty members still on edge, still traumatized by the sounds of gunshots and by the horrors they survived.

 

In the new school building in the neighboring town of Monroe, police remain a presence. Signs ask people to close doors softly and not to drag objects across the floor.

 

"There are reactions to noises, doors slamming, things being dropped have a strong startled response," said Newtown School Superintendent Janet Robinson. "We're really just trying to have the whole school be as calm as possible."

 

A group of Sandy Hook Elementary School third-graders attending a Brownie meeting on a recent day heard a loud noise and looked around nervously. Though the troop leader assured them it was probably just someone pushing a cart, one girl began to cry.

 

"You can tell that every little sound that is made in that school, the kids are still extremely scared," said Brenda Lebinski, parent of a third-grader who witnessed the episode.

 

At home, Robinson said, parents say children have cried and asked, "Is the bad man coming back?"

 

"Having your safety shattered for everyone involved - kids, parents, teachers, administrators - I think it's going to be very difficult to recapture that sense of safety," Robinson said.

 

Parents have been volunteering as hall monitors and aides to help comfort the students. Teachers, still coping with their own trauma, also struggle to make the children feel safe.

 

"I think they're exhausted, mentally, physically," said Wendy Davenson, a therapist working with school staff. "It takes ages to create a safe environment after something like this. I think the teachers are trying so hard to do that for the students and yet some of them may not really feel particularly safe either."

 

On the morning of Dec. 14, a 20-year-old gunman entered the school and slaughtered 20 first-graders and six staff members before killing himself. Gunshots resounded through the school on the public address system; teachers hid with students in classrooms until they were rescued by police, and some passed the carnage on their way out.

 

When the students returned to school on Jan. 3, it was in a different building - the former Chalk Hill Middle School. It had been refurbished, and desks and other equipment were brought in from Sandy Hook.

But there was no way to pretend that the shootings did not happen.

 

Kiki Leyba, a teacher who survived the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, spoke last month to about a dozen Sandy Hook staff members. Leyba said he toldthem how he couldn't sleep, jumped at noises and looked for exits wherever he went, even church.

 

Sandy Hook educators shared similar experiences, describing how they were jumpy around noises and had trouble sleeping and concentrating, Leyba said.

 

"I just can't say it strongly enough, if they spare no expense taking care of that staff, no one will ever regret it," he said. "The students will feel the benefits of that, the parents will feel the benefits of that. That staff is so traumatized."

 

Mental health services have been available from the beginning and will continue to be offered, Robinson said. Specialists trained in child trauma have been brought in, she said.

 

A few teachers have taken short periods of time off. "We understand that this is a trauma that people take different lengths of time to get over and it may re-occur with some memory, so we're trying to be very understanding about that," Robinson said.

 

Survivors of such shootings can experience nightmares, flashbacks, hyper-vigilance in which they are constantly on the lookout for danger and startled responses, said Russell Jones, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech who counseled survivors of a mass shooting at his school. Between 8 to 15 percent of those who experience traumas such as mass shootings develop PTSD, but about half of them no longer have the symptoms after three months, he said.

 

Sounds and smells associated with mass shootings can bring back memories of the horror, said Carolyn Mears, author of the book "Reclaiming School in the Aftermath of Trauma."

 

Mears, whose son survived the Columbine shooting, said the high school for years had a sign on its entrance declaring the building a balloon-free school because the popping of balloons sounded like the echo of gunfire. The school also changed the sound of its fire alarm so that students and staff would not be reminded of the sound from the shooting, she said.

 

"The one message I would give to the parents, the teachers, the community itself it is possible to live through this kind of uncertainty and grief and loss and shattering experience and make a future that holds happiness and joy," Mears said, noting that it will take time.

 

Brenda Lebinski said she's heard from other parents that some children have outbursts they never had before. When she hears gunshots on TV, Lebinski's daughter tells her mother to turn it off immediately. Lebinski is coping by keeping her daughter busy with sports and other activities.

 

Another parent of a survivor, Stephen Delgiudice, said his 8-year-old daughter doesn't talk about the shooting, but appears to be doing well.

 

"The transition has been really nice. They've done everything one can imagine for the kids," Delgiudice said. "So far we're very pleased with the security at the school."

 

He himself turned to acupuncture and counseling to help him deal with the anger he felt.

 

"How could someone do this to these children?" Delgiadice said. "How could this happen?"

