Local Headlines Archives for 2014-05

Army Reserve Center officially opens in Danbury

The Veterans Memorial Armed Forces Reserve Center has been dedicated. The ribbon was cut Friday afternoon on the $35 million dollar facility, located at 90 Wooster Heights Road in Danbury. 

 

City Councilman Tom Saadi, a U.S. Army reservist, says he is proud of the facility because Danbury has a long history of military support.   Military officials, Senator Chris Murphy, the Mayor and others were on hand for the opening ceremony.  

 

Eight Army Reserve Units, including the Danbury-based 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, and the Connecticut National Guard are assigned to the Center.

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Commander who led Newtown investigation to retire

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) The commander of the Connecticut State Police has announced he is stepping down.

Col. Daniel Stebbins, who led the investigation into the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, says he plans to retire at the end of June.

The 62-year-old Stebbins worked for the state police for more than 30 years.

He also served for six years as an investigator for the U.S. Attorney's Office, before returning to lead the state police in 2011.

Stebbins drew some criticism from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy last year after revealing details about Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza's obsession with mass murders to other police chiefs at a seminar in New Orleans before that information had been made public.

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National Democrats give $750,000 for Esty race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) National Democrats have bought more than $750,000 worth of campaign advertising time for U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a freshman in her first re-election battle.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $90,000 on New York City cable ads from Sept. 23 to Nov. 4, and $670,000 on Hartford broadcast and cable ads for Esty.

A spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C., campaign committee would not say if national Democrats view Esty as vulnerable because she's a freshman.

Emily Bittner, spokeswoman for the congressional campaign group, said Esty will face what she called unprecedented spending by Republican backers working to keep a GOP majority in the House of Representatives.

Litchfield real estate developer Mark Greenberg received the Connecticut Republican Party's backing to challenge Esty.

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Technical high school students detail energy use

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) Students in five Connecticut technical high schools have presented findings and recommendations from a year-long investigation of the environmental impact of their school's energy use.

The Connecticut Clean Trades Summit was held Thursday at Central Connecticut State University.

The program introduces construction trade students to careers in the energy industry and the opportunity to make their schools greener.

Participating schools are Norwich, Ella T. Grasso school in Groton, E.C. Goodwin in New Britain, Platt in Milford and Henry Abbott school in Danbury.

During the 2013-2014 school year, teams of 40 to 50 students from each school researched how their school uses energy, assessed water and environmental quality and evaluated recycling efforts. Students proposed energy-saving solutions that will be presented at the meeting.

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Ribbon cut at Danbury Innovation Center

The former Union Savings Bank building next to Danbury Library has been transformed into a place where people can gather to exchange ideas and use technology needed to transform their ideas into reality.  A cafe, the business counseling group SCORE and the Danbury Hackerspace are all located in the Innovation Center.  Danbury Economic Development Director Bruce Tuomala says the City's investment was about $500,000.

 

Tuomala says hard to define a hackerspace because it encompasses so much, but is designed for entrepreneurship, to grow business in the region.  There are various membership levels for using the space.

 

The cafe can also be accessed by Library patrons. 

 

Western Connecticut SCORE--a business counseling non-profit--is located in the center, which Tuomala says a great compliment to the Hackerspace.  SCORE can help entrepreneurs with business plans and start up companies.

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Area organizations slated to receive state bond money

Several area projects are set to receive funding from the state when the Bond Commission meets tomorrow.  The state Department of Economic and Community Development will provide Cartus with a $6.5 million loan to cover part of the more than $15 million estimated total cost of the expansion project.  Cartus will retain 1,275 jobs in Connecticut and create as many as 200 new jobs over five years. 

 

New Milford-based Neeltran Incorporated will receive $750,000 to match the company's million dollar investment to get new machinery and equipment.  The company will create 10 new full time jobs in two years. 

 

The Danbury War Memorial will also receive funding for a roof replacement project.

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Family of Newtown victim awards first scholarships

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The family of a first-grade teacher killed in the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School has awarded the first scholarships from a fund set up in her memory.

 

Victoria Soto's family has been raising money to help students from her hometown of Stratford pursue careers in education.

 

Last week the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund awarded scholarships of $5,026 to seniors Maggie Bodington from Stratford High School and Emily Mackay of Bunnell High School.

 

Bodington is planning to pursue a degree in education at Eastern Connecticut State University. Mackay plans to study special education and speech pathology at the University of Massachusetts.

 

Ryan Graney, a spokeswoman for the family, says the scholarships include the number 26 to honor all the victims of the shooting.

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Stuck bridge causes rail delays in Connecticut

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) -- A railroad swing bridge over the Norwalk River became stuck in the open position for five hours Thursday morning, causing major delays for rail travelers in Connecticut.

 

The Walk Bridge, which rotates to allow large boats on the river to pass, failed to close just after 4 a.m., said Meredith Daniels, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates Metro-North Railroad.

 

"It's a 117-year old bridge, and they are having problems with the gears and wedges on it," she said.

 

Trains were stopped at various points along the line, and the railroad ran limited shuttle bus service between East Norwalk and South Norwalk, while crews worked to close the bridge.

 

The railroad was force to suspend eastbound service from Stamford, while only limited westbound trains were available from South Norwalk, Daniels said. The problem also caused delays on Amtrak, which uses the Metro-North tracks.

 

The repairs were completed just before 9 a.m. Delays of more than an hour were reported during the morning rush hour, and normal service was not expected for several hours as trains that had been stopped made their way through the area.

 

The swing bridge was built in 1896, and Daniels said it has been the source of problems in the past.

 

"Sometimes these things take an hour and a half to fix, sometimes they take hours," she said.

 

In April, the state applied for $349 million in federal transportation funding to help replace the bridge. The request was part of a $600 million grant request to improve Connecticut's aging rail infrastructure.

 

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said in an email Thursday that the governor believes "federal investment along the entire Northeast rail corridor is long overdue."

 

State Sen. Toni Boucher, the ranking Republican on the legislature's Transportation Committee, criticized Metro-North for reacting to problems "rather than proactively assessing infrastructure needs on a regular basis."

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Dust up in GOP gubernatorial primary race

There's a dust up in the Republican primary race for Governor.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is trying to help Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti get on the ballot as his Lt Governor by collecting petition signatures, in exchange for pooling campaign donations to qualify for public financing.  

 

West Hartford Republican Town Committee chairman, Attorney Peter Martin has filed a Freedom of Information request with the Danbury Registrar and others to see all petition sheets handed in before they are sent to the Secretary of the State's office for certification.  He represented Tom Foley in a campaign lawsuit four years ago, unsuccessfully challenging a ruling allowing Boughton and Michael Fedele to pool their donations.  

