New Fairfield Selectman Susan Chapman is moving up the ranks of town government. She is taking over the reigns of First Selectman. Earlier this month John Hodge announced he was resigning to spend more time with the post-9/11 Foundation created in his cousin's memory.
He will continue to serve as Selectman along with Mike Gill. Chapman led day-to-day operations in New Fairfield when Hodge took a medical leave in 2010.
Hodge said his role as Director of Operations at the Tunnel to Towers Foundation needs more of his time now and he wanted New Fairfield to have someone's complete attention.
A bill that would increase the contribution rate for employees participating in the state run pension program for Connecticut municipalities is awaiting action in the House.
Redding Representative John Shaban co-sponsored the proposal to amend the Municipal Employee Retirement System. He says the annual contribution rate for municipalities is adjusted nearly every year by the state Retirement Commission, while the employee contribution rate is set in statute and has not changed in more than 60 years.
He added that the bill would tick up the employee contribution rate by 2 or 3 points over time to restore some balance and give municipalities some relief in continued poor economic times.
Weston First Selectwoman Gayle Weinstein testified in favor of the bill saying her town had two consecutive years of 20-percent increases which placed an incredible and unpredictable burden on the municipal budget. She says a decade ago the contribution percentage was about 55/45 town to employee, but now the split is about 85/15.
Redding First Selectman Natalie Ketcham testified that the current funding is unsustainable for towns because over the last decade the municipal contribution rate has increased over 400-percent while the employee rate has stayed the same.
This year's contest, sponsored by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, had a theme of historical events and inventions in Connecticut. More than 400 5th graders from 38 different schools across the state submitted essays.
This year was the first year that power point presentations on the same topic were also submitted.
There were five winning presentations from each of Connecticut's five congressional districts. In the 5th district, the first place winner was from Burlington. The second place presentation was made by a Torrington student.
Third place went to Stadley Rough Elementary School student Liam Dineen-Herzog of Danbury. Lesly Ochoa from Morris Street School in Danbury and Gabby Christina from Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury received honorable mentions.
Merrill says Connecticut is a small state, yet there are an extraordinary number of innovations in science and industry that have happened here.
Governor Malloy has signed into law a new alert system that notifies the public when a law enforcement officer is killed, seriously injured or missing and a suspect is at large and considered a threat.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the so-called Blue Alert will complement the existing Amber and Silver notifications about missing children and seniors, respectively.
Malloy cited the lockdown in Boston days after the marathon bombing when he spoke about the new system's benefits. He said public notification played a major role in helping authorities catch the surviving suspect in the bombings.
The system's policies, including guidelines ensuring public information doesn't compromise an investigation or violate the privacy of law enforcement officers will be developed and installed by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
Voters would be able to cast provisional ballots in state and local elections under a bill passed by the state House and awaiting Senate action. While only currently allowed in federal elections, provisional ballots provide people who are registered to vote but whose names don't appear on voter lists for some reason, the opportunity to vote.
Elections Committee Vice Chair Representative Matthew Lessor says this bill just makes sense. He says the ballots are used by people who are registered voters, but their names don't appear on voter lists for one reason or another.
Early Thursday morning an amendment was proposed in the state Senate that would create a pilot program for registrars of voters in certain towns to reduce the number of polling places open during a primary. The pilot program would be in Avon, Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Simsbury, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.
Voters would have to be notified about polling place closures, but municipalities could save up to $25,000 per primary by having closures.
The General Assembly has one week until the session ends. Legislative leaders are pressing forward with an effort to combat distracted driving. Fines would be raised in a proposed bill and a point system would be established which could result in a repeat-distracted driver's insurance company being notified.
Brookfield Representative David Scribner, a Transportation Committee member, says they are hoping an increased fine will serve as an added deterrent to disobeying the law.
Transportation Committee chairman Representative Antonio Guerrera says it's about saving lives.
Fines would increase by $25 for the first violation, a $50 increase for the second offense and a $100 increase for the 3rd violation.
A proposal to stop a state fee companies are forced to pay if they go out of business is being backed by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky. He says the filing fee ranges from $20 to $120. During this continued economic recovery, Bolinsky says he prefers to find deficit mitigation money with spending cuts in the proposed state budget rather than nickel and diming businesses to close the gap.
Bolinsky says right now the state forces businesses to pay the $250 Business Entity Tax to open their doors and effectively whacks them with a parting-shot when they close up.
The fee would generate an estimated additional $400,000 annually for state coffers. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says if the fee is eliminated, more business might comply with the filing law leading to more accurate records.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero introduced the amendment, pointing out the irony of taxing businesses that are dissolving and likely already experiencing financial hardships.
The improvements are being paid for with money from the Farioly Fund. When the City Council has approved the $26,000 allocation Councilman Duane Perkins asked Library Director Michelle Capozzella about the expenditure.
He was concerned that the infrastructure needs didn't fit with the description of what the Farioly Fund is to be used for. He also was concerned with the amount that would be left in the find. The balance is now about $136, but that's just the interest that's accrued.
There's over a million dollars in the account. The fund was created to enhance services, programs and facilities of the library.
The Library will be replacing an outdated network switch with allows multiple computers to be connected. They will also be upgrading the firewall system.
The current Library network switch is 12 years old and Capozzella says the average life expectancy of a network switch is 3 to 5 years. If the switch fails, all of the library’s computers would be down.
The current version of the Library's firewall becomes obsolete at the end of July so that will be replaced as well. The firewall prevents outsiders from breaking into the servers, gaining access to patron's account information and preventing anyone from gaining access to the private network.
The state House has approved a bill to increase the state's minimum wage. The House voted 89-53, with eight lawmakers not voting, to pass the bill last night. The vote came nearly a week after the state Senate approved the legislation.
New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith opposes the bill saying all of this gets passed on to small business owners and others. He says this bill sends a message that Connecticut is not open for business.
Smith cited 85 percent of reports he reviewed that said when there is an increase in the minimum wage there is a reduction in jobs.
The current wage of $8.25 an hour would rise to $8.70 on January 1st, and then to $9 in January 2015. The last increase was in 2010.
The state Department of Labor says between 65,000 and 70,000 workers in Connecticut were paid the minimum wage last year. That's about 4 percent of the labor force.
Governor Malloy has said he will sign the legislation.
The state Senate has approved a bill that would allow immigrants to obtain drivers licenses regardless of their legal status. The vote was 19-16.
The bill passed the House last week on a 74-55 vote. An overnight debate lasted more than seven hours.
House Speaker Brendon Sharkey says the legislation would lead to fewer untrained and unregistered drivers, lower insurance rates, and help the economy.
Under the legislation, applicants for driver's licenses would still need documentation showing they have lived in the state for at least 90 days.
Opponents argued the legislation could encourage immigrants to enter the state illegally and could lead to abuses in voting. They had pushed for further studies of the issue.
Brookfield state Representative David Scribner, a ranking member of the legislature's Transportation Committee, says the bill will place unprecedented financial burdens on the DMV and cause chaos. He says that of the 11 states that have implemented such a program, 7 have repealed it because of unintended consequences. He says Connecticut could become a magnat for illegal immigrants because this is the only state on the East Coast with such a program.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the proposal holds undocumented residents to a lower standard of proof of residency than that used by the DMV for the issuance of youth learner's permits and graduated driver's licenses to documented, legal residents.
All of the Greater Danbury area lawmakers voted against the bill. Representatives Frey and Hovey were absent.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A state police spokesman says ``it could be as long as September'' before a report on the investigation into the Newtown school shooting is finished.
Spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said Wednesday that authorities are working to complete the investigation as quickly as they can but want to make sure they do a thorough and accurate job.
Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 before killing himself as police arrived. He also killed his mother at their Newtown home before going to the school.
Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, who is leading the investigation, estimated in January that the investigation would be completed in the summer, perhaps in June.
A 16-percent gas tax hike is scheduled to take effect July 1st. If no action is taken by the General Assembly, the wholesale tax will increase from 7 percent to 8.1 percent.
Danbury Representative Dan Carter says that works out to about four cents per gallon. He says the $60-million yearly increase would kick in at the height of vacation season, but doesn't have to. He wants to see a hard hiring freeze saving the state $100-million. Carter notes that state government hired 5,300 new employees over the past year.
