Local Headlines Archives for 2013-07

Malloy to receive timeline for Newtown report

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to be briefed on when an investigative report into the deadly Newtown school shooting will be released publicly.

Andrew Doba, Malloy's spokesman, said Tuesday the governor is supposed to be briefed on a timeline sometime next week.

In May, Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance said ``it could be as long as September'' before a report on the investigation into the Dec. 14 massacre is finished. Vance said authorities were working to complete the probe as quickly as possible but wanted to make sure they did a thorough and accurate job.

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before killing himself as police arrived. He also killed his mother at their Newtown home.

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Danbury man charged for church thefts

33 year old Andy Duran of Danbury was arraigned in Danbury Superior Court yesterday for stealing from at St. Mary's Church in Bethel on Saturday. 

Police say Duran broke into offering boxes sometime before 2 pm, took $50 and then boarded a bus to Danbury.

When approached by police he tried to flee on foot, but was captured after a short chase.

 

At his court appearance, Police say Duran was charged with stealing $740 from an unlocked safe at  St. Peter's Church in Danbury after Mass on June 16th.  He then admitted to burglarizing the donation boxes at St. Joseph's Church in Danbury on two prior occasions. 

Duran told police he used the money from the St. Peter's break-in to pay his rent and cable bill.

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Cell tower in Brookfield discussed by officials

The Brookfield Board of Selectman at their July meeting discussed the cell tower proposals.  The Selectmen have looked at the Homeland Towers lease proposal a number of times and decided in favor of construction of a cell tower behind the brush dump on Pocono Road. 

 

The lease is 55 years long.  Officials have been told that the projected revenue for Brookfield could be in the range of $2.9 million to $3.5 million over that period of time. 

 

First Selectman Bill Davidson said the other benefit to Brookfield is that emergency services and communication will be on that tower.  The lease agreement was approved unanimously.

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Candlewood Lake study on hold until budget is announced

New Fairfield officials say the study of a natural resource is on hold because of the Candlewood Lake Authority. 

 

At the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen's most recent meeting, member John Hodge said that more than two weeks into the fiscal year, the Candlewood Lake Authority had not created or approved a budget for the year.  He reminded others on the Board that the five towns surrounding the lake decided to hire a scientist to study the status of the body of water.  

 

While a request for proposals has been put out, a scientist has not been hired yet. 

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman sent a letter to the Lake Authority saying they have an invoice, but haven't acted on it yet and want to once a budget is created.  She says they need to know how much money will be budgeted for the lake scientist.

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Low flying helicopter in New Milford area does utility work

If you saw a low flying helicopter in the New Milford area over the weekend, you saw utility work being done. 

 

Connecticut Light and Power was using a helicopter to work on some transmission structures on Friday in New Milford, Washington , Roxbury, Woodbury and Watertown.  Some of the work continued into the weekend. 

 

The helicopter was used to attach equipment to the structures in areas where accessing the infrastructure was challenging from the ground.  CL&P had given town officials the helicopter's tail number in case they received any phone calls about the low-flying aircraft. 

 

The work on the structures took about 5 minutes a piece.

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Construction progresses at Danbury schools

While schools are not in session in Danbury, the buildings certainly aren't empty.  Instead of students, there are construction crews.  Mayor Mark Boughton says that's because the City has rolled out an expansion at the elementary schools to offer all day kindergarten.  He says the program will benefit all residents because home values will increase.

 

Boughton says that requires some renovation and addition work at Park Avenue, Shelter Rock and Stadley Rough elementary schools. 

 

At Park Avenue, a two-story addition will have 12 new classrooms, a storage room and a media center.  Stadley Rough is gaining 4 new classrooms, new bathrooms and other infrastructure work.  Shelter Rock is adding 5 new classrooms.

 

Work is also being done at Mill Ridge Intermediate School, which is being turned into a middle school.  That building will house the city's STEM program and a School of International Studies and is expected to open for the 2014-2015 school year.

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Maine museums to help museum efforts in Newtown

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Six museums in Maine are raising funds for a museum being planned for the Connecticut town where a gunman fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators at an elementary school.

The museums will be offering free admission and accepting donations Thursday to support construction of the EverWonder Children's Museum in Newtown, Conn. Plans to build the museum predate last December's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the effort has gained momentum since the shooting.

Maine's museum community says it's banding together in support of that effort.

Participating museums are the Maine State Museum in Augusta, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor, Maine Historical Society in Portland, Maine Maritime Museum in Bath and Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport.

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Area lawmaker appointed to group studying custody disputes

A local lawmaker has been appointed to a Task Force to Study Child Custody Legal Disputes.  Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey says the group will be studying the role of a guardian and the attorney for a minor child involved in parenting responsibilities.  The group has also be tasked with researching whether the state should dictate that shared custody is in the best interest of a child in cases involving custody.

 

Hovey says she was appointed because of her professional background  She does some custody mediation having both parents in the room and talking.

 

The group will study state statues about custody, costs associated with contested divorces and the fees associated with expert witnesses, attorneys for minor children and others.

 

Hovey says she is in favor of a collaborative relationship between adults.  She says the group will look into custody, visitation, co-parenting, the responsibilities of both parents.

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Grant money coming to Newtown preschool for security upgrades

$100,000 in state grant money is coming to Newtown for school security.  The Newtown delegation announced today that the Office of Early Childhood grant in aid money was approved for the Newtown Children's Adventure Center. 

 

Representative Mitch Bolinsky says children are the state's most valuable resource and the grant shows Connecticut's committment to early childhood education.  During the Sandy Hook Task Force process, Bolinsky spoke in favor of including more than just K-12 public schools in new school safety initiatives and about the need to invest in preschools and private schools.

 

Representative DebraLee Hovey says making sure children can continue to learn in a safe school environment is of paramount importance and this money will go a long way to ensuring that.

 

Representative Dan Carter says helping youngsters learn and grow in a secure environment is vitally important to the community.

 

The funding will be used to install a comprehensive school alarm, silent alarm buttons and to secure doors and windows.  The Newtown Children's Adventure Center is a state-funded early childhood facility created in 1969.

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Newtown dad to mark year since Wis. temple rampage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A man whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the Connecticut school shooting is helping a Wisconsin community mark the anniversary of a shooting at a Sikh temple that left six people dead.

Robbie Parker has been encouraging people to try to find peace in tragedy since the day after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, when he told reporters that he was not mad and that he felt sympathy for the gunman.

He was invited to speak at the Aug. 3 event in Wisconsin by Pardeep Kaleka, whose father was among the worshippers killed by a white supremacist at the Oak Creek temple.

Parker's daughter Emilie was among 26 people killed in the school shooting Dec. 14. He says he wants the mass shooting to make people more compassionate.

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Invasives training session being held to ID species

Volunteers are being trained to monitor local boat launches for invasive plants and animals.  A session is being held in Norwalk this weekend by the state Department of energy and Environmental Protection. 

 

Zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Zoar and Lake Lillinonah in 2010 and in Lake Housatonic in 2011. 

 

The training will be how to identify invasive species and instruct boaters to do the same, in hopes of preventing them from spreading.  Boaters are urged to clean all plant, fish, animals and mud from their vessel before leaving a launch, dry anything that comes in contact with the water, and drain all water from every space on the boat before the next launch.

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Danbury Hospital offers new round of EMT training courses

Danbury Hospital is holding another Basic Emergency Medical Technician course this fall.  The 3 month course will meet beginning September 10th.  When the course is completed, participants will be qualified to take the National Registry Exam, allowing them to receive Connecticut and National EMT B certification. 

 

The course gives participants hands-on experience and real world practice in the Emergency Department and on an ambulance.

 

The three-month course meets every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7 to 11 p.m.; some Wednesday evenings also from 7 to 11 p.m. and occasional Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Basic Emergency Medical Technician Course will meet in John C. Creasy Center for Health Education Auditorium located on the 5th floor of the Tower Lobby.

 

Fee for the three month course is $795.00 and includes both course materials.

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First Light submits draw down and inspection notifications to FERC

First Light Power has reported it's planned reservoir draw downs and water conveyance structure dewaterings to the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission.  The required report was submitted to FERC on Monday. 

 

First Light, the owner of Candlewood Lake and other bodies of water, says the activities planned for this year are being done to conduct planned maintenance and inspections. 

 

The Falls Village development will be done at the end of August.  The power canal and penspocks will be nispected over the course of two weeks.  That work will be followed by Bulls Bridge inspections over the course of a month starting at the end of September. 

