Local Headlines Archives for 2013-09

Conn. FOI privacy panel to hold public hearing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut panel charged with finding ways to balance victims' privacy with the public's right to know is holding its first public hearing.

Hartford Rep. Angel Arce is a co-chairman of the task force. He says the group has already heard from professionals on victim's rights and legal processes. He says the panel now wants members of the public to come forward and share their ideas and concerns.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Phillips Metropolitan CME Church in Hartford.

The 17-member task force was created as part of a new law exempting from the freedom-of-information law the release of photographs, film, video and other images depicting a homicide victim if those records are considered an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

The panel faces a Jan. 1 deadline.

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Sandy Hook bell stolen hours after NY park opens

ISLAND PARK, N.Y. (AP) Police say a bell dedicated to those who died in Connecticut's Sandy Hook school massacre has vanished just hours after it was placed at a newly built playground.

Nassau County police say the 8-inch by 8-inch brass bell was discovered missing around 1 p.m. Sunday from the playground in Island Park. It was last seen around 9 p.m. Saturday.

That's the day community completed a two-day effort to construct the playground. It is one of 26 dedicated to the 20 children and six educators killed in the December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn. The playgrounds are being built throughout the region in tribute.

The bell's inscription says: ``Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.''

Detectives ask anyone with information to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.

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Fear permeates young lives of Newtown witnesses

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Hundreds of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School survived last year's massacre, but the recovery has been especially difficult for some of the 6- and 7-year-olds who witnessed the shooting.

Among the survivors are a dozen first-graders from the two classrooms where the gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle.

David Posey says his son saw his teacher and a classmate gunned down. He says the boy worried about everyone's safety after the attack and was traumatized by loud noises.

Hugo Rojas is the father of a boy who escaped from the same classroom. He says he struggles with feelings of helplessness because he cannot make his son's nightmares stop.

The gunman killed 20 children and six educators at the school before committing suicide on Dec. 14.

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Homelessness awareness event being held in Danbury

The 6th annual Danbury Housing Partnership Breakfast is being held on October 14th.  The proceeds from the breakfast are used to help with Project Homeless Connect.  The Danbury City Council earlier this month approved funding for the breakfast, which the Partnership says is dedicated to raising financial support for enhancing the lives of individuals and families in the region.

 

Four allocations for the annual breakfast were approved by the City Council totalling $5,300.  The money will go toward the banquet hall, table flowers, video production and 6 award trophies.

 

The Danbury Housing Partnership says both events are held to raise awareness about the supportive housing and permanent affordable housing opportunities in the community.

 

The 7th annual Project Homeless Connect is being held in December at Western Connecticut State University.

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Himes gives update on possible government shut down

Funding authorization for the federal government runs out on September 30. 4th District Congressman Jim Himes says if legislation to reauthorize funding is not passed, the federal government will in essence shut down.

 

Himes provided a list of some things that will be delayed, deferred or closed until an agreement is reached:

  • Social Security checks will still go out, though there will be delays in the processing of new enrollees.
  • Medicare, which is considered an “essential service,” will remain up and running, and seniors will continue to get their benefits.
  • Passport offices will be closed except for emergency services.
  • Our men and women in uniform will be paid with IOU’s until the shutdown is over (at which point they will receive pay retroactively).
  • Most federal agencies will shut down as federal employees are put on furlough. However, air traffic controllers, hazardous waste handlers, and food inspectors will still work.
  • Businesses contracting with the federal government will have to push back project deadlines, because the agencies that hired them will be unable to issue the necessary paperwork.
  • National parks, zoos, and museums will be closed to visitors.
  • New gun permits will not be processed, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be shut down.
  • The Small Business Administration will be unable to guarantee loans.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will halt disease surveillance.
  • Certain FEMA flood mitigation and flood insurance operations will be suspended.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be unable to honor Community Development Block Grants to state and local governments.
  • The Federal Housing Administration will be unable to endorse any single-family mortgage loans or process and approve new multifamily loans.
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) processing will cease.
  • New provisions of the Affordable Care Act – including instant tax credits to help individuals and families purchase health insurance through the new affordable exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid in Connecticut – will still go into effect.

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Funding approved for Henry Abbott to purchase new equipment

Bond money has been approved for technical high schools across the state.  The state Bond Commission on Friday approved more than $410,000 for Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury.  The money will be used for upgrades, alterations, repairs and other improvements for equipment.  Danbury State Representative Bob Godfrey says the curriculum needs to meet the needs.

 

The school will be replacing lathes and milling machines.  Godfrey says training on current equipment will go a long way to make sure the investment in Connecticut's future continues.

 

State Representative David Arconti says Abbott Tech is one of the finest schools in the state and this money will be used to make the technical school more competitive--readying students for the increased demand in manufacturing and technology.

 

The State Department of Education says the projects at Abbott Tech are part of the larger plan to finance infrastructure improvements and equipment of the expansion of manufacturing programs at the state's technical schools.

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Parking ban, detours on Franklin St in Danbury for tree removal

Trees are the number one cause of power outages, especially during storms.  With that in mind, Connecticut Light and Power is taking down a tree on Franklin Street in Danbury that has power lines running through its branches.  CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross says large equipment will be used by Danbury's Tree Department Tuesday.

 

The more than 100 year old American Elm tree is more than 100 feet tall.  The tree is also in declining health, which led to the decision to cut it down. 

 

A crane is being brought in to help with the removal.

 

There is a parking ban in effect on Franklin between Starr Avenue and Kohanza Street through Tuesday.  Franklin Street will be closed to drivers on Tuesday between 8am and 4pm for the tree work.  Drivers are asked to avoid the area and use alternate routes.

 

CL&P has a 5 year $300 million improvement program with more than half of that money being used for tree trimming.

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State Bond Commission meets, Governor defends projects

The State Bond Commission has met to authorize millions of dollars for a number of projects, including the inital money for Newtown to be used to design a new Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

Commission members also took up the release of 10 million dollars in bonded grants to eligible institutions that are conducting embryonic or human adult stem cell research, and 10 million for local school security upgrades, such as reimbursement for entry door buzzer systems.  The later project was unanimously approved.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy is defending the amount of borrowing his administration has made, saying Connecticut's overall indebtedness is slightly less than when he took office in 2011.

The Democrat responded to concerns raised Friday by two Republican members of the State Bond Commission, which Malloy chairs.

North Branford Rep. Vincent Candelora said that despite efforts to pay off projects more rapidly, he's worried about the state's capacity to borrow and how that affects cash flow. He said the amount of projects waiting for funding has roughly doubled since fiscal year 2011, from $3.1 billion in allocations to $6.1 billion today.

Malloy said he's made sure to direct state bonding to projects that create jobs. He also said the state's total indebtedness was $19.97 billion in December 2010, compared to $19.76 billion today.

 

The Commission has also unanimously approved a financing package for a planned Bass Pro Shops store that would anchor Bridgeport's long-awaited Steel Point waterfront development project.  $22 million in state bonds are supposed to be paid back over 20 years from the sales tax revenues generated by the store, which sells fishing, boating, hunting and camping equipment.

Bass Pro Shops has estimated it will attract 3 million annual visitors.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who has formed an exploratory committee for a 2014 gubernatorial run said in an emailed statement that the project is an outrageous use of taxpayer dollars.  He compared it to Danbury, saying the City has grown Danbury's economy by holding the line on taxes and working to improve the business climate.by recruiting blue chip retail operations like Microsoft, Whole Foods, and LL Bean.  He says all that was done without the use of taxpayer giveaways.  Boughton said Malloy is whitewashing his leadership failures on the economy with taxpayer's money.

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Newtown officials answer questions about upcoming referendum

Newtown officials have released the 5th in a series of Questions and Answer notices about building a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.  This series of questions focused on the upcoming referendum to accept or reject $50 million in state funding for the project. 

 

A "yes" vote to accept the money will not affect local taxes.  The town is not being required to repay the state for the funding. 

 

A "no" vote would not change the location of a new school because the question is about accepting funding. 

 

If the referendum fails, all work would stop at the site and the state would not gift the money to Newtown.  Alternate funding sources would have to be found for a building to house 450 elementary school students.

 

More of the Q&A can be read here.

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Federal funding for Newtown School Resource Officers

$150,000 is being made available to Newtown from the U-S Justice Department to fund two school resource officer positions.  The money is coming from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the grant funding will help to offer critical support for law enforcement and essential services to the community.  He says every resource his office can offer to Newtown to make children feel safe and secure at school will be committed to the town. 

 

Last month the Justice Department awarded $2.5 million to Connecticut State Police, Newtown Police and their partner agencies to compensate them for costs related to overtime, forensics and security at the crime scenes. 

 

There's been a police presence at the school in Monroe that's used by Sandy Hook students since it opened in January.