He says the revenue could be made up through newly found health care savings. The Office of Fiscal Analysis reports the savings could be $223-million.
Last year's scheduled hike was blocked. At that time Carter called for capping the tax permanently.
Carter says the tax was initially created to conform with federal law that mandated the 1-percent tax to provide tank owners with insurance. But he says the continual increases since 2005 have been used to fund state government programs. He says the increases have costs motorists $450-million more at the pump over the past 8 years.
The combined local, state and federal gas taxes already totaling 63.4 cents per gallon is more than 14 cents above the national average.
A bill approved by the state Senate unanimously is going back for a vote after being amended. The bill requires state agencies to give preference to foster children when hiring or selecting interns. The proposal has been amended to say that preference means priority over similarly qualified applicants.
New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor, an attorney, has represented kids assisted by the Department of Children and Families and those who haven't.
She says the bill discriminates against inner city children who don't come to the attention of DCF, against children in environments that no one pays attention to and against children who are less fortunate.
The state agencies and the interns are not required to request or disclose foster child status.
The House approved the bill on a 113-to-22 vote, with the Greater Danbury area delegation spilt. The proposal is now back on the Senate calendar.
Lawmakers have sent the governor a bill to close a loophole in Connecticut’s sexual assault statutes. The bill makes it easier to prosecute offenders who sexually assault people with severe physical and developmental disabilities. Monroe Representative DebraLee Hovey says the definition of physically helpless is expanded.
Hovey says it can be a temporary incapacitation so cases involving the date rape drug would be included. She says the bill makes it very clear that if people are incapacitated in some way, then it is sexual assault.
The legislation was drafted in response to the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 2012 acquittal of a Bridgeport man convicted of attempted sexual assault of a woman who has severe cerebral palsy and cannot communicate verbally.
Legislative leaders, the Governor's staff and the Chief State's Attorney's office continue to work on a controversial bill that would block the disclosure of photos, recordings and other material tied to the Newtown tragedy.
Media organizations say the bill could wreak havoc with the spirit of the state's Freedom of Information law. But Governor Malloy is defending the bill. He views the tragedy as an extraordinary set of circumstances that merit a special law to limit release of materials.
Malloy was asked if keeping the photos and other material under wraps would only fuel conspiracy theorists. His response: "they're nuts anyway, ok?"
Malloy says he stands with the parents and wants to protect them.
A bill which would allow Sunday bow and arrow hunting of deer on private land is headed to the state Senate following passage by the House on Thursday. One of the bill's co-sponsors is John Frey, who represents Ridgefield which has a controlled hunt to cull the deer herd.
Environment Committee chair Representative Linda Gentile says the bill is a response to the state's growing number of deer. Representative John Shaban supported the bill because he says the state's deer population needs to be managed.
The bill prohibits hunting within 40 yards of a marked hiking trail. A bow and arrow hunter would need the owner's written permission to hunt on the property.
New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor and Brookfield Representative David Scribner were also among the co-sponsors.
Three fire houses in Brookfield and New Milford are sharing in FEMA grant money. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company, Candlewood Company and Water Witch Hose Company #2 are receiving nearly $600,000 to purchase 89 self-contained breathing apparatuses and three accountability tracking systems.
Senator Richard Blumenthal says the tracking system will help commanders see real-time vital personal safety information during dangerous situations through a communication link. Blumenthal says the tracking systems will provide real-time data that could be used to locate a firefighter in distress.
Sara Ellis of the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Jason Ginsberg of the Candlewood Fire Department helped secure the grant. During the past seven years both fire companies have received multiple FEMA grants that total nearly $1 million.
Brookfield First Selectman Bill Davidson says these grants are a direct savings to taxpayers because they purchase vital equipment that would otherwise have been included in the municipal budget.
New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy says first responders safety will be enhanced by this competitive grant and anything that can be done to improve their wellbeing is a win. She adds that this grant is money that can be saved in future budgets.
Memorial Day observances were held yesterday. In Danbury there will be wreath laying ceremonies, a short service at Germantown Fire House and a parade down Main Street. Danbury Director of Veterans Affairs Patrick Waldron says ceremonies were held at 14 monument groups including ones dedicated to veterans of wars dating back to the Civil War.
After the parade the ceremony at Rogers Park features a reading of the names of veterans who have died since last Memorial Day, a rifle Salute and taps, played by members of the Danbury High School band. The main speaker was Brookfield Police Chief Robin Montgomery, who is a Navy Cross recipient.
Governor Dannel Malloy was among the elected officials that marched down Main Street. The parade theme was honoring the men and women who serve this country, remembering those who have died and displaying the American Flag.
The traditional armed services jet fly over is going to be different this year. Tom Casey, a Vietnam Veteran with the Air Force, owns a vintage plane that's stored at Danbury Airport and is providing the fly-over. Military fly-overs were grounded this year because of sequestration.
As a tribute to the sacrifices of those who served in the Armed forces, a skydiving team from Blue Sky Ranch in New York parachuted into Rogers Park.
Bethel got a jump start on honoring veterans with ceremonies and a parade held last week to mark the occasion. Bethel Patriotic Association President Skip Clapp says it's a tradition in town to celebrate the weekend before Memorial Day.
In addition to wreath laying ceremonies, there was a parade. There was a short ceremony in front of the municipal center that featured a keynote speech by Vietnam era Navy veteran Charles Weeks. A breakfast held each year at the American Legion this year was served to nearly five dozen veterans.
Legislation that sets stronger pool safety measures following the recent deaths of two Connecticut students is advancing in the General Assembly. Monroe Representative DebraLee Hovey says the state House voted unanimously to approve a proposal establishing standards for people who can teach and supervise a physical education course using a swimming pool.
Hovey says it requires an additional supervisor to be on hand at any course or athletic activity involving a school swimming pool. But she notes that the certified supervisor can be a volunteer and doesn't need to be hired by school districts.
The legislature's proposal would mandate that school districts create a swimming pool safety plan and update it each year.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
A bill restricting youth access to tanning beds is on its way to Governor Dannel Malloy's desk. The bill would prohibit those under 17 from using tanning beds. State Representative Philip Miller says lawmakers are concerned that young people may not realize the consequences of using the devices.
Currently, people under age 16 must receive written parental consent to receive tanning services. This proposal would eliminate the exception for parental consent.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously.
It passed the House on a 117 to 21 vote. Among the no votes were Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, Cecilia Buck-Taylor, Dan Carter, Jan Giegler and DebraLee Hovey.
The American Suntanning Association and other opponents are concerned the bill will encourage teenagers to use unregulated home equipment.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is defending efforts to restrict the release of certain public records related to the Newtown school shooting, saying he wants to protect the victims' families.
Malloy said Friday that ``an extraordinary set of circumstances'' happened on Dec. 14, when a gunman opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He said there has been ``a lot of whacky coverage'' on the Internet, referring to online conspiracies about the crime
A draft bill privately crafted by Malloy's office, the state's top prosecutor and legislative leaders would require consent of the Newtown families before records related to the massacre are released. Media groups have voiced concerns.
A final consensus has not been reached about the bill.
Asked if the legislation will further fuel conspiracies, Malloy said, ``They're nuts anyway, okay?''
Malloy's response comes as Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission denied a request by Newtown officials to postpone a hearing on a request for records related to the gunman in December's school shooting.
An attorney for the town asked Friday for a continuance until after the state legislature adjourns, citing a pending bill that would leave release of some material up to the victims' families.
The Associated Press is challenging Newtown's denial of a request for records involving any emergency calls at the home of gunman Adam Lanza in the years before the shooting.
The commission said the hearing will take place as scheduled on June 3.
A bill drafted behind the scenes in Connecticut would require the consent of victims' family members to release photographs or recordings related to the shooting.
Connecticut is making $5 million available immediately to cities and towns to help reimburse them for school safety and security upgrades following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the first round of funding on Friday for the competitive grant program included in the General Assembly's response to the Newtown shooting. He appeared at Hartford's Classical Magnet School with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for a town hall-style discussion about school security and education reform.
At least two more $5 million rounds are expected next year.