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NRA steps up lobbying efforts in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The National Rifle Association is showing a stepped-up presence in Connecticut.

The state never typically posed a challenge to the organization's mission until now, as it considers bills to respond to the Newtown school shooting in December.

The NRA helped bus hundreds of its supporters to the Capitol as legislators weigh those proposals.

NRA state liaison John Hohenwarter says the organization decided a week ago to help organize the lobby day because of what he called ``made-for-TV lawmaking, not good policy.''

He says lawmakers need to ``take a step back'' and ``really think about what they're about to do.''

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Both sides of gun issue pressuring Conn. Lawmakers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Both sides of the gun control issue are increasing pressure on Connecticut lawmakers as they near votes on changes to state law stemming from the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups are holding a ``lobby day'' at the Capitol today.

The NRA urged gun rights advocates to discuss with lawmakers their opposition to gun control recommendations made by Gov. Dannel Malloy and Democratic members of a legislative subcommittee that reviewed laws and policies affecting gun violence.

Meanwhile, the Newtown Action Alliance is staging its own ``lobby day'' on Wednesday to demand changes to gun laws.

Both events come as legislative leaders meet privately and try to craft a bipartisan bill addressing the Newtown shooting.

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Sandy Hook Riders leave on cycling journey to D.C.

A group of 26 bicyclists are making the long trek today from Newtown to Washington DC.  The group of professional and amateur cyclists are calling for common sense gun control legislation.  Three of the team members are from Newtown and two have children who went to Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Frank Monte is organizing the event to raise awareness of gun violence and to advocate for gun control reforms.

 

One of the honorary riders is Chris McDonnell, who will join elected officials in sending the group off toward the nation's capital .  He says he is riding for the love of an innocent child whose life was full of dreams and boundless possibilities.  He rides for his daughter Grace.

 

The ride kicks off at 8:30am from Reed Intermediate School.  First Selectman Pat Llodra, joined by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy among others will hold a kick-off rally.

 

Numerous officials are participating in the local portion of the bike ride, including Bethel first selectman Matt Knickerbocker and Danbury City Councilman Duane Perkins.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes will also be riding from Newtown to Ridgefield where he will help lead a rally at Veterans’ Park Elementary School around 11am.

 

Himes says he is inspired by the cyclists and their commitment to the cause.  He's hoping that inspiration will be enough to get him over the hills between Newtown and Ridgefield.  Regardless of if he's left in the dust, Himes says he's looking forward to welcoming the Sandy Hook riders to Washington on Tuesday.

 

One of the riders is Newtown Department of Police Services Officer Jeff Silver.  He says as a law enforcement officer his job is to protect people and if a change can be made to help him, he support it.  Silver also says reform of the mental health system is long overdue.  In joining this effort, Silver says he is is riding so the suffering of people affected by the events of December 14th is not in vain, but the fuel for the catalyst of change.

 

The team of professional and amateur cyclists includes teachers, a Vietnam Veteran and a police officer.  They will be holding a rally in Washington when they arrive on Tuesday.

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Weather postpones leadership talks on Newtown bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The winter storm is delaying legislative leadership talks on a possible bipartisan bill addressing the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Democratic and Republican leaders had planned to hold a third session of closed-door talks Friday. Two Democratic staff members confirmed those discussions are expected to resume on Monday.

On Thursday, leaders said they remained optimistic about reaching a bipartisan agreement, saying they were continuing to make progress. There have been some questions as to whether a bipartisan deal can be reached considering some Democratic and Republican lawmakers differ over whether to expand the state's assault weapons ban and whether to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Meanwhile, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission continued to meet on Friday. Members heard from emergency management experts.

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State lawmakers create fund for Newtown workers

The Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Fund has been approved unanimously by both the State House and Senate.  The privately funded program will help first responders, teachers and others traumatized by the shooting at the Elementary School. 

 

Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey says teachers and first responders will continue to remember the things they experienced and saw for the rest of their lives.  She says it's something the rest of us will never understand. 

 

Several hundred thousand dollars has already been pledged by corporations.  WWE, AT&T and Northeast Utilities are among the donors so far.  The public can also contribute to the fund to help an estimated 150 to 200 people.

 

Hovey says the men and women who put their emotions aside and did such a difficult job in a time of crisis deserve the support this legislation provides.