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Danbury Council to meet Monday on polling place change, vote Tuesday

Danbury officials are meeting Monday to discuss a possible change in polling places. 

 

A committee of the whole City Council is meeting on Monday night to discuss a proposal from the Republican Registrar of Voters to move the polling locations in two wards.  The matter will then be voted on at the Council's regular meeting on Tuesday. 

 

At their previous meeting more than a dozen residents spoke out against moving the location in Ward 6 from Park Avenue School to the Moose Lodge.  Ward 3 voting could be moved from Broadview Middle School to Stadley Rough School. 

 

Criticism of moving to the Moose Lodge included roads leading there not having sidewalks, it's at a bust intersection, the street is narrow lane and the lines aren't painted in the parking lot.  Those in favor of the Ward 3 move noted that the people right across from Broadview no longer vote there so Stadley Rough is more centrally located.

 

In an emailed statement Danbury Democratic Town Committee leader Joe DaSilva said despite the passage of three weeks and a light pre-election workload, Council President Cavo did not schedule the Committee of the Whole meeting until the end of the month.  City Council Democratic Leader Tom Saadi said he's concerned that this schedule is nothing more than a procedural gimmick to force an ill conceived and bad proposal through the Council with little time for public scrutiny.

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Crosby St bridge to be replaced soon

A bridge replacement project will be starting soon in Danbury.  The City Council this month got an update on the Crosby Street Bridge over Padanaram Brook.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the stone arch structure was built in 1899 and is considered structurally deficient. 

 

Bidding for the project will go out in December with an expected start date in March.  The project is expected to take 9 months with one lane open to through traffic during construction. 

 

Engineering fees, construction and contingency costs for the project total just over $2 million.  The City can be reimbursed for about a third of the cost.  Danbury's share is $1.4 million, with the money coming from a bond approved by City voters last year. 

 

The state will reimburse $654,000 of the tab.

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College enrollment down at WCSU, across the board

Enrollment is down nearly across the board at the community colleges and state colleges that make up the Board of Regents.  There were three community colleges that saw an increase in students from 2012 to 2013, all the rest suffered declines. 

 

Western Connecticut State University had a 2.4 percent decline in enrollment.  Over the last 5 years the decline was nearly 7-percent. 

 

The only three to see an increase in students this year compared to last were Aspetuck, Gateway and Northwestern Connecticut community colleges. 

 

The numbers come from new statistics by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education Office of Policy and Research.  Overall the system saw a 1.8 percent decline in enrollment in 2013.

 

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Parking ban, road closure in Danbury for tree removal

Tree removal work is being done in Danbury, leading to road closures and parking bans.  With the thoughts fresh in people's minds of downed trees from severe weather, Connecticut Light and Power is stepping up the company's vegetation management program.  That mean tree cutting near power lines to minimize electrical outages. 

 

Large equipment will be used by CL&P and Danbury's Tree Department starting on Tuesday on Franklin Street. 

 

There will be a parking ban in effect on Franklin between Starr Avenue and Kohanza Street from today through October 1st.  Franklin Street will be closed to drivers on Tuesday between 8am and 4pm for the tree work. 

 

Drivers are asked to avoid the area and use alternate routes.

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Brookfield League of Women Voters to disband

Another area League of Women Voters chapter is closing.  Earlier this year the Bethel-Danbury chapter disbanded because of a lack of members.  Now the Brookfield chapter is also closing citing a lack of active members. 

 

The League of Women Voters in the past have held voter registration drives and debates among municipal, statewide and congressional candidates. 

 

There are chapters in Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and the Litchfield County League chapter which includes representatives from Washington , Kent, New Milford and Southbury among other towns.  The Connecticut League of Women Voters website lists 27 chapters in all.

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Decision to release Newtown 911 tapes to prompt appeal

The prosecutor leading the investigation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting plans to appeal a decision by the state's Freedom of Information Commission to release 911 tapes.

The commission Wednesday ruled in favor of The Associated Press, which is seeking access to records withheld by investigators. The recordings will not be made available immediately, but Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III says the decision will be appealed in Connecticut's courts.

The recordings could shed light on the law enforcement response to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

 

Hearing Officer Kathleen Ross said in her report that the Commission settled a similar issue in 2008 finding that Farmington violated Freedom of Information laws by not disclosing 911 calls because of an ongoing investigation.

 

Three calls for service to Yogananda Street--one each in 2003-, 2006 and 2012--with over 100 calls for service to the school between 2002 and 2012 were found.  The ones from the school ranged from animal nuisance to suspicious persons and burglar alarms.  There are no recordings of 911 calls coming from the home or from the school, but Newtown Police does have recordings of calls from members of the public from December 14th at the school.  The Act Limiting Certain Law Enforcement Records does not apply to most 911 calls, but only to ones where the condition of a homicide victim is described. 

 

The respondents are claiming the 911 calls are exempt under a statute where information about child abuse reported to DCF is considered confidential and that all children in the school that day were victims of child abuse.  But there is no record that DCF is investigating this case.

 

Sedensky said that airing the tapes would go against the spirit of a law enacted this spring which sought to provide some privacy to homicide victims' families.  Among other things, it created a one-year moratorium on the release of certain portions of audiotape and other recordings - with the exception of 911 tapes - in which the condition of a homicide victim is described.

 

Sedensky argued that certain content of 911 calls could be shielded by the law. He gave the example of a possible call from a sexual assault victim.

 

"It is highly doubtful that the legislature would have wanted a sexual assault victim to have to choose between calling the police and having his or her 9-1-1 call on every radio station, therefore it could not have been the intent of the legislature to eliminate all exemptions simply because they were in the context of a 9-1-1 call," Sedensky wrote.

 

Sedensky also argued that it could not have been the intent of the legislature to have a violent crime witness or informant put their life at risk simply because they did the right thing and called 911.

 

A state task force created by the new freedom-of-information legislation is expected to come up with proposals to help strike a balance between victim privacy under the state's law and the public's right to know. The task force faces a January 1st deadline.

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Independent Party of Ridgefield won't be on ballot

The Independent Party of Ridgefield will not have a line on the municipal election ballot in November. 

 

The candidates crossed endorsed by the Independent Party of Ridgefield will still appear on the ballot as Republicans and Democrats.  But a two-year old state law requiring a signature from each minor party candidate agreeing to be endorsed, was not met by the candidates. 

 

In future elections, the Independent Party of Ridgefield will have to petition its way on the ballot. 

 

This is a different problem than minor party candidates in Bethel are facing because of the little known law.  Connecticut Tea Party candidates in Bethel will not appear on the ballot at all because they were not being cross endorsed by the party. 

 

Candidates in Easton, Fairfield and elsewhere also were not certified for the November ballot.

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Sandy Hook Fund has new executive director

The Newtown Sandy Hook Community Foundation has appointed a new part-time executive director. 

 

A Connecticut native and UConn graduate, Jennifer Barahona has been appointed as Executive Director.  She is a licensed clinical social worker who served 13 years at the Family & Children’s Agency in Norwalk she served as Director of Youth Services.  During that time she worked with Connecticut who lost loved ones in the September 11th terrorist attacks. 

 

Board chairman Dr Charles Herrick says this is a critical time for the Foundation.

 

Barahona’s primary responsibilities will include managing the day-to-day operations of the foundation, supporting the board as it oversees disbursements, getting input from the community, and establishing the long-term sustainability of the fund.

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Redding, Easton approve JBHS stadium improvements

Region 9 voters have approved a $3.2 million dollar stadium improvement project at Joel Barlow High School.  In both Easton and Redding nearly two-thirds of votes cast were in favor of the appropriation.  Redding passed it 922 to 571 and Easton passed it 492 to 296.

 

Easton's share is about 45% or $1.47 million.  Redding's share is about $1.79 million.  The breakdown was based on each town's population in the school. 

 

The project which includes a new turf field, a fence, field lighting and bleachers.  There is some money included in that total for soil testing, landscaping and improvements to the nearby parking lot. 

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Sandy Hook Foundation looking for distribution committee members

The Committee will be examining the needs of the community and make recommendations to the Board of Directors about where money from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund should be directed.  Close to $4 million is available to help with short and long term needs. 

 

There will be 8 to 12 members on the committee.

 

Committee members must be able to represent the perspectives of families with children at Sandy Hook Elementary, School personnel, first responders, the faith community and the business community.  Those who apply should have a skill set ranging from mental health experience, finance or nonprofit expertise or a legal background.  

 

Foundation officials say members should have integrity, the ability to take in perspectives from a range of stakeholders while also thinking about the broad needs of others.

 

People who want to volunteer should contact the Foundation by October 4th.  An email should be sent to info@nshf.org with the following information:

 

-Name and contact information

 

-Statement on why you want to serve on the committee

 

-A brief bio or resume

 

-The group or expertise you represent

 

-Name of three references that may be contacted

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PURA rules Aquarion to get half requested rate increase

Aquarion Water company will not be getting the full rate increase it's seeking from customers.  The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has ruled that Aquarion could seek a about half of their proposed 17-percent rate increase. 