Schools in Newtown will receive $1.3 million dollars in federal aid to recover after the December 14th shootings. Duncan announced the School Emergency Response to Violence grant during a visit to the state Friday. The grant is designed to offset costs the district incurred after the shooting as well as provide counseling and training for school officials.
Since 2001, the Education Department has given more than $33.5 million dollars to 106 schools recovering from violence, weather or other disruptive incidents.
The Memorial Day parade will step off Sunday at 2 pm from Brookfield High School. The parade will march along Route 25 to Route 133, and end at Center School.
At the parades, end is the annual Strawberry Festival from 12:30 to 3 pm outside the Brookfield Museum in Brookfield Center. Strawberry shortcake and soft drinks will be sold to support the museum. The Brookfield War Memorial exhibit will be open inside the museum. Admission is free.
Sunday, 1 pm, from the corner of Spring Lake Road and Route 39 North, traveling through the center of town and ending at Veterans Field.
Wreath laying ceremonies will start at 7:10. Danbury Director of Veterans Affairs Patrick Waldron says ceremonies are being held at 14 monument groups including ones dedicated to veterans of wars dating back to the Civil War.
Governor Dannel Malloy will be among the elected officials marching down Main Street, from Rose Street, at 9:30.
After the parade the ceremony at Rogers Park features a reading of the names of veterans who have died since last Memorial Day, a rifle Salute and taps, played by members of the Danbury High School band. As a tribute to the sacrifices of those who served in the Armed forces, a skydiving team from Blue Sky Ranch in New York will parachute into Rogers Park around 11:30.
A local veteran is providing the flyover this year.
The Ridgefield Memorial Day parade will take place Monday at 11:30 am, starting at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Main Street. There will be a ceremony following the parade at Ridgefield Community Center.
Monday, 8:20 am, stepping off from the firehouse, continuing along Route 133 and ending at the Town Green.
Monday, 8 am, starting from firemen's field on Route 7 and heading across the bridge from Route 7 intersection with Route 55.
Monday, 9:30 am, starting at Kent Center School. The parade will follow Route 341, heading east across Route 7 and ending at Kent Congregational Church Cemetery. The parade will stop along the way for observances. The rain location for the ceremonies would be inside the school. The parade will pause at the library for a ceremony.
Monday, 10 am, leaving from New Milford Public Library on the Village Green. The rain location for a ceremony would be held at the VFW hall on Avery Road. Veterans and spectators will then march to Veterans Memorial Bridge to honor Navy and Merchant Marine veterans where an honor wreath will be tossed in the river.
Monday, 10 am, leaving from the Roxbury Congregational Church stopping at the Town Green for a ceremony, continuing along Route 67, stopping at the cemetery next to the town hall.
Monday, 2:30 pm, starting at Washington Primary School and ending at Bryan Memorial Town Hall. In case of rain, services would be held at the town's cemeteries and at the Memorial Stones in Washington Depot, and the chicken dinner will be served.
The Newtown Legislative Council has met for a second time to reduce the budget. $300,000 was cut last night from the education plan after it failed in a second referendum. The municipal budget passed on the second try and was left as is.
The town side is $38.9 million while the education budget now stands at about $71 million. It's a 3.93-percent increase over last year.
The next referendum is set for June 4th.
Newtown has launched a new website aimed at helping the town recover from the tragedy at Sandy Hook. First Selectman Pat llodra says it's different from the town's website which is focused on the town's business.
OneNewtown.org was created to provide informational and inspirational topics to help in the healing process. Llodra says connection to one another by sharing experiences, providing transparency and promoting community participation are all part of the recovery process.
She says she is inspired everyday by progress in Newtown and with the community's resilience.
With Memorial Day in a few days, one group is hoping that people will honor their loved ones who have served in the military by giving them a place on the Walkway of Honor. Danbury City Councilwoman Mary Teicholz and her husband are spearheading an effort to recognize those who served in any branch of the military who are still living, missing in action, on active duty or in memory of those who have died.
Profits from the fundraiser will go directly to the Danbury War Memorial with a portion of the proceeds from each brick sale going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
The phase one deadline is Monday. The dedication ceremony will be in July. Teicholz says there is plenty of room for people to honor loved ones into the future, so there will be a phase two.
More information can be found here.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State senators are building on a package of reforms the General Assembly passed in April addressing the Newtown school shooting, requiring annual firearms safety training for armed security in local schools and improvements in mental health services for children.
Both bills passed the Senate unanimously Thursday and await further action in the House of Representatives.
Sen. John Kissel of Enfield, whose town is one of two in Connecticut planning to hire armed guards after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, said districts will choose from a pool of retired police officers and troopers. Those officers would need annual firearms training.
Another bill requires the Department of Children and Families to develop a plan for meeting the mental, emotional and behavioral health need of children through early identification and intervention.
Yet another grocery store has opened in Danbury. At the former A&P site on Main Street the ribbon was cut on a new PriceRite. When the company announced it was moving to the site, they made a donation to the Danbury Museum and Historical Society.
Yesterday they presented a $5,000 check to Connecticut Food Bank Communications Director Mary Ingarra. She says that will allow them to distribute over 12,000 meals.
The Price Rite opening has brought with it 130 full and part time jobs.
It's the 11th PriceRite location in Connecticut. The store features a number of green technologies including energy efficient lighting and glass doors on dairy cases. Customers are encouraged to use their own bags or buy them as needed for 10-cents in order to prevent waste.
Mayor Mark Boughton says the company put about $5 million worth of work into renovating the building and re-do the parking lot.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bill crafted behind the scenes is requiring the written consent of family members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims before certain records concerning the massacre, such as photos and videotapes, are publicly released.
Governor Dannel Malloy's office released a working draft of the bill Wednesday.
The draft says only transcriptions of any emergency 911 calls related to the Dec. 14 shooting, not the audio, will be released to the public for a fee.
A coalition of news organizations sent a letter to Malloy cautioning his administration and the General Assembly from restricting public access to information about what happened in Newtown or other crimes, regardless of scope.
Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane said officials are trying to address the privacy concerns expressed by some Newtown families. While Kane acknowledged media outlets typically do not publish gruesome crime scene photos, he said ``with the Internet, we're in a whole different era.''
Mark Ojakian, Malloy's chief of staff, said officials are ``exploring ways to respect the families' right to privacy while also respecting the public's right to information.''
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The Newtown Board of Education has unanimously hired a principal from Bethel to lead the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Kathleen Gombos, the principal at the R.M.T. Johnson School in Bethel, was hired Tuesday night to become principal at Sandy Hook. The school was established in Monroe after the Dec. 14 shootings that killed 20 children and six educators, including the principal, Dawn Hochsprung.
Gombos succeeds an interim principal and is to start on July 1.
A task force of elected officials has recommended tearing down the Sandy Hook school and rebuilding on the site. The proposal now goes to the school board and ultimately to voters in a referendum.
A $50-million fundraising campaign has been launched by Western Connecticut Health Network to benefit Danbury and New Milford Hospitals. At a gathering yesterday Network President and CEO Dr John Murphy announced that $30-million has been raised to date through several major gifts.
Each Hospital's emergency department and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit will be renamed to recognize the generosity of Anna Maria and Stephen Kellen, The Arnhold family and the Spratt family.
The emergency departments at each hospital will double in size with streamlined triage areas and a new system for quickly assessing patient needs. The NICU, which is now up and running, has overnight rooms for parents, twin rooms and capacity for over 400 patients a year.
Foundation Executive Director Grace Linhard says gifts to this new campaign will support construction, medical technology and research.
The Tower Project currently underway in Danbury will be funded in part through this fundraising campaign. The Tower will feature a critical care unit, the new Emergency Department and a patient care floor.
Brookfield residents have approved a budget.
The $20.7 million municipal budget is a 4.93-percent increase. The $38.29 million education budget proposal is a 3.4-percent increase. There is $125,000 included in the budget for school resource officers.
First Selectman Bill Davidson says over the past three years only about 35-to-40 percent of eligible residents have voted on the budget.
There was also another question on the ballot. Brookfield residents approved a $2.5 million sewer project for three condo developments. Those benefitting from it will pay for the cost though an assessment.