 

Foley's campaign spokesman Chris Cooper says this was not done at their request or on their behalf.  Boughton's campaign spokesman said in published reports that the outside force is making the process unfair and is essentially bullying. 

 

Nearly 8,200 signatures need to be collected in less than 2 weeks.  The petitions become public record after they are validated by local officials.

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Walnut Hill Rd bridge won't be completed this month

The Walnut Hill Road bridge in Bethel was anticipated to be opened this week, but weather issues again are forcing the construction to be delayed.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says that at a Friday morning conference with the project manager, Department of Transportation engineers and others, the Town was informed that it will not be reopened by the end of the month. 

 

The ongoing spring rains caused the moisture content in the base material to be too high for compaction, which has to be done before paving.  He says about 350 tons of base material still needs to be moved into place. 

 

Knickerbocker did not provide an estimate of when the paving might be able to be completed.

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Danbury Westerners donate tarp to City for Rogers Park field

The Danbury Westerners baseball team has donated $2,900 for an infield tarp.  It will cover the infield at Rogers Park.  Parks and Rec Director Nick Kaplanis says this will help keep the field playable after periods of heavy rain or bad weather. 

 

The tarp will be stored at the complex.  There is also a roller that will be used to place and remove the tarp from the field.

 

Kaplanis says the Parks Department may be responsible from time to time for putting it on or taking it off depending on when the games are being played or who is playing them.  Kaplanis says there's going to have to be some anticipation and watching weather reports.  But there will be times when it doesn't have to be on the field for several days.

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Informational meeting held about Bethel medical marijuana dispensary

A cancer patient was among the speakers at informational meetings held last night in Bethel about the medical marijuana dispensary planned for Garella Road.  The forums were held by D-and-B Wellness--the licensee.  A cancer patient spoke about the benefits.  A dispensary operator in Rhode Island provided information about crime going down and property values going up. 

 

Compassion and Care Center of Connecticut co-founder Angela D'Amico says this is not like Colorado where pot is used recreationally, this is for patients with debilitating diseases.  She cited statistics that show every 19 minutes someone dies in this country from a prescription overdose, but noone has died from a marijuana overdose.

 

D'Amico says the state registers patients, who aren't allowed to drive a motor vehicle while taking medicinal marijuana and it can't be taken in public.  She says most products have no psychological effect, patients won't get high from it.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.

 

Everything comes in a sealed pouch, with the strain and number tracked back to the state.  They have a security system like a bank.

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No fee for Meckauer Park permit

Bethel officials have decided not to charge out of towners $100 for park passes to Meckauer Park.  Both residents and nonresidents though will need a permit to access the park in an effort by town officials to monitor usage. 

 

Passes are available free of charge at the Parks and Recreation office on School Street during normal business hours.  There will also be a staff member at the park on weekends in June during set hours to distribute passes as well. 

 

They can be picked up at Meckauer on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 3pm.

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Petitioning candidate running mate offers $2 per signature

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's gubernatorial campaign is paying petition circulators $2 for each signature they secure to get his running mate, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, onto the Republican primary ballot.

The Boughton campaign sent an email Tuesday soliciting registered Republicans to gather names. It promises ``$2 per valid unique signature collected plus bonuses and other incentives!''

Boughton teamed up with Lauretti earlier this month after his original running mate, Groton Town Councilor Heather Somers, announced she was running solo for lieutenant governor in the Aug. 12 primary.

The campaign needs 8,190 signatures by June 10 to get Lauretti on the ballot.

Boughton qualified for the primary by getting more than 15 percent of the vote at this month's party convention.

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Newtown lawmakers hold town hall meeting

Newtown residents are being called on to attend a Town Hall meeting tonight with the town's two state Representatives and state Senator.  John McKinney, Mitch Bolinsky and Dan Carter will be providing an update on the short session and the issues the dominated the General Assembly's time.  The budget was much of the work that was done.

 

Carter says this is the best ways to communicate what has happened during the session, but also to get feed back from the public.

 

The Town Hall meeting at the Newtown Municipal Center is from 6:30 to 8pm.

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Flag collection underway across the region

A flag collection is being taken up by local lawmakers and area veterans organizations.  Brookfield Representative David Scribner says the community service project promotes importance of the proper display of American flags. 

 

According to U.S. Flag Code, when an American flag is so tattered that can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States it should be destroyed in a dignified manner.  Worn American flags no longer in service must be properly retired in a dignified and respectful way. 

 

Veteran groups and area lawmakers are hosting flag collections as a community service for the region.  The collection time between Memorial Day and Flag Day, June 14th, is not a coincidence.  Scribner says this is when people are most likely to display their flags.

 

The collections are being done in cooperation with VFW Newtown Post #308, the Joseph W. Tarrent, Jr. Memorial and American Legion Post #100, American Legion Post #60 and the Danbury Council of Veterans.

 

The drop off locations are:

 

100 Pocono Road, Brookfield.

CJH Municipal Center, 1 School Street, Bethel

Redding Town Hall, 100 Hill Road, Redding

Mark Twain Library, 439 Redding Road, Redding

Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street, Newtown

Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street, Newtown

Danbury City Hall, located at 155 Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury

Danbury War Memorial, located at 1 Memorial Drive, Danbury

 

Residents may also drop flags off at the VFW Post # 308 on Tinkerfield Road. Flags can be dropped off in any condition throughout the year.

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Mahopac Volunteer FD marks 100 years of service

The Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  The Department collected solicitations last month for a 100th Anniversary Journal being published in July.  Earlier this month, they were recognized by the New York General Assembly.  State Senator Greg Ball issued a resolution commemorating the century of service.

 

The Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department was established in the fall  of 1914, after numerous fires caused great concern among the residents of the community. 

 

In January 1915, the department leased the second  floor of the railroad station and converted a donated Ford automobile into a fire-fighting vehicle.  During the Great Depression, due in great parts to  the selfless efforts and donations of summer vacationers and the citizens of Mahopac.  During World War II, the Mahopac Volunteer Fire  Department's members bravely served  their country as members of the United States Armed Forces.

 

A new state-of-the-art firehouse was completed in 2007, and dedicated to all members, past, present and  future who have devoted their lives to protect the residents of Mahopac, over the past 100 years.  After World War II, a new four bay colonial style firehouse was built on Croton Falls Road which serves the Department today. 

 

Ball says volunteer fire departments are an integral part of community protection.  

