Services for students are continuing in Newtown Schools. Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr John Reed says they've had a number of resources to rely on including the National Child Trauma Stress Network, the Clifford Bears Guidance Center in New Haven, Wellmore Behavioral Health and also Newtown Youth and Families Services.
Reed says the big question will be how to replace that which the federal government has been providing. Before the SERV grant is gone, town and school officials will have to assess what resources need to be maintained. SERV stands for School Emergency Response to Violence. The program provides funding for school districts, colleges and universities that have experienced a significant traumatic event and need resources to respond, recover, and re-establish safe environments for students.
Newtown was awarded $1.3 million by the U.S. Department of Education.
The money was earmarked to financially support both the actions taken by the district immediately following the shootings, as well as the district's comprehensive school-based behavioral and academic recovery program. Those services aim to meet the needs of students, school staff, parents and family members affected by the tragedy and include support groups for parents, siblings, students and teachers; creative expression and wellness activities; counseling; training for educators and school personnel; and additional support staff.
"Moving forward" has been the goal of many in Newtown since last December.
First Selectman Pat Llodra says they are looking forward to a time when Sandy Hook Elementary students can come back home. She says creating the new school will be celebratory and a time for Newtown to show the world that the community is looking forward to a positive future. Llodra has said on multiple occasions that what happened a year ago was a defining moment for Newtown, but it does not define Newtown.
Llodra says they have been working with the Department of Justice on what the long term response of a community is to a mass tragedy and what is the role of the federal government to fund that. She says those funds are mostly associated with providing mental health services to the community.
This weekend's snow storm has reminded people just what winter is all about. New Milford is once again collecting hats, gloves, mittens and scarves. For the past 10 years, New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy has set up The Tree of Warmth outside her office to show off winter accessory donations. Murphy says when winter really sets in during mid-January, the town will have an abundance of new winter accessories for our community children that need them.
Murphy says most of the items that are donated are handmade. The items, which can be store bought as well, will be distributed to local families through the New Milford Social Services Department.
In addition to the winter wear, Murphy is collecting monetary donations for the Community Fuel Bank of New Milford. That organization assists low & fixed income families and seniors keep their homes warm through emergency fuel delivery or continued electric service.
Items can be dropped off at the Mayor's office from 8:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
A Town meeting is being held tonight in Ridgefield about the sale of town-owned land.
When Ridgefield purchased the Schlumberger property several years ago, the plan called for selling some of the land to recoup the cost to taxpayers. The first step of that plan will be before residents tonight.
Ridgefield is calling for the sale of about 5 acres of land off Old Quarry Road to be sold to developer Stephen Zemo. He has proposed construction of a hotel, a self storage building and a third commercial building. The 5 acres is across the from the main property.
The selling price is $1.25 million. The proposal gives the developer 30 days to conduct physical inspections and environmental investigations beyond what the town has done.
Tonight's Special Town Meeting is at 7:30pm in Town Hall.
Access Health CT, the state's online marketplace, is holding events throughout the state to provide information about Healthcare Reform and explain what financial help is available for residents. Counselors will also be on hand to walk people through the enrollment process.
Today's session in Danbury is from 2 to 7pm at Danbury Public Library.
To date, more than 23,000 Connecticut residents have enrolled in Access Health CT. It's about 9,000 new medicaid recipients and 14,000 enrollees with private insurance carriers.
Families of those who lost loved ones a year ago are marking today in different ways. The parents and siblings of the children and educators killed one year ago have become involved in a number of causes related to what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. Some are working toward school safety initiatives. They've also set up foundations supporting things their loved ones were passionate about.
In previous interviews with WLAD, Jenny Hubbard spoke of her daughter Catherine's love of animals. They are now working with the Animal Center of Newtown. Robbie Parker spoke of his daughter Emilie's love of art and an exhibit coming up in Danbury in her honor. Lynn McDonnell is among those working with the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns in response to the death of her daughter Grace.
Mark Barden is undeterred in his quest to change the culture of this country, saying that's not something that can be done in a couple of months or even a couple of years. He says it is his obligation to his son Daniel. Having lost her 6-year-old son Dylan, Nicole Hockley insists she won’t lose the fight to reduce gun violence. She is among a group of so-called accidental activist parents. Hockley says no matter how much tragedy affects you, you have to find a way forward, you have to invest in life.
Krista Rekos, whose daughter Jessica was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, says they want their loved ones remembered for the lives they lived and how they touched their families hearts. JoAnn Bacon, mother of Charlotte, says each family is unique in the experiences following the tragedy, each has their own voice and perspective. The families of Noah Pozner and Madeline Hsu are remembering their children lovingly. The parents and siblings have created a website mysandyhookfamily.org.
Avielle Richman's parents are scientists who are now researching brain function to find potential causes for what happened. Josephine Gay's family has established a partnership with the Doug Floutie Foundation. Ana Grace Marquez Greene's father Jimmy, is a Western Connecticut State University Professor. The university has established a scholarship in the girl's name. Scarlett Lewis has written a book based on a message written by her son Jesse which she found after the shooting.
Benjamin Wheeler's family is remembering him for a love of lighthouses. Caroline Previdi's family has created a scholarship fund in her name to help children connect with their favorite activities. Chase Kowalski's family has created Race4Chase. Jack Pinto also had a love of sports. Olivia Engel's family is working with Newtown Park & Bark. Allison Wyatt's family created a memorial fund in her name. James Mattioli's family also created a memorial fund in his name.
Many families are involved in the advocacy organization Sandy Hook Promise, formed in the wake of the shootings.
The families of the educators, who were called heroes in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, have also done work to remember their loved ones. Funds were set up in honor of school principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach. Dylan died in the arms of his aide, Anne Marie Murphy. A fund was established by Rachel Davino's family to continue her legacy of helping autistic children. A scholarship was created in Lauren Rousseau's name by The University of Bridgeport. Victoria Soto's family has created a number of events in her name.
A number of organizations and religious institutions are offering events and services this weekend in Newtown. Governor Dannel Malloy is calling for houses of worship to mark the first anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School by ringing their bells 26 times at 9:30 Saturday morning.
Ben’s Bells Newtown studio will also have extended hours on Saturday, with its doors open from 9 am to 9 pm. A $5 donation is suggested. All ages are invited to create and/or paint clay beads, flowers and other pieces to be strung into works that are hung in public places, also paint Kindness Coins. Visit www.Facebook.com/BensBellsNewtown for additional information about the studio located at 17 Church Hill Road.
CT Counselors, at 107 Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook, will open its doors for individuals to visit, sit quietly and reflect between the hours of 1 and 4 pm. A group session called Reflections will also be offered, for those who would prefer to reflect in a group setting. Groups will begin at 2 pm and will be available first come, first served. For additional information call 203-270-9888 extension 2 or send e-mail to info@CTCounselors.com.
Newtown Youth and Family Services, 15 Berkshire Road, will be open Friday from 9 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from noon to 6 pm. The agency provides walk-in support services with staff therapists who can address concerns, answer questions and provide referrals for ongoing services if needed. The agency will also be open for its regular walk-in hours on Tuesday and Thursday, December 17 and 19, from 4 to 7 pm; and Wednesday, December 18, from 9 am until noon.
Information from the Town of Newtown's website:
Congregation Adath Israel (115 Huntingtown Rd.)
December 7 at 9:30 a.m.~ Regular Sabbath Saturday morning service followed by a Traditional Yizkor Memorial Service which will commence at about 11 a.m. and will include traditional liturgy and memorial readings. Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray will assist Rabbi Praver in the Service. We hold this service on the 7th rather than on the 14th because we are following the Hebrew date of the anniversary.