A Republican Town Committee official planned to file a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission over the wording of a postcard sent out by the Water Pollution Control Authority ahead of the vote that urged support of the sewer project. Matt Grimes says the wording advocated for a yes vote and is an election violation.
WPCA officials say the postcard was to tell residents that no taxpayer money would be used for the project.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A woman who lost a child in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is visiting her hometown in Utah this week for a private ceremony to honor her slain daughter.
Alissa Parker is also planning to speak about a program in which she and other victims' parents are raising awareness of school security issues. It is called Safe and Sound a Sandy Hook Initiative.
Parker's 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, was among 20 first-graders killed in the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown. Emilie was buried in Ogden, Utah, the hometown of her parents Alissa and Robbie Parker.
The Parkers are among six Sandy Hook families involved in the initiative that encourages communities to review and update their school security plans. It is also raising money to provide grants for school districts.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Lawmakers, advocates and the mother of a child killed in the Newtown school shooting are unveiling a new proposal for child mental health at the state Capitol complex in Hartford.
Nelba Marquez-Greene is scheduled to join Sen. Dante Bartolomeo of Meriden, Rep. Diana Urban of North Stonington and child advocates at a Monday news conference to discuss the bill, which has not yet come before the General Assembly.
Marquez-Greene's 6-year-old daughter, Ana, was one of 20 children and 6 educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.
Bartolomeo's office provided few details about the bill but called it ``comprehensive'' and said it would complement the gun violence prevention and school safety measures enacted last month.
The legislature has until June 5 to act on all remaining proposals.
STORRS, Conn. (AP) The University of Connecticut is hosting a training session for New England educators this week on how to prepare and respond to a crisis.
The program developed by the National Association of School Psychologists will be held at the Storrs campus from Monday through Wednesday for teachers, administrators and graduate students from around New England.
Schools across the country have been re-evaluating security in the wake of the December school shooting in Newtown in which 26 people were killed.
The event has been organized by faculty in the university's psychology program with the Connecticut Association of School Psychologists.
One workshop will offer training on how school buildings can be made safer and how to design a crisis response plan. Another will focus on what to do once the crisis has occurred.
A two decade old organization in Newtown is looking to build on their community help for people with addiction and mental health issues. American Idol winner Philip Philips has provided his hit song HOME to Newtown Parent Connection. NPC Board member Bob Gaines says the non-profit organization wants to fill a long-term need and is hoping the video will connect with people across the country emotionally.
Gaines says they are looking to expand long-term programs of education, prevention, healing and wellness related to mental health, drug and alcohol issues in the community.
Newtown Parent Connection co-founder Dorrie Carolan says now more than ever the community has to come together for the long term to help heal families heal. Co-founder Donna DeLuca says the trauma of December 14th can lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, and other serious problems that are devastating over time.
Newtown native and executive producer Greg Williams created the video that depicts am inspirational story of Newtown. He says its theme refers to restoring the town and becoming a beacon of hope to the world.
The video can be viewed here.
Main Street in Danbury will be closed for several hours this morning as a 5K walk and run honoring two Sandy Hook educators takes place. The event features 26 “Inspiration Stations” created by Danbury schools’ PTOs and students. The messages of hope and healing will line the route.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Lauren Rousseau Memorial Scholarship and the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund. Hochsprung, was a vice principal at Rogers Park Middle School for several years and Rousseau was a former student-teacher there.
An opening ceremony will be held at 8am in front of Rogers Park Middle School with speeches from Monsignor Robert Weiss, Mayor Mark Boughton and Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella.
Runners will start at 8:30am and those walking will follow at 8:50am. Main Street will be closed until approximately 10:15am.
The Danbury Mad Hatters are holding a special event tonight at Brookfield High School. Vice president of public relations Al Paparesta says the barbershop quartet and two other groups will be on hand for a show that centers around a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
The show will be opened by Mayor Mark Boughton with a proclamation designating next week as "Barbershop Music Week in Danbury".
This is the Mad Hatters 46th annual show. Paparesta says there will be some music for everyone's taste. A performance of "The Impossible Dream" will be dedicated to Sandy Hook.
The barber shop quartet will be joined by a doo wop band and Western Connecticut State University's a capella group. There will be about 100 men on stage.
The $67 million budget represents a 2.9 percent increase. The $26 million municipal budget was approved by 445 votes while the $40.9 million dollar school budget was approved by 349 votes.
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says part of the tax increase is from the state mandated revaluation. He estimates though that some 70-percent of homeowners will see a decrease in property taxes because of a shift back from homeowners to commercial properties.
On the budget advisory questions, Bethel residents said both allocations were too high.
Two men who lost relatives at Sandy Hook elementary school have urged New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte to change her position on a gun control measure that would expand background checks. Neil Heslin and Gilles Rousseau spoke at a news conference held by advocacy group Granite State Progress that has criticized Ayotte for voting against a key part of President Barack Obama’s push to curb gun violence.
The measure would have required criminal and mental health background checks for people buying guns online or at gun shows.
Heslin's 6-year old son was killed and Rousseau's daughter was a teacher at the school.
Rousseau said he tried unsuccessfully to talk to Ayotte at a town hall meeting she held in New Hampshire. He said he realizes background checks might not have prevented his daughter’s death, but believes the checks are the most effective way to stop felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill and other dangerous people from getting guns.
Ayotte was recently confronted at a town hall meeting by a woman whose mother was principal of the school.
Danbury Police Detective Rachel Halas was among the nearly two dozen officers from across the state honored Thursday during an event called "A Salute to Connecticut's Finest". It was held by the Connecticut District Exchange Club.
She was also presented with the 15th annual Danbury Police Officer of the Year Award by the Danbury Exchange Club in April. Detective Halas works in the Special Victims Unit.
Selection Committee Chair Joseph DaSilva says it's obvious of the pride and respect she has for her job. He adds that Detective Halas constantly and consistently demonstrates her commitment to the community in which she works and lives.
A new grocery store is opening in Danbury. Whole Foods Market is opening this morning at the "Shoppes at Marcus Dairy". Instead of a ribbon cutting, the company and city officials will break bread. It's the company's 9th store in Connecticut.
Northeast Region Spokesman Michael Sinatra says they designed this store around the history of the site. Since the land used to be the Dairy Bar, this store will have a burger and shake venue.
The company is also giving back to the community. 5-percent of the day's profits is being donated to the Danbury Museum and Historical Society. The first 350 shoppers are receiving some free food items to mark the opening of the store's 350th location worldwide.
Each quarter through 2014 the store plans to donate some proceeds from a given day to a community partner.
– The Ridgefield Playhouse - Fall 2013
– CityCenter Danbury - Winter 2014
– The Land Trust of Danbury - Spring 2014
– Plow to Plate of New Milford - Summer 2014
There are just a few weeks left for registered Republican Brookfield residents interested in running for office to make their intentions known. The Brookfield Republican Town Committee Vacancy Committee says they are looking for candidates for many municipal positions.
Among the positions candidates can run for are First Selectman, Boards of Finance and Education and planning and zoning commissions.
Candidates interested in interviewing for a position could get in touch with the BRTC by May 31st so recommendations can be made at a July caucus.
Former Governor Jodi Rell, a Brookfield resident, is chairing the capital campaign for Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut as the agency builds a private-suite hospice facility in Danbury.
It's the first of it's kind in the state.
The group's CEO, Cynthia Roy-Squitieri, says Rell was instrumental in passing legislation that allows hospices designated as specialty hospitals. The 12-suite facility off of exit 2 is expected to cost $10-million and open next fall.
It will also house Health Hearts Center for Grieving Children and Families.
The state Department of Transportation is urging Connecticut commuters to find alternatives to driving solo. The 2nd annual CT Rides Week is wrapping up Friday.
Project Manager Kay Carson says a Danbury corporation is taking part in the program. Cartus Corporation offers preferred parking for carpoolers with a reserved convenient location for those drivers. Events are also held three or four times a year with CT Rides. The business also allows flexible work schedules to spread out the peak traffic time.
Tomorrow in Bethel, people who bike to work can take part in a free breakfast at the train station on Durant Avenue.
The initiative is aimed at reducing congestion and improving air quality in the state. Carson says solitary drivers can save time and money on maintenance, parking and gas by taking a bus or train or by joining a carpool. She adds that drivers can also reap health benefits by biking or walking instead of driving.