 

Activities at Shepaug Dam will be done in two parts in September and November.  Work will be on going for one and two week spans at the Stevenson development in August, September and October. 

 

Only two days of work is planned at the Rocky River infrastructure.  Scotland infrastructure will be inspected twice in November.

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Local lawmaker opposes medical marijuana growing facility in Conn.

A Fairfield-based company's application to put a medical marijuana growing facility in West Haven has been approved by that town's Planning and Zoning Commission.  The commission last night unanimously approved Advanced Grow Labs application, though the facility still needs to get state permits.

 

A year ago Connecticut adopted legislation to allow medical marijuana, and regulations are still being drafted.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher has been a fierce opponent of the measure. 

 

She spoke for nearly 5 hours before introducing 48 amendments to change the bill.

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Conn. DEEP offering boat launch monitor training

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is offering to train volunteers to monitor local boat launches for invasive plants and animals.

A training session is planned for Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Dominic Lametta Training Center in Norwalk.

Volunteers will be taught how to identify invasive species and instruct boaters to do the same, in hopes of preventing the invasive species from spreading.

Zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Zoar and Lake Lillinonah in 2010 and in Lake Housatonic in 2011.

Boaters are urged to clean all plant, fish, animals and mud from their vessel before leaving a launch, dry anything that comes in contact with the water, and drain all water from every space on the boat before the next launch.

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Newtown OKs use of grant money for new school

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown residents have approved spending $750,000 in grant money from the state of Connecticut to begin work on replacing the school where 26 people were shot to death in December.

An overflow crowd of about 200 people attended Wednesday night's town meeting, which is required when local officials consider spending more than $500,000 on any project.

The crowd approved the spending for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School by a unanimous voice vote after a 7-minute meeting.

The money will be used for preparation, design and site work for the school, which will be built once the existing one is demolished.

The town plans an October referendum to approve spending the remainder of the $50 million in state funds set aside for the school.

 

The adgenda also had residents acting on $500,000 for a turf field at Treadwell Park, with the funding coming from user surcharges collected by the Parks Department.

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Center for Compassion approved for WCSU

The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education has approved Western Connecticut State university to house a Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation. 

 

Western became a University of Compassion in 2012, around the same time that the Dalai Lama visited.  Western is one of only two universities in the county recognized by the Compassion Action Network as such.  Danbury has followed suit with the City Council recently approving Danbury to become a City of Compassion. 

 

University officials say the Center will serve as a research hub for the community to link people and organizations together.

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Danbury Health Center receives federal grant

A $112,000 Affordable Care Act grant is coming to Danbury.  The funding is for the primary care residency program at the ct. institutes  Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  Senator Richard Blumenthal called the Center a national model.

 

He says this is one of the benefits of so-called Obama-care.  Blumenthal says having more primary care doctors means more patients can receive the care they need.

 

The funding will be used for training more primary care residents and dentists in community-based patient care settings.

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Conn. crime victim privacy panel taking shape

The task force charged with recommending how to balance victim privacy under the Freedom of Information Act with the public's right to know is beginning to take shape.

 

Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey was appointed to the panel on Tuesday by House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero.  Hovey says the bill that created the group took a tremendous amount of negotiation, but she believes it's a converstation that needs to be had and an issue that should be studied at length.

 

Hovey says she is honor to be part of the panel because it's important work that will be done.  She notes that she has strong opions on the issue being one of the representative for the town of Newtown.

 

She hopes to represent her constituency's feelings on the privacy issue.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy named two appointees on Friday. They include New Haven Police Officer Jillian Knox, who is assigned to her department's Victim Services Unit, and Andrew Woods, executive director of Hartford Communities that Care. His organization is a nonprofit group that promotes a nonviolent, drug-free environment.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey has appointed Hartford Rep. Angel Arce to the panel. Arce's 78-year-old father was struck by a hit-and-run driver in 2008. He was paralyzed and later died due to the crash.

The 17-member task force was created in legislation blocking release of crime scene photos from the Newtown school shooting.

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Next steps outlined for Bethel Water Department

Now that Bethel residents have rejected a plan to sell the Bethel Water Department to Aquarion Water Company, town officials are outlining what happens next. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says that includes replacing water mains and a station on Hoyts Hill as well as constructing the South Street Pump Station, all totalling about $4.5 million.  He called the South Street facility a key piece of equipment needed to comply with new regulations taking effect in the fall.

 

Knickerbocker says the financing is yet to be determined, but will likely be bonded.  

 

The Public Utilities Commission held a meeting Monday to begin the "request for qualifications" process to get bids from engineering companies.  He expects that process to take two to three months.

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UK Gourmet in Newtown celebrates news of Royal birth

The world awaits a name for the baby boy of  Prince William and his wife, Kate.  At U.K. Gourmet in Newtown, there's been an increase in people coming in over the past few months.  Nina Caraluzzi, a worker at the store, says they have been very excited since the news of Catherine's pregnancy.

 

Caraluzzi says they are getting a new shipment of "heir to the throne" scones this morning.  The pastry comes from The Dauily Fare in Bethel.  The shop is owned by Lisa Whitmore of Bethel and her husband Nigel, who is from England.

 

Lisa Whitmore says they did a survey among customers and 99-percent thought it would be a girl, especially after it sounded like Kate was expecting a daughter. 

 

Nigel says they decided top open the shop in 2003 because he missed goodies from home.

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McKinney announces candidacy for Conn. governor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) John McKinney, the Republican leader of the Connecticut Senate, says he is running for governor in 2014.

The eight-term Fairfield lawmaker announced his candidacy on Tuesday in a news release emailed to reporters. The statement said McKinney has filed the necessary paperwork to open a candidate committee and begin collecting contributions to qualify for the state's public campaign financing program.

 

His Senate district includes Newtown, Easton, Weston and Fairfield among other towns.

McKinney said he believes there is a better way to manage state government, restore economic prosperity and reduce unemployment. He said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been taking Connecticut's economy ``in the wrong direction.''

Malloy has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term.

The 49-year-old McKinney is the son of the late 4th District Rep. Stewart B. McKinney. He has been Senate Minority leader since 2007.

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Danbury Democrats, Republicans nominate candidates for November

The Danbury Republican and Democratic Town Committees have each held a caucus to nominate a slate of candidates for the municipal elections being held in November. 

 

Incumbent Mayor Mark Boughton will be runninng unopposed for a seventh term.  It makes him the longest serving Mayor in the city's history.  These are the tickets for November. 

 

On the Democratic side:

Mayor: n/a

Treasurer: n/a

Town Clerk: Lori Kaback

1st ward: Dennis Perkins and Richard Kovacs

2nd ward: Helena Abrantes and Bill Taylor

3rd ward: n/a

4th ward: Peter Nero and Tom Saadi

5th ward: Fred Visconti and Duane Perkins

6th ward: Ben Chianese and Paul Rotello

7th ward: n/a

Council At Large: Frank Anders, Andrea Gartner, Al Almeida, Robert Taborsak, Dev Patel, Paul McAllister and Henry Hall

Board of Education: Rich Janelli and Kathleen Molinaro

 

On the Republican side:

Mayor: Mark Boughton

Treasurer: Daniel Jowdy

Town Clerk: John Whitcomb

1st ward: Irving Fox, and John Priola

2nd ward: Vinny DiGilio and Elmer Palma

3rd ward: Joe Cavo and Christopher Arconti

4th ward: Andrew DaCunha and Matthew Kennedy

5th ward: Daniel Kolwicz and William Nicol

6th ward: Steven Froehlich and Daniel Metrena

7th ward: Marina Loyola and Joseph Scozzafava

Council At Large: Andrew Wetmore, Jack Knapp, Phil Curren, Mike Haddad, Gregg Seabury, Coleen Stanley and Warren Levy

Board of Education: Eileen Alberts, Charles Alpuche, Gary Falkenthal, Michael Ferguson and Ralph Pietrafesa

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Newtown 1st selectwoman seen as strong candidate

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Democratic and Republican leaders say bipartisan praise for Republican First Selectwoman Pat Llodra's leadership following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have boosted her chances to win a third term in November.

Democratic Party Chairman Jim Juliano said in published reports that it would be hard to find a candidate who would do well opposing Llodra. He will not rule out anything until the party caucus, which is set for Tuesday.

The Republican caucus is scheduled for Monday.

The major parties also may schedule primaries after the caucuses if more than one candidate seeks office.