 

The Office of Victim Services must begin accepting applications for benefits by April 1st.  Benefit payments will end on August 31st 2015.  The bill limits each claimant to a total of 52 weeks of benefits.

 

Eligible claimants can receive financial assistance for uncompensated leave from their employment if the mental or emotional impairment caused a total or partial disability preventing them from working.  They can also receive payments for related medical expenses that are not covered by their own health insurance. 

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Conn., feds allow Newtown students to skip tests

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut and federal education officials are allowing Newtown students to skip standardized testing because of the school shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six educators in December.

The state Board of Education and state lawmakers voted yesterday to approve measures allowing Newtown children in grades 3 through 8 to skip the Connecticut Mastery Tests that are being administered statewide this month.

Newtown officials had requested the unprecedented, one-time waiver, citing the trauma suffered by students and staff from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

State officials say the U.S. Department of Education has granted Newtown a one-year waiver of federal student assessment requirements.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor says the waiver is a way to provide some relief from the tragedy.

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Legislatives leaders to resume Newtown bill talks

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Republican and Democratic legislative leaders are planning to resume closed-door discussions about crafting a bipartisan bill that addresses the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The leaders are scheduled to meet for the second time this morning. They also have a tentative meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

Yesterday, they began the process of reviewing recommendations submitted by three subcommittees on possible law and policy changes affecting gun violence, school safety and mental illness.

While leaders from both parties said they're optimistic a bipartisan bill may ultimately crafted for the full General Assembly to consider, it's unclear whether that will actually happen. There remains disagreement between some Democrats and Republicans about expanding the state's assault weapons ban and forbidding the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.

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Conn. lawmakers split on party lines over guns

It became a partisan group.  That is how Danbury state Representative Jan Giegler describes the two lists of recommendations being made for law changes addressing gun violence.  Each party presented their proposals yesterday. 

 

Giegler says there are about 16 recommendations that both had in common.

 

Giegler says she would like to see the age go from 18 to 21 for people allowed to buy long guns and those that use more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  The provision would not apply to members of the military. They also called for increasing requirements for ammunition purchases.

 

The Democrats list includes expanding the state's definition of an assault weapon to include more guns and banning large-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition.  Other recommendations include permits for gun shows and an increase fee to carry a pistol or a revolver.

Both parties agree on universal background checks, stronger rules for storage of guns and expanded bans on armor-piercing bullets.

The two lists will be forwarded to legislative leaders, who will craft a final package of law changes in response to the Dec. 14 elementary school massacre in Newtown. An informational meeting is expected to be held before the full legislature votes.

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Conn. lawmakers to vote on special Newtown fund

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are expected to vote on a bipartisan bill that would create a special account to help workers affected by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says the account would be funded with charitable donations and benefit people who were ``on the ground'' during the Dec. 14 shooting. The affected workers have exhausted their existing benefits and lost income after taking unpaid leave to deal with mental health issues.

A lone gunman blasted his way into the school, killing 20 first-graders and six educators.

Legislative leaders are scheduled to announce details of the fund during a state Capitol news conference today. Afterward, both the House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill, crafted by Democratic and Republican leaders.

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Cyclists to ride to Washington for gun control

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A team of 26 cyclists is riding from Newtown to Washington to call for legislation to curb gun violence.

The riders are leaving Saturday from Newtown where members of Connecticut's congressional delegation including U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are expected to participate in a send-off event.

The riders are a mix of professional and amateur cyclists from around the Northeast. Three members of the team are from Newtown, and two of them have children who went to Sandy Hook Elementary School. They plan to arrive in Washington for a news conference on March 12.

A gunman killed 26 people inside the school in Newtown last year before committing suicide as police arrived.

The riders are calling for measures including a ban of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

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Conn. lawmakers to forward gun violence proposal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bipartisan, legislative working group is planning to finalize its recommendations for law changes addressing gun violence.

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet today at the Legislative Office Building to discuss which proposals to forward to legislative leaders, who are crafting a final package of changes in response to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Last week, Senate President Donald Williams Jr. called on members of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety to wrap up their work. Besides gun violence, working groups are offering recommendations on mental health care and school security.

Williams wants legislative leaders to begin their negotiations this afternoon. He has also called for the full General Assembly to vote on a final package by March 13.

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Newtown clergy urging passage of gun control

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A group of clergy from Newtown has sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee urging members to approve an assault weapons ban.