People can find out about their options at 877-CT-rides.
Bethel residents are at the polls today to vote on a $67-million budget. The $26-million municipal budget proposal and $40.9 million school plan will be on the ballot along with a question about capital improvement spending. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says school security was taken into account.
Funding was added back in for 7 non-profit agencies including Meals on Wheels, WeCahr and Ability Beyond Disability.
The budget represents a 2.9 percent spending increase. Bethel Action Committee Founder Billy Michael believes spending is too high.
Polls are open until 8pm.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut consumers who miss out on getting a free item from a ``two-for-one sale'' may receive a second chance.
The Senate passed legislation Wednesday requiring stores that sell consumer goods and run such a promotion to honor the terms for at least two business days after the sale ends. Eligible consumers must provide a receipt proving they purchased a qualified item during the promotion and did not receive the free good.
If the good is a prepared food item, the retailer is required to comply with the terms on the same day the food item was purchased.
The bill, which passed 27-9, moves to the House.
Senate Republican Leader John McKinney, whose district includes Newtown, called the bill ``not well-thought-out'' and said there's no way to prove that someone didn't receive their free item.
There could soon be more Danbury police looking out for those who text and drive. The Police Department has received approval from the City Council to apply for a grant from the state Department of Transportation.
Council President Joe Cavo says there would be four officers and one supervisor working 56 hours each on the enforcement.
The federal funding through the division of highway safety can be applied for in June. The cost of the program will be no more than $15,000 with the state covering 75-percent and the City being responsible for the other 25-percent of the cost.
The City's $3,750 portion is available in the Police Department's budget for the current fiscal year.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Local Connecticut police departments may soon be required to submit electronic fingerprints to the state police for background checks, a move some legislators hope will ease a backlog.
The Senate on Tuesday voted unanimously to amend a bill to require municipal departments with devices that can electronically capture fingerprints to use those machines on members of the public who request criminal history records checks. Waterbury Sen. Joan Hartley said departments typically use the machines for fingerprinting alleged criminals.
The bill moves to the House for further action.
The Associated Press reported last week that about 9,300 people were waiting for background checks to be completed for gun permit applications and employment requirements.
State police officials have blamed part of the backlog on faulty, traditional ink fingerprints taken at local departments.
CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) When Australian golfer Marc Leishman heard about the December school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, he immediately went to a map.
The 29-year-old won his first and so-far only PGA Tour event last June at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, and wanted to see how far away Newtown was from the TPC River Highlands. The answer was just 48 miles.
Leishman returns to Connecticut next month to defend his Travelers title and was back Tuesday for the tournament's annual media day.
He told The Associated Press he feels connected to the state and would like to meet some of the families of the victims, if it can be arranged. Tournament director Nathan Grube says they have been working with Newtown officials to figure out how to honor the 26 people killed at the school.
He said they would like to do something that would be educational and long-term, but said if any of the families want to meet golfers during the tournament, that can be arranged.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The fate of legislation that would restrict public access to death certificates in the wake of the Newtown school shooting appears in doubt. Two bills are sitting on the House calendar. One imposes a six-month waiting period before a minor's death certificate can be released to the public. The other limits the information that can be released.
Representative Ed Jutila--co-chairman of the General Assembly's Government Administration and Elections Committee--says time is running out on this year's legislative session which ends June 5th. There are many bills still waiting to be taken up. Jutila said he hasn't heard from advocates, and notes there's still opposition.
Newtown's Town Clerk says she is not giving up on the restrictions because the information can be misused.
Some want to forget that Superstorm Sandy ever blew through the region, but the cost of clean up still needs to be paid off in Danbury. The City Council last week authorized a fund transfer while waiting on reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Councilman Ben Chianese had a question for Finance Director David St Hilaire about the debris removal.
He wanted to know how much of the cost would be paid for by FEMA and what the overall cost is. Reimbursement is for 75% of the cost. Debris removal is costing the City $160,000
The fund are being transferred to accounts within the Special Revenue fund. The Contingency Account will be left with $196,000 after this allocation.
The 2012 crime statistics report is out from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
According to the annual report, Putnam County had the lowest total index crime rate among all counties in New York State for the third year in a row and an index crime rate that has declined each year since 2009.
Sheriff Donald Smith says the decline is noteworthy considering Putnam County is surrounded by Dutchess, Westchester, Orange and Rockland counties--all of which have been designated by the State as being among 17 counties which account for 80% of the crimes occurring in New York State outside of New York City.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Despite the Federal Aviation Administration's decision to keep open 149 control towers at small airports, including six facilities in Connecticut, concerns are being raised about what will happen to the towers once the federal fiscal year ends.
The tower at Danbury Municipal Airport and five others in Connecticut were slated to close.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal warned Monday that ``we're not here to do a victory lap.'' He said the fight to retain funding for the towers, operated by contractors for the FAA, will continue after Sept. 30.
The Transportation Department announced Friday it will keep open the towers that were slated to close as a result of government-wide automatic spending cuts. Sequestration is a 10 year program.
Congress passed a bill last month giving FAA authority to shift $253 million from accounts with unspent funds to keep controllers on the job. Connecticut airport officials warned such furloughs could compromise safety.
Bethel-based Cannondale Sports Unlimited, the well-known bicycle manufacturer, is planning to establish a new headquarters in the state and add 75 jobs with the help of a $3 million state loan proposed by the governor.
Cannondale had outgrown its current location in Bethel, and it had considered several sites in the Connecticut and New York.
David Treadwell, spokesman with the state's department of economic and community development, says Cannondale would move its headquarters to Wilton where it will lease 50,000 square feet of space in the town's I-Park. The company would handle marketing, research and development and product design in the space.
The State Bond Commission must still approve the loan.
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Newtown's first selectman and school superintendent were honored during graduation ceremonies at Western Connecticut State University.
First Selectman Pat Llodra and former Newtown Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson each received the school's President's Medal yesterday for their actions after December's shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary school, which left 26 people dead.
Shooter Adam Lanza briefly attended the university.
Llodra, a Western Alumna, urged the more than 650 graduates to make themselves a part of a community and serve others, while Robinson told them they won't always be able to control what happens to them in life, but they can control their response.
Western President James Schmotter called the women role models for courage, compassion and professionalism.
NEW YORK (AP) Dave Brubeck's family and musician friends have paid tribute to the jazz legend's life and music at a special celebration held at a New York City cathedral.
The jazz pianist and composer died Dec. 5, a day before his 92nd birthday, and a private funeral was held near his home in Wilton, Conn., that month.
The Saturday afternoon celebration was the only family sponsored tribute. About 2,000 people turned out to hear performances of Brubeck compositions by such jazz stars as Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Paquito D'Rivera and Roy Hargrove as well as Brubeck's four musician sons.
His wife of 70 years says the hundreds of letters she's received since his death often ``expressed the deep joy his music had brought'' to people all over the world.
The State House has approved a bill that would to legalize and regulate the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, a combination of boxing, wrestling and karate that's already allowed in most other states. The two tribal casinos in the state already schedule Mixed Martial Arts performances, now public venues could do the same.
Proponents say it would bring in a lot of revenue because of growing popularity. Glover Teixeira of Danbury, a professional mixed martial artist who fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, urged lawmakers to pass this year's legislation. He said he'd like to perform in his home state, adding how it's a popular sport here.
Teixeira said more than 16,000 fans turned out to watch him fight in Chicago. The live gate was $1.3 million.
Monroe Representative Debra Lee Hovey says it's a bad throwback for society. John Frey of Ridgefield and Representative Dan Carter were also among the 26 no votes.
Danbury State Representative Jan Giegler says if the Senate passes the bill, New York would be the only remaining state that outlaws the sport. But she notes the New York General Assembly is considering a bill to legalize it.
The bill's fate is uncertain in the Connecticut Senate.
There are plans for a Candlewood Lake cleanup after all. The Candlewood Lake Authority decided not to hold a cleanup this year, which upset the leaders of the towns that surround the Lake.
Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, New Fairfield and Sherman are hosting a clean up effort. They are looking for volunteers and people to volunteer with their boats.