Juliano says some Democrats inquired about running for first selectman before the Sandy Hook killings last Dec. 14. But he says he hasn't heard from anyone lately.

Llodra has represented Newtown in Hartford and before Congress.

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Sherman, Bethel candidates announce intentions for November

Sherman's First Selectman is seeking reelection to a second term.  Clay Cope, who was elected in 2011 in a win over 4-term incumbent Andrea O'Connor, says he is proud of his accomplishments.  The 51-year old Republican pointed to working on the town's emergency services facility project and working with the Board of Education on a budget to include school security.  Cope previously served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Sherman Library Board of Trustees.

 

A familiar name wants to make a political comeback in Bethel.  Former First Selectmen Bob Burke has announced his intention to seek the office he held between 2005 and 2009.  The Republican says he doesn't like what the current administration has done in Bethel.

 

Incumbent Democratic First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is planning to run for another term.  Both parties are holding their nominating Caucus Monday evening.  The DTC will meet at the Municipal Center while the RTC will meet at Bethel Middle School.

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State AG urging PURA to reject Aquarion request

State Attorney General George Jepsen has asked Connecticut utility regulators to reject Aquarion Water Company's application to raise rates by $33 million over three years, arguing that the increase is neither necessary nor appropriate.

 

Jepson says running a water company is relatively low risk, not like an electrical utility that can be hampered by severe weather.

The attorney general says he has asked that PURA reject this rate application and spare ratepayers an unnecessary and excessive increase to their water bills.

 

Jepson's opinion comes as Bethel residents vote to keep the Bethel Water Department as a town asset rather than selling to Aquarion

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Rep. Esty's school amendment blocked

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says she's disappointed the House Rules Committee blocked her amendment that would make construction of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown eligible for federal funds.

The Democrat said in a statement Friday that she's ``going to keep fighting to try and bring relief to Newtown and every community that has experienced unimaginable tragedy'' and allow them to apply for federal funds to help cover construction costs.

Esty had asked the committee Wednesday to allow an up or down vote on her amendment to the Student Success Act. However, the request was denied.

The amendment was co-sponsored by Connecticut's four other U.S. representatives.

The 5th District congresswoman has also proposed federal incentives for defense contractors that make donations to help build a new Sandy Hook.

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Senators want Newtown donations audit

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's U.S. senators are calling for an independent audit of more than $11 million in donations received in response to the Newtown school shooting to determine what donors wanted done with the money.

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation released a plan this week to give $7.7 million to the families and survivors and to have committees decide on uses for the rest of the money.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy wrote a letter Friday calling for an audit to determine how to divide the money based on donor intent. The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, cites concerns that the determination that 70 percent of the money was meant to benefit victims' families was not reached through a verifiable, comprehensive analysis of contributions.

A foundation spokesman says decisions were based on donor intent.

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Aurora, Newtown survivors honor theater victims

AURORA, Colo. (AP) Survivors of mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut were among those gathered Friday in a suburban Denver park to honor those killed in the massacre at an Aurora movie theater a year after the attack.

Vigil participants read a list of names of those killed in recent gun violence around the nation and talked about the pain of losing loved ones.  The names were read until 12:38 a-m, the moment that the shootings began in the theater last year.

The scene was somber, even as gun rights activists stood silently nearby, holding signs to rebut messages about stricter gun control. 

The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association was holding a counterrally nearby. They have assailed Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a sponsor of Friday's remembrance, saying the group was politicizing tragedies and has attacked Second Amendment rights.

 

Southbury resident Steven Barton, who was injured in the theater shooting, is working for Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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Bethel residents reject Water Department sale

Bethel residents have voted to keep the Bethel Water Department as a town asset rather than selling to Aquarion Water Company.  The unofficial vote tally was 1774 to 693.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there is work to be done on the infrastructure.  He adds that the town still wants to build a new water storage tank.  Danbury's planning and zoning commission has been holding up development on town owned land within city limits because it's in the scenic Long Ridge Road area.

 

A complaint has been filed with the State Elections Commission against the Treasurer of  “Vote Yes for Clean Drinking Water,” alleging that the PAC accepted a donation from Aquarion in excess of what is allowed.  The revelation came out during Tuesday's public hearing about the potential sale of the Bethel Water Department to Aquarion. 

 

Bethel State Representative Dan Carter says while it is technically legal for the company to contribute to a PAC on an issue that could benefit them, it's not legal to donate that much.  He says even though it's only about $150 more than the legal limit, it's still questionable.

 

3,408 residential and commercial customers, about 10,000 people, are served by the Bethel Water Department.

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Redding DTC, RTC hold caucuses for municipal elections

The Redding Democratic Town Committee met Thursday night in a caucus to propose candidates for November's municipal elections.  The Republican Town Committee will be meeting Tuesday night to do the same. 

 

The town's top position will be an open race after incumbent Republican Natalie Ketcham decided not to seek another term as First Selectman. 

 

The Democrats are endorsing current Selectman Julia Pemberton for the position with Leon Karvelis to be a Selectman.  The Republicans are endorsing Chris Hocker for First Selectman and Michael Thompson for Selectman.

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Brookfield, Ridgefield receiving HomeCT grants

Ten Connecticut towns have been awarded grants to help build more housing.

 

The towns including Ridgefield and Brookfield, can use the grant funding for predevelopment costs that come with establishing incentive housing zones.  Nearly $200,000 in funding is being made available through the Housing for Economic Growth Program, also known as HomeCT.  This program provides financial incentives to municipalities that create affordable housing by designating areas as Incentive Housing Zones. 

 

Brookfield is receiving $20,000 to prepare design guidelines for planning and zoning commissioners who are amending regulations. 

 

$20,000 is also going to Ridgefield to help determine feasibility of a proposed Incentive Housing Zone and draft regulations.

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Kent receiving STEAP grant for Bulls Bridge

Among the 14 towns benefitting from the first round of Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding this fiscal year is Kent.  The capital improvement money will be used to replace the roof of Bulls Bridge.  $100,000 will help repair leaks and tears in the roof that was installed in 1994. 

 

Bulls bridge is one of three covered bridges still in use in Connecticut.  Kent State Representative Roberta Willis says it's important that the state helps maintain historic bridges by providing towns with this type of funding.

 

New Milford State Senator Clark Chapin says STEAP grants have become increasingly important to smaller municipalities.  He said he is grateful that Kent will be able to take advantage of these funds this year. 

 

The current roof, which is made of wooden shingles, will be replaced with a product called Enviroshakes, which look like wood but is made from recycled materials and lasts years longer.

 

Governor Malloy's office says announcements for additional towns receiving grants under the program will be coming soon.

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Danbury, New Haven labor markets post slight job losses

The job market in Connecticut is in the summer doldrums according to the latest report from the state Labor Department.  Research Director Andy Condon says June was a quiet month with just 500 new jobs added while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 8.1 percent.  Though he says the trend is a bit brighter.

 

Four of the six major Connecticut Labor Market Areas recorded job gains in June.  One of the two with losses was the Danbury area.  At -.2 the numbers were just slightly down.  The other was the New Haven area at -.9 which state labor officials called statistically significant.

 

Condon says a longer school year due to two storms earlier this year disrupted hiring and may influence summer hiring patterns.  He says the storms likely inflated local government jobs data.  He says the rainy June put construction work on hold hurting employment.

 

Connecticut has recovered fewer than half of the jobs lost in the recession from March 2008 to February 2010.

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Bethel residents deciding fate of Water Department

Bethel residents are at the polls today to decide if the Bethel Water Department is sold to Aquarion Water Company for $7.2 million. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there is work to be done on the infrastructure, if the vote is no.  If the voters decide to sell he says that would give Aquarion state backing in a stalemate with Danbury over the town's plan to build a new water storage tank.  Danbury's planning and zoning commission has been holding up development on town owned land within city limits because it's in the scenic Long Ridge Road area.

 

A complaint has been filed with the State Elections Commission against the Treasurer of  “Vote Yes for Clean Drinking Water,” alleging that the PAC accepted a donation from Aquarion in excess of what is allowed.  The revelation came out during Tuesday's public hearing about the potential sale of the Bethel Water Department to Aquarion. 

 

Bethel State Representative Dan Carter says while it is technically legal for the company to contribute to a PAC on an issue that could benefit them, it's not legal to donate that much.  He says even though it's only about $150 more than the legal limit, it's still questionable.

 

3,408 residential and commercial customers, about 10,000 people, are served by the Bethel Water Department.