 

As Mahopac changed from a tourist area to a bedroom community, the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department continued to fight blazes which destroyed all the old hotels in the area.  Today, it continues to update its skills and expertise, while replacing older apparatus with new modern firefighting rigs.

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Bond money coming to Danbury War Memorial

Nearly $1 million is on the state Bond Commission agenda for the Danbury War Memorial.  When the group meets on Friday, they are expected to approve $875,000 to support building a new roof.  The Danbury War Memorial Association is a non-profit recreational and educational facility, governed by a Board of Managers and Trustees. The War Memorial has served greater Danbury since 1951 in offering recreational and cultural activities to the surrounding communities. The logo over the front door, “To Honor the Dead, to Serve the Living" states the purpose of the War Memorial which offers a diversified program of indoor activities, a complete fitness center, and a base for community events.

 

Representative David Arconti says he is happy that the state has prioritized this project and that a major improvement is on the way for such an important resource for Danbury.  He called it a critical investment for the War Memorial building as it doubles as an emergency shelter.

 

Representative Bob Godfrey says a leaky roof is not something the delegation wants on the building that also serves as Danbury's principal emergency shelter, and the voting place for the 5th ward.  Godfrey says he is pleased that both Governor Malloy and Lt Governor Nancy Wyman, who've visited the War Memorial, have heard the needs of its Board of Managers and Trustees.

 

Representative Jan Giegler says it's fitting this announcement comes Memorial Day weekend, when we honor the sacrifice of our veterans, as the War Memorial honors those who gave their lives while also being a gathering place for the community. 

 

Representative David Scribner says this restoration project is critical for the future of this building.  He added this will make sure it remains a both a place of remembrance and a launch pad of opportunity for residents and organizations for generations to come.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy, who chairs the Bond Commission says the War Memorial is a place where we pay tribute to the heroes who, over the course of history, have answered the call to serve and defend our country, our state and the values we hold dear.  With that in mind, He says the state is making this investment to preserve this site that demonstrates our appreciation to these men and women and honors their legacy.  Malloy says the funding will also ensure the Memorial remains a center of cultural and recreational activity and programming for individuals and families throughout the Greater Danbury community.

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Malloy continues commencement address deliveries

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has told Boston College Law School graduates to use what they have learned to ``leave the world a better place than you found it.''

The first-term Democrat gave the commencement speech Friday at his alma mater. Degrees were presented to 275 law graduates. Fourteen others received advanced degrees.

Malloy told the graduates they have what they need to get through ``whatever life throws at you.''

Malloy graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College in 1977, and from its law school in 1980. Malloy met his wife Cathy while both were students there.

Malloy, who's seeking a second term, has made several appearances at commencements in Connecticut.

He spoke at Southern Connecticut State University's graduate commencement ceremony, at Western Connecticut State University and the University of Bridgeport.

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Connecticut delegation seeks VA facilities audits

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's congressional delegation wants full details of audits conducted at Veterans Administration medical facilities, including six in the state.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. John Larson, who appeared Friday at an East Hartford VFW post, said they've received private assurances that problems plaguing the VA in other states aren't happening here, but they still want proof.

The delegation sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asking for the audits, including the accuracy and duration of reported wait times for appointments at the VA's West Haven and Newington campuses, as well as at six clinics in Danbury, New London, Stamford, Waterbury, Willimantic and Winsted.

Shinseki recently announced his department would conduct ``face-to-face'' audits amid investigations of VA patients dying while awaiting treatment and falsified appointment records.

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Boughton and Lauretti team up for GOP Primary

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Republican gubernatorial candidate and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton found a new running mate on Friday, joining forces with Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti to raise campaign funds needed to qualify for public financing for the Aug. 12 Republican primary.

 

The move came a day after Boughton's first pick for a running mate ended their association.

 

Lauretti told The Associated Press he filed the necessary paperwork Friday to switch from a petitioning candidate for governor to a petitioning candidate for lieutenant governor. Boughton has agreed to help him collect signatures of at least 8,190 registered Republicans by June 10.

 

Meanwhile, Lauretti said he will help Boughton raise the $250,000 in small contributions needed to qualify for the $1.25 million in public financing for the primary and $6 million for the general election, should he win the primary. Boughton has already raised approximately $160,000.

 

"It became a function of time with me," Lauretti said, referring to the looming deadline to collect the petition signatures. "Now I've got Boughton in Danbury helping me with the signatures and I'm helping him with the fundraising."

 

The decision by Lauretti and Boughton to team up comes after Boughton's original running mate, Groton Town Councilor Heather Somers, announced she was running solo for lieutenant governor in the primary and would not pool her campaign funds with Boughton. State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi won the Republican Party's endorsement for lieutenant governor on Saturday, but Somers and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker each received enough delegate support to qualify for the lieutenant governor primary.

 

Walker has teamed up with another GOP gubernatorial primary candidate, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. He filed the necessary paperwork on Friday to run in the lieutenant governor primary.

 

Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, the party's 2010 gubernatorial candidate, received the party's endorsement for governor. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy won his party's nomination last weekend to seek a second term.

 

Heath Fahle, Boughton's campaign spokesman, said the mayor was disappointed by Somers' decision but hinted on Thursday that the campaign had "an alternative strategy." On Friday, he confirmed that Boughton and Lauretti had formed a joint committee. He said paperwork would be filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

 

Fahle said the two mayors have known each other for years.

 

"They have a healthy respect for each other because they know what they deal with every day," he said.

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Municipal facilities to be connected to the 'Nutmeg Network' internet

A series of grants have been approved to help municipalities with the infrastructure costs associated with connecting their town governments to the state’s Nutmeg Network and extending its availability to include all municipal services.

 

The Nutmeg Network is the state's fiber-optic infrastructure that delivers high-speed internet access to its members and is already offered in schools, libraries and emergency services facilities.

 

Extended use of the network was an initiative developed from Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey’s MORE, Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies,  Commission.

 

Governor Malloy said that his administration intends on carrying out a second round of grants next year; application information will be forthcoming in the next few months.

 

The following municipalities are among those receiving funding:

 

Brookfield

Town Hall

100 Pocono Road

$20,600.00

New Fairfield

Town Hall

4 Brush Hill Road

$19,900.00

Newtown

Municipal Center

3 Primrose Street

$55,080.00

Redding

Town Hall

100 Hill Road

$19,900.00

Ridgefield

Town Hall

400 Main Street

$16,700.00

Southbury

Town Hall

501 Main Street South

$19,900.00

Woodbury

Senior Center

281 Main Street South

$19,900.00

 

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Monroe company receives grant from NASA for research

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has awarded six Connecticut companies contracts valued at $125,000 each to conduct feasibility studies that could lead to advances in space exploration and aerospace technology.  A Monroe company is among those to receive support from Connecticut Innovations through the organization’s grant, loan, equity and talent programs.