New Fairfield Hodge says First Light Power, the owners of Candlewood Lake are donating two large dumpsters for the cleanup so there is no cost to the towns.
The cleanup is set for June 15th with a rain date of June 22nd. Volunteers are asked to contact the Danbury Mayor's office at 203-797-4511or the New Fairfield First Selectman's office at 203-312-5600.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Officials in Newtown, Conn., say the district should tear down the elementary school where 20 first-graders and six educators were shot to death in December and construct a new building on the property.
A task force of 28 town elected officials unanimously recommended the plan Friday night after residents expressed mixed opinions on what should be done with Sandy Hook Elementary School. The proposal now goes to the local school board, which has final authority.
The panel had narrowed a list of choices to renovating or rebuilding on the school site or building a new school on property down the street. A study found the cost of rebuilding on the same site would be $57 million.
The 430 surviving students are attending a renovated school renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Monroe. The students can stay there through 2016.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State officials are setting aside millions of dollars to address backlogs in background checks that have soared since the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Officials in Connecticut are working with lawmakers to come up with $3 million to $5 million to make technology improvements and fill as many as 39 civilian positions to help address a backlog, estimated by state police at about 9,300 people.
Gun rights advocates fear the delays in Connecticut, which recently passed one of the toughest gun laws in the country, could grow longer once a requirement for background checks on any sale or transfer of a long gun takes effect in January.
But the administration predicts there won't be problem once the new staffing is in place and the workers will likely become permanent.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A national gun rights lobbying group based in Connecticut has severed ties with a gun show organizer over the company's decision to restrict sales of assault weapons at an unrelated event earlier this year.
The Newtown-based National Sports Shooting Foundation says the ban imposed by Reed Exhibitions at its hunting and fishing show conflicts with the group's mission to serve the shooting sports industry. Reed's show was originally scheduled for February in Harrisburg, Pa., but it was canceled following an outcry over the assault weapons ban.
Reed Exhibitions also had been the manager and producer of gun shows put on by the NSSF for three decades, but the lobbying group said in a statement Thursday that it and the company had terminated their agreement.
A local baseball team is looking to set a World Record. The New Milford Express 15U baseball team is hosting a community event lasting from today all the way through Sunday night. Rawling Sporting Goods Northeast Region Sales Manager Dan Olson says they are trying to become world record holders for the longest nonstop game of catch with a baseball.
For a donation of any amount, people can join the game and be linked to the world record. The funds raised from this weekend-long activity will be donated to Western Connecticut Health Network's Breast Health Program.
The theme of the event is a play on words from the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams. In the final scene of the movie, Kevin Costner's character says "Hey Dad? Wanna have a catch?". So in honor of Mother's Day, the event will be called "Hey Mom? Wanna have a catch?".
The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out at 6pm at the New Milford Village Green. The effort will last through 6pm on Sunday, Mother's Day.
Ridgefield residents have set a budget referendum date. A budget vote will be held Tuesday on a $128.3 million budget. There is about $32-million in the municipal budget proposal, about a .60 percent increase in spending. $82-million is being proposed for the education plan, a nearly 2-percent increase.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi says that includes approximately $500,000 dedicated to school security. That cost is covering unarmed security guards to be placed in every school and the hiring of two additional Student Resource Officers.
School officials say some of the spending increase for school security and mental health programs is being offset by savings in a new bus contract and cuts in medical benefits.
Five other questions will be on the ballot including capital questions about roads, infrastructure and replacement vehicles among other items. One is Phase 2 playground that is actually a spray bay, an outdoor facility that's handicap accessible. Marconi says the town is looking for $170,000 contribution from private donors, so it's a small ultimate cost item from taxpayers.
35 smaller items, each under $100,000 in value, but totalling about $1 million were approved at the annual town meeting.
Voting on Tuesday takes place at Yanity Gym between 6am and 8pm.
Redding residents have approved a budget plan for the coming fiscal year. Residents approved the $47.53 million budget, a 1.3-percent increase, on Tuesday.
The $13-million municipal allocation and the $21.7 million for Redding Schools was approved by 35 votes. $12-million for the town's share of the Region 9 budget was also approved.
Redding's share of the budget for Joel Barlow High School is higher this year because of a shift in enrollment. More Redding students are attending Barlow while Easton's population at the school is decreasing.
In response to the shootings in Newtown, Redding has added money in the budget for a school resource officer to serve the elementary and middle schools.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown officials will be continuing a debate on what to do with the school where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in December.
A task force of 28 town elected officials is scheduled to meet again tonight and may vote on a recommendation to the local school board. The issue eventually will go before voters at a referendum.
The panel has narrowed the choices to three: renovating Sandy Hook Elementary School, tearing it down and building a new school on the same property or tearing it down and building a new school on nearby property.
The task force struggled last Friday to move toward a recommendation as a crowd of more than 90 people watched. A town consultant says the board is likely to make a recommendation tonight.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Congressional task force dedicated to curbing gun violence is holding a field hearing in Hartford.
Congressman John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, is hosting today's hearing at Hartford High School. The group's chairman, congressman Mike Thompson of California, is also expected to attend along with Gov. Dannel Malloy and experts on gun violence prevention.
The task force was set up to help Congress identify ways it might reduce gun violence.
President Barack Obama has made it a priority to restrict guns since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) Connecticut officials say they're seeing potential security problems at schools across the state, even after the Newtown shootings in December and subsequent efforts to improve safety.
State police officials say they've found propped-open doors at most of the 75 schools they've assessed for security, as well as other problems including cluttered hallways, open janitor closets full of cleaning chemicals and overgrown bushes blocking views of school grounds.
State counterterrorism officials described their findings Wednesday at the annual Connecticut Emergency Management Symposium in Cromwell. They urged school officials to work with local and state law enforcement to take simple, inexpensive steps to improve security, including fixing old doors.
Twenty first-graders and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation that would require any armed security guard working in a school to be certified.
Members of the Senate agreed Wednesday to language requiring the guards to be certified by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the organization that sets standards for being a police officer in Connecticut.
The bill was sent to the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee for further review.
Waterford Sen. Andrea Stillman, the co-chairman of the Education Committee, said legislators want to make sure people hired to patrol schools are appropriately trained. But she acknowledged she doesn't expect many schools will hire guards.
About four months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, only two districts are pushing forward with the idea. Others said it's unaffordable or imprudent.
Newtown's First Selectman is holding extended office hours this week and this weekend for residents to ask questions abut the budget. A second referendum is being held Tuesday.
First Selectman Pat Llodra says she will also be available to listen to any concerns residents have with the re-worked budget plan. Members of the Boards of Education and Finance along with the Legislative Council have been invited to sit in on the meetings as well.
In addition to evening hours during the week, the First Selectman's office will be open on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm and on Sunday from 2pm to 4pm.
Bethel residents will be voting next week on a proposed $67million budget. At a town meeting this week, residents opted to send the $26 million municipal budget and $40.9 million school budget to a referendum on Thursday May 16th.
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the budget represents a 2.9 percent spending increase.
Funding was added back into the budget by the Board of Finance for seven non-profit agencies including Meals on Wheels, WeCahr and Ability Beyond Disability.
Knickerbocker says there is money for school security upgrades and adds an instructor to the Junior ROTC program.
A forum was held Tuesday night by the Newtown Action Alliance about what's next for gun safety. Among the speakers were Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard, a member of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Senator Richard Blumenthal. He discussed legislation in Washington.
Blumenthal said that it was shameful last month when the Senate failed to advance common sense solutions to reduce gun violence and a low point in his career in public service.
He said he is not discouraged though. He wants to continue to push for background check legislation, work to close loopholes that allow for gun trafficking and address the difficulties within the mental health system.
Despite a proposal from the education budget committee of the Danbury City Council to reduce the allocation to the Board of education, the Mayors proposed $227 million budget has been approved by the City Council.
Many council members voiced concerns that once the overall funding made to the Board of Ed, the Board can't be told how to spend the money. Some Council members said that if the schools came to the council asking for more money during the year, they would be hard pressed to get a nickel. There was a late effort to try and take out $100,000 from the budget that is slated for non-union personnel raises, but Council members reiterated that once the money is allocated, or not, the council has no say over how it's used.
