Local Headlines Archives for 2013-06

Fire destroys St. Nicholas Church in Danbury

A church on Pembroke Road has been left a total loss by an afternoon fire.  Fire Chief Geoff Herald said in published reports that it was hard to get control of the fire at St. Nicholas Church. 

 

The fire was called in to the Fire Department around 2pm.  Mutual aid was needed for the Danbury Department to get control of the 3-alarm fire. 

 

(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)

 

The church moved to the Pembroke Road location in 1996 when it outgrew the building it was located in near Western Connecticut State University. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton was at the scene of the blaze and said water was pouring out of the front door of the church. 

 

(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)

 

He says thankfully no one was hurt.

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Bear struck and killed by truck in New Milford

A 400-pound bear has been struck by a truck and killed in New Milford.  Police responded to the accident yesterday afternoon on Route 7 near the town border with Brookfield.  State Environmental Officials say the black bear was about 5-years old and a male. 

 

It was transported to Burlington to be studied. 

 

Based on size and because there were no tags, DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner says this was not the same bear that was spotted on Main Street in Danbury earlier this month. 

 

Bear sightings have been sporadic around the Greater Danbury area in the pas month.

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Conn. is ranked at 1 in Measure of America report

Connecticut residents are faring best in a new report.  In the third annual "Measure of America" report by the Social Science Research Council, people in Connecticut did the best when it comes to life expectancy, school enrollment and median personal income.  Those three factors were calculated to find the American Human Development Index. 

 

After Connecticut, the top 5 ranking goes to Massachusetts, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and Maryland.  The group says in an age of data at people's fingertips, they want to tell the story of how people not just the economy are doing. 

 

In terms of median income, Middlesex County finished first in the state followed by Fairfield, Litchfield, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Tolland and Windham counties.  The education index was led by Fairfield County.  This area was followed by Tolland, Middlesex, Litchfield, Hartford, New London and Windam counties.  Health indicators were not broken down by county.

 

The complete report can be viewed here.

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School chief agrees to salary cut in exchange for all day Kindergarten

After a few budget referendum defeats, in order to find money in the budget for all day kindergarten, Newtown's interim superintendent of schools has agreed to a smaller salary.  The Board of Education met Tuesday night about the budget. 

 

The Newstimes reports that John Reed will receive nearly $50,000 less than originally planned do the district can start the program in the elementary schools. 

 

Easing some of the budget problems, Newtown has received federal and state funding to build a new school and is applying for grant money to hire additional police officers.

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Bear reportedly spotted on Mill Plain Rd in Danbury

There is a report of a bear on Mill Plain Road near the 7-11 at the intersection with Kenosia Avenue.  Police have been called by people who reported seeing the bear.  Police will likely contact the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 

 

DEEP captured and tagged the bear that was spotted on Main Street earlier this month. No word yet on if its the same bear, which was released in Centennial State Forest in Redding. 

 

Over the past few weeks that bear was spotted in Ridgefield and Weston.

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DEEP warns of fast currents, hidden dangers

Faster than normal currents are expected in rivers and streams across the state this weekend, so anyone near the water or planning to go into the water is being urged to be aware of the conditions and use caution.  State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dwayne Gardner says debris in swift moving water may catch a boat and force it and its passengers under the water, causing serious injuries or drowning.

 

Canoeists and kayakers should scout all waterways before attempting to run the swollen rivers or streams.  Waterways may have dramatically changed since the last time it was traveled due to high water, strong currents, and moved debris. 

 

Gardner adds that people should never swim alone and always letting someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.  DEEP strongly recommends that everyone wear a life jacket and avoiding consuming alcohol during water-related outdoor activities.

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Malloy as 'crisis governor', GOP match ups in new Q Poll

A new Quinnipiac Poll is out about the 2014 Governor's race and there are several questions about Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who says at this point he is not a candidate. 

 

The poll shows Democratic incumbent Malloy down three points to Republican Tom Foley, if there was to be a rematch of the 2010 race. 

 

Despite his handlings of several natural disasters and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a majority of voters disapprove of  how Malloy is handling the economy and taxes.  Malloy is vulnerable to criticism about his support for hefty tax increases two years ago and presiding over a stubbornly slow economy.  The poll found that a majority of registered voters believe Malloy has strong leadership qualities.

 

Malloy has an 11-percent lead over Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, an 8-percent lead over Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and 4 point lead over House GOP Leader Lawrence Cafero. 

 

In a question of favorability rating, Boughton had an 11-percent total favorability, 5-percent unfavorable and 84-percent haven't heard enough about him to make a decision.

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HealingNewtown Arts Space receives national grant

The National Endowment for the Arts is awarding Healing Newtown Arts Space a $30,000 grant.  NEA Acting Chair Joan Shigekawa says people have turned to the arts in the face of tragedy to find solace and emotional expression.  She called the volunteer work done at the center "remarkable".  Healing Newtown Arts Space was created after the December 14th shootings. 

 

Governor Malloy says this grant will help the group to continue to be a link between the community and the creative support from artists around the world.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says for the people of Newtown, who have been through so much, the services of HealingNewtown are critically important.  She says the volunteer efforts, bringing the community together and cataloguing artwork represents tangible examples of just how much the people of Newtown have touched and inspired people around the world.

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra thanked NEA, Governor Malloy and the congressional delegation for their support to help Newtown’s Cultural Arts Commission create a sustainable model for the future. She says the HealingNewtown art space has had a positive impact on the community and continues to provide programs that support resiliency and a path forward.

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Water line extension discussed in Brookfield Town Meeting

A special town meeting has been held in Brookfield tonight to discuss Phase 3 of the Southern Waterline project along Federal Road.  The meeting was needed because the cost of the project has nearly doubled.  The money for the project is being bonded and will be repaid by users over time, not taxpayers. 

 

Town officials say the construction is more complicated than originally thought and will require about $875,000 not $495,000. 

 

The final part of the project could be completed in a months time once a bid is accepted.