 

PURA disallows ratepayer recovery of charitable contributions, halves Aquarion's proposed employee bonus plan expenses and makes cuts in proposed director and officer liability insurance costs.  The ruling also scaled back proposed inflation-related expenses, increases Aquarion's sales forecasts, and cuts requested acquisition and pension costs. 

 

Regulators rejected Aquarion's three-year rate proposal, instead approving an 8.6% overall increase, which includes a 2% infrastructure surcharge previously approved as an add-on to customer bills.

 

Aquarion serves more than 625,000 people in 47 cities and towns throughout Connecticut's Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex and New London Counties.

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Bethel's Rte 58 to be closed Friday for bridge replacement

Last weekend's road closure in Bethel that was cancelled by the State Department of Transportation has been rescheduled for this weekend.  Both lanes of Route 58 in the area of Sara's Way will close Friday at 6pm.  The road will remain closed until Monday. 

 

The closure is for a bridge replacement project.  The culvert across both lanes will be removed and a concrete box culvert will be installed.  New pavement will also be laid down. 

 

Signs will be posted in the area of the closure.  The suggested detour is to use Route 302 and Route 53.

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Ridgefield Medal of Honor winner recognized in DC

The 79 living Medal of Honor recipients have been recognized by Congress.  A Joint Special Order was held on Wednesday.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes was among those who spoke on the House floor about Army Captain Paul William Bucha.

 

Himes says Bucha showed extraordinary heroism while stationed in Vietnam in 1968.  He led his unit through intense combat.

 

Himes says Captain Bucha was awarded the Medal of Honor for incredible gallantry in action.  He single-handedly eliminated an enemy position that had pinned down the forward units of his company while stationed in vietnam in 1968.

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'Marty Moose' spotted at New Milford Hospital, Canterbury School

Reports of a moose wandering around New Milford started coming in Monday night.  Around 7 o'clock this morning the moose was spotted in the parking lot and around New Milford Hospital.  Sightings were also reported near the Canterbury School and Route 202.

 

(Photo from Marty Moose Facebook Page)

 

New Milford police were able to direct the moose to a wooded area near the hospital.

 

(Photo from Marty Moose Facebook Page)

 

Residents are being warned to keep a safe distance from the moose and notify local authorities or DEEP of the spotting.  Drivers are urged to use extra caution and be observant while driving in areas where moose have been seen.  Moose near roadways pose a particular danger because once struck, they are more likely to collapse through a vehicle windshield due to their tall stance.  They are also difficult to see when driving at night because of their dark color.

 

Spokesman Dwayne Gardner says moose can present a serious threat to public safety under some circumstances and should not be approached.  Although usually shy, Gardner says moose can feel threatened and become aggressive when encountering people or pets.  They also may demonstrate unpredictable behavior if they wander into populated areas. 

 

Connecticut has a resident moose population estimated at 100 to 150 animals.  They are found most often in the northwestern and northeastern wooded corners of Connecticut.  In addition to sightings in New Milford, moose or the same one animal have been seen in Farmington and East Haddam.

 

Residents are encouraged to report moose sightings on the DEEP website.  Some area residents have also created a Facebook page for "Marty".

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Apple-picking in Conn. brings out some thieves

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) To one Connecticut orchard owner, the approach of fall is the start of apple-picking season and pickers who steal.

Thomas March, owner of March Farm in Bethlehem, said he recently found about 100 pounds of apples in bags left by the side of the road where people could have returned later to retrieve them.

The haul could have cost the farm $150 in lost revenue.

The Republican-American reports that the open-air shoplifters carry their own bags into the fields instead of paying ahead of time.

Lynn Horvath, the farm's store manager, estimates pilfering costs thousands of dollars every season and it's gotten worse in the last decade.

Resident Trooper Cono D'Elia said Troop L in Litchfield is aware of the problem, but patrols are scarce with only one trooper covering Bethlehem and Woodbury.

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Newtown to hold informational meetings on 10/5 referendum

Informational meetings and extended office hours are being held by Newtown officials about the October 5th referendum.  The referendum is about accepting $50-million in state funding for costs associated with building a new Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

The money can be used for architectural and engineering services for the design, demolition of the existing building and construction of the new facility.  The funding can also be used to buy 2 pieces of land needed to relocate the school entrance. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra and interim Superintendent of Schools Dr John Reed will be on hand for meetings being held today, next Monday and Thursday October 3rd.  Each will also have extended office hours this week, this weekend and next week.

 

The informational meetings will be held:

Tuesday, September 24, 11am to 1 pm, in the Council Chambers at Newtown Municipal Center

Monday, September 30, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, at Newtown Senior Center, 14 Riverside Road

Thursday, October 3, 7-9 pm, in the Conference Room at Newtown Municipal Center

 

Llodra's office at the Newtown Municipal Center will be open:

Saturday, September 28, 1-3 pm

Sunday, September 29, 2-4pm

Monday, September 30, 4-5:30 pm

 

Reed's office at the Newtown Municipal Center will be open:

Tuesday, September 24, 5-6:30 pm

Monday, September 30, 7:30-9 pm

Tuesday, October 1, 5-7 pm

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Walk of Honor call for nominations, brick dedications

Phase Two of the Walkway of Honor is being planned.  Bricks lining the path at the Danbury War Memorial is being lined with bricks dedicated to those who have served in the Armed Forces.  Danbury City Councilwoman Mary Teicholz is spearheading an effort to recognize those who served in any branch of the military who are still living, missing in action, on active duty or in memory of those who have died.

 

254 bricks were put in the ground for phase one.  Phase Two will be dedicated at the annual Walk of Honor, which is being planned for October 20th.  More information about the walkway and how to order a brick can be found here.

 

Teicholz is also still taking nominations for the 2nd annual Warrior Award, which will be presented at the Walk of Honor.  Nominees should be a veteran who has served in a combat zone and exemplifies the values of duty, respect, honor and personal courage.  People can resubmit their nominations from last year. 

 

Last year's winner was Navy Corpsman Todd Angell.  She says Danbury is blessed to have so many incredibly brave veterans in the community.  A committee of five, including veterans, will select this year's winner.  More information about where to send moninations can be found here.

 

There is a September 30th deadline for both Warrior Award nominations and for the Veteran's Walkway of Honor Phase Two bricks.

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I-84W reopens ahead of schedule at CT/NY border

Interstate 84 westbound has reopened with a new bridge and smooth surface.  To see a timelapse video of the construction, click here.  The bridges that carry the highway over Dingle Ridge Road in Putnam County are being replaced. 

 

 

Individual lanes have been shut down by the Connecticut/New York border as construction crews have built the replacement bridges along side the current structures.

 

New York Department of Transportation Communications Director Beau Duffy says the innovative type of construction allows for a less expensive project to be completed in less time with less of an interruption for drivers.  The old bridge was demolished and the new structure raised about 2 feet to be slid into place.

 

 

 

The eastbound side of Interstate 84 will be closed October 19-20 so the same process can be completed.

 

The $10.5 million dollar project is being completed with state and federal funding.  To see more photos from the construction, visit the New York DOT site.

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FOI commission to discuss 911 tapes from Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission is meeting this week to consider whether recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting should be made public.

An attorney for the commission who heard a challenge from The Associated Press recommended earlier this month that the recordings be released.

The full nine-member commission is holding a hearing Wednesday afternoon before issuing its final decision.

Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III is leading the investigation into the Dec. 14 massacre of 26 people at the school in Newtown. He has argued that releasing the records could jeopardize the probe.

The AP requested documents including copies of 911 calls in part to examine the response of law enforcement to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

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Public hearing Tuesday in New Milford about transportation

The Connecticut Public Transportation Commission is holding a series of hearings in the state to gather input about services such as dial-a-ride and ADA transportation.  In New Milford, the second of four hearings will be held Tuesday. 

 

The Commission is looking for public input on local and regional issues including upgrades to the Danbury Branch of Metro-North, HARTransit bus service among other topics.  Plans for a new railroad station in New Milford and potential passenger service on the Housatonic Railroad will also be discussed.

 

The information about existing services, improvements that need to be made and new services needed to address unmet travel needs will be the recommendations inlcuded in an annual report to the General Assembly. 

 

The public hearing is at 7:30pm Tuesday at New Milford Town Hall.

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Bolinsky addresses Newtown seniors concerns

High state gas taxes, items that used to be untaxed and the Affordable Care Act are among the concerns of some Newtown seniors.

 

A forum was held at the Newtown Senior Center last Monday with State Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  He was invited to discuss the 2013 legislative session .  Bolinsky says it was great to be welcomed by the often under-represented part of the community whose needs are in many ways, underserved today. 