 

Materials Technologies Corporation of Monroe has corporate and government clients including Silicon Valley Group, Union Carbide/UOP and Black & Decker.  Their contracts with NASA are for Marshall Space Flight Center,  Goddard Space Flight Center and Glenn Research Center.

 

The companies are being tasked to conduct a number of different areas of research, from developing high pressure oxygen generation systems for future space exploration missions to energy-efficient carbon dioxide storage systems.

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New fairfield airman's named added to Wall of Honor

State officials have held the annual Wall of Honor ceremony at the state capital Thursday.  The wall holds 65 photos of service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The latest name added, Air Force Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico of New Fairfield, was killed at the age of 22 last September. 

 

Lt Governor Nancy Wyman, who helped start the Wall in 2007, hopes each year that no new names have to be added.  She says it's incumbent upon all of us to live in service of their sacrifice and recall in our everyday actions what it means to be an American.  Wyman says the Wall of Honor is a very special tribute to some of this country’s most dedicated protectors.

 

Wyman was joined by Governor Dannel Malloy, Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz, Major General Thad Martin, state officials, and military families to recognize the Connecticut service men and women on the Wall of Honor who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks in 2001.

 

Malloy says Connecticut’s Wall of Honor is an important part of the history and future of this state.  He says this wall gives Connecticut residents a place to go to remember the men and women who are not returning from battle, and reflect on the significance of their sacrifice.

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Appeal filed, informational planned about medical marijuana dispensary in Bethel

An appeal has been filed with the Bethel Zoning Board of Appeals about the medical marijuana dispensary approved by the Planning Director for Garella Road in the Stony Hill section of town.  Two nearby residents said D & B Wellness should not have been approved as a retail use establishment.  The Monroe-based company received approval last week and is one of only six dispensaries licensed in the state.  The location is zoned for retail use and town officials say the dispensary is considered a pharmacy and therefore a permitted use.

 

The appeal says the state imposes specific location and operation critera on dispensaries that are different from retail mandates, because the general public will not be patronizing the facility.  The Zonnig Appeals Board next meets in June.

 

D & B Wellness is hosting two informational session next week about their facility and medical marijuana.  They will be in the General Purpose Room of the Municipal Center Tuesday from 4:30 to 6pm and from 6 to 9pm. 

 

D&B Welness's application was denied last month by the Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission.  That followed Stratford's decision to put a 12 month moratorium on dispensaries in that town.  An incomplete application was filed with Redding Zoning officials and not in time for the only meeting before a deadline to find a location before the license expired.

 

The plans call for a high level of security and to be operated as an "appointment only" facility and would employ a pharmacist, receptionist and a counselor to educate patients about dosage and alternative therapies.  There will also be a full time security guard.  Video surveillance and other security features will be in place.

 

Only patients certified by physicians to the department as having one of 11 debilitating conditions and would benefit from use of medical marijuana can register for use of medical marijuana in Connecticut. 

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  There are also strict security requirements in place, all detailed among the 76 pages of regulations.

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WCSU, community colleges partner for reverse credit transfer program

Students who earned at least 15 credits at one of three community colleges in the region before they attended Western Connecticut State University are on the path to an Associate's degree.  Western has signed a reverse transfer credit program with Housatonic, Norwalk and Naugatuck Valley Community Colleges.  Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr Jane Gates says if those students earn a total 60 credits, they will be awarded an Associated Degree from the community college they transferred to Western from.

 

Gates says if a student has an associate degree, a bachelor degree doesn't seem as daunting.  She adds that the Associate degree will help students get better jobs.  Gates says this is especially important for first generation college attendees in their families.

 

Naugatuck Valley previously signed a reverse transfer agreement with Charter Oak State College, the state's online college. 

 

Gates says these agreements will increase the graduation rates for the community colleges and will increase the likelihood of a student continuing at Western to earn a bachelor degree.  Credits will be tracked by Western's Registrar's Office to determine when the credits have been accumulated.

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US announces changes for tribal recognition rules

The U-S Interior Department has announced proposed changes to the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes.  The rules announced yesterday include a requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934. Previously, they had to show continuity from "historical times'', 1789.

 

This could open the door for recognition of one faction of the Kent-based Scaghticoke Tribe and two others in the state.

Critics, including 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty argued it would lower the threshold for recognition which could lead to new gaming facilities in the state.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says he believes additional changes and clarifications are necessary to ensure that Connecticut’s interests are protected, and he and others will continue to work for their inclusion

Kevin Washburn, an assistant secretary with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said the new rules are intended to make the process more transparent and efficient. He said the standards are no less rigorous.

The government is accepting more comment before the rules are finalized.

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Boughton's running mate says she's running solo

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Groton town councilor Heather Somers says she's running for lieutenant governor on her own and won't pool her campaign funds with Republican gubernatorial candidate and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.

Somers announced Thursday she was entering the GOP primary and seeking public financing on her own.

While state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi won the endorsement for lieutenant governor, Somers and David Walker received enough delegate support to qualify for the Aug. 12 primary.

It's unclear how much of a financial blow this means for Boughton, who must raise $250,000 in small contributions to qualify for $1.25 million for the primary and $6 million for the general election. A message was left seeking comment with Boughton's campaign.

Boughton and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney filed paperwork Thursday to run in the gubernatorial primary.

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Chronic illness bill awaits Gov.'s signature

A bill co-sponsored by several Danbury area lawmakers on Wednesday was sent to the Governor's desk for his signature.  Danbury Representative David Arconti says the bill to reduce the incidence of chronic disease also calls for improving chronic care coordination.

 

Representative Bob Godfrey submitted testimony on the bill saying that 26 million Americans, including himself, have Diabetes and he wants a Connecticut Diabetes Action Plan to be enacted as part of this study.  The American Diabetes Association about the 17-percent increase in the cost of diabetes over five years.  One in three Americans is pre-Diabetic.

 

Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim submitted testimony saying that in Connecticut nearly 2 million cases of 7 chronic illnesses were reported.  They are cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders and pulmonary conditions.  The treatment cost was 3-point-3 million dollars.  BI doesn't want the bill limited to hospitals and health care facilities, but also to other stakeholders that provide primary care in the state.  The company also wants the bill to focus on Comprehensive Medication Management.