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Phone in one hand, ticket in another effort underway

There will be stepped up traffic enforcement starting today and lasting through the weekend in the Greater Danbury area.  Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says seven towns in the region received a grant to crackdown on people violating the cell phone and texting laws. 

 

He says the message is simple: phone in one hand, ticket in another.  Officers might be anywhere and the hope is it will appear like they're everywhere.  Fuchs says officers will likely observe the violation before drivers see them by using marked and unmarked cars.

 

Fuchs says sending or reading a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.  He says at 55 miles per hour, you can cover a football field and if you're looking down, you're driving blindfolded.

 

Other than drunk driving, Fuchs says texting while driving is the most dangerous activity a motorist can do.

 

Fuchs cited studies showing that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into a serious crash.  In 2011, more than 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.  387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.  

 

The area towns are also using the week to study their ability to adequately enforce the laws.  The enforcement effort lasts through next Wednesday.

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No lifeguards at Kenosia this summer, maybe later in season

The state Department of Public Health told Danbury in May that swimming in Lake Kenosia could not happen if it was also going to be used as a water supply.  Brookfield Representative David Scribner says that went against decades of allowable use.

 

An amendment was added to the budget bill overruling the Department of Health.  Mayor Mark Boughton says water has been pumped to the treatment plant for at least 50 years in drought situations while swimming has been happening there for over 100 years.  Boughton says the City needed the water supply in May, so they only hired life guards for Candlewood Town Park. 

 

Scribner says Kenosia was never used during the summer season for both recreation and pumping.

 

The Lake is still open for canoeing and other activities.

 

If they can find certified lifeguards, Boughton says the Lake could be opened for swimming by the 4th of July.

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PURA holds 1st hearing about Aquarion request

The closest hearing about a water rate increase proposal being held by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority was last night.  The meeting in Fairfield to discuss the double digit request by Aquarion Water Company is the first of four being held.  The others will be in Mystic, Torrington and Simsbury. 

 

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the request is a three year plan with rates rising each year.  He says there's still people unemployed and underemployed that can't absorb the excessive 19-percent request.

 

Aquarion serves over 625,000 customers in Connecticut.  They could soon add to their service territory.  A public hearing is being scheduled in Bethel by town officials on the potential sale of Bethel Water Company to Aquarion.

 

The Torrington hearing is scheduled for June 25th at 6:30pm at City Hall.

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Gun maker moving to SC; Conn. poll: support for new gun control law

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) While a new Quinnipiac University Poll shows a majority of Connecticut voters support the state's new gun control law, there's doubt whether enough has been done to help prevent another mass school shooting like the one in Newtown.

In a survey, 57 percent of registered voters say they support the new gun law, which includes an expanded assault weapons ban and a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines. Thirty-seven percent opposed it.

When asked whether enough has been done in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre to reduce the likelihood of a future school shooting, 47 percent said no, while 43 percent answered yes.

The telephone survey of 1,154 voters, conducted June 12-17, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

CONWAY, S.C. (AP) A Connecticut gun manufacturer is moving to South Carolina after Connecticut state lawmakers passed stricter gun control laws after the Sandy Hook School shootings.

The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News reports PRT Industries will make the formal announcement next week at a ribbon-cutting to be attended by Governor Nikki Haley.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus says he's excited about the development. The county council has approved a resolution setting out the terms of the company's move.

PRT's chief executive officer, Josh Fiorini, says the plant will employ 140 people, many of whom will relocate from Connecticut. The move will take place over three years.

The company said it has been contacted by 41 states and selected South Carolina from six finalists.

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Local lawmaker wants Patriot Act wording clarified

NSA leaker Edward Snowden is defending his disclosure of top-secret U.S. spying programs. 

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the country is up against terrorists, but that can't cause us to give up civil liberties that are at the core of what this country is about.  He says some people are calling  Edward Snowden a hero, but he doesn't agree.

 

Himes, who sits on the Intellegence Committee, participated in a two hour hearing last week with the NSA about the leaks and the surveillance program.

 

Historically information has been gathered on people under suspicion and where there is probable cause.  Himes says the Patriot Act was passed quickly because people were scared and it gave the Government an enormous amount of power.  While the NSA didn't do anything illegal, Himes says Congress should revisit the law that gives the agency unprecedented authority to gather information on people.

 

Himes questioned where the line gets drawn around protection of people's privacy.

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Works by Conn. sculptors on display Governor's Residence

Sculptures made of steel, stoneware, aluminum, bronze, copper, wood and stone will be on the property and available for public viewing for at least the next year.  There are 24 pieces on loan from 14 artists who helped transport and install their artwork on the grounds for free. 

 

Danbury sculptor Denis Folz called it an honor to have two of his works on display. 

 

The curator of the exhibit says Governor Malloy wanted the sculpture park installed to showcase Connecticut artists.

 

David Boyajian of New Fairfield, a sculptor for the past 35 years, said the artists welcome the public exposure to their works.  His piece is called ‘‘Kinetic Milkweed,’’ and is made of steel and pivots with a strong breeze.  It sits on the lower back lawn with a blooming white dogwood tree serving as a backdrop. 

 

A horse made from scrap steel and inspired by an old red wheelbarrow, is just one of 24 works from Connecticut sculptors that’s on display.  Marcia Spivak’s ‘‘Big Red’’ sits on the back lawn. The Wilton artist, who specializes in horse sculptures, said she often finds inspiration from ‘‘Dumpster-diving’’ for scrap metal.

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Texas governor woos Conn. gun makers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Texas Gov. Rick Perry is courting Connecticut gun manufacturers, extolling the tax policies and regulatory climate of his state.

Perry spent time Monday shooting at a firing range at Colt Manufacturing Co., touring plants and meeting privately with company owners and other businesses. Some gun makers have threatened to leave Connecticut since the state passed new gun-control laws this year in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

At a news conference, Perry questioned whether Connecticut's regulatory climate allows citizens to enjoy their freedoms or ``are they going to relocate somewhere?''