December 14 at 3:00 p.m. - A time for contemplation and commemoration with readings and quiet music. For more info: 203-426-5188
Trinity Episcopal Church~(34 Main St.)
Saturday, December 14th~at 9:00 a.m. Service will include prayer, music, silence, Eucharist and the lighting of candles for remembrance and comfort. The service will be followed by a pot-luck breakfast together with comfort dogs, music and art therapies for children and youth. The Church will be open all day for prayer.
A prayer vigil will be kept in the chapel at front of church on Main Street from~8:00 p.m. Saturday to 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Sunday December 15th – In our worship we will celebrate Gaudete Sunday with Bishop Laura Ahrens among us. For more info: 203-426-9070.
Newtown Congregational Church (14 West St.)
December 14 at 9:00 a.m. - Service of Prayer and Reflection with the Newtown Youth Voices Choir. We will be joined by Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel as well as other faith leaders from our CT Conference and surrounding communities who have supported our leaders and our community on our journey this past year. Immediately following our gathering there will be a time for fellowship (including Fidelco Dogs) and refreshments in the Great Room. The sanctuary will be open for individual reflection and prayer all day. For more info: 203 426-9024
The~Newtown United Methodist Church,
The Baha'i Community of Newtown
Dec. 14th at 9:00 a.m.~Our three communities will share a collaborative worship service hosted by the Methodist Church (92 Church Hill Rd.) The Sanctuary will remain open until 5:00 PM for individual prayer, reflection and support. For more info: (203) 426-9998
St. John's Church of Newtown
5 Washington Ave ~Sandy Hook Center, 06482. Memorial Service 12-14-13 at 5 PM. All are welcome. The Rev Mark R Moore, pastor, officiating.
Christ the King Lutheran Church (85 Mt. Pleasant Rd. - Rte. 6)
December 14 at 9:20 a.m. - Memorial Prayer Service and Comfort Dog Drop-In~
On the one year remembrance of the Sandy Hook School shootings, Christ the King will hold a simple memorial prayer service. All are invited to attend and are asked to be at the church by~9:20am. A brief prayer service will begin immediately afterwards.~ After the service's completion, we will have several of the Lutheran Church Charities comfort dogs (including our own Maggie and Addie from Immanuel Lutheran in Danbury) available in the Fellowship Hall for any within the community who can benefit from that service. This drop-in time will be held until noon. All are invited and the church will be kept a media-free property. For more info: (203) 426-6300
St. Rose Catholic Church
December 14 at 9:30 a.m. - Mass - Most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, will be the main celebrant and homilist. Bells of Remembrance from Washington, DC will be tolled prior to the service. Following Mass, a permanent memorial will be dedicated.
At~6:30 p.m. - Annual Living Nativity will take place on the grounds by our school.
At~7:30 p.m.~ - Candlelight Prayer service and dedication of the Angel of Hope statue (located in front of Saint Rose School) will take place.~For more info: (203) 426-1014
Faith at Newtown (4 Riverside Rd)
Newtown Christian Church (210 Sugar St.)
December 14 at 5:00 p.m. – Candlelight Vigil for those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Weather permitting – service will be held outdoors. For more info: 203-426-6189
New Hope Community Church
December 14~at 6:00 p.m. - Candlelight Vigil on the Ram's Pasture.~
Al Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown (all functions held at 115 Mt Pleasant Road)
Friday December 13, 1:00pm to 2:00pm - A congregational prayer for unity, peace and hope towards a better tomorrow.~
Saturday December 14th, 2pm to 4:30pm - Aromatic teas for the soul; a time for reflection and healing. A warm welcome for all to join us to soothe their souls with international teas and desserts. ~There will also be ~henna for all ages and ~arts and crafts for the children. ~This event is courtesy of Al Hedaya Islamic Center. ~
Sandy Hook Promise
December 14 from 4:00 to 5:00pm there will be a group meditation offered in the big community room of the library for those who learned the TM (transcendental meditation) technique that was offered to Newtown residents. A note from the organizers: If someone has a spouse or partner who wants to come and just sit with us or do some other technique that is ok but we are not promoting this a group meditation for everyone who does any kind of meditation.~We are not wanting to be exclusive but there is a more powerful group effect when everyone is doing the same technique.
Sandy Hook Promise announces that therapy dogs from Camp Bow Wow, based in Boulder, Colo., will be at C.H. Booth Library from 11 am to noon. Dogs from Camp Bow Wow visited Newtown previously, in August.
Walnut Hill Community Church (156 Walnut Hill Road, Bethel CT 06801)
Holding a public prayer service on Thursday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m.~~
RCN will be open from 9-3 on Saturday, December 14th offering a safe place for people to gather. ~We will have peer support, therapists and holistic services (reiki, reflexology, herbal remedies). ~
Newtown Kindness is planning NO events in our community near the anniversary. We are only encouraging others to tell us their stories of kindness!
Trinity Episcopal Church (36 Main Street)
Offerings for December 14 and 15, 2013 - In an effort to gather those who desire to come together on Saturday, December 14th there will be a service beginning at 9:00 a.m. which will include prayer, music, silence, Eucharist and the lighting of candles for remembrance and comfort. The service will be followed by a pot-luck breakfast together. Dr. Grant (a Jungian Psychiatrist and ordained minister) will be among us should anyone desire his support. There will be comfort dogs, music and art therapies for children and youth among us. Please feel free to invite anyone who might need to be in community on the 14th. Also feel free to attend both, one or the other or neither of these morning offerings. We simply want to offer support through opportunities to come together in worship and/or fellowship.
The Church will be open all day for prayer. Pastor Kathie will be available throughout the day. For those who would like to help us keep a prayer vigil from 8:00 p.m. Saturday to 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.
On Sunday December 15th we will celebrate Gaudete Sunday with Bishop Ahrens among us. Gaudete Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent and takes its name from the Latin word Gaudete- Rejoice- the first word of the introit of this day’s service: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Translated: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
The spirit of the Liturgy all through Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas- the Incarnation of God coming among us- as well as the second coming of Christ. The penitential nature of this season of preparation is suspended on Gaudete Sunday in order to symbolize the joy and gladness of our expectation that the coming of God among us will bring new life and renewed hope. All are most welcome.
Newtown Social Services and The Newtown Fund will be delivering holiday baskets for our needy families on the morning of 12/14/13.~ It is called Depo Day.~ Individual people, schools organizations, business all adopt and bring the purchases to our distribution place which this year will be at the Fraser Woods Montessori School 173 South Main Street, Newtown.~ I have been part of this for 25 years, it is amazing to see the generosity from the people of Newtown for the less fortunate. (The Newtown Funds)~ This fund has been in existence for over 30 years.~ Linda Bates is the Chairperson for the Newtown Fund board.~ Ann Piccini Newtown Social Services, 203-270-4330
Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness “Family Open Play”
December 14th, 9am-8pm: Free to all Newtown Residents.
Unlike previous “Open Plays” that NYA has hosted over the last year, this “Family Open Play” format is not a child drop off day. Instead, this day is about providing families a safe media free opportunity to play with neighbors, friends and each other. Multiple games and activities will be provided to encourage this theme. All residents should feel welcome to attend and join in at any capacity they’d like. There is no registration, but waivers must be completed upon arrival.
Day’s Events & Timing: The building will be open from 9am- 8pm. There will sporting equipment available for free game activity in any space not being used during the structured time line below.
10:00a-4:00p – Bounce House, Slide & Obstacle Course for 3-14 years old in the Field House Courtside Turf Area.