 

The bill was co-sponsored by Danbury Representatives Arconti, Godfrey, Jan Giegler, Dan Carter of Bethel and Cecilia Buck Taylor of New Milford.

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Danbury Dems to honor Kaback at annual dinner

Danbury Town Clerk Lori Kaback is being honored by the Democratic Town Committee tomorrow night at the annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner. 

 

The keynote speaker will be Congressman John Larson.  Danbury DTC CHairman Joe Walkovich says Larson is a firebrand speaker who will rally the troops.  Larson served for many years as the Democratic Caucus Leader and is on break from Congress this week.  He called Larson good friend of Danbury's since his time as president of the Connecticut Senate.

 

Kaback has been elected to five terms as Town Clerk and is the highest elected Democrat in Danbury.  Kaback has consistently been the Democrats highest vote getter.

 

The Dinner on Friday is being held at the Amber Room beginning at 6:30. Tickets can be reserved by calling Joe Walkovich at 203-748-6808.

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Cell tower proposal considered tonight by Danbury committee

Richter Park in Danbury is once again looking to build a cell tower on the 180 acre property.  The difference from the 2011 proposal is that now, the granddaughter of the woman who donated the land to the City in 1968 has granted a partial waiver on the deed restrictions imposed on the City to allow for construction of a cell tower. 

 

The Planning Commission held a meeting last night about the plan and an ad hoc committee of the City Council will meet tonight about it. 

 

The Richter Park Authority feels that revenue from a cell tower would allow them to move forward on projects for the Park laid out in the 2008 Master Plan.  The deed restricted use of the property to recreational purposes only.  The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range.

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STEAP funding for Ridgefield moves Streetscape Project forward

On the heels of announcing funding from a pilot program to install centerline rumble strips on state roads, State Representative John Frey touted more funding for Ridgefield.  The town is receiving $500,000 in grants from the Small Town Economic Assistance Program to continue the Danbury Road Streetscape Project and to begin work on exterior improvements to Town Hall.

 

The Project is currently in its third phase, and has been paid for with only STEAP funds.  Pedestrian, landscaping, and electrical upgrades to Danbury Road (Route 35) are being made.  This current phase will add 15 new streetlights and 348 feet of new sidewalk, and will provide for the retrofitting of nine handicapped ramps between Grove and South Streets.

 

The Town Hall improvements are a new project for this year, and will be receiving $180,000 in STEAP funding. The work to be completed includes the removal of existing masonry and vegetation, and reconstructing the walkaways and stairs to improve the safety of the site. There will also be new lighting, paving, drainage improvements, and plantings to improve the site’s appeal and safety.

 

Route 7 was part of a pilot program to install rumble strips along the yellow line in an effort to keep motorists on the correct side of the roadway.

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Newtown lawmaker touts signing of sexual assault prevention bill

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky was among the legislators who attended a bill signing ceremony Monday for a law aimed at improving the state's response to sexual violence at all of Connecticut's universities.  Bolisnky co-sponsored the bill.

The bill expands sexual assault policies at all college campuses in Connecticut byrequiring colleges to immediately provide victims of sexual assault with supportive information regarding their rights and options and allowing any victims of sexual assault to report the crime anonymously. The legislation would require colleges to establish sexual response teams and partner with local sexual assault service providers to enhance the level of care given to victims and to report information annually on sexual assault policies and details of sexual assault cases to the state legislature for review.

The new law also mandates that colleges and universities treat stalking in the same manner.

Bolinsky says colleges need to be safe and trusting environments for students.  He says sexual violence of any kind should have a zero-tolerance in schools.  He cited statistics from the Higher Education Committee that one in five women on college campuses suffers assaults, and just 20 percent of assaults are being reported.

Sexual violence on campuses made headlines when University of Connecticut students this year testified before legislators stating that school officials weren't helpful when they reported crimes.

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Father of Newtown victim praises New York gun law

MELVILLE, N.Y. (AP) The father of a 7-year-old boy killed at the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has praised New York's new gun control law at the state Democratic convention.

Mark Barden told Democrats Wednesday gun responsibility is a matter of public safety and shouldn't be caught up in politics.

Barden's son Daniel was among 20 students and six educators killed in the 2012 school massacre.

Gun control has become a contentious issue in New York following the passage of the SAFE Act, which bans the sale of some semi-automatic weapons and requires people who already own them to register with authorities.

The law was championed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The law's repeal is supported by Cuomo's Republican opponent this fall, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

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Bethel state Reps. to hold town hall meeting

Bethel residents are being called on to attend a Town Hall meeting tonight with the town's two state Representatives.  David Scribner and Dan Carter will be providing an update on the short session and the issues the dominated the General Assembly's time.  The budget was much of the work that was done.

 

Carter says this is the best ways to communicate what has happened during the session, but also to get feed back from the public.

 

Each men are seeking reelection.  The Town Hall meeting at the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department is from 6:30 to 8pm.

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Bethel budget fails on ballot recount

A hand recount of Bethel budget ballots has been held, the municipal budget failed by 7 votes.  There was a three vote difference on Thursday when polls closed on the municipal tax and spending plan approving it.  The education budget is $42 million.  The municipal budget was $27 million and included $3.84 million in debt service and the school's $540,000 building maintenance account. 

 

There's also just over $2 million in capital expenses that was approved including $50,000 for a study of the Municipal Center gym.  The capital items also includes $96,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department for a tractor, a replacement truck and the Meckauer Park garage.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says he was disappointed with voter turnout.  He, like other chief elected officials, wants to see more participation in the process.  He adds that the close vote sent a strong message that Bethel residents want to see more spending controls put in place.

 

The education budget and capital expenditures stand as is.  The municipal budget goes back to the Board of Finance.  Knickerbocker says he hopes they take out the spending not included in the Board of Selectmen's budget recommendation that they added after.

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Brookfield budget vote today

Brookfield residents are at the polls today to vote on a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The proposed $38.5 million  education budget and the $21.9 million municipal budget will be separate votes, but both need to pass or it will go to a second referendum. 

 

There was a contentious town meeting about the budget with an argument breaking out in the lobby and police arriving.  Much of the disagreement at the meeting was over what residents saw as too little funding for the schools. 

 

Also on the agenda last night were two capital items; a little more than $1 million for equipment and projects around town and also nearly $2.5 million for the Still River Greenway project. 

 

Both the High School and Huckleberry Hill Elementary School polls are open until 8pm.

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NVCC's Danbury Cetner now an accredited degree campus

Naugatuck Valley Community College Danbury Campus has officially been recognized as a campus by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.  More than a thousand students attend the center each semester.