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made an unannounced visit to Perry's meeting in Hartford and offered what he called ``Yankee hospitality.''  He says he doesn't think Perry understands the kind of loss caused by Newtown ``and how it's affected people in our state.''

 

Perry said his visit to Connecticut and New York is not intended to boost his profile for another run at the Republican presidential nomination. He says 2016 will take care of itself.

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Metro North has weeks of issues, lawmaker calls for investigation

The past few weeks have brought with it several accidents involving Metro North trains.  There was the derailment and crash in mid-may followed by a rail worker being killed and then a fallen tree struck Friday morning.  Friday night a drawbridge was stuck in the open position leaving the evening commute with at least a 90 minute delay. 

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says there is a lot of work for the railroad to do to ensure safety of its passengers and its employees.  In the derailment accident, Metro North had inspected the track just days before and found a problem, but deemed it not important.  Himes says the fact that Metro North knew of a track problem is worrisome.

 

The National Transportation Safety Board report about the derailment and crash that injured more than 70 people is not due out for several months.

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Western music professor honored with Governor's Arts Awards

The coordinator of jazz studies at Western Connecticut State University has been presented with the 2013 Governor's Arts Awards.  Jimmy Greene and two others were recognized by Governor Malloy this weekend during the International Festival for Arts and Ideas. 

 

Western Music Department Chairman Jamie Begian says Jimmy is an outstanding role model for the students.  Greene is an internationally acclaimed saxophonist, composer and band leader. 

 

Begian says despite tremendous difficulties he has had to endure, Greene has proven to be an invaluable member of the department since becoming a faculty member last year.  His daughter Ana Grace was one of 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School six months ago. 

 

Greene said reviewing the list of past recipients is quite humbling.  He added that he is blessed to have learned at the feet of such giants of the arts in Connecticut and to have lived most of his life here.

 

Greene says there is a vibrant, inspirational community of musicians and artists in Connecticut, and he is proud to be a small part of it.

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Bushes in Southington to honor Newtown victims

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) Twenty-six butterfly bushes are being planted along the Southington Rail Trail to honor the 20 first graders and six educators killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Planting the bushes was spearheaded by two Southington mothers who vowed to have their daughters grow up in a community inspired by beautiful acts of kindness in response to the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown.

Friday marked the six-month anniversary of the shooting. In Newtown, there was a moment of silence and a reading of the victims' names.

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Newtown marks 6 months, state provides funding

$750,000 will be on the state bond commission's agenda next week for the design of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Governor Malloy says the funding is being made available now to help the project begin moving forward as quickly as possible event though it's still in its early stages. 

 

Earlier this month the General Assembly approved $50-million in bonding for construction of a new school.  That funding will be considered during future Bond Commission meetings.

 

Family members, municipal leaders and others gathered in Newtown Friday for a moment of silence and calls to do more to control gun violence, as the town marks six months since the Sandy Hook school shootings. Spiritual leaders, who helped and continue to help a community heal, were among those at the gathering.

 

Reverend Matthew Crebbins of Newtown Congregational Church says Newtown knows how the effects of gun violence can ripple through the community.  He says he is hopeful that as a nation, we can to find ways to reduce gun violence.

 

Crebbins says while its a journey that has allowed the town to find new connections to one another, it's not a journey anyone would have chosen.  He delivered a benediction along with Congregation Adeth Israel Rabbi Shaul Praver as the bells of Edmond Town Hall chimed.

 

Names of thousands of gun victims were read throughout the evening. 

 

A lantern was lit to symbolize that everyone who is a victim of gun violence has not been forgotten.

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Calls for action mark 6 months since Newtown

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Six months after the Newtown school shooting, the tragedy was marked with a moment of silence.

The ceremony today includes the reading of thousands of names of gun violence victims and calls around the country to pass legislation expanding background checks for gun purchases.

Family members, elected officials and other leaders gathered in Newtown for a day of remembrance and a call to action. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will launch a bus tour to 25 states to build support for background checks.

 

 

 

The mayors group is also holding events in 10 states calling for expanded background checks. Legislation to expand background checks failed in the Senate in April.

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Conn. Congressional delegation marks Newtown anniversary

Members of Congress are renewing their calls for a background check bill for all gun purchases.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says she is honored to the brave people of Newtown.  She called it a community that has responded to unparalleled loss not with anger and hate which was well expected, but with courage, hope and love.

 

To the families Esty said "you are driving change in state capitals across the country, but here in Washington you have encountered political cowardice."

 

Senator Chris Murphy says now is beyond the time for action.  Murphy says background checks for all gun purchases will get a second chance in the Senate.  He called out his colleagues who refuse to meet with the families. 

 

"It is absolutely unconscionable that there are members of the Senate and members of the House that will not meet with these families.  Have the guts to take a meeting.  Have the courage to look these families in the eye and tell them no."

 

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said their basic responsibility is to protect and defend.  She says unimaginable loss has been turned into unsurpassed determination.  Pelosi thanked the families for turning grief into action.

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Metro-North train strikes fallen tree in Norwalk

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Metro-North commuter train has struck a tree that fell onto the tracks near south Norwalk.

Railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders says the first train of the morning on the Danbury Branch hit the tree shortly after 6:00 this morning.

Crews were called to clear the tree and the train was able to make it to the Merritt 7 station in Norwalk, where passengers disembarked and boarded another train at about 7:15 a.m.

No one was injured and Anders said the rest of the morning schedule was not affected.

She says the train suffered some minor damage and is being repaired.

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'Danbeary' cub release in Redding forest

The bear that was tranquilized in Danbury this month had been tagged and transported to a state forest in Redding.  The bear was recently sighted in Weston. 

 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials confirmed that they relocated the Danbury bear to Centennial Forest, because it was the closest open area for the bear. 

 

According to the DEEP website, black bears are rarely aggressive toward humans and usualy travel and feed at night, but can be active during the day.  DEEP Wildlife biologist Paul Rego says there was a different black bear spotted in Redding last week.