10:00a-1:00p – Organized Family Soccer Games for all ages on the Turf Area.
1:00p-2:00p – Volleyball Games for all ages in the Field House.
2:00p-4:00p – Basketball Games for all ages in the Field House.
1:00p-4:00p – Whiffle Ball & Kickball Games for all ages in the Field House Tennis Court.
4:00p-8:00p – Basketball Games for 14 Years and Older in the Field House Tennis Court.
Governor Dannel Malloy has directed flags to fly at half staff today in honor of those killed killed one year ago. He has asked houses of worship to ring their bells 26 times at 9:30 this morning as a way of honoring the lives lost. Malloy is also encouraging people to perform acts of kindness today.
First Selectman Pat Llodra says she will be out in the community today at church, shopping and having meals there. She said it's important to see people enjoying Sandy Hook.
Over the past year, work settled into more familiar routines for officials such as Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, who worked seven days a week for months as his department helped watch over a town on edge. Kehoe says their responsibilities now are to be resilient, to heal and recover.
Kehoe says there will be an increased police presence in town today.
Kehoe says his officers are still recovering, those who responded to the shooting were shattered by what they saw. Kehoe says there's not a lot of answers to "why", but you have to work through that to understand that officers did the best that you could.
Redding police are urging residents to be vigilant this holiday season. Police report that a resident was charged for purchases made in Texas by someone else at the start of the month. A different Redding resident had a credit card opened in their name.
Chief Douglas Fuchs told the Redding Pilot that the credit card case from last Friday involved a person opening a card in someone else's name at the Danbury Fair Mall and making $1,000 worth of purchases.
Police urged residents to have packages delivered to their office, or at a time when someone is home.
The Newtown Legislative Council is discussing the possibility of using eminent domain to acquire a piece of land to cerate a new access road for the rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School. First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Newtown Bee that negotiations so far have been unsuccessful.
She say the negotiations are continuing and she is hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the Legislative Council decides to move forward with eminent domain. But she stressed that time is of the essence because of the construction schedule.
An informational hearing is being held on Saturday in Ridgefield about a proposal by Homeland Towers for an AT&T cell phone tower. The session is being held by the Danbury-based company to present their site development plans and answer questions about their presentation.
The proposal for three acres off Old Stagecoach Road still needs to be presented to the Connecticut Siting Council for a review before any action is taken by the town.
Saturday's informational meeting will be held in Town Hall at 10:30am.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Former IBM executive Nicholas Donofrio of Ridgefield will take over the chairmanship of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday.
Malloy also named JoAnn Price of Avon as a member of the board, which governs the four Connecticut State University campuses, 12 community colleges and an online college - excluding the University of Connecticut.
The last board chairman, Lewis Robinson, resigned in August, saying it was time for others to lead. His exit followed controversy in the higher education system, including the resignation of Board of Regents President Robert Kennedy last year after he awarded $250,000 in pay raises to employees without the board's knowledge.
Donofrio has been a member of the Board of Regents since its launch in January 2012. He worked at IBM for 41 years and retired in 2008 as executive vice president for innovation and technology.
"Higher education has been and remains a priority for me," Donofrio said in a statement. "It has been a privilege to work with so many talented people in our state's higher education system along with my colleagues on the Board of Regents. I am humbled and honored to now be asked by Governor Malloy to lead our efforts."
Malloy said Donofrio's strong ties to the business community will help the higher education system in its efforts to better connect with the corporate sector and prepare students for the workforce.
Price is a co-founder and managing partner of Fairview Capitol, a West Hartford-based private equity investment firm.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- A year later, inside the big house on Berkshire Road, dolls fill the shelves of a living room and flowers and rainbows decorate a kitchen window, next to a little girl's name: Avielle.
Outside, all around town, Christmas lights shimmer again. But so, too, do the 26 bronze stars that sit atop the local firehouse, one for each adult and child gunned down at a school one unimaginable day.
In so many ways, this is a place frozen in time. Ribbons of green - the Sandy Hook Elementary School color - stay tied to mailboxes and storefronts, just as a curly-haired girl smiles from a framed photograph that remains atop a mantel inside Jeremy Richman's century-old home.
People might assume the hurt that accompanies tragedy fades with time. But, says Richman, who last Dec. 14 lost his only child, "I miss Avielle more every day."
It's been a painful and frenetic year, for the Richmans and for all of Newtown. From horror came despair and, soon, attempts at moving beyond one of the nation's deadliest shootings. There were the logistics of recovery to tend to and decisions about whether to raze the school where so many perished.
The Labor Day parade marched on, and as foliage turned red and yellow, small survivors filed back into school with their parents' shaky assurances they would be safe.
"For us, it's not an event. It's something we live with every single day of our lives," says Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra, who called together a panel of community leaders, mental health experts, clergy members and residents to consider what to do about the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. To avoid drawing more media attention, they decided not to hold any formal remembrances. Llodra and the victims' families have urged people to mark the date with acts of service and kindness.
"We can't change what happened to us," Llodra says, "but we have a choice in how we respond."
And so they will do what they've done for a year: balance trying to remember with wanting to forget, and help one another cope with seasons' worth of grief few outsiders can fathom.
On a frigid December night, only hours after Adam Lanza carried out his rampage, Llodra stood before a church overflowing with stunned townspeople. As some outside sang "Silent Night," she took the podium to address those gathered inside for a candlelight vigil.
"It will be in my head forever to look out at their faces and see how much they were wounded," she says.
From that day, through Christmas and the long winter, the families and the town endured immense grief, beginning with an unrelenting procession of funerals, as they grappled with the toll of the tragedy - 20 first-grade children and six educators gunned down in minutes by a troubled and socially isolated young man with a semi-automatic rifle.
Among the clergy members who counseled families that night in the Sandy Hook firehouse was Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of the St. Rose of Lima church, who tears up as he remembers the brother of a young victim asking whom he would play with since his sister had been killed.
Father Bob, as he is known in town, presided over the funerals for eight of the children. But his lowest moment came two days after the shooting, when he had to ask worshippers to leave halfway through a Mass because of a call from someone threatening to finish the job Lanza started.
"That's the moment that changed me," he says. "I mean, what is safe for us anymore?"
Llodra, a 71-year-old former high school teacher and grandmother, had been Newtown's top elected official for three years. She felt despondent herself, but she told the crowd at the vigil to put one foot in front of the other, and she steeled herself not to give in to emotion. She drew on lessons from the loss of her own child, a 44-year-old daughter who had died three years earlier, and the advice of officials from Littleton and Aurora, Colo., and Blacksburg, Va., who called to talk over how they had dealt with their own mass shootings.
She learned from them that there is no handbook, no one way to lead a town through tragedy.
"I used all of their advice in one way or another," she says. "It was to try to find a way to try not to get overwhelmed. It was to find a way to arm yourself with strength, because the emotional impacts are going to be huge."
Richman and his wife, Jennifer, were barely functional. And yet as they gathered with friends who offered support, an idea emerged on the day of 6-year-old Avielle's funeral for a way to channel their grief and try to prevent other such tragedies - a foundation to support research into the brain pathologies behind violence.
Other victims' families began pursuing their own advocacy projects, trying to create a legacy other than loss. Some immersed themselves in the push for new gun laws. Another group worked to find ways to make the country's schools safer. Still others tried to occupy themselves with charity work in memory of their loved ones.
For the Richmans, the chores of applying for the appropriate tax status and setting up a website for the Avielle Foundation became welcome distractions. Eventually, on Feb. 1, Richman returned to his research job at a pharmaceutical company. He still wasn't in a good place, but he had bills to pay. He assured his co-workers he wanted to talk about his daughter, and hear about their children, too. But it was clear to his colleagues that Richman was elsewhere.