 

Last May, the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education approved NVCC's proposal to offer credit certificates and degrees in Danbury.   Last Monday, the accrediting body told NVCC that the application to become a full service campus was accepted. 

 

NVCC officials say the college continues to make progress on its search for larger space in Danbury, which they hope to have by the fall with relocation of the campus next spring.  Right now the campus is on Main Street.

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Clean water bill to aid Greater Danbury area ratepayers signed into law

A bill to lower the cost of becoming compliant with new state and federal environmental regulations has been signed into law by the Governor.  Danbury Representative David Arconti says the bill levels the playing field for municipalities seeking funding from the Clean Water Fund for phosphorous reducing water pollution control projects.

 

Last year, the first three cities to apply would be covered at 50-percent.  Arconti says now all contracts will be covered at 50-percent. 

 

It would have cost close to $60-million to renovate the Danbury Wastewater Treatment Plant, which would impact ratepayers in Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown and Ridgefield as well.  The bill was also co-sponsored by Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford, Dan Carter of Bethel, Mike McLachlan of Danbury and John Shaban of Redding.

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Enery cost savings on $11 million project to be presented to Danbury officials

The Honeywell Energy Performance Contracting Project done at schools across Danbury is showing cost savings, but the City Council wants the numbers.

 

Right now the schools have one public utilities account, but dividing natural gas and utility counts will be in the Board of Education's budget next year.  Honeywell does an analysis for the Board of Education and Finance Director Joe Martino says a breakdown of all the schools boiler replacement energy cost savings will be done.

 

The original $4-million of work proposed in 2010 included boilers for Danbury High School, Broadview Middle, Stadley Rough, King Street Intermediate and Primary along with Mill Ridge Primary schools.  The following year another $7-million in work was approved to include steam trap replacements at Park Avenue School, more boiler replacements at Mill Ridge Intermediate, new windows at the High School and asbestos abatement.

 

Martino says the cost savings, particularly at the High School, is significant because of the conversion from oil to natural gas.

 

He hopes to break down the numbers by degree days.  He notes this brutal winter means just looking at the utility bills for actual usage, it won't be an apples to apples comparison.

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'Muddy riders' to come through Newtown, Danbury on way to DC

More than 115 so-called "Muddy Angels” bicycle riders are expected to convene at Danbury Hospital as they journey from Boston via Newtown and Danbury to Washington D-C.  Emergency Services Director Matthew Cassavechia says the national EMS memorial bike ride honors emergency medical services personnel who serve every day, those who became ill or injured while performing their duties and those who have died in the line of duty.

 

Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr John Murphy, along with the Hospital’s Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Pat Broderick will welcome riders.  The riders will be given lunch, have a chance to rest and tour the new emergency room that's being constructed.

 

They will be escorted by Danbury Police and Danbury Hospital Ambulance as they arrive and leave toward the New York State border.  The group will be moving through the area from 11:30am to 1pm.

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Controversial NY lawmaker opts not to seek re-election

New York Republican state Senator Greg Ball of Patterson is not seeking reelection.  There had been speculation that the 36-year old former Air Force officer would run for Putnam County Executive.  But having served two terms in the New York House and two in the state Senate, Ball says he is not seeking election to any post in November. 

 

Current County Executive MaryEllen Odell, also a Republican, once worked for Ball as Director of Veterans Affairs in his brewster office.  She says she wishes him well and that it's understandable he wants to move into the private sector.  Odell commended Ball for his years of service and for helping constituents for the last several years.

 

The Senator has not been without controversy.

 

Last April, Ball appeared on CNN with Piers Morgan to defend a tweet questioning who wouldn't use torture on the Boston Marathon bombing suspect.  Ball said in a press release, that terrorists play by a different set of rules and the question has to be asked of whether torture is justified if it can save lives.  The pair ran out of time and Morgan asked if Ball could stay after the commercial break, but didn't get an answer.  Morgan said Ball showed cowardice in the face of the ongoing debate by leaving.  He had another scheduled TV appearance. 

 

Ball also got into scrape in 2008 with then State Senator Vincent Leibell, who he accused of running a smear campaign against him.  Ball and a woman he dated each filed for orders of protection against the other in 2003, though they asked the Courts to dismiss the complaints.  There was an Ethics Committee investigation in 2008 which found that no harassment of a Ball staffer occurred after a complaint was filed but determined to be unfounded. 

 

Leibell also blamed Ball in 2010 for an FBI raid on his home, which led to conviction on federal corruption charges

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Congressional races set in Conn.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Republicans have endorsed candidates to challenge the state's five incumbent, Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Litchfield real estate developer Mark Greenberg received the party's backing on Friday, the opening day of the two-day Republican State Convention being held at the Mohegan Sun casino. Greenberg will challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty in the 5th Congressional District.

 

(Photo from Twitter @MarkGreenbergCT)

 

This marks the first time Greenberg has won his party's endorsement in the 5th District.  He issued a statement that said, in part:

 

"As we look forward to November, I will continue -- as I have been doing for months -- to share with the voters of the 5th District my plans for building a better future for our country. I will continue to expose Elizabeth Esty's woeful record of failure on the economy, job creation and ObamaCare.  Our families and children deserve better than what they are getting from our government.  When I get to Washington - with your help - we will reverse our nation's economic course, untangle the mountains of red tape foisted on families and businesses by ObamaCare and other mandates and begin in a new direction to create true prosperity for our citizens. Once again, thank you!"

In the 4th District, former state Sen. Dan Debicella will challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.

 

(Photo from Twitter @Debicella)

 

In the 3rd District, Republican Jim Brown will challenge veteran Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Republican Lori Hopkins Cavanaugh will challenge 2nd District Rep. Joe Courtney, while Republican Matt Corey was endorsed to challenge Rep. John Larson in the 1st District.

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Police unions push for medical coverage of PTSD

DENVER (AP) -- Police unions across the U.S. are pushing for officers to be able to collect workers' compensation benefits if they suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, whether they got it from the general stress of police work or from responding to a deadly shooting rampage.

 

"I can't imagine a department in the United States without officers who have symptoms of PTSD and are still working," said Ron Clark, chairman of the Badge of Life, a group of active and retired officers working to raise awareness of police stress and suicide prevention.

 

"We're beginning to see more and more states talking about this," he said.

 

But some police chiefs and municipal leaders oppose lawmakers' efforts, even in states such as Connecticut and Colorado, the scenes of some of the deadliest massacres in recent years. They say they are concerned the benefits would strain budgets and lead to frivolous claims.