Councilwoman Colleen Stanley expressed frustrations that administrators were receiving raises while department heads in city government have gone without raises for years. She chided the school Administrators for not knowing if textbooks were purchased last year when the budget called for $120,000 and this year are asking for $250,000 for textbooks.
Councilman Warren Levy said if school officials were just guessing on numbers because of unknown factors like state and federal assistance or health care costs, they should guess a little lower. He added that he would give them an "F" for budget presentation.
There are still some unknowns in the Danbury education budget, including how much funding is coming from the state. Mayor Mark Boughton says the Education Cost Sharing formula is unbalanced. He says the one factor in the Education Cost Sharing formula that helps Danbury, has been taken out. That's the number of English Language Learnings students in a district partially determining how much funding each municipality gets.
Boughton says the reason it was taken out was to give West Hartford more money. He says that's the problem with funding education in the state.
He also wants the legislature to explain why New Britain, the 8th largest city in the state, receives $75 million for education aid while Danbury, the 7th largest, receives just $23 million. He says the City has more students than New Britain, but gets less than a third of the funding.
The Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury has received a $25,000 forgiveable loan from the City. The money will be used to cover a shortfall in the current fiscal year that was created when the Community Action Center of Danbury pulled its state funding to the Center.
City Council President Joe Cavo says the CACD has been involved in some controversies over its own funding sustainability and cancelled its contract with the Hispanic Center abruptly. Cavo says the Mayor has been asked to intercede with the Department of Social Services, but it's a slow process. The balance of the contract from DSS through CACD was for $128,000.
To make up that shortfall, the Hispanic Center sold property and other assets. It has raised $80,000, but is not enough to cover expenses for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The Hispanic Center said that it's also working to become a multicultural organization.
There's the Amber Alert system to help find missing or abducted children. A Silver Alert System to help find missing seniors. Now Connecticut could be the latest state to enact a Blue Alert System.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the House unanimously passed a bill last week that would create an emergency alert system to to alert the public when a law enforcement officer has been killed, seriously injured, or missing and a suspect, considered an imminent threat, is at large.
There is no fiscal impact by creating this system because the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection can implement it using existing infrastructure. Representatives Jan Giegler and David Arconti were also among the bill's co-sponsors.
The bill was moved to the Senate calendar on Friday.
Public hearings that were scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Newtown about the distribution of money by the Sandy Hook Community Foundation have been postponed.
The Board of Directors is instead meeting with representatives of the state Attorney General's office to review the process that was used to determine the amount of funds to be distributed to the families most impacted by what happened December 14th.
After the meeting with the Attorney General's office, the distribution committee will announce rescheduled public hearing dates. The Foundation has proposed distributing $7.7 million to 40 families. The families of the 26 victims, the two people injured by the shooter and the families of 12 children in the two classrooms where the shooter killed 20 children.
The fund has received $11 million in donations.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The six educators killed in the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been honored by an organization composed of Medal of Honor recipients.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society presented awards Monday in Newtown to the families of the women killed in the Dec. 14 shooting.
The society said it chose Rachel D'Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto to receive its Citizen Honors Medal, the highest award it gives to a civilian, after receiving dozens of nominations for their actions during the shooting.
Janet Robinson, the former superintendent of schools in Newtown, said the educators acted to protect the children and there is nobody more worthy of the award.
Danbury is looking to hire some entry level firefighters this summer. The application period closes Tuesday for the position with a salary of about $52,000 year. Fire Chief Geoff Herald says Danbury firefighters are responsible for not only fire suppression, but also protecting city residents and property.
The Department hasn't hired new members since 2008 and has vacancies created through retirements.
There are a number of requirements applicants must meet including having a high school diploma--or equivalent, a valid driver's license, a current Candidate Physical Agility Test and current Connecticut or National Registry EMT certification.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
Herald says there will be written, oral, psychological and physical exams along with background checks. There will be an information session on April 30th at 7pm in Council Chambers of City Hall.
Applications are only being accepted electronically through a link on the city's website or through FirefighterApp.
As paper applications will not be accepted, internet access is available at the Human Resources/Civil Service Department, Danbury City Hall 155 Deer Hill Ave Danbury, CT 06810. A $75 application fee is required and payable online.
A local official is already staring to think about next winter and what can be done to protect the health of Candlewood Lake during the off season. New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge says in the short term there are a few things that need to be focused on, including how to get rid of milfoil. He says this winter was probably the last deep draw down for Candlewood Lake because of environmental reasons.
Hodge says scientists are looking into whether the deep drawdown to take care of milfoil is leading to quality and clarity issues. The drawdown exposes the milfoil to cold temperatures killing it.
He notes that if it is, alternatives to getting rid of milfoil have to be found.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The Congressional Medal of Honor Society plans to honor the six educators killed in the December massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut with its highest civilian award.
The society says Rachel D'Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto exemplified courage, sacrifice and selflessness in trying to protect students from the gunman.
Harold A. Fritz, the president of the society, tells the New Haven Register the women's families will be presented with the Citizen Honors Medal during a ceremony today at Newtown High School.
The organization, which is made up of Medal of Honor recipients, also will present its Certificate of Commendation to all of the other teachers and staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Voters in 13 Connecticut communities are going to the polls on Monday to choose their mayor or first selectman and other municipal leaders.
Polls are scheduled to be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the city of Groton and towns of Andover, Bethany, Union and Woodbridge. Elections are also planned in the boroughs of Bantam, Danielson, Fenwick, Jewett City, Litchfield, Newtown, Stonington and Woodmont.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill urged voters to participate. Elected officials make decisions on budgets, schools and land planning.
She asked voters to report problems at the polls to her office or state Election Enforcement Commission by telephone, email or mobile device.
Most general elections for municipal candidates in Connecticut are scheduled for November.
School safety was the focus of a conference in Hartford this week. During the conference, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra commented on how the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary put school safety at the top of the agenda. She has concerns that the focus on making schools safe from those outside through the use of police officers and security guards is communicating to those inside that "we are in danger".
However Llodra said Newtown, which now has police officers in every school, must do what it has to do to relieve the anxiety and ease some of the pain.
Llodra says to think that 20 children and six educators could be taken in such violence in a mere five minutes is almost incomprehensible. She noted that what happened was in a school that did the right things to ensure the safety of students and staff
While there's nothing that can be done to keep schools completely safe, State Police Spokesman Lt Paul Vance says sharing information about what can be done to improve safety is a step in the right direction. He says having awareness of safety issues that could lead to the prevention of future tragedies is a good first step.
The Sandy Ground Project is an effort of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association to build playgrounds dedicated to the memory of the twenty-six victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The playgrounds in Connecticut, New york and New Jersey are located in towns devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
This afternoon the ribbon will be cut on a playground at Fireman's Park in Union Beach New Jersey that honors Jack Pinto. The 6-year old was an avid Giants fan, and was buried in his Victor Cruz jersey. Some NFL players are expected to attend the opening.
Jack’s older brother was named as the honorary foreman of the project.
This is the second playground to open in New Jersey, the first is in memory of the school psychologist Mary Sherlach.
Ground was broken this week at an Ansonia Elementary School for a playground celebrating the life of Catherine Hubbard.
A public meeting was held last night in Newtown to discuss two possible options for where to locate a new Sandy Hook Elementary School within the town of Newtown. Currently students are attending classes in a renovated Middle School in Monroe, where they can stay until 2016 if needed. The 28-member Sandy Hook School Building Task Force is leaning toward two options.
One is to renovate or rebuild at the site of the December shootings. The other is nearby at 28 Riverside Road. No decision was made last night. The group heard mixed opinions on the two sites and even some who wanted other locations considered. Brian Engel, who lost his daughter Olivia, says he doesn't want her brother going into the building where his older sister was killed.
The group is meeting again next Friday night at 7.
The Newtown town clerk's office is open today for resident to pick up absentee ballots for the May 14th budget referendum. The second budget vote is being held in 10 days at the Newtown Middle School gymnasium.
Any registered voter who will not be in town on the 14th, can't make it to the polls because of illness or religious reasons or are serving active duty in the military can apply for an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can be returned in person to the Town Clerk's office until 4:30pm on May 13th, or by mail by 8pm on May 14th.