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Pandemic training event in Bethel Saturday

This weekend three area towns are getting together for a training event in case of a large scale anthrax exposure.  The health departments from Bethel, Redding and Ridgefield are hosting the mass medication distribution event to see how the towns would respond to a statewide emergency scenario. 

 

The town officials say between natural disasters like the massive storms this area has seen or an H1N1 outbreak, the Greater Danbury area has to be prepared. 

 

The event on Saturday at Bethel Municipal Center takes place from 8am to 1:30pm.  The towns are calling for volunteers, specifically doctors and nurses, for the educational training seminar.

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Local official thinks proposed water rate increase is unmanageable

Hearings are being held this month by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority about a 19-percent rate increase request by Aquarion Water Company.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the system is broken leaving families to absorb large increases at once rather than smaller, more manageable ones more frequently.

 

Aquarion says the large hike is being requested so they can make infrastructure repairs and improvements.  It's a three year plan with nearly 2-percent increases in the second two years. 

 

Aquarion received approval in 2010 for a 15-percent increase.

 

The 19-percent increase would go into effect in September if approved by PURA.  It amounts to an average 7-dollars more per residential customer.

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Senate committee approves funding to rebuild Sandy Hook school

A U.S. Senate Committee has approved using funding to help Newtown build a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.  An amendment authorizing the Education Department to use federal dollars to build schools for districts that suffer traumatic events such as those in Newtown has been approved by the Senate education panel. 

 

Senator Chris Murphy says the federal government should help schools scarred by violence just like they already help schools that are felled by natural disasters.

 

Murphy says the amendment was modeled on the existing School Emergency Response to Violence grant program, which provides funds to help school districts recover from a violent or traumatic event through projects intended to help restore a sense of safety and security, but cannot be used for building construction.

 

Some on the Committee opposed the proposal saying it would shift the Education Department into the construction business. 

 

Since 2001, the department has given more than $33 million to 106 schools recovering from violence or other disruptive incidents.

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Conn. delegation to speak on Newtown anniversary

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation are commemorating the upcoming six-month anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown with speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reps. Elizabeth Esty, Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney and Jim Himes, all Democrats, are scheduled to address their colleagues on Thursday morning.

They are expected to renew their call for federal action on enhanced background checks for gun purchases, a proposal that failed to receive enough support in the Senate back in April despite public support.

Other House Democrats are also expected to speak, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

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Playgrounds honoring Newtown victims take shape

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The families of Newtown shooting victims Dylan Hockley and Victoria Soto plan to be surrounded by the laughter of children as they mark the six-month passing of the tragedy.

A ribbon cutting is planned Friday at a playground in Westport being built in honor of Hockley. Ground will be broken at another in nearby Stratford in Soto's memory.

They are fourth and fifth being constructed by a New Jersey firefighters union that has plans for 26 playgrounds in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Most will be in communities affected by Superstorm Sandy, which shared part of a name with Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

For Dylan's family, watching his 8-year-old brother Jake break a rare smile while helping to build the playground was comforting.

 

"Jake was right in there. He dug the first shovelful, and he was working in the Bobcat and was acting as the foreman, helping direct the team," Ian Hockley said. "I heard him tell a (television) station that this will honor Dylan. To be able to think about this project in that way, I think is very helpful to him."

 

The design of Dylan's purple playground features the moon and butterflies, two things he loved. Dylan, who had autism, liked to flap his arms and told his mother he was a butterfly. Educational signs will describe the stages of a butterfly's life, and it will incorporate big butterflies on poles and at the top of a slide, said Bill Lavin, president of the firefighters union. The symbol for autism awareness is also part of the design, Lavin said.

 

Soto's playground in Stratford, next door to Newtown, will be pink and have a flamingo theme.

 

"If Vicki could have had flamingos as a pet, I think she would have," said sister Jillian Soto, 24. "It's such a positive thing they are doing, they are bringing joy. My family is going to be there to help set this up and be a part of this."

 

Jillian Soto said her big sister's playground will be a fitting tribute to a woman who made children her life, and is more special because it will be built in their hometown, near the home of cousins who are 10, 5 and 3 years old and will be able to enjoy it.

 

She says it will be a way to have a positive experience on what otherwise would be an awful day.

 

Each has been personalized to incorporate something that person loved.

 

The families of all 26 victims have agreed to be involved in the playgrounds' designs, Lavin said. Some have gotten involved in the construction, lifting beams and fastening bolts. Older siblings, like Jake, are made honorary foremen on the projects.

 

"It's been very cathartic for us, and the families feel the same way," Lavin said. "More than a few of the families have said they were offered gifts and money and cruises and other things, and not a lot of that made sense to them. This seemed appropriate to them."

 

Each playground takes about a week to build. They are all handicapped-accessible and have similar swings, slides, balance beams and monkey bars. But each also is being personalized for the child or educator it represents, using their favorite colors and something that made them unique.

 

Lavin said his group has raised about a third of the $3 million it needs to build all 26 playgrounds. Some of that has come from children, such as a seventh-grader who raised $100 selling wallets and purses she made from duct tape.

 

"That's what this project is all about," he said. "We do something for these families, they do something for the children, and the children learn from that and pass it forward."

 

Hockley said of the dozens of memorials and tributes to his son and the other Sandy Hook victims, this one is special. In part, he said it's because Lavin took the time to get their permission and showed a generous heart.

But it's more than that, he said.

 

Hockley said he and his wife used to take the children to different playgrounds when they moved to Connecticut and explored the area, watching as his sons found joy in a new slide or swing.

 

"Playgrounds are all about children - children having fun; children meeting each other in a safe place," he said. "Because it's at a school, you've got, guaranteed, 500 children ready and waiting to play on this thing."

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Danbury Mayor calls new state budget 'ticking time bomb'

A ticking time bomb.  That's how Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has described the new two-year state budget.  He says the next governor will face a $1.4 billion deficit because of the budget.