"If I'm leading a meeting and I'm talking and suddenly I'm somewhere else, they'll pause and say, `Hey man, come on back.' And I'll come back," he recalls.
Spring brought some of the first steps toward reimagined lives, including a meeting to decide what to do with the school building.
About 25 chairs had been set out for the public at the May gathering, but more than three times that number of parents, teachers and others crowded in. While some argued that knocking down the school would be giving up too much to the gunman, teachers pleaded to not have to return to the site. A father said he wouldn't want his son going to school where his sister was slain.
A week later, a task force decided the building would be razed. Says Llodra, whose own three children attended the school in the 1970s, "It always was a school that was a happy place."
Work settled into more familiar routines for officials such as Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, who worked seven days a week for months as his department helped watch over a town on edge. But his officers were still recovering, too. Those who responded to the shooting were shattered by what they saw and needed time off.
"You kind of always want to answer the question `why,' and there's not a lot of answers," Kehoe says. "But you have to work through that to understand that it's not because of you it happened, and you're not responsible for it and that you did the best that you could. And now you have many more responsibilities - to be resilient, to heal and recover."
For Richman, the spring brought bittersweet progress as he announced an advisory board for his foundation. An invitation to a White House event on mental health led to a meeting with President Barack Obama. Then the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April set him back by bringing up memories of the massacre.
He found some solace in running, working out in his shed and surrounding himself with friends, including other parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook. They began gathering occasionally on weekends to watch sports, and to remember.
"We have a lot of discussions, and that's the best therapy - talking to different people ... about life and joy and how to enjoy life," he says. "We visit with Avie's friends and see how they're growing. That brings a lot of joy."
In October, as the leaves turned, fences with no-trespassing signs went up and work began on tearing Sandy Hook down. Within weeks, the school was rubble.
Some victims' parents joined a commission to begin considering ideas for a permanent memorial as the town focused more on trying to move forward.
Halloween displays went up as usual, but Weiss, the priest, was glad to see the themes were happy and less macabre than in years past. Still, the costumes and monsters made it a difficult time for some children, and Weiss counseled some for whom the nightmares returned.
The children who survived the attack still struggled to cope with the horrors they witnessed. Many even now cannot sleep unless they are in their parents' beds, and others won't go outside without holding somebody's hand. At Weiss' parochial school, there has been more emotion and more physical aggression.
Nobody in town can escape the stress, he says. Even everyday greetings have taken on a new meaning.
"When they look at me and say, `How are you,' I know what they are asking," he says. "They are asking something much deeper than how are you feeling. They are asking about everything that's going on here."
One late October afternoon found Richman at home, with his dog stretched out at his feet, delivering a lecture by webcast from a front room filled with his foundation's paperwork. As he addressed his audience, he discussed the levels of violence in America and the efforts of his foundation.
He touched briefly on the loss of his daughter, but had to wipe a tear away only once, when he said tomorrow's innovators will be the ones who today are playing in sandboxes.
Three days before Thanksgiving, investigators released their final report about what happened inside Sandy Hook. It shed no new light on the gunman's motives but dredged up the horrors of that awful December day. And a little more than a week before the one-year anniversary, the 911 calls made that morning were released.
Many victims' families are planning to be out of town on 12/14. Richman says he and his wife will be somewhere with friends.
"We just want to be thinking of Avielle and where she would have been at 7 instead of at 6," he says, "and hopefully what we can do to prevent somebody else from feeling that sadness."
Christmastime has returned to Newtown and, along Main Street, families have been putting a single electric candle in each front window of the mostly Colonial houses. On side streets, elaborate displays of colored lights twinkle. Wreaths are going up in businesses, and every evening more trees can be spotted in shops and homes.
A few days before the anniversary of the day that scarred them, townspeople gathered in a park at the foot of Main Street for the annual tree lighting ceremony. The event, to which hundreds of candle luminaries lead the way, is usually both fun and solemn, and surely was again this year.
Newtown, in its way, takes another step forward.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Having already lost her 6-year-old son, Nicole Hockley insists she won’t lose the fight to reduce gun violence — no matter how long it takes.
She is among a group of ‘‘accidental activist’’ parents brought together one year ago by almost unthinkable grief after the Newtown school massacre. The shootings were so horrific that many predicted they would force Congress to approve long-stalled legislation to tighten the nation’s gun laws.
They did not.
A divided Congress denied President Barack Obama’s calls for changes. The national gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, is arguably stronger than ever. And surveys suggest that support for new gun laws is slipping as the Newtown memory fades.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that that 52 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws, while 31 percent want them left as they are and 15 percent say they should be loosened. But the strength of the support for tighter controls has dropped since January, when 58 percent said gun laws should be tightened and just 5 percent felt they were too strong.
After a year of personal suffering and political frustration, Hockley and other Newtown parents are fighting to stay optimistic as their effort builds a national operation backed by an alliance of well-funded organizations working to pressure Congress ahead of next fall’s elections. The groups are sending dozens of paid staff into key states, enlisting thousands of volunteer activists and preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars against politicians who stand in the way of their goals.
It may well take time, they say, to counter the influence of the NRA on Capitol Hill.
‘‘I know it’s not a matter of if it happens. It’s a matter of when. This absolutely keeps me going,’’ says Hockley, who joined a handful of Newtown parents in a private White House meeting with Vice President Joe Biden this week. ‘‘No matter how much tragedy affects you, you have to find a way forward. You have to invest in life.’’
Hockley’s son Dylan was among 26 people shot to death — including 20 first graders — last Dec. 14 inside Sandy Hook Elementary. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza used a military-style assault rifle in the Friday-morning attack that ended when he killed himself.
The shootings profoundly changed this small Connecticut community and thrust gun violence back into the national debate. Led by Obama, gun control advocates called for background checks for all gun purchasers and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Hockley and other Newtown parents hastened into action, privately lobbying members of Congress for changes. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has spent roughly $15 million this year on advertising to influence the debate. And former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011, launched a national tour calling for background checks.
Yet Congress has enacted no new gun curbs since the Newtown shooting.
The inaction in Washington underscores the ongoing potency of the NRA and other gun rights groups, opposition from most Republicans and the reluctance of many Democrats from GOP-leaning states to anger voters by further restricting firearms.
Nearly eight months since the Senate rejected expanded background checks for gun buyers — the year’s foremost legislative effort on the issue — Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hasn’t found the five votes he would need to revive the measure. He has said he won’t revisit the bill until he has the 60 votes he would need to prevail.
Says Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy: ‘‘I was repulsed by the inability of the Congress of the United States to deal with reality.’’
But there is little sign of resentment or resignation from the most prominent gun control groups. They’re re-doubling their efforts before next fall’s elections.
The head of Bloomberg’s organization says that the billionaire New York mayor is installing paid staff in more than a dozen states expected to take up gun control legislation next year to complement a robust Washington lobbying operation and television ads.
‘‘In 2012, the mayor spent about $10 million or so dipping his toe in the water. I guess we'll find out what the whole foot looks like in 2014,’’ said Mark Glaze, Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ executive director.
Giffords’ also promises to be a major player, despite health limitations. Her group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, has created a nonprofit and political action committee on pace to raise more than $20 million before the midterms, according to group officials.
‘‘You can’t have 20 first-graders murdered in their classroom, and have a country that’s done nothing about it and just think the issue’s going away,’’ says Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. ‘‘We’re going to keep the press on.’’
Hockley belongs to a group called Sandy Hook Promise, which recently started a campaign to recruit 500,000 parents nationwide to join its effort before this week’s anniversary. They’re enlisting the help of celebrities such as including Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill and Alyssa Milano.