 

Knickerbocker says the sale would also clear up a $2 million debt that the Water Department built up starting in 2002 while also putting money aside for future capital projects.

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Final distribution protocol for Newtown donations released by Foundation

The protocol included a timeline of meetings held by the distribution committee and when donations will be allocated.  It also included the breakdown of how the $7.7 million would be allocated to the families most directly impacted by the shootings. 

 

Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation Board Member Ann Ragusa says one claim form and a copy of the protocols were sent out to families whose loved ones were killed, injured or witnessed first hand the shootings.  Those 40 families are being asked to mail the claim form back by August 5th. 

 

Any of those 40 families can request a personal meeting with a member of the distribution committee or special advisor, though the protocol says the meetings will not alter the guidelines or the allocation amounts.  The meetings will be held August 5th through the 19th.  All claims will be reviewed during that time as well.

 

Payments will be issued around August 19th. 

 

Families of the 26 children and educators will each receive $281,000.  The families of 12 surviving children from the two classrooms will each get $20,000. Two staff members who were injured will get $75,000 each.

 

More than $11 million was raised with the help of the United Way in the wake of the shootings.  A second distribution committee will consider long term needs of the community an how to allocate the balance of the fund.

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Unhealthy air quality predicted in Conn., cooling centers remain open

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is predicting there will be unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups over the coming days due to expected elevated concentrations of ozone pollution.

Today through Saturday, DEEP says there will be unhealthy air quality for the elderly, as well as adults and children with respiratory disease such as asthma. They can experience breathing difficulty, coughing, throat irritation and worsened asthma episodes.

DEEP said the highest levels of ground-level ozone will likely occur across south central and southeastern Connecticut on Thursday. High levels of ozone are expected to expand further inland tomorrow and Saturday.

People sensitive to ozone should avoid strenuous outdoor activities and remain indoors in air conditioned environments.

DEEP predicts the heat wave will end late Saturday.

 

Cooling centers across the Greater Danbury area are open for another day.

 

Bethel: Senior Center, 1 School Street (lower level) open daily 8:30am-4:30pm (July 15-19)
Bethel Public Library, 189 Greenwood Ave., open M,W,Th: 10am-8pm; T,F,Sat: 10am-5pm (July 15-20)

 

Brookfield: Senior Center, 100 Pocono Road, Brookfield, M-F: 8am-4pm
Brookfield Library, 183 Whisconier Road
M,W: 10am-6pm; T,Th: 10am-8pm; F,Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12noon-4pm
Also the Greenknoll YMCA has offered to open its doors to residents seeking relief from the heat.

 

Danbury: The Cooling Site will be an air conditioned Hart Bus located in front of 198 Main Street.
The Cooling site is expected to be open at the same location and during the same hours on Wednesday, July 17th and Thursday, July 18th.  12noon to 4pm.

 

Monroe: Senior Center, 235 Cutlers Farm Road, M-F: 8:30am-4:30pm (no weekend hours)
Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, 733 Monroe Turnpike, M-W: 10am-8pm; Th: 10am-5pm; F: 1-5pm; Sat: 10am-4pm

 

Newtown: The Municipal Center, located at Fairfield Hills, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Cyrenius Booth Library Hours: M-Th: 9:30am-8pm, F: 11am-5pm; Sat 9:30am-5pm
Newtown Senior Center, Hours: M-F 8am-4:30pm. Tel (203) 270-4310

Redding: Town Hall, 100 Hill Road 8am-5:30pm Monday - Thursday

Community Center, 8:30am-9pm Monday - Thursday
Mark Twain Library 439 Redding Road  M-W 10am-5pm, Th 10am-8pm, Fri,Sat 10am-5pm

 

Ridgefield: Parks & Recreation, 195 Danbury Road, will be open during regular business hours; M-F 6am to 10pm, Saturday 6am to 6pm, and Sunday 7am to 6pm.

 

Sherman: Senior Center open daily, M-F, from 9am-4pm

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Former Newtown First Selectman being remembered

A former Newtown First Selectman is being remembered.  Zita McMahon was buried today in Newtown Village Ceremony after a mass at St Rose of Lima Church.  The 75-year old died Friday.  

 

She became First Selectman in 1989 after working as grants administrator for the town.  McMahon served as First Selectman until 1993. 

 

She is survived by four daughters, two sons, 13 grandchildren and a sister. 

 

The flag on Main Street in Newtown was lowered to half staff on Friday in her honor.  In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Zita's name to The Newtown Scholarship Association

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Region's power grid asks for voluntary conservation

With electricity use approaching record levels, New England's power grid operator is asking customers to conserve electricity as a weeklong heat wave continues to bear down on much of the region. ISO New England Spokeswoman Marsha Blomberg says power is adequate, but supplies are likely to become tight.

 

If more action is required, ISO could call on business customers who have agreed to cut electricity use to conserve power to do so.  Among those customers are large electricity users like Western Connecticut State University.

 

Demand for electricity is expected to peak, near record numbers, on Thursday.

 

Cooling centers across the state have been opened by cities and towns:

 

In Ridgefield, the Parks and Rec facility is open for the week, until 10pm. 

 

In Newtown, the Municipal Center is open from 7am to 8pm.  The Library and the Senior Center in Newtown are also open during normal hours. 

 

A HART bus is out front of 198 Main Street in Danbury as a cooling center between noon and 4pm today through Thursday.

 

The Redding Community Center is open from 8:30am to 9pm today through Thursday.  Town Hall and the Library are open during normal hours as well for people without air conditioning.

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Newtown police looking for different kind of tips tonight

Newtown Police officers are taking up a side job tonight in order to raise funds for Special Olympics.  Uniformed members of the Newtown Police Department will be waiting on tables at Pizza Palace Restaurant on Church Hill Road. 

 

The restaurant is donating 15-percent of its proceeds from 4pm to 10pm to Special Olympics of Connecticut.  All tips that police receive during those hours will be donated to the organization by officers as well.

 

Special Olympics of Connecticut provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

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Wyman to discuss Newtown response at conference

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman is discussing the state's response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting with her fellow lieutenant governors.

Wyman is also expected to discuss how the state responded to last October's Superstorm Sandy, which severely damaged an estimated 3,000 homes in the state, including 1,000 left uninhabitable.

Wyman's remarks on both the storm and the December 14 school massacre will be part of a session on emergency preparedness and response at the National Lieutenant Governor's Association. The group is holding its annual meeting in Oklahoma City. The conference runs through Friday.

The Democrat is also expected to participate in presentations and discussions on a range of topics including implementation of the new federal health care law, energy, education, school nutrition and immigration.

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Cooling Centers open across Greater Danbury to deal with heat

Cooling centers have been set up across the state by cities and towns as a way to help residents deal with this latest heat wave. 

 

In Ridgefield, the Parks and Rec facility is open for the week, until 10pm. 

 

In Newtown, the Municipal Center is open from 7am to 8pm.  The Library and the Senior Center in Newtown are also open during normal hours. 

 

A HART bus is out front of 198 Main Street in Danbury as a cooling center between noon and 4pm today through Thursday. 

 

The Redding Community Center is open from 8:30am to 9pm today through Thursday.  Town Hall and the Library are open during normal hours as well for people without air conditioning.

 

Greater Danbury area health officials are reminding people to check on elderly or frail neighbors and to monitor pets.  Police from the region have been called to a few parking lots over the past few days on reports of pets locked in cars.

 

Avoid strenuous activities, drink plenty of water and wear light, loose fitting clothing.  People should also take frequent breaks by a fan or in doors, avoid alcohol and caffeine and avoid exposure to direct sunlight for long periods of time.

 

The symptoms of heat-related illness include nausea, fatigue, dizziness and mental confusion.  Headaches, cramps, dry spotted skin and weakness are all warning signs.

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State's prison population rising

As the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution gets ready to transition back to a prison for male inmates, a report is out that says the state's prison population is rising because there are fewer paroles.  State officials say that by early fall, the number could be around 17,500.

 

The state said it might be necessary to open a prison but the Malloy administration later said inmate counts are not likely to require that.

 

State officials say paroles were down 54 percent between June 2012 and last month.

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Walkway of Honor dedicated in Danbury

A Walkway of Honor has been unveiled in Danbury.  Over the weekend veterans from World War II, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and others gathered at the War Memorial for a dedication.  Mary Teicholz, whose husband spearheaded the project, says there was a great turnout.