 

He says heading into the next session, he will take their message about how to better align services in the state with the changing demographics.  Bolinsky says many residents are worried about the economy, especially those on fixed incomes. 

 

During the session, Bolinsky also addressed government spending priorities.

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New bishop installed for Bridgeport diocese

TRUMBULL, Conn. (AP) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport finally has its new bishop.

Hundreds of people attended the formal installation Mass of the Rev. Frank Caggiano on Thursday at St. Teresa Church in Trumbull. The ceremony was conducted by Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell.

Among those attending were New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Cardinal Edward Egan, retired archbishop of New York.

In his homily, Caggiano said part of his mission as the diocese's leader is to build bridges.

Caggiano fills a post left vacant since the departure of Bishop William Lori, who was named Archbishop of Baltimore last year. Lori returned for his successor's installation..

Caggiano had been one of four auxiliary bishops in Brooklyn, N.Y. His Bridgeport appointment was announced in July.

The diocese has more than 460,000 registered Catholics in Fairfield County with 82 parishes.

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Route 58 in Bethel will not be shut down tonight

A weekend road closure in Bethel has been cancelled.  Both lanes of Route 58 in the area of Sara's Way were supposed to close at 6pm, but Police say the work has been delated. 

 

The bridge replacement project involves a culvert across both lanes being removed and a concrete box culvert installed in its place.  New pavement will also be laid down.  

 

Town officials did not have an update on when the work will be performed.

 

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Goodbye to Baro, swearing in of Newtown's new K9 officer

A farewell ceremony and a welcome ceremony have been held in Newtown for two K9s.

 

The Newtown Police Department said goodbye Thursday to K9 Officer Baro, a 10-year old German Shepherd who passed away in June from health problems that forced an early retirement.  The new K9 officer arrived in Newtown on Wednesday.  The ceremony included a moment of silence, personal remembrances and the final roll call for Baro.

 

American Kennel Club Director of Communications Lisa Peterson says yesterday's ceremony started with Baro’s Last Ride, a K9 Patrol vehicle procession escorted by more than 30 K9 units from around the state.

 

$14,000 in donations and grants from the American Kennel Club community as well as delegates and local residents helped Newtown purchase and train their new K9 officer.  It started with a $500 donation by the Trap Falls Kennel Club and Chris Sweetwood.  He served in Iraq with Newtown K9 Unit Officer Matt Hayes nearly a decade ago and reunited last year at a dog event. 

 

Newtown's resources were stretched thin after the response to Sandy Hook Elementary.  Baro hadn't responded to the school but offered comfort for the police department and community in the aftermath, going above and beyond his police duties.

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Conn. lawmaker calls for more privacy for victims

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A member of a state crime records task force is urging the group to consider how victims and their families are traumatized by crime videos and photos that are posted on the Internet.

 

Hartford state Rep. Angel Arce told the panel Wednesday about his father being critically injured and later dying after a hit-an-run accident in 2008. He said his family is upset that surveillance camera videos of the accident are all over the Web.

 

The Task Force on Victim Privacy and the Public's Right to Know was set up in response to public records requests related to the Newtown school shootings.

 

The panel will be giving recommendations to lawmakers on how to balance privacy and the public's right to know

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Danbury among 36 districts to receive security grants

169 schools in 36 districts across Connecticut will receive money to improve security as part of a state grant program.  Danbury's share of the funding is $55,401.  There is a local match of $36,381.  The money will be split between five schools: King Street Intermediate, King Street Primary, Morris Street, South Street and The Alternative Center for Excellence.

 

While 111 applications for proposed infrastructure projects in 604 school buildings were received, this is only the first round of funding.  Governor Dannel Malloy says bond money will be found to fund all of the applicants who submitted forms.

 

The first $5 million in funding under the Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety Act will be divided among 169 schools.  He says the money will be used to reimburse the schools for infrastructure improvements in the wake of last December's shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The funding will pay for improvements such video cameras, door locks and other security systems, but not for the hiring of security guards.

 

Malloy says the improvements can't stop every random act of violence, but will help ensure the state's schools are as safe as possible.

 

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Starbucks says guns unwelcome, though not banned

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome in its cafes, though it is stopping short of an outright ban on firearms.

 

The fine line that the retailer is walking to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.

 

Most states allow people to openly carry licensed guns in some way and many companies do not have laws banning firearms in their stores. But Starbucks has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its liberal-leaning corporate image. In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanized by the company’s decision to defer to local laws.

 

In an interview, CEO Howard Schultz said the decision to ask customers to stop bringing guns into stores came as a result of the growing frequency of “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” in which gun rights advocates turned up at Starbucks cafes with firearms.  Newtown was the focal point of such an event on August 9, which led to the Church Hill Road store closing a few hours early. That afternoon, Starbucks Vice President Chris Carr said on the company website that the decision was made out of respect to the community.

 

This week, Mr Schultz said the events mischaracterized the company’s stance on the issue and the demonstrations “have made our customers uncomfortable.”

 

Mr Schultz hopes people will honor the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do.

 

He announced the decision in an open letter published on the company's website.

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Brookfield residents approve bonding for parks projects

Brookfield residents have approved the bonding project for parks improvements by about 260 votes.  There was approximately a 25% voter turn out.

 

The $5.3 million project is for two areas in Brookfield.  The Cadigan Park portion of the improvements includes a new drainage system, two new synthetic turf fields, new basketball and tennis courts as well as renovated bathrooms, parking and walking paths. 

 

The restrooms at Cadigan park are more than 40 years old and the tennis courts are currently closed. 

 

Work on the Town Beach side will include a new road crossing safety system from Cadigan Park, an ADA compliant path system and drop off area, a rebuilt seawall and renovations to the volleyball court.  A $750,000 state grant is being used to replace existing buildings with one multi-use facility. 

 

The primary sea wall at the park is failing and there are soil erosion and drainage issues.  Some landscaping will be done at the park with expanded picnic and seating areas. 

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Redding delegation hears from constituents

A town meeting was held last week by members of the General Assembly with a brief presentation about the new two-year budget that was implemented in the latest legislative session.  Representative Dan Carter says they heard loud and clear that the economy continues to languish as a result of anti-business legislation and higher-than-average taxes.

 

The lawmakers covered topics such as the rollback of campaign finance reform, the elevated cost of doing business in Connecticut, the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, and confusion surrounding new gun regulations.

 

Representative John Shaban says the 2013 session included some far-reaching and controversial legislation and he was grateful that people came out to discuss the direction Connecticut is headed.  The lawmakers also heard what constituents would like to see being done to address their needs and improve the region.

 

State Senator Toni Boucher says Connecticut has some of the country's most underfunded pension liabilities and the state needs to get the fiscal house in order.

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Absentee ballots available for Newtown 10/5 referendum

Absentee ballots are now available in Newtown for the October 5th referendum on accepting state funding to build a new Sandy Hook School.  The Town Clerk's office will be open during regular business hours for people to pick up ballots if they will not be able to go to the polls on that Saturday. 

 

Absentee ballots are due back to the Town Clerk by 4:30pm on October 4th in person.  The deadline by mail or by designee before polls close on October 5th. 

 

The referendum on the $50 million will be held at the Newtown Middle School Gym from 6am to 8pm on October 5th.

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Newtown activists again lobby Congress on guns

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Activists from the Connecticut town where 26 people were fatally shot last December are headed to Washington to again lobby for gun control, a day after 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage in the capital.

About 50 members of the Newtown Action Alliance left for Washington early this morning. Their first stop is to be a hearing by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on Florida's ``Stand Your Ground'' law.

David Ackert, the group's founder, told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group that the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday bring back ``terrible feelings.''

The group is again asking Congress to require background checks for gun buyers.

Several parents of children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 lobbied Congress earlier this year for legislation that ultimately failed.

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Jacques Cousteau grandson to lecture in Danbury

The grandson of Jacques Cousteau is coming to Western Connecticut State University Thursday to talk about his grandfather's legacy and taking it one step further.  The Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies is hosting Fabien Cousteau for a discussion about Mission 31.  He will explain the epic expedition that's one day longer and based twice as deep as his grandfather's expedition 50 years ago this year.

 

Cousteau will discuss connections between water, the planet and our health.  He will also talk about how innovative ideas are shaping environmental policy reform. 

 

The lecture by the deep ocean explorer is at 8 pm on Thursday, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the Midtown campus. Tickets for “One Ocean, One People” are on sale at www.wcsu.edu/tickets or by calling (203) 837-TIXX.

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One Danbury polling location change less controversial being considered

While a majority of people speaking before the Danbury City Council last week about moving polling locations talked about the 6th ward, there is also a proposal on the table to move the Ward 3 polling place.  That suggestion has garnered mixed reaction. 