 

Danbury is seeing a 7.5% increase in funding from the state, but the type of funding is different than expected.  Boughton says it's specific grant funding which is much more restrictive than what the city needed to be able to continue the same level of service as in previous budgets.

 

Boughton says he built the cuts expected from the state into the city budget.

 

Boughton was disappointed some business taxes set to expire were extended.  He says when companies leave because they can't live with more mandates, employees become unemployed and will feel the effects of the state budget.

 

Boughton says the General Assembly and the Governor redefined the spending cap to meet their needs by claiming billions of dollars in spending is not spending.  He says the new cap probably wouldn't stand up to a legal challenge if someone chooses to challenge it.

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Ridgefield considers rezoning part of Schlumberger property

There was a public hearing Tuesday night in Ridgefield to discuss a possible zone change for some of the Schlumberger property.  10 acres off Sunset Lane, which are currently zoned for business could become a multifamily development district. 

 

The zone is described as being for up to six units per acre.  But there can be eight per acre if some are sold as affordable housing. 

 

The town purchased the Schlumberger property in 2011 for $7-million, with the thought that some of the land could be sold for development. 

 

The Planning and Zoning Commission held the hearing as part of their meeting Tuesday.

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Biden to hold gun control event next week

WASHINGTON (AP) The White House says Vice President Joe Biden is planning an event on gun control next Tuesday.

It's Biden's first event focusing specifically on gun control since a major Senate vote on expanding background checks failed in April, although the White House held a mental health conference earlier in June. Strengthening mental health care was among the executive actions President Barack Obama took to reduce gun violence after the Newtown shooting in December.

Biden and Obama have said they're not done pushing gun control even though momentum has stalled in Congress. Last week Biden sent an email to Democrats saying he has complete faith Congress will pass meaningful gun laws if everything possible is done to make it happen.

The White House wouldn't disclose details about Tuesday's event.

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Harry Connick Jr. honors Newtown victim in new single

A well known actor and singer is donating proceeds from a song he wrote about a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to the fund in her name. 

 

Harry Connick Jr is out with a new digital single today called "Love Wins".  It was inspired by 6-year old Ana Grace.  Her father Jimmy Greene, who is a music professor at Western Connecticut State University, is one of Connick's band members. 

 

Connick said in a Facebook post that 100-percent of the proceeds will go to the Ana Grace Fund to help his longtime friend Jimmy and his family get through this difficult time.  He said Jimmy, his wife Nelba and their son are devastated beyond description. 

 

Connick performed at the funeral service for Ana, who used to say 'love wins'.  He ended the post by saying that love always wins.

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Newtown schools locked down Monday due to implied threat

Newtown schools were placed on lockdown Monday afternoon after someone implied a threat during a call to an elementary school.

Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed says the threat was made shortly after 2 pm in a call to Hawley Elementary School. He didn't release details, but said no one was hurt.

Police Chief Michael Kehoe, who responded to Hawley School and joined officers stationed there to investigate, requested the district-wide modified lockdown.

The lockdown ended when schools dismissed for the day and caused 35- to 40-minute busing delays throughout the district.

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Esty seeks incentives for Newtown school donations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is introducing an amendment to provide incentives to defense contractors that make donations to help build a new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, as well as other schools disrupted by a traumatic crisis.

The congresswoman on Tuesday offered the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Under the proposal, defense contractors that make financial or in-kind donations to help rebuild elementary or secondary schools affected by violent or traumatic events would receive preference for Department of Defense contracts.

Last month, a Newtown task force decided to tear down the elementary school where 20 first-graders and six educators were killed.

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Connecticut joins fight over who was first to fly

Connecticut's legislature has jumped into an argument over who was the first aviator to fly.

Legislation waiting for a decision by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant who lived in Bridgeport, flew the first plane in 1901. That would be two years before the Wright brothers took off from Kitty Hawk, N.C.

 

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says it's exciting that Connecticut history is finally surfacing as accurate history.

Republican State Rep. Larry Miller of Stratford spearheaded the legislation. He says not crediting Whitehead has been a mistake that's now being corrected.

But the Smithsonian Institution, which displays Wilbur and Orville Wright's plane in Washington, said arguments on behalf of Whitehead are ``absolutely wrong.''

Connecticut has a long history in aviation. Aircraft engines were made at Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford beginning in 1925 and famed helicopter maker Igor Sikorsky set up shop in Stratford in 1929.

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Taxpayer watchdog group hosts informational about Bethel Water Company sale

A tax watchdog group in Bethel is holding a meeting tonight about the potential sale of Bethel Water Company to Aquarion.  Bethel Action Committee Founder Billy Michael says they haven't taken a position on the sale yet, but about the process so far.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has said the sale is necessary because of the aging infrastructure and the ongoing battle with Danbury to build a water storage tank on town-owned land within the city limits.  Danbury land use officials have blocked the proposal because the tank would be in the scenic Long Ridge Road area.

 

Knickerbocker is supporting the $7.2 million sale of the system because otherwise, he says it would cost $6-million to improve the infrastructure. 

 

Michael says they invited people who think the water system is a liability and those who think it's an asset.

 

An official from Aquarion will be at the meeting hosted by the BAC tonight at 7pm at town hall.

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7 Conn. school districts share $250,000 in aid

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Seven Connecticut school districts will share $250,000 in federal aid to offset expenses resulting from Superstorm Sandy.

 

Bridgeport, Guilford, Milford, New Fairfield, North Haven, New Haven and LEARN, a regional education service center in southeastern Connecticut, shared the money.

Milford lost a week of classes. Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli Jr. said the district will use the money to offset transportation costs.

Some students became homeless in Milford and some left the town for a while. Richetelli says the district was still responsible for transporting the children to school.

Several Bridgeport schools lost a week of classroom instruction because they were without power or were used as shelters. District officials said the money will be used for counseling, security and other costs related to using the schools as shelters.