 

Celtic Cross Pipe and Drums played, the Danbury Police Honor Guard did a 3-volley salute and the national anthem was sung before the 254 bricks were unveiled.  The bricks are engraved with the names of honored men and women who have served in the military.  In addition to the pomp and circumstance of the day there were some speeches.

 

 

 

Donations were made to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, Operation Vet Fit and Help Our Military Heroes.

 

Orders are being taken for Phase Two.  Bricks can be ordered at the Danbury War Memorial or via an online form.

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People hitting the lake to keep cool

During this hot summer, people are trying to keep cool by being near water.

 

As another day with high heat and humidity sets in, some people who have the day off may be headed out to Candlewood Lake to try to keep cool.  Whether it's people who are using town and city beaches at the Lake's shore or those who are out boating, Candlewood Lake Authority executive Director Larry Marsicano says they've seen plenty of use so far.

 

Marsicano is reminding boaters that there are marine patrols out on the lake looking for any safety violations including boaters not wearing life jackets and disobeying speed or wake limits.

 

The lake was especially busy over the long 4th of July holiday weekend.  There were two boating under the influence arrests made the night of the fireworks.

 

One person sustained injuries on a rope swing, but Marsicano says that's about it for incidents so far this summer.

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Governor frustrated by Newtown donation process

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) As a local group prepares to distribute $7.7 million in donations to families of Newtown school shooting victims, Connecticut's governor is expressing frustration with the process and wants an independent party to handle the remaining nearly $4 million in donations.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wrote a letter to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation saying he hopes families are not precluded from receiving additional money.

The foundation says the fund is best managed locally and the remaining money will help all affected.

A draft of a proposal released last week calls for their families to receive $281,000 each. Families of 12 surviving children who witnessed the shootings would each get $20,000; two teachers who were wounded would get $150,000 between them.

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Sandy Hook School building project questions answered by town officials

Now that the Building Task Force has decided the best option for the site of a new school is to demolish the old building and construct a new school on the same property, there are some other decisions to be made. 

 

Some land will need to be purchased near the site because the project is calling for a new access road to be developed.  Town officials say if that cost is less than $500,000, no town meeting is needed.  If the appropriation request is more than $10-million, the Charter calls for a referendum.

 

There will have to be some hazmat tests run on the old building and depending on the results and if abatement is needed, that will determine when the demolition can begin.  Town officials say that work is slated for mid-November.

 

A town meeting is being held next Tuesday, the 23rd, to act on a special appropriation from the state to help with the design and engineer phase of the building project.  A $750,000 grant is part of $50-million approved by the state for the overall project, but would be available immediately.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission wants more general final report

Governor Malloy's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, which includes experts from varied fields, is expected to present a final package of recommendations near the end of this year or early next year.  When they met Friday, Norwalk Fire Chief Denis McCarthy said he wanted the dialogue to continue after their final report is issued, with issues revisited annually.

 

McCarthy says follow up should be done of the legislation that came from their interim report  to see if it's meeting intended goals and make any necessary adjustments.

 

Recommendations made by a similar group following the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado led to changes in how police handle active shooter incidents.  DVS Security Consulting and Engineering founder Robert Ducibella says the group has a responsibility to broaden its recommendations beyond the December 14th shooting, especially having read the Columbine report.

 

Ducibella says they responsibility to address school security, mental health and gun violence because what happened in Newtown needs a broader range of considerations to various threats.  He says a layered approach is needed.

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Zone change in Ridgefield for part of Schlumberger land

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission this week voted to change the zone use of some of the Schlumberger property.  10 acres of the land will be changed from non-retail business use to Multifamily dwelling Development District zoning. 

 

The town recently purchased the 45 acre property with the intent of selling some of the land to a developer. 

 

The new zoning regulations allow for 6 units per acre.  A developer could build up to 8 units per acre if some of them are designated as affordable housing.

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Area municipal leaders start deciding if they'll seek reelection

Brookfield First Selectman Bill Davidson will not be seeking a third term in office as First Selectman.  During the municipal elections in November he plans to run for a Selectman position. 

 

Selectman Howard Lasser plans to run for the town's top spot on the Democratic ticket.

 

The Republican Town Committee on July 16th expects to announce a choice among four town leaders as first selectman candidates: Bill Tinsley, Joan Locke, Nelson Malwitz and Greg Dembowski.

 

In Bethel, Democratic First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker plans to seek another term.  His formal announced is expected later this month.

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Referendum in Bethel next week on water company sale

Bethel officials have set a date for a referendum into the possible sale of Bethel Water Company to Aquarion.  At a town meeting last night it was decided that the more than $7-million proposal would go to a machine vote on Thursday the 18th. 

 

Polls will be open from 6am to 8pm. 

 

A public hearing was held earlier in the week with town, state and company officials on hand to answer questions about the proposal for the infrastructure which is in need of significant improvements.  A second public hearing is set for next Tuesday, just days before the referendum.

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Panel suggests $7.7M breakdown of Newtown payments

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Preliminary recommendations on $7.7 million in donations collected after the Connecticut school shooting calls for giving $281,000 to each of the families of the 26 children and school educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year.

The families of 12 surviving children who witnessed the shootings would each get $20,000; two teachers who were injured would get $150,000 between them.

A community foundation has been tasked with dividing up $11.4 million that was raised with the help of the United Way.

The recommendations were made before a Thursday night public forum at Newtown's Edmond Town Hall to discuss how to divide the $7.7 million.

Some victims' families have complained the process has caused them anguish by putting them in the difficult place of deciding how to divide the money.

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Malloy's Newtown review panel continues to meet

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Governor Dannel Malloy's panel that is reviewing school safety, mental health and public safety following the Newtown school massacre is continuing its work.

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is scheduled Friday to hear from a national school safety expert and review legislation passed by the General Assembly.

Lawmakers approved a wide-ranging bill that includes numerous gun control measures including a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, an expanded ban of assault weapons and additional background check requirements. School safety and mental health provisions were also part of that legislation.

Malloy's panel previously released a list of preliminary gun law changes for lawmakers to consider. Members are expected to present a final package of recommendations on mental health and school safety near the end of this year or early next year.

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New Milford Mayor to seek reelection in November

New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy is seeking reelection to another term in November.  She said that it's been a privilege to serve for the past 10 years and that there will always be projects to be completed and issues to resolve that she wants to continue to meet. 

 

Among the challenges she wants to continue working on is safety in the community.  Murphy says she wants to continue working with the Police Chief on securing schools and on public outreach programs. 

 

She also says she would like to help develop a new strategic plan for New Milford that focuses on maintaining the vitality of the downtown area.

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Bridgewater first selectman leaving after 30 years

BRIDGEWATER, Conn. (AP) Bridgewater's first selectman is stepping down after 30 years amid an FBI investigation of town finances.

First Selectman William Stuart said Wednesday that he won't seek another four-year term in November as chief executive of the western Connecticut town with a population of about 1,700. He says he's tired of political battles with former finance board Chairman George Allingham.

Allingham is a former friend of Stuart who began raising questions in 2008 about Stuart's handling of town finances. The FBI seized boxes of records from Town Hall a year ago. Officials won't discuss the investigation, which remains pending.

State officials also are looking into Stuart's management of the Burnham Fund, a charity for the needy.

Stuart denies any wrongdoing with town finances and the charity.

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Feds nix Conn. on rail line paperwork

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The U.S. Department of Transportation has rejected a request by Connecticut to streamline the paperwork for a multimillion-dollar high-speed rail project.

John Porcari, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, told 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty at a congressional hearing on Tuesday that state transportation officials must keep three grants separate for the $365 million rail line from New Haven to Springfield, Mass. The federal portion is about $191 million and the state has committed about $175 million.

John Bernick, manager of the 62-mile rail project, said in an interview Wednesday that tapping three accounts is a ``bit of an administrative nightmare.'' Connecticut hoped to establish one fund.

Final designs are being drafted and fiber optic cables have been installed.

Construction is expected to begin next summer and the project should be completed by late 2016.

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Public forum set on distributing Newtown donations

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The public is invited to provide input on the distribution of some of the millions of dollars in donations collected in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The public forum is set for Thursday evening at Newtown's Edmond Town Hall.

A community foundation has been tasked with dividing up $11.4 million that was raised with the help of the United Way. At Thursday's meeting, people can comment on the disbursement of $7.7 million that has been set aside for the families of the 26 people who were killed, two wounded teachers and the families of 12 children who escaped.

Some victims' families have complained the process has lacked transparency and caused them anguish by giving them a difficult place in deciding how to allocate the money.