 

Danbury Democratic Town Committee chairman Joe DaSilva spoke in favor of the Ward 3 move.  He said unlike Ward 6, the people right across from Broadview Middle School no longer vote there.  He says Stadley Rough would be more central in the district.  DaSilva says he knows members of the City Council and understands that they are not looking to make voting harder.

 

DaSilva likened the move to when Morris Street School no longer worked for a different ward because there was no parking and it was hard to get in and out of.  At that time, voting was moved to Mill Ridge Elementary School because it was more centrally located and had more parking. 

 

City resident Gladys Cooper was not in favor of the change because Stadley Rough School was just as hard to get out of as other poor location choices.

 

The Council as a whole will decide on the issue within a month.

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Danbury Fire Marshal retires, provisional FM confirmed

Danbury's Fire Marshal has retired.  A ceremony was held for Jim Johnson on Friday at Fire Headquarters.  Chief Geoff Herald says they retired a flag that flew over the facility and presented it to Johnson for his 39 years in the fire service.

 

Herald called Johnson an asset to the Fire Department who was a wonderful leader and very dedicated to the City.  He wished Johnson the best for a long and happy retirement.

 

Deputy Fire Marshal Marilyn Gillotti has been confirmed as Provisional Fire Marshal.  She is a senior deputy in the Community Risk Reduction Office and has served there for more than 15 years.

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Funeral service for fallen Conn. airman

An airman, killed in Afghanistan last week, will be laid to rest today.  A funeral service is being held at Western Connecticut State University's West Side campus for Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr., known to his family and friends as TJ.

 

(Photo Courtesy:  Melissa Meikle)

 

Among those at the funeral was Governor Dannel Malloy, the former Mayor of Stamford where the elder Todd Lobraico serves on the police force. 

 

"I know his dad and this is just an unbelievable tragedy.  22-years old, a wonderful young man who had a great life ahead of him to be stricken down in the service of his country.  On the other hand we should be inspired by his leadership and his committment to our freedom, our liberty and our democracy fighting the global war on terrorism.  It's inspirational at the same that it's unbelievably crushing."

 

In addition to a police escort, the patriot guard riders were in Danbury for the motorcade.  The organization attends funerals of members of the armed forces and also greets troops returning from overseas at homecoming celebrations. 

 

(Photo Courtesy:  Melissa Meikle)

 

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal also attended the funeral and said he's seen grief, respect and admiration for Lobraico and his sacrifice.

 

"[Lobraico was] a hero and a patriot but also a warm and loving person who relished in life, friends and family.  His loss has really hit home for the community and really the entire state of Connecticut."

 

Lobraico attended Western before being deployed.  He was in the Justice and Law Administration program, pursuing a degree in law enforcement.  His mother graduated from the university and his father took classes there as well.

 

Justice and Law Administration Professor Dr Casey Jordan taught TJ and says there were thousands of people at the O'Neil Center to pay their respects.  Jordan says she's had thousands of students and not all stand out, but he did. 

 

"Not just because he was respectful, but he had a real energy about him that you looked at him and said 'that's a young man who's going to go places' or 'I would love to have him as my son', and when he smiled he literally lit up a room."

 

And he only missed class once.

 

"His family had to put down their family dog and he thought that was the most appropriate use of his time that day and I remember emailing him back and said yes that's where you need to be.  He was conscientious about school and had a heart of a gold." 

 

When she asked students on the first day of class what careers they would like to pursue with their degrees, Casey said TJ wrote down that he wanted to be a police office.  She says his death is a loss to everyone, not just family, because he would have made an incredible police officer.

 

Danbury Police Chief Al Baker, whose son is an Air Force pilot currently stationed in Afghanistan, says it's reassuring as a parent knowing that there were people like T.J. who had his son's back while he is deployed.  Baker says he shares the family's pain.  He appreciated the outpouring of support on the motorcade from New York saying it shows a lot about the community.

 

The police motorcade escorting Lobraico made it's way from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh to Sherman Wednesday.  A memorial ceremony was held at the air base.  Fire Departments in Westchester, Putnam and Fairfield Counties lined highway overpasses in tribute.

 

Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh is home to the Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing.  Lobraico was a member of the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He died last Thursday after his unit was attacked near Bagram Airfield.  He joined the Air National Guard in 2008 and was on his second overseas deployment.

His parents also serve in the 105th Airlift Wing.

 

There's been an outpouring of support for Lobraico's family on social media.  Photos of the ceremony at Stewart Air Base were posted online as well.

 

((Photo by Alan Chaniewski))

 

Donations may be sent to SSgt. TJ Lobraico Jr. Scholarship Fund, c/o Wells Fargo, 1 Eagle Road, Danbury, CT 06810.

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'Week of Caring' supports Danbury Family and Children's Aid

For the 15th year, 250 volunteers have come together for a week of caring to support Danbury-based Family and Children's Aid.  G-E Capital volunteers will be taking on the biggest maintenance projects on the non-profit's to do list including landscaping, installing playground equipment and painting. 

 

FCA Director of Operations Kevin McNellis says this allows them to redirect tens of thousands of dollars from maintenance to valuable programs and services. 

 

GE Capital executives also presented a $45,000 check to Family and Children's Aid this week.

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Local lawmaker intends to seek higher office

While much of the focus of the upcoming 2014 political season has been on the gubernatorial contest, another race next year is heating up.  Redding State Representative John Shaban has announced his intention to run for the 4th Congressional District seat next year. 

 

The 49-year old Republican is a practicing lawyer and looking to unseat two-term Democrat Jim Himes. 

 

Shaban says his “Connecticut First” message resonates in the District with people eager to see a fresh face with new ideas.  He says new leadership is needed in Washington because doing the same things, with the same people, and expecting different results is unrealistic and does a disservice to residents. 

 

Shaban says Washington politicians have used Connecticut as a cash machine to fund the dramatic growth of the federal government into local affairs, all while giving back pennies on the tax dollar and that's something that needs to change. 

 

Former state Senator Dan Debicella, who lost a tight race to Himes in 2010, announced last week that he intends to run again.

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One Book One Community 2013 selection announced

This year's novel for the One Book One Community program has been selected.  The program, sponsored in part by the Danbury Public Library, promotes literacy .  Library Spokeswoman Maryellen DeJong says events for the 6th year of the program will center around The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald.

 

The library is working with the Danbury Museum and Historical Society for events.

 

There will be a Gatsby Gadabout Day on Saturday October 5th and for an evening of All That Jazz on October 18th.  DeJong says there will be a great combination of activities ranging from book discussions to dance lessons and viewings of both the Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio versions of the film. 

 

This year, there will be prizes for event participation.  More information can be found on the One Book website or at the Library's website.

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Rell portrait unvieled at State Library

The official portrait of former Governor Jodi Rell's has been unveiled at the State Library in a ceremony attended by state officials and others.  The Brookfield resident thanked her family and the people of Connecticut for their support during her years in office.  She took the reins from John Rowland who resigned amid a corruption scandal. 

 

While looking at the portraits of other past state leaders, Rell said she was overwhelmed and honored but also pleased "to help Ella take on a few of these men."  Rell referring to Ella Grasso--the only other female Governor of Connecticut. 

 

She hopes her legacy is to inspire other young women to dream big dreams and reach even greater heights.  Rell says tried to lead with kindness, dignity, grace and compassion. 

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says while they disagree on issues, he has the highest regard for Rell.

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Danbury veteran organizes 'Welcome Home' events for Iraqi vets

One Danbury veteran says parades are being held across the country to honor those who served in the Iraqi war and he is planning a Parade in Danbury.

 

Iraqi War veteran Al Almeida says the parade he is organizing will start at Danbury Library on Main Street and head to the War Memorial.  A ceremony will be conducted by military and civilian dignitaries welcoming home veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn.

 

Local veterans will be met by representatives from different organizations that can provide assistance in a number of areas.  He is asking people to donate suits for Veterans.

 

The parade will be held Sunday October 13th, Columbus Day weekend.

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Polling location change considered in Danbury

The proposal to move voting in Ward 6 of Danbury to the Moose Lodge for the November election has been discussed.  The Republican Registrar of Voters made the proposal so voting is more centrally located in the re-districted Ward.  The Democratic Registrar withdrew her support for the change. 

 

More than a dozen residents spoke during the Tuesday City Council meeting saying they can't figure out why the proposal was suggested because Park Avenue has worked for decades.  Those in favor of not moving the polling location cited issues such as better parking and a larger voting room.

 

Those speaking against the move said the roads to the Moose Lodge don't have sidewalks, the street is a narrow lane and the lines aren't painted in the parking lot.

 

Some City residents said they don't want Danbury seen as suppressing votes or gerrymandering.  But an assistant registrar at Park Avenue School, who is a Republican Town Committee member, was the only one to speak in favor of the move agreeing that the Moose Lodge is more centrally located to the added streets on the west side now included in the ward.  Maggie Curran also cited low voter turn out in the ward. 