 

"We support and appreciate the efforts of our police and firefighters, but there's a concern when you expand benefits," said Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns.

 

Legislation has been emotional in that state, still haunted by the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

 

Newtown police officer Thomas Bean told lawmakers his depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts left him unable to work. "I'm always being re-traumatized because I don't know what my future is," Bean testified in March.

 

Connecticut allows police and firefighters to collect workers' compensation if they use deadly force or witness a colleague's death. New legislation would expand it to all municipal employees diagnosed with PTSD after witnessing a violent event or its aftermaths.

 

Federal employees and military members can collect compensation if a psychiatrist finds PTSD symptoms. But most states require officers and firefighters to have an accompanying physical injury.

 

Supporters say lawmakers' efforts to change that are encouraging, but the push-back shows a stigma remains.

 

"They don't get too worked up when an officer gets shot or physically assaulted because they can see it," Clark said. "If you think every cop is just going to run to that lifeboat and say, `I have PTSD,' I just don't see it."

 

It is hard to say how many officers suffer symptoms because many do not come forward for fear of seeming weak, Clark said.

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'Touch A Truck' event comes to Danbury Sunday

Trucks and other vehicles will be in the Danbury High School parking lot Sunday for a Touch-A-Truck event.  Congregation B'Nai Israel Vice President Kennis Koldewyn says children can climb into the vehicles, honk horns and discover everything there is to at least 15 different types of vehicles.  There will be an ambulance, motorcycle, peapod delivery truck and a mobile classroom among others.

 

Koldewine says this can be an educational family day and lead to an interesting discussion about roads and professions, noting that kids learn through exploration and hands on experiences. 

 

There will be a horn-free hour.  There will be refreshments, crafts and other entertainment. 

 

Admission: $6/child, $10/two children, $15/family with three or more children.  Children under 2 years of age are free. The event is rain or shine from 11am to 3pm.  Quite hour is from 10am to 11am.

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Danbury area lawmaker endorsed for 7th term

Republican State Representative Jan Giegler will be seeking another term serving the 138th House District.  She was endorsed Wednesday night by delegate for the multi-town district made up of parts of Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield. 

 

She has just completed her 6th term and is a ranking member of the Public Safety and Security Committee as well as an Assistant Republican Leader.  Giegler says her constituents have put their faith in her to be their voice at the state Capital to make tough decisions and be their advocates, which she hopes to continue to do.

 

Danbury Republican Town Committee chairman Sal Chieffalo says Giegler is a leader who works across party lines and tackles the tough issues head on.  He added that he's proud to support her once more.

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Metro North making progress on safety upgrades

Metro North is providing an update on safety reforms enacted since a fatal derailment in December.  The reforms address factors identified during several serious safety incidents over the last year, as well as issues identified by an in-depth Federal Railroad Administration review of its operating practices that took place this past winter. 

 

A review analyzing Metro-North’s safety-related processes and procedures, its compliance with safety regulations and requirements, and its overall safety culture resulted in a report with 27 actions to be taken.  Some of the actions to be taken are meant to address ongoing signal system issues on the Danbury Branch that's led to midday bussing.

 

Metro-North has completed 14, is progressing on five, and has developed a training strategy for 8 to be carried out starting immediately.  Safety workshops, speed reductions and cameras for positive train control are among the steps taken.

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Autism Speaks donates material to CH Booth Library

Autism Speaks has partnered with C.H. Booth Library in Newtown to open a new Autism Resource Center.  The Center is dedicated to Rachel D'Avino and Anne Marie Murphy, two educators who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary while working with autistic students. 

 

The Center has a seating area and displays art work donated by a local autism advocacy organization.  At the dedication ceremony on Saturday, Autism Speaks President Liz Feld said the committement of these teachers was extraordinary. 

 

The organization donated books and educational information about Autism.  There is also a preloaded iPad with autism apps that can be used in the center.

 

(Photo from Autismspeaks.org)

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Medical marijuana dispensary coming to Stony Hill

A medical marijuana dispensary is coming to the Stony Hill section of Bethel.  The application by D&B Wellness, one of the six medical marijuana producers to receive state approval, was denied last month by the Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission.  That followed Stratford's decision to put a 12 month moratorium on dispensaries in that town.  An incomplete application was filed with Redding Zoning officials this week and not in time for the meeting Wednesday night.

 

State Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein says the license was approved Tuesday for 4 Garella Road.  The location is zoned for retail use and town officials say the dispensary is considered a pharmacy and therefore a permitted use. 

 

The plans call for a high level of security and to be operated as an "appointment only" facility and would employ a pharmacist, receptionist and a counselor to educate patients about dosage and alternative therapies.  There will also be a full time security guard.  Video surveillance and other security features will be in place. 

 

Only patients certified by physicians to the department as having one of 11 debilitating conditions and would benefit from use of medical marijuana can register for use of medical marijuana in Connecticut. 

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  There are also strict security requirements in place, all detailed among the 76 pages of regulations.

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Bethel budget vote today

Bethel residents are voting on a budget today.  The proposed education budget is $42.1 million.  The $27.2 million municipal budget includes $3.84 million in debt service and the school's $540,000building maintenance account. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's $2.43 million in proposed capital expenses.  That includes $50,000 for a study of the Municipal Center gym.  The capital items also include $96,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department for a tractor, a replacement truck and the Meckauer Park garage. 

 

Polls are open until 8pm.

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New Milford to study combining school, city Finance Boards

The New Milford Town Council has discussed the idea of combining the town of school finance departments.  On Monday's agenda the group was scheduled to discuss the possibility of hiring a consultant to help a committee that would be established.  That subcommittee would include members of the Town Council, Board of Education and Finance Departments.  The Newstimes reports that the Council did approve forming a committee to consider combining departments in an effort to save money.

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Ridgefield residents approve budget, defeat land sale proposal

Ridgefield have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year that increases the tax rate by about 2.49 percent.  The $133-million budget for the coming fiscal year is a 3.89 percent spending increase over the current year.  It's a proposed $46 million municipal budget and an $85 million Board of Education budget. 

 

$1.8 million in road repairs and paving was overwhelmingly approved.  Other capital items were also approved.  That included rebuilding Gay Road bridge, sidewalk construction and Town Hall renovations.  A new Mack truck and fire truck replacement were approved.  The Ballard Park playground will be renovated along with repairs to the clubhouse at Ridgefield Golf Club.  School security investments, improvements to the network operations center and wireless network funding was approved.  Lighting and voltage protection and repairs to the Ridgefield High School facade were approved.