The letter was signed by the leaders of 11 churches in Newtown, where Adam Lanza used a military-style rifle to kill 26 people inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

It advocates a ban on such weapons along with high capacity magazines. It also calls for universal background checks for gun owners, an end to gun trafficking, and the prosecution of straw purchasers.

The leaders also pledge to help foster a ``culture of peace.''

The Rev. Matthew Crebbin, pastor of the Newtown Congregational Church, says the group has put the letter online and is asking other clergy from across the country to sign it.

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Fenway Park to host fundraiser for Newtown museum

BOSTON (AP) A group of Boston residents with ties to Newtown, Conn., is set to gather at Fenway Park to raise funds for a children's museum in the town where a gunman shot and killed 26 elementary school children and educators in December.

Organizers say proceeds from the March 23rd fundraiser will go to the EverWonder Children's Museum, an initiative launched in 2011 to establish a children's museum to Newtown.  Tickets can be purchased online.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who died in the shooting, was one of the earliest supporters of museum plans.

The museum will operate in a recently donated temporary space while officials raise money for a permanent location.

Future plans for museum exhibits include a tribute to the shooting victims.

The fundraiser at a Fenway Park pavilion will include live music, special guests, food and drinks.

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Newtown Police Chief tells panel precious seconds saved lives

During the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission meeting Friday, Newtown's Police Chief told the panel that a problem in Connecticut is police officers only have jurisdiction in their own towns unless they see a felony being committed. 

 

Michael Kehoe says what helped on December 14th was that land line calls go to the town's emergency call center.  Cell phone calls go to the state police center.  So they didn't have to take time to call state police to respond, because they were already on the way.

 

"Every precious second meant a precious life.  We know that, and that's why response is so critical.  That's why everybody goes.  Everybody has to go because you never know what you're going to face when you get there."

 

The panel was told that there was an added challenge that morning, a secondary active shooter call on the outside of the building.  Kehoe said they had to determine whether or not that was an accurate report.

 

"It turns out in the end, it wasn't.  But we didn't know that when responding."

 

Kehoe says Sandy Hook is the largest elementary school in Newtown with plenty of places to hide.  Officers couldn't assume because the shooter was found early in the search of the building that there wasn't another shooter.  He said they had to make sure the entire facility was safe.

 

Kehoe says the shooter did face barriers.  Security measures to screen people coming into a school and anything making it harder for an intruder to get to intended victims becomes precious time.

 

"Just our arrival saved lives.  Obviously the response of those teachers in those classrooms saved lived.  The response of those staff members who came out to confront the gunman they took precious seconds"

 

Kehoe says in the two weeks after the shooting, the needed a lot of officers because of daily threats to the community, funerals and wakes to handle, traffic problems because of memorials set up around town, three command posts, an active investigation and two crimes scenes to secure.

 

He deployed 60 to 120 officers on a given day during those two weeks.  On a typical day Newtown deploys four to 10 officers.  Kehoe says officers came from as far away as Stonington and if one was injured, liability through mutual aid agreements only covered Fairfield County.

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Newtown gun panel to hold final meeting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of a legislative working group reviewing gun laws following the Newtown school shooting are planning a final meeting to discuss which recommendations they plan to make to legislative leaders.

Even though the General Assembly's Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety had originally hoped lawmakers could vote on a package of changes at the end of February, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Thursday he's optimistic a vote will happen in mid-March.

Lawmakers were delayed by the recent blizzard and the volume of work.

Three working groups of the task force are reviewing gun violence, mental health and school security issues. The school security working group has already forwarded its ideas to legislative leaders.

The gun panel has scheduled its final meeting for Tuesday to compile recommendations.

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Special Newtown mental health fund up for vote

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says the General Assembly will soon vote on creating a new charitable fund to help compensate first responders, teachers and others in Newtown with mental health needs after they've exhausted their existing benefits.

Sharkey said Thursday he expects a vote will be taken on March 6 on the bipartisan plan crafted by legislative leaders.

The account, requested by responders to the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, would be funded with charitable contributions and managed by the state's Judicial Branch.

Meanwhile, the legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee forwarded a bill requiring Connecticut's worker's compensation system to cover the treatment costs for mental illnesses stemming from certain workplace traumas.

That bill, however, would only apply to future cases and not the Newtown shooting.

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