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Gun control advocates to mark 6 months since shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) Six months after a gunman took the lives of their loved ones, some families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims are heading to Capitol Hill this week to remind lawmakers they are painfully waiting for action.

The lobbying visit Tuesday and Wednesday is one of several observances gun control proponents are planning for this week's half-year anniversary of the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Despite Senate rejection over protecting gun rights, the Sandy Hook families and other activists are trying to keep pressure on lawmakers to expand background purchases for firearm sales.

Gun control advocates also are anticipating further action from President Barack Obama. He says even if he can't get Congress to tighten gun laws, he'll do what he can to stem gun violence.

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Newtown students to receive college scholarships

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Four graduating seniors from Newtown High School will receive college scholarships to help them pursue careers in education.

The money is coming from the ``We are Newtown'' charity, which was formed by a group of local residents and businesses in the wake of the December shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It has raised $200,000 so far and plans to give out $26,000 in scholarships each year.

A ceremony is planned for Saturday for the students chosen to receive the first four scholarships. Each will be introduced by a Sandy Hook teacher or family member of someone directly affected by the tragedy.

Much of the money raised came from the sale of ``We Are Newtown'' T-shirts.

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Sheriff's Deputy delivers baby on side of the road

A Putnam County Sheriff's deputy helped deliver a baby on Wednesday when the mother didn't have enough time to make it to the hospital  A woman went into labor around 7:40 Wednesday night on the side of Route 6 in Southeast. 

The baby was crowning when the deputies arrived.

 

The father and the couple's other child were in the vehicle. 

 

Deputy John Kerwick, a certified EMT who has delivered babies before, helped to deliver the newborn girl.  The Brewster Fire Department Ambulance arrived shortly after to take the mother and baby to Putnam Hospital Center. 

 

The baby was named Francesca and both she and the mother are healthy and resting.

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Conn. court declines to address email warrants

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut Supreme Court has declined to address whether state judges can issue search warrants for email accounts maintained by out-of-state companies like Google.

 

The court took up the issue in the case of former Monroe youth minister David Esarey, who was sentenced in May 2010 to six years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl and trading nude photos with her.

 

Justices upheld Esarey's convictions today. But they decided not to address his appeal argument that a state judge had no authority to issue a search warrant for his Google Gmail account because Google is based in California.

 

The court ruled instead that the issuing of the search warrant didn't affect the jury's verdict.

 

Justices said the issue deserves further study by the legislature.

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Area lawmaker calls change in law's start date 'irresponsible'

An odd bit of business on final day of the legislative session this week and still no explanation for it.  Language to change the effective date of the controversial bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses made it into a budget implementation bill.  The change from January 2015 to this July 1st was caught by a lawyer for House Republicans and Democratic leaders agreed to remove it. 

 

Senate President Donald Williams says Democratic leaders didn't make the change and he doesn't know who did.

 

Transportation Committee ranking member, Brookfield Representative David Scribner says the change is one of the most reckless and irresponsible things he's seen in his 15 years in the legislature. 

 

The late date was set so the DMV has time to prepare for the change.

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Conn. bill includes up to $50M for Newtown school

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers are setting aside up to $50 million to help Newtown build a new school to replace the one where a shooting massacre took place last year.

The money was tucked into a bonding bill passed Wednesday, the final day of the legislative session. It's among municipal grants for infrastructure projects and programs including planning, property acquisition, site preparation and construction.

A Newtown task force last month voted to tear down Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six educators were killed. It voted to construct a new building on the site.

Governor Dannel Malloy said Thursday the state left it up to the town's residents to decide what to do with the school. He says these are the people ``who have been most adversely impacted.''

Efforts are being made to secure federal money.

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NY woman pleads guilty to Newtown shooting fraud

A woman has changed her plea to guilty in connection with a fundraising scheme after the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  37-year old Nouel Alba of the Bronx was in court Thursday where she pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making false statements for lying to the FBI investigating the scheme.  

 

According to court documents, Alba used Facebook, email, text messages and phone calls to falsely claim to be the aunt of 6-year old Noah Pozner in order to solicit donations for a "funeral fund". 

 

Alba tried to hide the criminal activity by saying she hadn't posted or contacted anyone about Newtown.

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly says Alba's criminal conduct exploited the victims of this tragedy, their grieving families and caring individuals who sought to help in any way they could.  Daly continued in a statement to say that this case has had a deterrent effect on other potential bad actors, but people who ignore this warning and operate these schemes face federal or state prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law. 

 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Mertz says the thought that someone would scheme so quickly and deliberately to benefit from an unspeakable tragedy is beyond belief and Alba's actions caused undue sadness and harm to those already suffering. 

 

Alba will be sentenced August 29th.

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Brookfield, Bethel elementary schools hire new principals

Two area elementary schools have new principals.  Center Elementary School in Brookfield will be led by Dr Krys Salon.  She has served as interim Principal since September and prior to that served as curriculum specialist. 

 

In Bethel, a new principal has been selected for Rockwell Elementary School.  Tricia Soucy is coming to the school from New Jersey.  She is a Waterbury native who has worked in education for more than 10 years.

 

Meanwhile Bethel is looking to fill a vacancy at R.M.T. Johnson.  The principal there, Kathy Gombos, has announced that she is taking a position in Newtown as the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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United Way 'Day of Action' held

Companies across the Greater Danbury region from Kent down to Ridgefield have volunteered their time to make social service agencies better.  Tuesday was a Day of Action in the Greater Danbury area. 

 

Nearly 600 volunteers from 32 companies worked on 105 projects to help the United Way of Western Connecticut.  Executive Director Kim Morgan says they appreciate the companies that participate because the value of service is over $100,000 in volunteer time.

 

In addition to the volunteer efforts, Morgan says local businesses have donated thousands of dollars worth of materials and supplies towards Day of Action projects.

 

Morgan says the employees like doing something different during the work day and feel good about what they leave behind.