 

The Council will consider the move later this month.

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Monroe mulls marijuana dispensary moratorium

MONROE, Conn. (AP) Monroe planning and zoning officials are considering a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries as they figure out Connecticut's new state medical marijuana law.

Shelton and Ansonia have already imposed moratoriums to study how their zoning regulations fit in with the state law for marijuana dispensing facilities.

In Monroe, a proposal has been made for a marijuana production facility at a vacant industrial building.

The Connecticut Post reports that William Agresta, Monroe's planning and zoning administrator, said the town is sorting out the state law and will decide whether it's something the town wants and if so, what the right zone would be.

The state General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee approved regulations in August spelling out details of a licensing system for marijuana producers and dispensaries.

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Newtown group says public supports gun control

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A nonprofit group in Newtown that has worked with families who lost relatives in the school shooting last year on tougher gun laws says the recall of two lawmakers in Colorado does not diminish public support for such measures.

Two Democratic state lawmakers who backed tighter gun laws in the aftermath of mass shootings have been kicked out of office.

Sandy Hook Promise says the recall does not change Colorado's newly strengthened gun laws or diminish broad public support for gun safety and responsibility. The group says an overwhelming majority of Americans, including a large majority of gun owners, support measures to keep guns away from convicted criminals.

The National Rifle Association says the election sent a clear message to lawmakers that they should protect gun rights.

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Newtown 9/11 ceremony recalls 12/14

A remembrance ceremony has once again been held by Howard Lasher at his Dodgingtown Road home where an American Flag mural was painted on 6 maple trees by artist David Merrill.  It's a tribute to nine associates from the American Stock Exchange, and the son of a colleague who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald who all lost their lives on 9/11.

 

 

He says after Newtown suffered it's "own personal 9/11" many people left cards and poems of prayers along with stuffed animals in front of the trees.

 

Lasher says no amount of tears will ever return loved ones lost on 9/11 or 12/14, but hopes the memorial provides a solemn place to reflect, mourn and move forward.  He says even after 12 years have past, he and others still strive to find hope in moments of hopelessness. 

 

He says Newtown is blessed by town leaders and a police force second to none.  Lasher says residents owe them a great deal of gratitude for how they handled the aftermath of the December 14th shootings and what they've done for the town.

 

Lasher says he wanted the memorial to serve as a testament to the resilient American spirit which will never be broken.  He also wanted it to be a tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their ongoing sacrifice which keeps the nation safe from future attacks.

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Greater Danbury area towns mark 9-11 anniversary

A ceremony is being held in New Milford this morning at the town's 9/11 memorial along Patriot's Way.  The service will start at 8:46am, the time the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  Participants can start to gather at 8am.  Water Witch Hose Company No. 2 will toll a bell and then the American Flag will be raised.  Local lawmakers will deliver remarks after a performance of the Star Spangled Banner and an invocation. 

 

A remembrance ceremony is being held once again this morning by Howard Lasher at his Dodgingtown Road home where an American Flag mural was painted on 6 maple trees by artist David Merrill.  It's a tribute to nine associates from the American Stock Exchange, and the son of a colleague who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald who all lost their lives on 9/11.

 

The Brookfield High School Student Council is hosting a candlelight vigil tonight in front of town hall.  Candles will be available at the public event which starts at 6pm.

 

The ceremony in Danbury will be held once again at the City's 9/11 monument on Main Street at Elmwood Park.  The glass tower sits on a pentagon of granite and has the names of victims with Connecticut ties etched into it.  The ceremony is at 6pm.

 

Ridgefield is holding it's annual memorial ceremony at 6:30 pm at the monument on Danbury Road.  The tribute features a steel beam recovered from the World Trade Center site.  The Port Authority made beams available to towns that were developing public commemorative monuments. 

 

Bethel's annual tradition of a procession from the South Street firehouse to the municipal center will step down South Street at 6:50pm.  The Bethel Volunteer Fire Department leads the remembrance event with a ceremony following at approximately 7pm on the lawn of the Municipal Center.

 

The Redding Pilot reports that a print of Hugh Seward Hirtle's portrait entitled "They Answered The Call" will be on display in Town Hall throughout the day.  There will be a vase of white roses beneath it.  The artist photographed 13 volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel who helped at Ground Zero and then painted it as an oil portrait.  The original is located at the Redding Community Center.

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'Sons of Anarchy' TV show airs school shooting scene

A second TV show is tackling a school shooting scene in the wake of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The Newtown Bee reports that Sons of Anarchy, the FX series about an outlaw motorcycle club, has a scene in Tuesday night's premier where a boy walks into a school and opens fire. 

 

Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr John Reed sent an email to parents in advance of the show airing.  "While you don't see the visual impact of this, you will hear the shots and cries from the victims."

 

The statement continues to say: "For obvious reasons, this program could have a very harmful impact on parents, children and staff members. I wanted you to have this information so that you can plan accordingly for you and your family."

 

Glee had an episode on in April where a girl with Down syndrome brought a gun to the school and it discharged. 

 

Sons of Anarchy Writer and Director Kurt Sutter told reporters at the Television Critics Association fall previews in July that he's wanted to do this story for about three years and that he's not trying to make a statement, but is using it as a turning point in the show.

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Bethel unofficial primary results tallied, Duff winner

Bethel Republicans have turned out for a Primary on Tuesday to chose a candidate to run for First Selectman, as Selectman and Police Commission.  There was a 22% turnout of registered Republicans.

 

The unofficial vote tally shows that party nominated First Selectman candidate Will Duff garnered 424 votes while former First Selectman Bob Burke had 250 votes.  Burke says he intends to run in November on the CT Tea Party line.

 

Duff, is a Board of Education member and former Selectman. 

 

Republicans have also cast 415 ballots for Selectman candidate, incumbent, Paul Szatkowski.  242 votes were cast for Robert Crnic. 

 

There are four Republicans vying for three spots on the Police Commission.  Hugo Greco and Richard Kolowicz currently sit on the commission and they received 441 and 491 votes respectively.  Anthony Rubino received 524 votes.  Kevin Gallagher garnered 229.

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Slain Conn. airman's body to arrive in NY Wed.

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) The body of a Connecticut airman killed in Afghanistan is scheduled to arrive this week at the upstate New York Air National Guard base that's home to his security unit.

New York National Guard Officials say Tuesday that the body of 22-year-old Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico Jr. of New Fairfield, Conn., will arrive Wednesday at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley.

Military officials announced last week that Lobraico had been killed by small arms fire when his unit was attacked near Bagram Airfield.

Lobraico was serving with the 105th Security Forces Squadron based at Stewart. The unit, which provides security at air bases, was deployed to Afghanistan last June. It was Lobraico's second overseas deployment.

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NY flags to be lowered for fallen Conn. airman

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) Flags on New York state government buildings will fly at half-staff on Tuesday to honor a New York Air National Guard member who died in Afghanistan last week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed flags be lowered to honor 22-year-old Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico Jr. of New Fairfield, Conn.

Lobraico was killed by small arms fire on Thursday while on patrol outside Bagram Air Base. He was a member of the 105th Security Force Squadron, an element of the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

Lobraico's death is the first New York Air National Guard death in combat since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001.

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy also ordered his state's flags to fly at half-staff in honor of the fallen airman.

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Blumenthal, Himes undecided on Syria strike vote

DARIEN, Conn. (AP) U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, listening to constituents at a meeting in southwestern Connecticut, say they're unsure how they'll vote on whether to strike Syria.

The Stamford Advocate reports that at a gathering in Darien on Sunday, the two Democratic lawmakers heard mostly negative opinions about the request by President Barack Obama for congressional authorization for military strikes against the Syrian regime. The Obama administration has accused President Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons against Syrians.

Blumenthal and Himes said they still have questions.

Sen. Christopher Murphy was one of only two Democrats to vote last week in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against authorizing a strike. He said the downside risks of military action for U.S. interests and the Syrians outweigh potential benefits.

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NYC street named for boy killed at Sandy Hook Elementary

NEW YORK (AP) A New York City street has been renamed in honor of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut elementary school massacre last year.

Family and friends of Benjamin Wheeler gathered Saturday for a ceremony in Queens. A sign saying Benjamin Wheeler Place was added to the sign post at 41st Street and Queens Boulevard.

Benjamin was one of 20 first-graders shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14. Six educators were also killed. The gunman, Adam Lanza, killed himself and had also murdered his mother at their home.

Benjamin's family lived in the neighborhood where the street was renamed before moving to Newtown.

His father said at the tearful gathering that Benjamin's first glimpse of the world was around the intersection now bearing his name.

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New Fairfield man dies while serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Air Force

A 22 year old from New Fairfield has been killed in Afghanistan.  His family was notified this Friday morning.