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Newtown raising funds to acquire, train new K9 officer

Newtown is continuing to raise funds for a new K-9 officer.  Baro, a 10-year old dog who retired from service in early June, died later in the month from complications of a heart condition.  He was acquired by the Newtown Police Department in 2004 from the Czech Republic, trained and sworn in the following year. 

 

An announcement by town officials said Baro was a dedicated member of the Department and enjoyed being in the station with the officers.  The statement went on to say that Baro was tough on the job but gentle when off duty. 

 

"He knew where his treats were kept.  He would push the Chief's door open and poke his head in.  Everyone loved to take a Baro break...His loud bark that would echo through the building will be very much missed.  Our condolences go to Baro’s K9 Handler, Officer Figol and the whole Department."

 

Training and purchase of a new K-9 is estimated to cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

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Mobile field hospital taken down at Danbury Hospital

Things are back to normal in the emergency room.  A tented mobile field hospital was set up in the Danbury Hospital parking lot Sunday after a plumbing problem caused water damage to parts of the hospital.  Director of Public and Government Relations Andrea Rynn says they are thankful to public health officials and the fire department for getting that set up.

 

The tent, with 25 beds, was only used to handle check-ins and evaluations.

 

Officials decided to use the mobile hospital because Monday is typically the busiest day of the week for the ER.

 

Rynn says the clean up was done ahead of when officials thought it would be so the tent came down Tuesday afternoon.  She says people have worked tirelessly to get things evaluated, restored and sanitized.

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Gun industry group pulls support for Conn. Park

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A national gun industry association is withdrawing its support for federal legislation that would establish the Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford, citing recent passage of Connecticut's gun control legislation.

In letters to the state's congressional delegation and governor, the senior vice president and general counsel of the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation said the industry is ``offended by the hypocrisy of our elected officials in Congress and the state government'' to advocate for legislation paying homage to the firearms industry while pursuing gun control legislation.

Current and past delegation members have pushed for years for the National Historical Park designation at Coltsville, an area named after Samuel Colt, who designed a revolver that revolutionized personal firearms.

Rep. John Larson said ``historic designation has nothing to do with universal background checks.''

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Danbury man arrested for weekend accident involving motorcycle

Danbury Police responded to a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Division and West Streets just before 7 o'clock Sunday night.  When Police were talking with 54-year old Jesus Guzman about hitting the motorcycle in front of him, officers smelled alcohol on his breath. 

 

He also had bloodshot eyes. 

 

Guzman failed field sobriety tests and was charged with DWI and following to closely.  He was also arrested for possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle after officers found an expandable baton in the car.  He was held on bond. 

 

There were no injuries reported in the accident.

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HealingNewtown receives funding to keep doors open

The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut is transferring funds to the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission so that Healing Newtown can continue providing arts programming and services to the community.  The Cultural Alliance made a check presentation to representatives of the organization Monday afternoon. 

 

The Healing Newtown through the Arts effort was created with the state Department of Economic and Community Development to bring healing to the town after the December 14th shootings.

 

The Cultural Alliance received $137,133.49 in financial contributions to the HealingNewtown Arts Support Fund and reports more than $90,000 in-kind contributions were donated to the HealingNewtown project.  Material donations consist of variety of music and electronic equipment, art supplies, and furniture for the HealingNewtown Art Space.

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Gun industry group sues Conn. over gun law

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's new gun law is being challenged again in court, with a national industry group claiming the legislation was passed illegally without proper public input or adequate review by state legislators.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other top state officials. The organization wants a judge to strike down the law as invalid.

The General Assembly passed emergency legislation in April expanding Connecticut's assault weapons ban and background check requirements in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

But foundation senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence Keane says there was no emergency or statement of facts given that would allow the bill to bypass the traditional public hearing process.

The Attorney General's Office has not been served and declined to comment.

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Lauryn Hill starts prison sentence for taxes

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) -- Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill began serving a three-month prison sentence in Connecticut on Monday for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes over the past decade.

 

Hill reported to federal prison in Danbury, said Ed Ross, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons. Inmates at the minimum security prison live in open dormitory-style living quarters and are expected to work jobs such as maintenance, food service or landscaping.

 

Hill, who started singing with the Fugees as a teenager in the 1990s before releasing her multiplatinum 1998 album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," pleaded guilty last year in New Jersey to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. Her sentencing also took into account unpaid state and federal taxes in 2008 and 2009 that brought the total earnings to about $2.3 million.

 

Her attorney had sought probation, arguing that Hill's charitable works, her family circumstances and the fact she paid back the taxes she owed should merit consideration.

 

During her sentencing in May in Newark, N.J., Hill described how she failed to pay taxes during a period when she'd dropped out of the music business to protect herself and her children, who now number six. She said the treatment she received while she was in the entertainment business led to her decision to leave it.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser acknowledged Hill's creative talent and work on behalf of impoverished children but called Hill's explanation for her actions "a parade of excuses centering around her feeling put upon" that don't exempt her from her responsibilities.

 

After she is released from prison, she will be under parole supervision for a year, the first three months of which will be spent under home confinement.

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Danbury subcontracts out school based health centers

Danbury is subcontracting out it's school based health care centers to the Connecticut Institute for Communities.  The non-profit currently operates the Center at Henry Abbott Tech.  Danbury has three centers at Danbury High School and at Rogers Park and Broadview Middle Schools. 

 

Connecticut Institute Executive Director Jim Maloney says grant funding from the state that Danbury applies for would be passed down to his organization for the nine positions currently on the rolls.  The seven current employees and 2 vacancies would be moved off of the city's roll, moving that expense to the non-profit.  He adds that they have a health plan and defined contribution pension plan, at a cost less than the city's pension fund.

 

Maloney says his group can deliver more services at a lower cost because a federally qualified health center provides care to whole families, not just students. 

 

Each center has a licensed clinical social worker, a nurse and an office manager that provides free health services to students.  Students can also receive immunizations, nutrition education and mental health services at these centers.

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Two retired Danbury officers mourned by Department

Danbury Police Chief Al Baker says the Police Department is saddened over the deaths of two longtime police officers who each died on July 5th. 

 

Former Deputy Chief Leo Gantert and former Public Information Officer Captain Thomas Wendel died Friday.

Gantert, the former deputy chief for 24 years, worked 49 years in the Danbury Police Department.  Gantert's son Brian and his nephew Pete are both Danbury Police officers.

 

Wendel, the former public information officer, retired in 2012 after more than 30 years on the department. He worked for the Special Investigations Division, for Community Services and as a spokesman among other areas.

 

Thomas is survived by his children one son Ian Wendel one daughter Devon Wendel one brother Ted Wendel and his wife Joanne one sister Barbara McIlrath and her husband Joe also several nieces and nephews.

 

Funeral arrangements for the men have not been made public. 

 

A gathering for family and friends will be held on Wednesday, July 10 between the hours of 5-8 pm at the Cornell Memorial Home for Wendel.  The family is asking that in lieu of flowers donations may be made in Thomas' name to:Special Olympics Connecticut2666 State Street, Suite 1Hamden, CT 06517

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Plumbing problem causes damage at Danbury Hospital

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Officials at Danbury Hospital have set up a temporary emergency room in a parking lot after a plumbing problem caused water damage to parts of the hospital.

Hospital officials say the plumbing issue sent water into parts of the emergency department and some administrative offices Sunday. They say it could be a few days until everything returns to normal.

The hospital's emergency room remains off limits while the problem is fixed. A mobile field hospital with a tent and 25 beds has been set up in a parking lot to handle check-ins and evaluations. Hospital officials say they don't expect to provide medical care in the tent.

Officials decided to use the mobile hospital because Monday is typically the busiest day of the week for the ER.

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Conn. making progress with background checks

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut officials say they're making progress addressing backlogs in criminal background checks for pistol permit applicants.

The numbers had soared into the thousands after the December shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and passage of expanded state gun control laws.

Lt. Paul Vance says state police have caught up on processing fingerprint cards needed for pistol permit applicants. He says criminal histories for about 2,900 applicants are still under review.

In early May, about 9,300 people were waiting for background checks to be completed. That figure included pistol permit applicants and people who needed checks for employment.

At least one gun store worker says he sometimes still gets busy signals when he calls the state police for instant background checks.

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Yankees host Newtown residents, Oudin to hold tennis lesson for children

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees are hosting about 4,000 residents of Newtown, Conn., during their game against the Baltimore Orioles.