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Anti-distracted driving bill sent to governor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A bill that aims to further combat distracted driving in Connecticut now awaits Governor Dannel P. Malloy's signature.

The state Senate on Wednesday, by a vote of 26-9, passed a wide-ranging transportation bill that includes language adding distracted driving to the list of moving violations that would be made available to insurance companies. Currently, if someone disobeys the state's distracted driving law, they pay a fine and the insurer doesn't know about it.

The bill also increases fines and creates a task force to study distracted driving prevention.

Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton opposed the legislation because it also increases various fees. For instance, it increases the driver's license renewal fee from $65 to $72. Two-year licenses for people 65 years old or older climb from $22 to $24.

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Lawmakers pass compromise Newtown privacy bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- State lawmakers passed an eleventh-hour compromise bill early Wednesday morning, the final day of the legislative session, preventing the release of crime scene photos and video evidence from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and other Connecticut homicides, concerned such records would be spread on the Internet.

 

The negotiated bipartisan legislation came after days of closed-door talks and speculation about whether an agreement could be reached before the Wednesday's midnight adjournment.

 

But once agreement was reached, the bill was quickly and overwhelmingly approved. It passed the Senate 33-2 shortly after 1:30 a.m. The House of Representatives then passed it a half hour later by a vote of 130-2. It now moves to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk for his signature.

 

Malloy's office had originally been working privately with legislative leaders and the state's top prosecutor to come up with a bill addressing the concerns of the Sandy Hook families, bypassing the traditional legislative process of a public hearing or committee votes.

 

"My goal with this legislation was to provide some measure of protection for the families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the fact is, all families have a right to grieve in private," Malloy said in a written statement.

 

According to the bill, a new exemption is created under the state's Freedom of Information Act. It prevents the release of photographs, film, video, digital or other visual images depicting a homicide victim if such records "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members."

 

With several family members of the 20 first graders and six educators killed in Newtown on Dec. 14 looking on, Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr. said the bill closely tracks language from an exemption in the federal Freedom of Information law.

 

"We have tried our best as Democrats and Republicans to work together to protect the interests of these families, these parents, these relatives sitting behind me, at the same time honoring our tradition as a free and open democracy," he said.

 

The bill also creates a one-year moratorium on the release of certain portions of audio tape or other recording where the condition of a victim of a homicide is described. The exemption does not include 911 emergency call recordings, however. Additionally, it creates a task force to consider and make recommendations about the balance between victim privacy under the FOI Act and the public's right to know. It must submit its recommendations by Jan. 1, 2014.

 

Family members of the Sandy Hook victims were at the state Capitol throughout the day, waiting on any legislative action. In an interview with The Associated Press, Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed at the school, said he knows of individuals and groups that want the information. And given today's technology, he said one photograph can be distributed worldwide and remain accessible forever.

 

"It's these strange individuals and fringe interest groups that have expressed a very real need for this information and they don't have any business having it," he said. "Nobody would benefit from it. On the contrary, it would do so much harm."

 

Members of the legislature's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus had voiced concerns about the legislation only preventing the release of photos from the Newtown massacre and not other homicides, prompting the Wednesday's bill to be broadened to include crimes other than Newtown.

 

But lawmakers acknowledged the Sandy Hook crime prompted the legislation.

 

"One does not need to see the photos to understand the unwarranted pain and anguish it would cause a parent or other family member to see such photos published and appear on the Internet every time someone searches Sandy Hook or school shooting," said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, whose district includes Newtown.

 

Earlier in the day, McKinney said lawmakers were looking at a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case for precedence. In that ruling, the court determined that the surviving family members of former Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster "had a protectable privacy interest in his death-scene photographs, based in part on the family's fears of `intense scrutiny by the media,'" according to the U.S. Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act. Foster's death in 1993 was the subject of multiple conspiracy theories.

 

The Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association had expressed concern about the possibility of limiting access to the documents.

 

"Any time the state is interested in opening up the Freedom of Information Act, we urge them to use extreme caution. Obviously, there's deference to the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook," said Christopher VanDeHoef, the association's executive director. "But it's our concern that we're going to use that as sort of a sweeping change to FOI law that could be damaging to the openness of government down the road."

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Boat owners being called to volunteer for Candlewood clean up

People with boats on Candlewood Lake are being called on to volunteer their time and their vessel. 

 

The Candlewood Lake clean up this summer is being hosted by the five towns that surround the lake.  The Leaders of Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman are calling on volunteers from all of those municipalities to pick up winter debris and trash on the beach, surrounding land and from the water. 

 

The debris will be brought by boat to Cottonwood Cove Marina, near the causeway to the Candlewood Isle community in New Fairfield.  First Light Power is providing dumpsters there. 

 

Once volunteers reach the marina, they will be treated to a barbeque. 

 

New Fairfield Selectman John Hodge says the event was created to help preserve Candlewood Lake, and the surrounding land and beaches.

 

The clean up is scheduled for Saturday June 15th from 9am to 2pm with a rain date of June 22nd.  Volunteers can register here.

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'Danbeary' cub scurries up tree, tranquilized for move to state forest

A black bear in downtown Danbury attracted a lot of attention Tuesday morning.  A motorist driving along Wooster Street saw the bear cub crossing the road and climb up a tree behind the Bishop Curtis Homes.

 

The motorist called police, who alerted the fire department, about the bear just off of Main Street.  Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Slagle says the call came in just after 7am and by 9:30 the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was on the scene.

 

(Photo courtesy: Mayor Boughton)

 

A crowd had gathered and there were school children nearby so when the bear started to come down from the tree on its own, a DEEP responder shot the bear with a beanbag. 

 

It took two shots from the tranquilizer before the bear went to sleep and fell into the waiting net below.

 

DEEP spokesman Dwayne Gardner says the male bear, weighing about 240 pounds, did not have ear tags which means they have not had contact with the male bear before.  DEEP put an ear tag on the bear so it can be tracked if there are future sightings.  Based on weight, he estimated that the bear is about 4 years old, but could be anywhere from 3 to 5 years old.