 

Todd James "T.J." Lobraico was on patrol with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan, having been deployed in June.  The Department of Defense says Staff Sgt LoBraico died Thursday from wounds he sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire near Bagram Airfield.  Lobraico was assigned to the 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base.

 

He was a 2008 graduate of New Fairfield High School.  His father, Todd, is a Sherman resident and a veteran officer with the Stamford Police Department.

 

New Fairfield First selectman Susan Chapman says TJ's  stepmother worked for many years as an assistant tax assessor, retiring earlier this year.  Chapman says there is a special ceremony planned to honor him Sunday.  The towns of Sherman and New Fairfield will hold a candlelight vigil  will be held Sunday at 6:30 pm at the New Fairfield Senior Center.

 

Tom Hicks is a co owner of Gils Auto and Truck Repair in New Fairfield where T.J. worked.  Hicks said T.J. wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a policeman.  The elder Lobraico also served in the U.S. Air Force.

 

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Staff Sgt. Lobraico. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time,” said Governor Malloy. “This loss reminds us of the dangers faced by our men and women stationed overseas. We should all be grateful for their service and sacrifices to our country.”

 

Flags have been ordered to fly at half staff until burial, details of which are forthcoming.

 

“The loss of this brave young man is a sad reminder that hundreds of Connecticut military men and women are still in danger overseas even as our involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan approaches a conclusion,” said Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman. “I hope that all Connecticut residents take a moment to recognize the sacrifice in defense of our freedom made by Airman Lobraico and the other 64 heroes from our state lost in battle since September 11, 2001.”

 

“This courageous and patriotic young man will be missed and mourned by his friends and family in Connecticut. Staff Sgt. Lobraico’s service and sacrifice should be a source of pride and gratitude for all of us," said Senator Richard Blumenthal.  "Our hearts and prayers go to his family and loved ones, as well as to the brave, dedicated men and women who continue to serve our nation in uniform across the globe.”

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Newtown must turn over gunman's school records

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut judge has ordered school officials to release their records of the gunman who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Sheila Huddleston on Friday granted the request to release Adam Lanza's records to the state's child advocate office. The office wants its Child Fatality Review Panel to examine the deaths of the children killed in the Dec. 14 attack. The panel reviews unexpected child fatalities.

The 20-year-old Lanza killed his mother at their home, then killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the school before killing himself as police officers arrived.

The child advocate's office first sought Lanza's school records in March.

A school district attorney says officials were not resisting the release but wanted to make sure they complied with privacy laws.

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Mom of Sandy Hook victim thanks educators

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The mother of one of the 26 victims of last December's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is wishing educators ``courage, faith and love'' as they start a new school year.

In a letter published Friday on the Education Week website, Nelba Marquez-Green' relayed how much the teachers and Sandy Hook impressed her by coming back to work after the tragedy.

Marquez-Green's 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace was killed by Adam Lanza during his Dec. 14, 2012, shooting spree. She also has a son who survived the shooting.

She says teachers will have a positive impact on the lives of students, including those like Lanza, who are ``left out and overlooked.''

She wrote, ``Real heroes don't wear capes. They work in America's schools.''

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Sandy Hook memorial applicants reviewed, school building project firms selected

35 people have expressed interest in being part of a Sandy Hook memorial committee.  At the Newtown Board of Selectmen's meeting on Tuesday, it was announced that nine volunteers will be selected from the 35 and their names will be announced later this month or in early October. 

 

The commission has been charged with considering a memorial's location, nature, scope and funding. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra said during the meeting that it will be a long project requiring a lot of time, labor and attention.  Deciding on the type of memorial if any that should be built, finding a site, selecting an architect and seeing through the project to completion could take years.

 

Architect, engineer and construction management firms have been chosen for the Sandy Hook Elementary School building project.  The former building will be torn down and a new facility will be constructed on the same lot. 

 

At the Selectmen meeting, it was decided that Svigals Partners would be the Architect/Engineers.  Consigli Construction Company has been selected to manage the construction.  Both BL and Turner will be involved in the project, continuing the work they have performed for the Newtown community over the past months.  BL will perform the civil engineering role and Turner will serve as the Owner Advisor for construction services. 

 

A referendum is being held October 5th for residents to approve or reject $50 million in state funding for the project.

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Monday deadline to register for Tuesday primaries

Time is running out for people to register with a party if they want to vote in Tuesday's primaries.  Unaffiliated voters can also chose to enroll in a major party if they want to vote in the primary.  Secretary of the State spokesman Av Harris says Bethel and Sherman are among the towns where primaries will be taking place on Tuesday. 

 

Bethel Republicans will be choosing who they want to run for First Selectman, as Selectman and as Police Commissioner.  In Sherman Democrats will be deciding who should run as the Selectman candidate. 

 

Eligible voters have until noon on Monday to enroll in a party in person at the Registrar of Voters office.

 

Secretary Denise Merrill urged everyone eligible to register because crucial issues related to local budgets, schools, road construction, and other important items face towns and cities across Connecticut this year.  Merrill says people who want a say in the future direction of their community should make sure they cast a ballot because there are important issues decided on the local level.

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Newtown school enrollment down so far this year

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Enrollment at Newtown schools is down by nearly 3 percent since last year, but the schools superintendent cautioned against linking the reduced number to the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

The News Times reports school board members were told Wednesday night that in the first two weeks of the school year student enrollment was 5,282, down from 5,426 last year. The numbers are lower than projected.

Like many school districts, Newtown's enrollment has declined slowly, but steadily. It's been a factor in budget battles.

Voters approved the current $71 million annual budget in the third referendum.

Town and school leaders have suggested the district consider closing one of its seven schools, reconfiguring grade structures and redistricting neighborhoods. No decisions have been made.

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Oversized boats will be fined if found on Candlewood Lake

State officials will start to enforce boat length rules on Candlewood Lake this weekend.  A new rule went into effect in March that said operators of boats longer than 26 feet would be fined if they are out on Candlewood.  DEEP Boating Division Director Eleanor Mariani says people with longer boats who have proved their boats were used on the lake before March can apply for an exemption decal.

 

So far, more than 140 decals have been issued.  Mariani says based on a prior boat count, most oversized vessels have received the required authorization decal.

 

The fine for having an oversized vessel on Candlewood Lake is $75.

 

Mariani says the grandfather period to get decals for oversized boats will come to an end in about a year.

 

Mariani says most boats launched from trailers are under the 26-foot length limit.  She says they have put up signs and handed out information, but are not too concerned that people with oversized boats visiting for the day will be out on the Lake.

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Conn. FOI lawyer: Release Newtown 911 calls

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) An attorney with Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission has recommended the release of 911 recordings from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, siding with The Associated Press in a dispute over records withheld by investigators.

 

The full, nine-member commission is to hold a Sept. 25 hearing before issuing its final decision on whether the recordings should be handed over to the AP.

 

Mark Dupuis, a spokesman for the state's Division of Criminal Justice, said its attorneys would argue against the release.

 

The gunman, Adam Lanza, killed 20 first-grade children and six women inside the school in Newtown with a semi-automatic rifle on Dec. 14. He also killed his mother inside their Newtown home before driving to the school and killed himself as police arrived.

 

In December, the AP requested documents, including copies of 911 calls, as it does routinely in news gathering, in part to examine the response of law enforcement to one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history. If the recordings are released, the AP would review the content and determine what, if any, of it would meet the news cooperative's standards for publication.

 

The town denied the AP's request, citing legal exemptions that allow the government to withhold documents if they're being used for an ongoing investigation and should remain secret. The AP appealed to the FOI commission.

 

In her recommendation, issued on Aug. 27, hearing officer Kathleen Ross wrote that Newtown police and the prosecutor leading the investigation, Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, did not back up the argument that releasing the records could jeopardize the investigation. She said they did not offer evidence that the records "will be used in a prospective law enforcement action arising out of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings."

 

Newtown's police chief, Michael Kehoe, testified at a June 3 hearing that the police department withheld the 911 calls in part because of a request from Sedensky, who told the town that the recordings should not be released because of the investigation.

 

Ross wrote in her report that the state's attorney does not have a right to dictate another public agency's actions on disclosure.

 

"The Newtown respondents failed to make an independent assessment of their obligations under the FOI Act with respect to disclosure of public records," she wrote.

 

Ross also dismissed an argument by Sedensky that all the children who were inside Sandy Hook that day deserve special legal protection because they were victims of child abuse. Lanza, she wrote, could not be considered a perpetrator of child abuse because he was not responsible for the children's care.

 

"The suggestion that Adam Lanza was other than a random stranger who allegedly committed an unspeakable act of violence against children, is not based on any facts presented to this commission," she wrote.

 

Connecticut passed a law in June to prevent the public release of crime scene photos and video evidence from the massacre. It created an exemption under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act to prevent release of records if they "constitute an unwarranted invasion" of the personal privacy of surviving family members of homicide victims.