Hoping to help the community heal from last year's shooting massacre, the team invited Newtown residents to Sunday's game, giving them free tickets and vouchers for food and drinks on ``Newtown Day at Yankee Stadium.''

During a pregame ceremony, the crowd went silent as victims from the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were listed on the giant video board in center field. The Newtown Police Department and Sandy Hook Fire Department provided a joint color guard, and the national anthem was sung by the Newtown Youth Voices, a group of kids aged 7-17 that formed after the tragedy.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says fun events like this are a very important part of the town's recovery.

American tennis star Melanie Oudin will be in Newtown this week giving a tennis lesson to children in the town's recreation program.

It's the latest in a series of appearances by famous athletes after the December tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

It was set up before the town's first selectwoman recently announced Newtown would be turning down future invitations for special events there.

Pat Llodra says the community wants to enter a ``period of quiet'' and return to some kind of normalcy.

Oudin will be joined Wednesday by teaching professionals from USTA New England at Dickinson Park in Newtown.

She also will help announce the field for the upcoming New Haven Open tennis tournament, which takes place in August at Yale's Connecticut Tennis Center.

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Emergency road work causes tie ups at CT/NY border

New York officials are performing emergency road work on Interstate 84 westbound just before exit 21. The construction started yesterday afternoon before 3pm.  That caused back ups on the highway during the evening rush hour that stretched back to exit 4 in Connecticut.  The right lane is closed for an undetermined amount of time.  This is the same area where crews are constructing a new overpass.  Drivers are being encouraged to use Mill Plain Road/Route 6 as alternate to the highway.  Motorists are being warned however that many drivers are using side roads to get around the highway jam.  The delays started to build again back to the same area by early this morning. 

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Large pallet fire on Triangle Street in Danbury

There was a fire last night in downtown Danbury.  Firefighters were called to a blaze behind Republic Foil on Triangle Street.  The pallet fire, which started just after 8pm, was doused by members of the career and volunteer fire departments. 

 

(Photo courtesy: @Germantownfd10)

 

Republic Foil was founded in 1945.  According to the company's website it produces high quality aluminum foil and light gauge sheet products.

 

The Fire Marshall was on the scene.

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Public forum Thursday on Sandy Hook Community Foundation money

A public forum is being held next week in Newtown on the distribution of nearly $8-million from the Newtown Sandy Hook Community Foundation.  The money is slated to be distributed to 40 families; those whose family members were killed on December 14th, two injured faculty members and 12 children in the two classrooms where the shootings took place. 

 

The balance of the money for short and long term needs will be allocated in the coming weeks by a second distribution committee. 

 

The forum will be open to public comment.  A draft distribution protocol will be discussed.  The forum on Thursday at 8pm in Edmond Town Hall will be held by the distribution committee and special advisor Ken Feinberg.

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'Big Time Rush' one of last events in Newtown to help heal community

A couple of more big events to benefit the Newtown Community are being announced, though at the start of the month First Selectman Pat Llodra asked organizations and individuals to refrain from holding any more special events in the town as it attempts to heal from December's shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school. 

 

Llodra at the same time announced the Big Time Rush would be coming to Newtown for a free concert on July 22nd.  Tickets are available through HealingNewtown.org. 

 

The other event she announced is that at some point in August, the Mets would be holding a clinic at Citi Field for Newtown residents.

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Summer movies back at Candlewood Town Park

Summer movies on the beach are back at Candlewood Town Park in Danbury this weekend.  Every Saturday in July at dusk the Parks and Rec Department will be featuring a different family film on a big screen at the park across the the PAL building. 

 

The first showing is The Amazing Spiderman.  The other films that will be screened this month are The Bucket List, Wreck It Ralph and 42. 

 

The events are free and open to the public.

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BBQ safety reminders this summer season

It won't be all fun and games this holiday weekend if proper grilling safety isn't followed.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, gas grills have been involved in an annual average of 7,100 house fire from 2006 through 2010.  Charcoal grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 house fires during that same time.  The group says 28-percent of home fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio. 

 

Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald is urging common sense this holiday weekend.

 

Grill hoses should be checked for cracks and leaks as well as blockages from insects or food grease.  Gas hoses should be kept away from hot surfaces and dripping grease by having a heat shield installed to protect them.

 

Herald says grills should be never used indoors and at least 10 feet from a house or building.

 

Charcoal produces carbon monoxide when it's burned so Herald is reminding people to make sure the coals are completely extinguished and to not store grills indoors with freshly used coals. The coals should also be completely cooled before being discarded in a trash can.

 

The National Fire Protection Association says each year more than dozen people die as a result of carbon monoxide fumes from charcoal grills used inside.  The group says about 100 people each year are also injured because of that. 

 

Herald notes that fires and carbon monoxide are not the only dangers at barbeques.  People also have to be on the lookout for properly stored food.  When in doubt, toss it out rather than getting food poisoning.

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State Parks open this holiday weekend, gearing up for centennial

Connecticut State Parks are open this holiday weekend.  There have been some improvements made to many as Connecticut gets set to kick off the centennial celebration next month. 

 

Nearly all of the parks with swimming areas were closed before 9am Thursday, including Kent Falls, Squantz Pond, Rocky Neck, Indian Wells, Wadsworth Falls, Burr Pond, Gardner Lake, Lake Waramaug and Mount Tom.  There are restrictions on the number of cars allowed at each state park to prevent overcrowding and to allow lifeguards a smaller group of visitors to watch.

 

100 years ago this September the state Park Commission was formed, the kickoff celebration will be this August.  In December 1914, the Commission purchased its' first state land--the original 5 acres of what became Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalin says the entrance and parking areas at Kent Falls State Park have been redesigned and repaved.  The realignment of the Kent Falls parking area was done to bring additional safety to car coming off Route 7 entering the park.  She says the redesign makes it so cars can get into the park quicker.

 

Governor Malloy says state parks are an important economic engine for the state while adding to quality of life here.

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Danbury ranked 2nd in state for new housing units in 2012

The state Department of Labor's July issue of The Connecticut Economic Digest detailed the 2012 Housing Market Review. 

 

According to the recent release from the U.S. Census, Connecticut cities and towns authorized 4,669 new housing units, including single and multi-unit dwellings for all towns in 2012.  Stamford came in first followed by Danbury, Shelton, Norwalk and Bridgeport. 

 

The combined permits in the five cities made up more than a third of total housing production last year. 

 

The 2012 production of 4,669 housing units statewide was a 47-percent increase from the previous year, which was a six-decade low of 3,173 units.  In 2012, Fairfield County had the most permit activity with 2,138 new housing units authorized, which accounted for nearly half of the statewide total. Windham County had the fewest with 94.

 

Last year marked the best year since 2008.

 

The report says Connecticut's housing permit activity mirrored the nation as 48 states experienced permit growth over the past year.  Only Wyoming and New Hampshire had negative growth in housing permits.  Connecticut ranked 10th in the nation according to the Bureau of the Census for permit growth.

 

131 cities and towns responded to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development's annual demolition survey.  It found that 955 units were demolished.

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Regional Hospice breaks ground on new inpatient facility

A ground breaking ceremony has been held for the new Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut facility in Danbury.  At the event last week, officials said the state of the art building would be the first of it's kind in the state with private patient suites for inpatient care.  Board member David Scribner says the 36,000 square foot building will be licensed as a specialty hospital and will include 12 private patient suites.

 

(L-R: Paul Sirois, Kevin Kelleher, Cynthia E. Roy, DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen, Attorney General George Jepsen, Former Governor M. Jodi Rell, Francis  J. Collins and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.)

 

He says the General Assembly re-wrote hospice regulations for the state so care in Connecticut could evolve.

 

$1.2 million in bond funding was recently approved for completion of 10-percent of the facility , which will house the Healing Hearts portion.  Scribner says Healing Hearts is the only program of its kind that provides free bereavement services to families that have lost loved ones.  He adds that the program's annual budget is funded entirely through private donations. 

 

The facility is slated to open next November.

 

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Danbury firefighter with more than 4 decades on the job retires

Danbury Fire Lt. Skip Omasta is retiring from the Department after 39 years in the career service and three years in the volunteer Department.  Fire Chief Geoff Herald says Omasta is the longest serving Lieutenant in the City of Danbury.

 

Herald called Omasta an inspiration, a leader and fantastic firefighter who will be sorely missed.  He says Omasta has certainly earned his retirement, but it's a sad loss for the Department.  He notes that the City residents and the Department are better for having him as a member.