Yet there’s division even among like-minded groups over whether to push for background checks or a less-contentious mental health bill.
Sandy Hook Promise is now focusing more on mental health. Bloomberg is pushing aggressively for background checks. And Giffords’ group wants both, although Kelly says he has low expectations for background checks in the short term.
Like other Newtown parents, Mark Barden is undeterred.
‘‘We’re trying to change the culture, and you don’t do that in a couple of months or a couple of years even,’’ says Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel in last year’s shooting. ‘‘All my eggs are in this basket from now on. I have an obligation to my little Daniel.’’
Nearly $28 million has been raised by charities in the year since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Records filed with the state Attorney General's office shows more than $11 million of that has not been distributed yet. The Office is keeping track of the groups formed in the wake of the shootings last December, sending out surveys on how much money has been raised and how much has been distributed to the families of the victims.
63 organizations responded to the latest five-page voluntary survey. 14 groups have not responded and a spokeswoman for the Attorney General says the office is following up with them. The reason for the surveys has been to gauge whether the charities are distributing funds in keeping with how donors were told the money would be allocated.
Some of the charities are raising money for future needs, like Newtown Youth & Family Services. The counseling organization has seen a significant increase in the number of people needing mental health assistance. According to the Attorney General's office, in the the last year that organization has raised over $1 million and tripled in size.
This is the season for giving and many groups are hosting collect drives to spread holiday cheer. One of those groups is Operation Vet Fit of Bethel. Area combat veterans will be collecting new, unwrapped toys on Saturday. Organizer Dan Gaita says all of the gifts collected for children aged 4 to 16 will be given to the Dorothy Day House "Santa's Workshop", which helps needy families at Christmas.
The gifts are sorted by size and gender so a child can select their gifts. Last year, more than 800 were helped.
Saturday's Operation Vet Fit collection is taking place outside their Greenwood Avenue location from 11am to 1pm. Gaita says if people are short on time or want to avoid the cold, area veterans will be on the side walk collecting from people's car. He says drivers can pull over, roll down their window and hand over the gift.
Shaving cream, socks and toilet paper are not the traditional items that pop to mind when hearing the term "Christmas present". But those are exactly the kinds of items that are being collected for the Marine Corps Family Foundation Care Package Drive. Brookfield-based CULTEC Incorporated is collecting travel sized toiletries and other items through Saturday.
The holidays can be a difficult time for deployed troops--many young men and women away from home on Christmas for the first time. Others have spent multiple holidays away from home.
CFO Chris DiTullio says 923 care packages were sent last year. DiTullio says more than 14,000 pounds of snacks and personal care items made their way to soldiers serving overseas last year. Each care package is distributed among 40 troops.
Each care package costs $14.85 to ship and monetary donations are being collected as well to help offset that cost.
The Marine Corps Family Foundation is headquartered in New Britain and that location is collecting items through December 23rd. CULTEC has supported the Foundation for the past four years. They are located at 878 Federal Road.
Other items being collected include:
Rice Krispie Treats, Playing Cards, Body Powder, Snack mixes, Poker Chips, Sunflower Seeds, Razors, Chewing Gum, Dice, Foot Powder, Instant Coffee, Crossword puzzles, White Cup o’ Soup, Paperback Books, Cereal Bars, Magazines, Vitamins, Pringles Chips, Puzzle Books, Baby Wipes, Cookies, Tissue, Chapstick, Granola Bars, Sun Screen, Nuts, Hand Warmers
The Danbury Board of Education special meeting was still held Tuesday night, despite school being cancelled because of the snow. The group met to interview six candidates to fill two vacancies on the Board.
The public was invited to attend the meeting, but then the Board met in private to discuss the interviews. Before voting on the replacements, the meeting was reopened to the public.
The vacancies were created by the resignations of Sandy Steichen and Shirley Chilian. The candidates are Gary Falkenthal, Josiah Hills, David Metrena, Holly Robinson, Anthony Silva and Bob Taborsak.
The two appointed at last night's meeting are David Metrena and Bob Taborsak.
WASHINGTON (AP) Congress' easy renewal of an expiring ban on undetectable plastic guns belies the larger reality that major new firearms restrictions have little chance of enactment soon.
Lawmakers took an easy step Monday when the Democratic-run Senate unanimously gave final congressional approval to a bill adding another decade to the prohibition against guns that can slip by airport metal detectors and X-ray machines.
The National Rifle Association did not oppose the extension. But backed by the NRA, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to strengthen the law to fend off a fresh wave of undetectable guns produced by rapidly improving 3-D printers, which can make plastic firearms.
Saturday is the first anniversary of the massacre of children and educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
WASHINGTON (AP) Vice President Joe Biden is pledging more funding for mental health as the first anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting approaches.
The White House says $100 million will become available to increase access and quality of mental health services. Biden met with relatives of Newtown victims at the White House Tuesday to announce the funds.
The Obama administration will offer $50 million through the Affordable Care Act to help community health centers hire providers and add services for mental illness and addiction. The government aims to provide another $50 million in financing to help rural mental health facilities.
The Obama administration has made mental health a focus of efforts to reduce gun violence. Gun control legislation stalled in Congress after the Newtown shooting one year ago Saturday.
Each year, the Danbury Fire department responds to an average of 210 structure fires caused by Christmas trees. That statistic from Fire Chief Geoff Herald. If people have artificial trees, they should have a label from the manufacturer ensuring its fire retardant.
Many towns held their tree lighting ceremonies over the weekend and now that many people have trimmed their own tree, some caution is being urged. Herald says people should check how many strings of lights they have plugged into each other.
Herald says more than three strung together can overwhelm the electrical system. He says most manufacturers say LED lights can handle many more than that, but the manufacturers warning should be adhered to.
Herald says one of every three home Christmas fires is caused by electrical problems. A heat source too close to the Christmas tree causes one in about six tree fires according to Herald.
Volunteer advocates and elected officials are kicking off an "acts of kindness" week in Connecticut to honor the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senator Richard Blumenthal joined the United Way and others to call for volunteer work and other service to honor those killed last December.
Newtown is not hosting formal events to mark the anniversary Saturday.
Families of those killed say they will be lighting candles in the victims' memory the night before the shooting's anniversary. Relatives of 14 of the 26 victims appeared at a news conference Monday asking people to consider marking the anniversary with "acts of kindness".
A year later, inside the big house on Berkshire Road, dolls fill the shelves of a living room and sticky letters remain in place on a kitchen window. ``Avielle,'' they spell. Outside, Christmas lights shimmer again. But so, too, do the 26 bronze stars that sit atop the local firehouse, one for each adult and child killed. It has been a painful and frenetic year, for Avielle's parents and for all of Newtown.
Newtown officials are working this week to prepare the community for the anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr John Reed says they are hoping to have designs for a new school done by February. He says no part of the new school will follow the footprint of the original school where people lost their lives.
First Selectman Pat Llodra says Newtown residents are choosing not to allow the tragedy to be bigger than the goodness that can come out of it. She says the town can't make this tragedy "unhappen", but residents can chose how to react to it. Llodra says the community is working to gain its foothold around this difficult time.
Llodra says they are hoping to manage the week in the spirit of remembrance.
Interfaith Clergy Association leader Matthew Crebbins says kindness is a choice that has to be made every day. He says the town is cracked, to quote Leonard Cohen, but that's how the light gets in. He says the kindness of friends and neighbors and families in immense grief, are doing amazing things.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe says another report will be coming out by Connecticut State Police. He says it's voluminous and some things will be redacted, but it will be a thorough investigative report. He says State Police troopers have done all they can do to uncover every bit of information they could about this horrific event.