The town clerk's office is open today from 9am until noon.
The traditional summer recreation season is coming up and funding for the Candlewood Lake Authority is being discussed as surrounding towns vote on their budgets. New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge says the lake's owner, First Light Power, is considering lowering their contribution to Candlewood while increasing funds to Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah.
He says a long term plan needs to be made for milfoil and he's not sure the Candlewood Lake Authority has come up with one. Hodge says in the short term he would like the chief elected officials from the five towns to work directly with First Light.
First Light has proposed possibly lowering their contribution to the Candlewood Lake Authority while increasing funds to the authorities that oversee Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah.
Hodge says First Light might stop deep drawdowns soon. Lowering the lake and exposing the milfoil to freezing winter temperatures has been the method used in the past to kill the non-native invasive species.. He says using mechanical harvesters, big lawn mowers, are one option. He notes that Lakes Zoar and Lillinonah have been using chemicals to treat milfoil issues.
A Rabbi and his wife who lost their own son to violence in Israel will speak with family members of the Sandy Hook shooting and others this Sunday at the Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown at 4:30 PM. The talk is called Building Resilience After Tragedy. The Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association is also sponsoring the event, which is open to the public.
Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell lost their 13-year old son Koby in the Jerusalem hills 12 years ago. Since their sons brutal murder, they have devoted their lives to helping the survivors and the families of victims of similar violence in Israel and around the world.
Rabbi and Mrs. Mandell have developed an approach to helping children cope with loss and trauma in the safety of summer camp programs. They also offer support groups and therapy groups for grieving parents. They have a charitable foundation established in their sons name called the Koby Mandell Foundation.
Congregation Adath Israel Rabbi Shaul Pravor says they will speak with the families one on one also and there is also a musical portion of the program.
For more information on the Mandells and on the work they do, visit their website.
A bill about brownfields is awaiting action by the state Senate, but a local lawmaker has concerns with it. New Milford State Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor says the proposed legislation, which creates a new brownfield liability relief program among other changes, could have a potentially negative impact on economic development.
More environmentally contaminated properties in Connecticut could be labeled as brownfields under the legislation, but Buck-Taylor says the state is already not taking care of identified brownfields.
She says New Milford is trying to get the state to move forward with environmental remediation of the former Century Brass mill site. It's a 72-acre former industrial property that has some environmental contamination.
There is a public meeting tonight in Newtown to discuss two possible sites for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. Students are currently attending school in Monroe at a building that was transformed from Chalk Hill Middle School into the renamed Sandy Hook Elementary.
The Sandy Hook School Advisory Committee's 187-page report that came out in April had several possibilities listed along with their pros and cons.
The Sandy Hook School Building Task Force has selected two locations to hear public opinion about. One is to renovate or rebuild the current site. The other is nearby at 28 Riverside Road, but some of that land will need to be purchased.
There are 28 members of the Task Force, which has heard mixed opinion from families of those killed December 14th.
The meeting is tonight at 7pm at the municipal center.
Governor Malloy's advisory panel charged with reviewing the Newtown school shooting is convening again to discuss mental health issues.
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is holding its 12th meeting today to hear from behavioral health professionals on access to mental health services. Mandatory reporting and barriers to access will be discussed by professors from Columbia, Yale and UConn along with a representative of Hartford Health Care. There will also be a presentation from pediatricians.
Last month, the commission forwarded preliminary recommendations on gun laws and school security to the governor, who empaneled the commission in January. A final report on mental health issues is not expected until later this year.
Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, who chairs the commission, said the panel seeks to create policy models for not just Connecticut but the entire nation.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) A Connecticut gun manufacturer is considering locating in Horry County after this state passed stricter gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shootings.
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports Horry County is one of six locations around the country being considered for the plant that could hire 100 workers within three years.
PRT Industries is looking to move because of the cost of doing business in the Northeast. Company CEO Josh Fiorini said the final push came when Connecticut passed stricter new gun laws after the Newtown, Conn., shootings.
The company has been contacted by 41 states. The six finalists have not been disclosed although Kansas courted the company and Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he's eager to bring the company to his state.
A Walk to End Alzheimer's Disease is being held on Saturday. The Alzheimer's Association hosts the event to raise awareness and funds for care, support and research. The disease is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. In order to raise awareness and funds for care, support and research, the Alzheimer's Association hosts walks across the country.
A Danbury-based doctor's office has formed a team for the Day. Associated Neurologists Clinical Psychologist Dr Lori Wagner says the public is invited to walk with them, or if they have available resources, to provide financial support.
Wagner says memory difficulties are often associated with depression and anxiety as well. Associated Neurologists hosts a support group. It provides information about the disease and advice for caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's.
More than 600 communities nationwide hosts these types of walks annually to reclaim the future for millions. The New Milford walk is from 9am to noon on Saturday at Harrybrooke Park. More information can be found here.
A $13 million investment is being made on Danbury's west side. New Oak Credit Services, a subsidiary of New Oak Capital will be opening an operation at the Matrix Corporate Center. Mayor Mark Boughton says the City negotiated with the company for about 8 months to bring 100 new jobs to Danbury.
Governor Dannel Malloy was on hand for the announcement Wednesday by New Oak, a Manhattan-based financial services company. His Economic Development Commissioner says the state offered the company a $3 million dollar forgivable loan if they meet the 100 position hiring goal within their first three years of operating.
Another economic development announcement was made at the Old Ridgebury Road complex in March, a $90-million 10 year lease extension by Boehringer Ingelheim.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) The police chief from Newtown, Conn. is supporting calls for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons in Rhode Island.
Chief Michael Kehoe was in Providence Wednesday to address state lawmakers reviewing several gun control proposals crafted in response to last year's school shooting in Newtown, which left 26 people dead.
Hundreds of gun owners rallied outside the Statehouse to protest the proposed ban, which would outlaw the sale or possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines after July 1.
Supporters including Gov. Lincoln Chafee say banning assault weapons would reduce gang violence and possibly prevent mass shootings.
But Second Amendment Coalition member Frank Saccoccio, says the proposals would violate the rights of lawful gun owners and won't reduce gun violence.
No votes on the proposals have been scheduled.
The non-profit technology center is located next to the Danbury Public Library and is set to open this summer. Work started last month to gut the former Union Savings Bank branch building. Mayor Mark Boughton says right now work stations are being put in and they are laying the groundwork for all of the IT that will be needed.
The Danbury Hackerspace and Western Connecticut SCORE facility will feature educational activities and networking events.
Boughton says the facility will offer high speed internet and machinery to create objects and products. He also called it a workshop of ideas. People with ideas they want to turn into small businesses can also go to the space for mentoring.
He says the Center will have technology such as a 3D printer, laser cutters, table saws and other tools. It will be open to the public, but Boughton says there will be a monthly fee for those who use the Center.
WASHINGTON (AP) Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is said to be assuring lawmakers that 149 small airport towers, including the one at Danbury Municipal Airport, will remain open.
The disclosure came as senators put signatures on a letter to LaHood, saying that their support of the legislation was based on the understanding that the towers would be "fully funded."
He's telling them the Obama administration will prevent the closure of those towers, as well as end furloughs of air traffic controllers nationwide, as a result of legislation passed by Congress. That's according to officials involved in negotiations on the bill.
The towers had been ticketed for possible closure in June as the FAA carries out its share of the across-the-board spending cuts that took effect in March.
A spokesman for LaHood says the department is reviewing the legislation and will make a decision about the towers.
Tuesday's developments coincided with congressional passage of a follow-up bill that fixed a stenographic error in the legislation that cleared last week. Now that the letter 's' has been added to the word 'account,' President Obama is expected to sign the bill quickly.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra are speaking about school safety at a Hartford conference that's expected to draw more than 400 people who work in or around schools.
The event, organized by the Capitol Regional Education Council, will be held Wednesday at the Connecticut Convention Center.
Besides Malloy and Llodra, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance are also scheduled to deliver remarks.
Michael Dorn is set to give the keynote speech. Dorn is CEO and co-founder of Safe Havens International, a non-profit organization dedicated to school safety and crisis management.
The conference was prompted by the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
CREC is a non-profit organization that runs 19 magnet schools in the Hartford area.