 

State Representative Jan Giegler presented Omasta with a citation, signed by leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly as a token of gratitude for years of public service.  She says Omasta has been a role model for current Danbury firefighters and for those who will follow who can learn a lot from his service.

 

Giegler says Omasta's years of exemplary service should be considered a foundation to public safety and joined others in saluting his efforts to protect people and property in Danbury.

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Esty to hear about issues facing Conn. Veterans

SIMSBURY, Conn. (AP) Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is holding a roundtable discussion this afternoon to hear from Connecticut veterans about issues they are facing.

The 5th congressional district Democrat plans to discuss issues ranging from health care and backlogs in the Veterans Administration to employment and education.

Esty is meeting today with veterans, local elected officials and representatives from state and local veterans organizations, social service groups, workforce development programs and colleges.

Esty said a bill she recently introduced ensure the timely replacement of military decorations for service members, veterans and their families was inspired by local veterans who contacted her office seeking help with requests for replacement medals.

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Conn. mural honoring Newtown victims vandalized

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) Vandals have damaged a mural in Southington memorializing the 20 children and six educators who were fatally shot in Newtown last year.

The Record-Journal of Meriden reports that a black and orange monarch butterfly made of wood was reported stolen from the mural.

Twenty-six wooden butterflies were painted and designed by 26 artists in Southington and were installed onto the mural last week.

Mary DeCroce, chairwoman of the Southington Community Cultural Arts, said the one foot-by-one foot butterfly had been pulled from the screws.

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Newtown leader says town will decline new gifts

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Newtown's first selectman is asking organizations and individuals to refrain from holding any more special events in the town as it attempts to heal from December's shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Numerous concerts, sports clinics and celebrity visits have been held for the children and families of Newtown in the months following the shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators.

First Selectman Pat Llodra, in blog post on the website onenewtown.org, says Newtown will decline any further special events not already on the schedule or being planned for July and August.

She says the community is thankful for the outpouring of support, but she believes the time is coming for the town to ``move into a quiet period of rest, recuperation, and healing.''

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Byzantine church in Danbury gutted by fire

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Fire officials have condemned the building housing the St. Nicholas Byzantine Church in Danbury following a weekend blaze that gutted the structure.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, which broke out on Saturday afternoon.

The fire destroyed much of the contents of the building and collapsed part of the roof.

Church officials were able to save some chalices and vestments from the flames.

They say they also will be able to salvage the church's tabernacle, which contains the sacraments used during worship services, and a single stained-glass window.

The congregation held services Sunday across the street at the Amber Room Colonnade.

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Benefit for Sandy Hook to air on public TV

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A benefit concert by Broadway stars that was put on for the Newtown community following the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school will be televised next month.

``From Broadway With Love: A Benefit Concert For Sandy Hook'', took place on January 28 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut.

It featured artists such as Tony Award winners Michael Cerveris, and Brian Stokes Mitchell along with children from Sandy Hook and other schools in town.

A recording of the concert will air on WLIW21 at 10 p.m. July 18 and later in the month on CPTV and NJTV.

The website for donations will be flashed on the screen and proceeds from DVD and CD sales of the recorded concert also will go to the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

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Another ordeal for Newtown: Divvying up donations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- More than six months after losing their loved ones in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, families say dealing with questions over how to distribute the millions of dollars sent to help Newtown heal is instead causing them more pain.

 

How much should go to the families of the slain children? To the families of the children who witnessed the massacre but survived and will need to pay for years of therapy? To the slain staff members' families, who may have lost a breadwinner? Or to the Newtown community at large? And who gets to make those decisions?

 

The largest Newtown charity had planned an initial distribution of less than half of its money to victims' families, who raised questions about how the fund arrived at the number. The place they were then given in the process has been difficult, unpleasant and something they shouldn't have had to worry about on top of their grief, families say.

 

So some families are joining in the idea for a national victims' "compassion fund" along with relatives left behind after other shootings such as those at Virginia Tech, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Under the proposal, money donated after future tragedies would be sent directly to those most affected, cutting out major nonprofits that are set up to be more focused on the community.

 

"Nobody who has been through this wants to have to go and deal with boards and committees and talk about money, and justify why you need it," said Cristina Hassinger, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung. "Money is the last thing you want to have to deal with, especially when you are grieving."

 

The gunman at Sandy Hook killed 20 first-graders and six educators, all women, on Dec. 14. Two wounded staff members survived, as did 12 children who saw the shootings. Donations after the shocking massacre of such young children poured in from all over the world.

 

Distributions from the biggest charitable fund, the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, have been delayed twice as administrators try to balance the needs of the recipients. The fund, formed to take control of $11.4 million that was raised with the help of the United Way, has said it plans to divvy up $7.7 million among the families of the children killed, to the surviving children and the two staffers.

 

Committees will be formed and meetings held to decide how to spend the rest of the money, and whether to keep some of it as an investment tool for future mental health care and other needs.

 

Reaching a consensus over the split has not been easy, especially when trying to bring together families that have been through so much but may have competing interests, said Dr. Charles Herrick, the foundation's president.

 

"Whenever you see a child who survived that situation, it is going to be all the more painful, magnifying your own sense of loss," he said. "Alternatively, if your child was exposed to that horror, your concern is how do I protect my child? How do I help my child overcome these terrible memories and get on with their lives without this forever damaging them? So, the needs are very different."

 

The families are not seeking more money and the issue is much bigger than just deciding how much each deserves, said Ian Hockley, whose 6-year-old son, Dylan, was killed at Sandy Hook. The state attorney general has identified more than 70 funds in Newtown that have raised more than $21 million for everything from a memorial to scholarships for Sandy Hook students.

 

The hodgepodge of charities has created a cumbersome process for everyone involved, and a concern that some people may be using the images of slaughtered children inappropriately.

 

"What's the objective here?" Hockley said. "The objective is to heal Newtown and to take care of its most affected people. And if all of that money is there for that purpose, then this has to be looked at as a whole."

 

He is among the Newtown relatives endorsing the different approach for collecting donations after such tragedies - one that they say could have made it easier on them by clarifying from the outset that certain funds are reserved for victims and others for the broader community. They and families affected by other shootings have taken the idea for a compassion fund to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

 

"Public intent is to help the victims directly," said Anita Busch, whose cousin, Micayla Medek, 23, died in the Aurora movie theater. "The right thing to do is to give the victims what was collected in the names and stories and faces of their murdered and injured loved ones."

 

The national compassion fund could be ready within a few months, the crime victims center said. The group is now setting up protocols for disbursement.

 

"They came for us looking for much more transparency and a clearer solution, not only for the victims, but for the donors," spokeswoman Kath Cummins said. "It should be clear when you donate where your money is going. We want a website that can be up and running and people will know this is a fund that is going directly to the victims."

 

The group is following the example of The One Fund, set up in Massachusetts after the Boston Marathon bombing to help the injured and the families of the three people killed.

 

"Boston showed it can really work and money can go directly to victims," she said. "But this is new for everyone, so we're proceeding cautiously."

 

Only one fund in Connecticut, the My Sandy Hook Family Fund, was set up to give money directly to victims' families. It has distributed all of the $1.5 million it has received equally among the 26 families who lost loved ones, said Rob Accomando, a Sandy Hook resident administering the fund.

 

Last month, Connecticut's General Assembly created CT CARE, a quasi-public foundation designed to streamline the handing of donations. The foundation would create a central place for donors to send money in response to a tragedy, and a distribution committee, with representatives from the affected community, would dole out the money to victims and other charities.

 

"CT CARE will serve as a trusted repository for private donations - an entity that will disseminate those funds to the victims in accordance with the intent of the donors," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.

 

The problems of distribution, even from one fund, are seen most acutely in the troubles of the Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

 

The victims' share of the main fund was increased from $4.4 million after a number of the families raised concerns over how the figure was reached, and the distribution was delayed a second time when victims' relatives went to state Attorney General George Jepsen, seeking his help in finding out how the distribution decisions were being made and by whom.

 

At Jepsen's urging, the foundation's three-member distribution committee, led by retired U.S. District Court Judge Alan Nevas, agreed to meet July 11 and 12 with each family individually to assess their needs. It will also hold a public hearing on July 11 on the disbursement plan, Nevas said.

 

"Everybody will not be equal," Nevas said. "The 26 people who lost their lives will not be treated the same as the 14 people who survived."

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