Kehoe says Newtown officers have made remarkable gains one year later, but there is a long road ahead.
Northeast Utilities is restructuring some of its workforce, with about two dozen employees being transferred from a work center in New Milford, to one in Newtown. Connecticut Light & Power officials say the New Milford center will close in 2014.
Spokesman Mitch Gross says the utility analyzed response times and decided that trucks in the service aware would still be able to respond efficiently to fire and accidents involving their equipment.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's governor is calling for houses of worship to mark the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting by ringing their bells 26 times once for each of the victims killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Last year Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked for bells to toll exactly one week after the Dec. 14 shooting.
He writes in an op-ed piece this weekend that he hopes houses of worship and other organizations will do the same thing at 9:30 a.m. next Saturday for people to grieve and to find the ``spirit of compassion and togetherness'' that emerged in the days after the tragedy.
On the anniversary the governor is urging people to donate to a charity, volunteer in their communities or appreciate time spent with friends and family.
The University of Connecticut has awarded the first two scholarships under a program launched to help those affected by last year's shooting.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz says federal privacy laws prevent them from saying who received the scholarships, which totaled $18,075. But she says they have been given to incoming students who have already enrolled at UConn.
The school has raised about $1.1 million for its Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship Fund. The money is earmarked for siblings of those killed, and the dependents of the adults who also lost their lives.
It also will be used in the future for students currently enrolled at the elementary school who are accepted to the university.
WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate is ready to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms, the kind that can pass through metal detectors and X-ray machines unnoticed.
But Monday's vote will be bittersweet for supporters of gun control.
It comes days before the anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Congress has approved no new federal curbs on firearms since then although President Barack Obama made it one of his top domestic priorities.
Monday's vote is to extend the prohibition on undetectable plastic guns for another decade. That ban would expire Tuesday.
But gun control advocates seem sure to lose an effort to impose tougher restrictions.
The Regional YMCA’s ESCAPE to the Arts Program is working with The Emilie Parker Art Connection to honor former ESCAPE student Emilie Parker. A week-long painting event from December 9-16 will be followed by an art exhibit from December 19 through January 17 in honor of Emilie titled “For Emilie”.
Emilie was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.
Alissa and Robbie Parker said at ESCAPE their daughter would have the chance to be taught how to further express herself and her love of art through drawing, pottery and painting. They said they were thrilled Emilie would have the opportunity to develop her passion rather than just creating what she could with the materials they could provide for her.
Robbie Parker says Emilie saw the world differently, and understood her world through colors. She would often mention the patterns and connections she noticed by pointing out examples to her parents that she saw with colors in nature, through her art and even in the way she dressed.
The Parkers say they want to honor their daughter by continuing to support the things that she loved. They created The Emilie Parker Art Connection.
Artists of all ages are invited to create a work of art on canvas with the theme “Art Connections.” Anyone who would like to participate in the project may pick up a canvas at ESCAPE to the Arts on Monday, December 9th from 9 am to 7 pm or provide your own. Completed canvases must be returned by Monday, December 16th from 9 am 7 pm.
The Parkers say they cherished everything Emilie brought home, many are displayed at emilieparkerfund.com.
The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce Previdi Award winner has been announced.
The Previdi Award has been presented to a Danbury area businessperson since 1988. An email from the Chamber says this year's recipient will be Paul Dinto, the President and CEO of Paul Dinto Electrical Contractors, Incorporated.
It's awarded to someone who has demonstrated progressive business attitudes, vision, leadership skills and entrepreneurial spirit which has been responsible for the growth, development and/or expansion of an area business, which has made a significant economic contribution to the city of Danbury and the region.
The award will be presented at the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon on Friday. Mayor Mark Boughton will also deliver his State of the City address during the event.
Metro North has been ordered by the Federal Government to operate trains with two qualified train crew members controlling locomotive cab or passenger car control compartments in areas where the speed limit changes by 20 miles per hour or more. The emergency order from the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration comes less than a week after a fatal derailment in New York. At the time of the derailment, the requirement was only one train crew member.
Metro North must also make signal system improvements to warn engineers of speed limit changes. The federal government is also ordering Metro North to submit an action plan to the FRA within the month that ensures the safety of its operations for passengers and employees.
Former Connecticut Rail Commuter Council member Jim Cameron says he is organizing the Commuter Action Group because the same problems have been ignored over and over again. He says the new Connecticut Rail Commuter Council has a lot of members from upstate, who are not commuters, and are not showing same level of interest in the concerns of commuters.
Several new fire dispatchers were sworn in this week at Danbury City Hall.
Fire Chief Geoff Herald says its a first responder position that is very important in fighting fires and in other emergency situations. The dispatcher gives advice on CPR and other procedures in an emergency situation. He says fire dispatchers are also the ones to calm a person with an emergency.
He says they also have extensive training. They are all firefighters and have to be promoted to the position of dispatcher.
Danbury's Immaculate High School girls Cross Country team has been recognized for their undefeated season which resulted with the 16 girls winning the South West Conference title. During Tuesday's City Council meeting, the Mayor issued a proclamation for the team.
Coach Brian Hayes said it was special because the SWC is a strong conference. Immaculate is the smallest school in the conference. Hayes says when the girls won states last year but not the conference, it was great--but this year winning both was even better.
The Mayor's proclamation declared the next day, December 4th as Immaculate High School Cross Country Team Day in Danbury. Boughton said the team has made the school and community proud.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) FBI Director James Comey says the agency has stepped up training to police departments around the country after the Newtown school shooting and is trying to increase its understanding of warning signs before such tragedies.
Comey, speaking at the FBI in New Haven on Friday, said the agency's behavioral analysis unit is working on indicators that might occur so authorities can respond. Comey, who praised law enforcement's response to the Newtown school shooting a year ago, says the training to state and local first responders is designed to help them respond effectively.
Comey expressed concerns about homicides in Connecticut's largest cities, saying a new task force would help address the violence. He also says cyber crime is a growing threat and budget cuts are leading to the elimination of 3,500 positions at the agency.
How do you solve a problem like preparing a classic Broadway musical for live TV? If you're Wooster School 3rd grader Grace Rundhaug and the rest of the stars of last night's "The Sound of Music Live!" you practice hard during a six-week rehearsal period. The Danbury 3rd grader portrayed Marta von Trapp, opposite Carrie Underwood in the starring role of Maria.
Lower School Music Teacher Claire Simard says she and others have been looking forward to seeing Grace on TV since they learned she got the part. Simard says the school is excited to welcome Grace home.
Grace portrayed Marta in the production by the Westchester Broadway Theater this past summer.
A Danbury fire fighter has been promoted to Lieutenant and new fire dispatchers have been sworn in. Fire Fighter Nicholas Cabral has been promoted, after working for the Danbury Fire Department since 2006. He previously served with a volunteer company and was in the U.S. Army National Guard.
Council President Joe Cavo, who works for the Fire Department, touted Cabral's work.
Cabral is working on his Associated Degree in Fire Science Technology at Naugatuck Community College.
Cabral is certified as: Fire Service Instructor, Incident Safety Officer, Advanced EMT, Core Rescue Technician, Juvenile Fire Setters Intervention Specialist, Aerial Operator, Pump Operator, Rapid Intervention Team Training and Confined Space Rescue.
Cabral has received many letters of commendations and citations.
The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association has released its findings of an analysis of police response to Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th.