But Ross, who has reviewed the 911 tapes, said the new law would not exempt recordings of calls from inside the school to law enforcement agencies.

 

If the full FOI commission agrees the recordings should be released, Newtown officials and Sedensky would have 45 days to decide whether to appeal to Superior Court.

 

Investigators have not offered a possible motive for the massacre at Sandy Hook. Prosecutors have said Sedensky expects to issue a report on the investigation in the fall.

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Aurora, Newtown relatives campaign in Colo. Recall

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) Relatives of some of those killed in the Aurora theater shooting and Newtown are campaigning for one of two Colorado senators facing a recall election for passing stricter gun control laws.

Tom Sullivan and Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose children were killed in Aurora, and Jane Dougherty, whose sister was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, spoke with volunteers for Sen. John Morse in Colorado Springs Wednesday. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips of San Antonio, Texas also joined the volunteers in going door-to-door, something they plan to continue until the election ends Tuesday.

Meanwhile, six of the Colorado sheriffs who oppose the new guns laws held a rally in Colorado Springs.

Colorado was the only state outside the East Coast to tighten its gun laws after last year's mass shootings.

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Newtown starts search for new Superintendent of Schools

Dr John Reed was appointed as Newtown's interim Superintendent when Dr Janet Robinson left to take the same position in Stratford.  In a letter on the district's website, Newtown's Board of Education says the search process will be lead by Jacqueline Jacoby of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education's Search Services firm. 

 

The first step is to accept comments from focus groups about strengths and challenges of the Newtown schools as well as leadership qualities desired in the next educational leader.  Focus groups will be held in September and October.  Focus groups will be scheduled with school staff, parents, students and others.  An online survey will be available on the district website from mid-September through mid-October, for those who are unable to attend a focus group. 

 

Applications will be reviewed as received and the search will remain open until the position is filled.  The application deadline is October 31st.

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Danbury spray park closed, one now only open weekends

A street parking issue near one of Danbury's parks has resolved itself now that a feature of the park is closed.  Some concerns were raised earlier this month at the City Council meeting about the number of cars parked on Highland Avenue.  There is a spray park and a field there.  Parks Department Director Nick Kaplanis says they had to install a gate that locks because people were parking their cars there overnight.

 

There was some vandalism that led to the lock being installed.

 

Kaplanis says he doesn't know who is using the field later in the evenings because they aren't a "recognized organization".  For anyone to use the parks on a regular basis, they have to apply for a permit and fill out a liability waiver.  They would then be granted a permit.

 

The spray park closed when school opened so officials were hoping street parking would become less of an issue.  The Rogers Park spray park, which is used more than the one at Highland Avenue, is now only open on the weekends.

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Apple picking season back in Bethel after last year's crop loss

An annual tradition in Bethel that was sideline last year because of the bizarre weather is back.  Starting this weekend Blue Jay Orchards will be open for "pick your own apple" season. 

 

Last year the Orchard announced that the warm March and April caused the trees to blossom early, but then in late April the temperature dropped below 23-degrees.  The blossoms didn't turn into apples.  It was only the second time in nearly 30 years that they had a complete crop loss. 

 

But this year Blue Jays says they are back and will have a good crop.

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Labor Day storm knocks down trees, floods streets in Redding

West Redding residents may have been having flashbacks yesterday to Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  The major storms hit the region at this time of year and yesterday's storm wreaked some of its own havoc.

 

Trees came down taking with them some power lines leaving more than 100 people without electricity Monday during the storm.  There was fast and heavy rain coming down too that led to some street flooding.  Police say at least one car got stuck in high waters.  Long Ridge Road was flooded by the railroad tracks.

 

Trees blocked Station Road and Umpawaug Road. 

 

In Ridgefield, a crew was called in on Labor Day to remove a tree that fell across Danbury Road.

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First Light Power requests extension on order to modify Shoreline Management Plan

First Light Power is asking for an extension when it comes to filing an update of the Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake and Squantz Pond.

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is being asked for a 90 day extension on a March order to modify the Shoreline Management Plan. 

 

First Light Power has contracted with an engineering firm to draft the plan about vegetated buffers.  They are currently reviewing initial drafts, and want the extra time so that stakeholders and Lake Advisory Committees can review the plan and provide comment during annual meetings this fall.  It was determined that shoreline stabilization without vertical concrete seawalls is essential to protecting natural existing shorelines.  First Light says that requires additional time to develop a more comprehensive restoration and vegetated buffer guidance document. 

 

First Light says the plan, once crafted, will help residents enhance and protect the scenic and natural resources.

 

FERC also wants a map of the shoreline lands that would have buffers installed by adjacent landowners and which properties, such as Squantz Pond, would be subject to reduced buffer rules.

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Workshop in Danbury on Affordable Care Act

The Constituent Service Workshop is being held by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  She says the event will help small businesses learn about the Affordable Care Act, insurance benefits for their employees and the state's health insurance marketplace.   

 

Representatives from Access Health CT, the US Department of Labor, and the US Small Business Administration will be on hand. 

 

Access Health CT opens October 1st.  Small businesses may be eligible for small business tax credits, depending on the number of full-time equivalent positions, if they purchase health insurance on Access Health CT's Small Business Health Options Program. 

 

The event tonight is at 6pm in Council Chambers at Danbury City Hall.

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Newtown parade crowds cheer students, firefighters

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Thousands of spectators turned out for the annual Newtown Labor Day Parade in Connecticut, capping months of organizing in the aftermath of a shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six educators last December.

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra was joined by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy and other local officials.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and a contingent from Danbury also participated in the 52nd-annual Labor Day parade on Monday.

The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co. and Sandy Hook Elementary School students received the loudest applause from spectators along the parade route.

Organizers were wary about a parade so soon after the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook.

Labor Day Parade Committee head Beth Caldwell says she worked to balance respect for the tragedy with giving the community a celebration.

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State Police continue stepped up patrols

State Police Troopers are conducting roving patrols in the Greater Danbury area on Interstate 84 through tonight.

 

So far this holiday weekend State Police are reporting three fatalities, including in West Haven and Norwich.  The Labor Day weekend enforcement is looking for speeders, reckless and drunk drivers and for safety belt violations. 

 

Spokesman Lt Paul Vance says since early Saturday morning troopers have responded to more than 160 accidents.  There have been about a thousand speeding tickets issued, 32 drunk driving arrests made and more than 2,200 other violations cited.

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Himes wants immediate congressional decision on Syria

Among the members of Congress who were in a for a classified briefing session on Syria over the weekend was 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  Himes says he is pleased the President is seeking Congressional approval for military action as required by law. 

 

But he wants to be called to session immediately, not waiting for their summer recess to be over on September 9th. 

 

Himes says Congress must be very clear on the specific objectives and possible consequences of any military action.  He called the Syrian civil war "complex and unpredictable".

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Newtown Labor Day parade honors first responders, entire town

5,000 programs have been printed for the Newtown Labor Day parade.  This year's theme is "We Are Newtown: Marching Strong".  Typically the town has 3,000 programs printed, but are expecting an influx of people this year. 

 

The entire town has been named as this year's Grand Marshal. 

 

The 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard, veterans groups, school bands, scout groups and politicians are joining with area businesses and religious groups in marching this year. 

 

Parade Committee President Beth Caldwell says today they are honoring all those who live and work in the community who strive to make it “nicer in Newtown.”

 

The judges this year are representatives of the Newtown Ecumenical Council.  Awards and trophies are being given for the best music entry, best float and most patriotic entry among other categories.  The 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard is being presented with this year's Legends and Pioneers Award--which is given annually to the group or person who is a longtime participant and has helped make the parade a special tradition. 

 

Caldwell says today they are honoring town leaders, first responders, educators, and residents who are seeking to promote peaceful change.

 

The parade this year will start at 10am, earlier than recent years.  Roads will be closed by 9:30am on Monday and there are several streets where parking will be prohibited. 

 

The following roads will be closed:

- Rte 25/Mt Pleasant Road South at Reservoir Road
- Main Street access from Academy Lane, Currituck rd, Hanover, School House Hill,
and West Street.
- Church Hill Road Westbound at The Boulevard
- Rte. 302 at Elm Drive
- Rte. 25 North at Elizabeth St. (Detour for Rte. 25 N will be Wasserman Way)
- Queen St. North at Elizabeth St.


The following roads will have “No Parking” signs erected on them and will be considered tow away zones:
The Boulevard (from Church Hill Road to School House Hill rd)
School House Hill Road (from the Boulevard to Main Street)
Hanover Road (From Main Street to Hall Lane)
Elm Drive (from Rte. 302 to Hawley rd)
Meadow Rd. & Elizabeth St. (One side only)

 

The parade will be led by Newtown First Responders, Police and firefighters.  The Newtown Labor Day parade started in 1962.  Here is a list of those participating.

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