 

(Photo courtesy: Mayor Boughton)

 

Children at the nearby St. Peters School were brought around to see the bear and learn a little about the animals.  The bear was then loaded into a van and examined. 

 

The bear will be released into a state forest.

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Commission weighs challenge on Newtown 911 calls

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission has ordered Newtown officials to provide 911 calls from the day of the shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School as it considers a request by The Associated Press.

A hearing officer, Kathleen Ross, asked Monday for the town to provide her the copies within two weeks. She said she commission would weigh objections raised by investigators as it evaluates whether the material should be released publicly.

The AP requested documents including copies of 911 calls in part to examine how well law enforcement responded to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. The town ultimately denied the AP's request, citing legal exemptions that allow the government to withhold documents if they claim they're being used for an ongoing investigation and should remain secret.

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Conn. governor to address security industry summit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is traveling to Washington, D.C. to speak to representatives of the security industry.

The Democrat is scheduled to appear Tuesday at the Security Industry Association's Government Summit, which is expected to attract various facets of the industry, including executives, and sales and marketing professionals.

Malloy's remarks will precede a panel discussion on school safety. Malloy is expected to speak about the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and efforts the state is making to improve school safety.

Other scheduled speakers include U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, and U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Pennsylvania Republican who sits on the committee. Journalist and author Bob Woodward is slated to be conference's keynote speaker.

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Newtown charity to begin distribution to families

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The president of the foundation overseeing about $11.4 million in funds donated to Newtown in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School says it hopes to begin distributing money to the families of victims this month.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation received clearance last week from Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen to go forward with a plan to hand out $7.7 million from the fund to families of the 26 people killed, 12 surviving children from the classrooms where people were shot and the two people wounded during the shooting.

Jepsen had met with the foundation to discuss concerns raised by some victims' family members.

Dr. Charles Herrick, the foundation's president, says his group has agreed to meet privately with the families before disbursing the money.

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Conn. lawmakers revise gun control legislation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut lawmakers have approved a package of revisions to the gun control legislation that passed in April in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

The House of Representatives voted 131-15 on Monday to adopt changes and exemptions to the bipartisan deal that strengthened the state's assault weapons ban and prohibited the sale of high capacity magazines.

The new bill allows individuals to possess and register assault weapons they purchased prior to or on the day the gun control law was passed but did not receive until after that date.

It also expands the list of enforcement officers who can legally possess and purchase the restricted firearms and allows them to retain them after their term of service ends.

The Senate passed the bill earlier in the day. It now goes to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk.

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Council members backing name suggestion for new Army Reserve Center

Some Danbury officials have a name in mind for the new Armed Forces Reserve Center under construction on Wooster Heights Road.  City Council President Joe Cavo and Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi, who is an army reservist, are supporting a proposal to have the facility named "Veterans Memorial Armed Forces Reserve Center".

 

Saadi says the Mayor, the Veterans Council of danbury and the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion supports the name.  The 411th, a Danbury based unit, will be the first to use the Reserve Center.  They will be known as the senior unit. 

 

The 411th will have to submit the name suggestion to the military, which has the final naming decision.

 

The pair are asking the rest of the Council to support their proposal at their meeting Tuesday.

 

Saadi says a lot of research went into naming the facility after specific people, but many of the notable wartime figures from the Danbury area have structures bearing their names.  He says "Veterans Memorial Armed Forces Reserve Center" recognizes the contributions of veterans in all branches and recognizes veterans from all wars, including those who are coming home from conflicts today.

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Bill to shrink school drug-free zones tabled by state House

Following a lengthy debate, House Democratic leaders have pulled a bill which would reduce the size of school drug free zones.  Representative Juan Candelaria is hopeful differences can be resolved before Wednesday's end to the legislative session.

 

While supporters said the bill would benefit cities, opponents like Representative Jason Perillo says it will have a detrimental effect on suburban communities.

 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the bill would have differentiated between school hours, school sponsored activity hours and non-school times.  He called that premise wrong saying he can't see why drug dealers and users should be allowed to close in during non-academic hours.  He called children the state's most valuable asset and says schools must remain safe havens at all times.

 

Bolinsky adds that the bill puts children at risk and potentially exposes kids to behaviors that as a parent he would not expose them to at home.

 

Opponents voiced concern about shrinking the zone from 1,500 feet to 300 feet.

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Newtown parents push to protect shooting records

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Family members of the Newtown school shooting victims are making a last-minute appearance at the state Capitol to urge Connecticut legislators to pass a bill that would block the public release of crime scene photos and other records from the massacre.

About 20 relatives of the 20 first graders and six educators killed Dec. 14 met with legislative leaders on Friday, days before the regular legislative session is set to adjourn June 5.

Dean Pinto, whose six-year-old son Jack was killed, said the families are especially worried about crime scene photos appearing on the Internet, posted by people with various political agendas and not necessarily the traditional media.

Pinto said the families also do not want to hear the gunshots and ``the screams of our loved ones as they perished.''

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Conn. passes child mental health services bill

Two mothers are speaking out in favor of legislation  which gained final approval Friday to better coordinate mental health programs for children.  Jan Maksel is a Newtown resident who says her youngest son escaped from his first grade classroom after seeing his teacher and best friends murdered.  She says the fact that the shooter fell through the cracks of the mental health system does not surprise her.

 

Nelba Marquez Greene is a family therapist whose daughter Ana was killed on December 14th. 

 

The will lead to early identification and intervention.  She hopes this is the beginning of a long overdue effort to increase access to mental health treatment and reduce what can be a debilitating stigma that goes along with seeking help.

 

The legislation seeks to increase coordination among agencies, schools, health centers and families, and reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues.

The bill also mandates a home visitation program for vulnerable families with young children.

Republican Rep. Whit Betts of Bristol, the ranking House member of the Children's Committee, described the legislation as the General Assembly's "collective answer to the Newtown incident".

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