The report, which was called for by Newtown Chief Michael Kehoe, was completed by a group of police chiefs from outside of Fairfield County with no prior relationship to the Newtown Police. The goal of their analysis was to determine whether the police response to the school shooting was timely and in keeping with current law enforcement best practices.
The subcommittee found that Newtown officers responded to the scene rapidly, positioned themselves appropriately, and followed their department policy.
The group studied 911 calls, in-car police cameras and other materials. They also made a site visit to Newtown and viewed the officers’ response routes, staging location, and layout of the school building, including entry points. Newtown is 59 square miles, and the report says the size of the community was taken into account as well as the location of officers when the emergency call was received.
The report says the accepted practice is that first arriving officers would park at a reasonable distance to assess the status and location of the threat. In reviewing the nearly 6 minutes before officers entered the building, the group found that activity on the exterior of the building drew the immediate attention of arriving officers.
Sandy Hook Elementary staff members were hailed as heroes in the days after the shootings. Officials say they may have prevented further loss through selfless actions and smart snap judgments. That included the head custodian who risked his life by running through the halls warning of danger. Among the 911 calls released Wednesday by the town were ones between Rick Thorne and a Newtown dispatcher.
Days after the shootings, then-Superintendent of Schools Dr Janet Robinson noted "incredible acts of heroism" that "ultimately saved so many lives."
In her blog, First Selectman Pat Llodra said Wednesday that there is great personal pain in this event.
An agreement between the state and six unions will provide some support to state employees who responded to Sandy Hook Elementary last year. Governor Dannel Malloy today announced that first responders and other state employees who were significantly involved will be credited with forty hours of compensatory time for their response.
Connecticut State Police Union President Andrew Matthews says there is no question that every state employee who witnessed the tragedy firsthand was in need of this support to cope with the consequences of the horrific scene that may never be erased from their minds. Matthews said State troopers, both on and off-duty, ran towards the face of evil and witnessed one of the most violent events our country has ever seen.
Lt Governor Nancy Wyman says this was a crime of unprecedented scope that produced an unprecedented level of trauma for so many who were involved in the response.
Malloy says the benefit is intended to recognize the extraordinary nature of the tragedy and that many of these individuals took sick and vacation time to deal with personal matters related to the incident.
Malloy says responders need time to recover from the severe nature of what they experienced through simply doing their jobs. He called this agreement only one step, but an important one to recognize the professionals who are there during unimaginable moments of difficulty.
The agreement will be submitted to the General Assembly for final approval. If no action is taken, it will take effect after 30 days.
The flag on Main Street in Newtown has been lowered to half-staff to honor former First Selectman Jack Rosenthal, who died on November 26th at the age of 94.
A memorial service is planned for this morning at 11:30 at Newtown Meeting House. The flag will be returned to full staff following the service.
Rosenthal was in the U.S. Army and trained as a medical technician. He worked in the insurance industry and held many elected positions in Newtown over his lifetime. He also was active with the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company.
Funeral services will be private. Interment in Newtown Village Cemetery will also be private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Newtown Scholarship Association, or The Masonicare At Newtown Quality of Life Fund, 139 Toddy Hill Road, Newtown CT 06470.
Newtown will have a strong police presence in Sandy Hook next weekend.
At a press conference Tuesday, Chief Michael Kehoe said the officers would be out on December 14th to keep private parking lots open ant to prevent traffic jams. He also said that any makeshift memorials of cards, flowers, stuffed animals and other items left by the side of the road will be promptly removed.
First Selectman Pat Llodra said the best way to honor those who lost their lives nearly a year ago would be to pay it forward. She says that has the potential to do some good in a really sustainable way.
Bethel officials are holding an informational hearing tonight about a proposed cell phone tower. The meeting is about the proposal for near Codfish Hill Road of a 150 foot wireless telecommunications tower.
The parcel of land in question is nearly 50 acres. AT&T has made the proposal, but the tower could also be used by three other wireless carriers.
The informational meeting is tonight at 7 in the Municipal Center Meeting Room A.
A proposed 7 year tax deferral for a housing project in Danbury has been put off for a month by the City Council. At their meeting Tuesday, the Council voted to take up the deferral for a developer of the Kennedy Place Property in January.
Councilman Warren Levy says he wants more information about the project. Virginia-based Greystar Development proposed building 375 units of market rate apartments.
Mayor Mark Boughton says the city isn't spending any money by approving the deferral and isn't losing any because right now Danbury is not making money off the property. After completion, the developer would pay about $300,000 annually in taxes even with the deferral. After 7 years, that figure could be around $2 million in taxes annually.
Boughton says the project could result in a $70-million investment in downtown.
The property is being sold by BRT, which came under fire from several City Council members when they built the Crosby Street apartments using a tax break meant to bring people downtown and turned it into student housing for West Conn. Boughton says that won't be the case with this development.
A local lawmaker is calling on Metro North to reassess its priorities. Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says the two derailments and the death of a track foreman, puts the railroad's credibility on the line.
She says the rail line needs better oversight, especially because it's one of the most heavily used in the country.
Boucher says there's new technology that is being required by the federal government by 2015 that should help reduce human errors. She says it's a computer system that could have prevented what happened in New York.
Boucher is also calling on Governor Malloy to put back $91 million that she says was raided from the special transportation fund. Boucher says commuters have been calling and emailing her saying they are concerned with the safety of the trains.
Boucher says this is just like the power companies, which she criticized after storms Irene and Sandy. She says consumer are paying a lot, and much of that money is going into other areas salaries, benefits and so forth. Boucher says that's all well and good, but the railroad is delaying important normal maintenance that should be there.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that were released Wednesday show town dispatchers urged panicked callers to take cover, mobilized help and asked about the welfare of the children as gunshots could be heard at times in the background.
One caller told police in a trembling, breathless voice that a gunman was shooting inside the building.
"I caught a glimpse of somebody. They're running down the hallway. Oh, they're still running and still shooting. Sandy Hook school, please," the woman said.
In the minutes that followed, staff members inside the school pleaded for help as Newtown police juggled the barrage of calls.
The calls were posted on the town's website under a court order after a lengthy effort by The Associated Press to have them released for review.
Another call came from a custodian, Rick Thorne, who said that a window at the front of the school was shattered and that he kept hearing shooting. While on the line with Thorne, the dispatcher told somebody off the call: "Get everyone you can going down there."
Thorne remained on the phone for several minutes.
"There's still shooting going on, please!" the custodian pleaded to Newtown's 911 dispatcher, as six or seven shots could be heard booming in the background. "Still, it's still going on!"
The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot his way into the school the morning of Dec. 14 and killed 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle. He also killed his mother in their Newtown home before driving to the school, and he committed suicide as police arrived at the scene.
Seven recordings of landline calls from inside the school to Newtown police were posted. Calls that were routed to state police are the subject of a separate, pending freedom of information request by the AP.
Prosecutors opposed the tapes' release, arguing among other things that the recordings could cause the victims' families more anguish.
"We all understand why some people have strong feelings about the release of these tapes. This was a horrible crime," said Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor and senior vice president. "It's important to remember, though, that 911 tapes, like other police documents, are public records. Reviewing them is a part of normal newsgathering in a responsible news organization."
As the town prepared to release the tapes, the superintendent of Newtown schools, John Reed, advised parents to consider taking steps to limit media exposure for their families, as he did before the release last week of a prosecutor's report on the attack.
On the day of the shooting, the AP requested 911 calls and police reports, as it and other news organizations routinely do in their newsgathering.
Newtown's police department effectively ignored the AP's request for months until the news cooperative appealed to the state's Freedom of Information Commission, which said in September that the recordings should be released.
The prosecutor in charge of the Newtown investigation, State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, had argued that releasing the tapes could prove painful to the victims' families, hurt the investigation, subject witnesses to harassment and violate the rights of survivors who deserve special protection as victims of child abuse.
A state judge dismissed those arguments last week and ordered the tapes be released Wednesday unless the state appealed.
"Release of the audio recordings will also allow the public to consider and weigh what improvements, if any, should be made to law enforcement's response to such incidents," Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said.
"Delaying the release of the audio recordings, particularly where the legal justification to keep them confidential is lacking, only serves to fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in our law enforcement officials."
Danbury Hospital has received a $1 million donation from Maplewood Senior Living CEO Gregory Smith. The gift was made to the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation.
Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr John Murphy says the money will go to the pediatrics department. The reason for that designation he says is that Smith's son was born at just 26 weeks. Smith previously donated money to Danbury Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The new emergency department that's being constructed in Danbury will double the number of rooms for children.
New Milford's Mayor is now the town's longest serving Mayor. Patricia Murphy was sworn in to another term this week. She says she wants to build on what she and others in New Milford have been doing.
She called it's an honor and says it's an awesome privilege and responsibility.
Murphy says she didn't realize how emotional this week's swearing in ceremony would be. Much like 10 years ago, she couldn't sleep the night before the swearing in. But unlike then, she says she now knows how many people she has helping her and standing behind her.
Murphy says she wants to build on what she and others in New Milford have been doing.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has dismissed a national gun industry group's lawsuit challenging a wide-ranging firearms law passed by Connecticut in response to the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven ruled Monday that the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. doesn't have legal standing to challenge how state officials approved the law.
The foundation sued Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, legislative leaders and other officials in July, claiming the emergency legislation was approved illegally in April without proper public input, without time for adequate review and without an explanation of why the usual legislative process needed to be bypassed.
The law expanded a ban on assault weapons and prohibits large-capacity ammunition magazines.
The public hearing tonight is on the proposed sale agreement for a 5-acre parcel of land on Old Quarry Road. Developer Stephen Zemo has proposed purchasing the piece of the former Schlumberger property. He has proposed construction of a hotel, a self storage building and a third commercial building.
The 5 acres is across the from the main property. This is the only proposed sale agreement on the agenda for the public hearing tonight at 7:30 in Town Hall.
The town is also reportedly in talks to sell 13 acres, including the Philip Johnson building, to an art collector. 10 acres could be sold to a developer for multi-family housing units.
Newtown officials say the 911 recordings from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year will be released to the public tomorrow afternoon.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled last week that the 911 tapes should be released to The Associated Press after a lengthy fight over the records, which investigators have withheld. The lead investigator of the shooting, Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, raised several arguments to shield the recordings. The arguments were rejected first by Connecticut's Freedom of Information Commission, which ruled in favor of the AP in September, and then the judge who ordered their release.
Sedensky said in a statement Monday that he would not appeal the judge's ruling after consulting with the Chief State's Attorney and Newtown's Attorney.
Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said last week delaying the release of the audio recordings, particularly where the legal justification to keep them confidential is lacking, only serves to fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in law enforcement officials.
The AP has sought the recordings in part to examine the police response.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) The Newtown, Conn., high school's football team won't have to play on the anniversary of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings if it reaches the state championship game.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced Monday it approved Newtown High School's request to hold the game Dec. 13 instead of Dec. 14 if Newtown reaches the final at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
Conference spokesman Joel Cookson says the governing group's football committee decided it wouldn't be appropriate for the Newtown Nighthawks to play Dec. 14, a year after a gunman killed 20 students and six adults at the Sandy Hook School.
The football team dedicated its season to the shooting victims and went 12-0.
The Nighthawks open the playoffs Tuesday against 9-2 Ridgefield.
Ridgefield could soon be looking for a new Fire Chief.
Heather Burford, who has served in that position for the past seven years, has been offered the same position in Seminole County Florida. Burford told the Ridgefield Press that she needs to pass a physical and background check before she officially takes on the new job.
Burford plans to step down from the role as Ridgefield Fire Chief and assistant fire chief Kevin Tappe would likely step up into the position in transition.
A pediatrician is stepping up as Medical Director of the Greater Danbury Community Health Center. Dr David Savarese has been appointed to the position. He most recently served in a similar role at a health center in Norwalk. Connecticut Institute For Communities Executive Director James Maloney says Savarese will still be a practicing pediatrician.
This appointment follows the retirement of Dr Thomas Draper. The Health Center's pediatrician is also retiring. Dr Savarese will essentially take over that practice as well.
The Health Center provides primary care for children, adolescents and adults.
Danbury City Council members have been sworn in. At last night's special meeting, some familiar faces were not there. Mary Teicholz, who served for 10 years, opted not to seek reelection. Mayor Mark Boughton had praise for her at their last meeting.
Teicholz battled Leukemia during her time on the Council and is in remission. She called the support of her fellow Council members her determination.
Shay Nagresheth, who served for a decade, also decided not to seek reelection. Boughton said he was proud to recruit Nagresheth off the Environmental Impact Commission.
Phillip Colla was also among those who decided not to run for reelection. He served for two terms.
At 12:01 pm Monday, Boughton began his 7th term and made his way into the history books as the longest serving Mayor in the City of Danbury.
In an emailed statement Boughton said: “I am truly humbled by the support and confidence the Danbury voters have placed in me over the last twelve years. My service to this community continues unwavering as I begin my seventh term; there is still more that is left to be done and I am excited to be a part of the bright future of Danbury.”
This is the season of giving, but for all of the acts of kindness, there are those looking to cash in on the holiday spirit. The Bethel Fire Department is warning of a telephone scam. Some residents have called asking if the department was seeking cash donations.
Bethel Fire Officials say they do not solicit donations by phone.
Some state officials say there's more that needs to be done to improve the welfare of children in Connecticut. While the state has taken numerous steps to protect children in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, Vice Chair of the legislature's Children's Committee Fairfield Representative Kim Fawcett says the progress can't stop.
Fawcett sees the chance for Connecticut to become a national leader for children in areas such as health care, education and public safety. She says the state has taken steps to improve mental health services for children, although more can always be done.
Jean Amay-Demoray of Westport-based Save the Children, says the state needs to do more to protect children--building on progress in planning for the safety of children in schools. She says preparedness planning and caretaker training needs better coordination.
The heat is turned on and people are using candles for Hanukkah or as Christmas decorations. This is a busy time of year for fire safety. Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald says the Department recently received a $2,000 donation for High Rise Fire Safety Training.
The donation is from Danbury Hospital. Structures where the Department's 100 foot ladder would have trouble getting to all floors or the roof are considered high rise structures. Even if there aren't many floors in a building but the terrain around the building makes it hard to fight a fire from the outside, that structure would also be considered a high rise.
He cited examples of the 12 story tower at Danbury Hospital and Housing Authority properties on Beaver Street and a couple on Main Street.
Herald says tall buildings require fire fighters to go inside to battle a blaze so the training seminar will address the risks firefighters face in the process. Herald says the training seminar will address the special issues for attacking these fires as well.
Grey Thursday, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are in the books. Up today: Cyber Monday. Online retailers have found that after people hit the stores over the weekend, they turn to the internet to see if there are better deals. But state Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein says shoppers should be wary.
Rubenstein says the Department will work with people who feel they've been wronged while shopping online. But he cautions that when a merchant has no contact with the state it's harder to engage those businesses to honor their commitments.
Rubenstein says shoppers should find companies with good track records, have been in business for a while and have a history of fulfilling orders. He adds that shoppers should be aware of whether or not they're buying real goods.