 

Ridgefield residents rejected a proposed $4-million sale of 10 acres of land of the former Schlumberger site to Toll Bothers for a condo development.  The proposal was defeated by just 6 votes.  It was 961 to 967.

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Schools of Distinction recognized by state Education Department

Several Greater Danbury area schools have been recognized by the state as Schools of Distinction.  The state Department of Education has held its second annual Schools of Distinction Recognition Breakfast.  73 schools were honored yesterday. 

 

The recognition is part of the state's school rating and accountability system, which the U-S Department of Education approved in 2012 as part of the Connecticut request for flexibility in meeting certain portions of the federal No Child Left Behind act. 

 

Among the highest overall performance schools are: Anna H Rockwell elementary school in Bethel, John Read Middle School in Redding, Monroe Elementary School and Masuk High School.  The Burnham School in Bridgewater, East Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield, Weston High School, Cider Mill and Middlebrook Schools in Wilton also made the list. 

 

During the breakfast Commission Stefan Pryor also announced a new competitive grant opportunity for those schools to share information on what works best for turning around school performance.

 

 

The highest performing schools in the subcategory of students with disabilities including Wilton High School.  In the subcategory of students learning English as a second language, Pomperaug Regional High School in Southbury was honored.  In the subgroup of Free/ Reduced-Price Lunch, Masuk High School in Monroe was among those recognized.

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Public hearing draws opposition to proposed waste transfer station

A public hearing has been held about a proposed Waste Transfer Station for Plumtrees Road in Danbury.  Joseph Putnam and MSW LLC has tentative approval from the state for the 800 ton per day facility. 

 

Danbury City Councilman Tom Saadi and some 200 residents signed a petition prompting the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to hold the hearing, which will be continued June 3rd in Hartford. 

 

The facility will process up to 800 tons per day of waste including municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, recyclables and yard waste.  Concerns about noise, traffic, vibrations, lighting and odor were among the concerns cited at the hearing.

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Robocall bill signed into law

A bill to increase the fine for commercially recorded messages that continue after the customer hangs up has been signed into law by the Governor.  Dannel Malloy signed the bill Monday that was co-sponsored by Danbury Representatives Jan Giegler and Bob Godfrey along with Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford. 

 

Meanwhile, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says action is waiting on an attempt to modernize the "Do Not Call Registry''. 

 

The bill would also increase penalties for violations from $11,000 to $20,000 per violation.

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Independent APRN practice bill moved to Governor's desk.

A bill that allows certain advanced practice registered nurses, also known as APRNs, to practice independently has moved to Governor Malloy's desk.

 

Under the bill, APRNs who have been licensed and practicing with a physician for at least three years can practice independently, without a physician's written agreement. Current law requires APRNs to work in collaboration with a physician.

 

Malloy says he will sign the bill, saying it will increase access to health care, especially for the thousands of newly insured.

 

But the Connecticut State Medical Society voiced disappointment with the bill. The physicians criticized it for having little detail about the three-year collaboration, educational requirements or oversight of the APRN practices.

 

The House of Representatives voted 110-35 in favor of the legislation.  Among those opposed in the House were Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown, Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford, Dan Carter of Bethel, Gail Lavielle of Wilton, David Scribner of Brookfield and Redding Representative John Shaban. 

 

Carter says currently there is oversight, but he worries there won't be proper training in the future.  He called it a bad idea, expecially without that training.  New Canaan Representative Tom O'Dea, whose father is a doctor and mother is a nurse, says he would not let her diagnose and treat him for a medical problem that he would need a doctor for.

 

The Senate voted 25-11, and among those opposed were Mike McLachlan of Danbury and Toni Boucher of Wilton.

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Danbury Head Start gets perfect score on federal review

Head Start and Early Head Start programs of Norther Fairfield County, located in Danbury, have earned their second consecutive 100-percent scores on the Head Start Federal Review. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the Danbury program is one of the highest performing in the country.  There are over 1,800 performance standards to meet.  The program is run by the Connecticut Institute for Communities.  CEO James Maloney says this is a rare accomplishment and a great credit to the Head Start parents and staff. 

 

The review was done from March 30th through April 3rd, with the results reported today.  According to the Classroom Assessment Scoring System review, the local Head Start scored well above the national average in classroom, instructional and emotional supports.

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Danbury looks to trap beavers doing damage at Rogers Park

There are at least three areas in Danbury where officials are looking to see what can be done about beavers gnawing down trees to make dams.  At the City Council meeting last week, Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola said that they looked at the Rogers Park area.

 

Trapping season is from December to the end of March, so now is outside of trapping season.  The City could apply to the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a special permit to allow the trapping now, but Iadarola says permits will typically only be granted for water distribution systems.

 

Iadarola says someone has offered to do the trapping for free.

 

Public Utilities Superintendent David Day says they will dismantle the dams and fallen and gnawed trees will be cleaned up and new trees possibly planted.

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Land for animal sanctuary in Newtown awaits Governor's signature

A legacy of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School is working its way through the approval process. 

 

34.44 acres for an animal sanctuary, wildlife preserve, or other nature preservation purpose is the subject of a bill that was approved in the final hours of the legislative session.  The bill conveying several parcels of land to various entities awaits the Governor's signature.  For this parcel, the state reserves a 50-foot-wide easement along the length of the property to allow ingress and egress to other state lands and for agricultural purposes

 

If approved, the Commissioner of Agriculture shall convey to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation a parcel of land located in Newtown, for just the administrative costs of making the conveyance. The parcel of land is next to the Housatonic Railroad right-of-way property line, an open space Newtown plans to use for economic development and on two sides by land conveyed to Newtown along Deep Brook.

 

The Foundation plans to construct a welcome center, barns and other facilities for animals.

 

Jennifer Hubbard, Catherine's mother, submitted testimony to the legislature about the Foundation's plans, calling it a legacy for her daughter and a place for the community to heal.  In her letter, she said that if Catherine was fortunate enough to catch a butterfly she would whisper to it to tell its friends that she was kind and gently nudge it to fly away.  But her mom says Catherine's whisper was silenced on December 14th.  Jenny says the Sanctuary will enrich the lives of all beings by promoting compassion , acceptance and determination.  Programs will focus on cat and dog rescue and adoption, farm animal refuge, native wildlife rehabilitation, agricultural preserve and humane education and nature based workshops.  The workshops could include Jane Goodall's "Roots and Shoots", a community garden and plow-to-table instruction.  The Foundation has created a five-year financial plan to get the Sanctuary up and running.  FreeKibble has committed to feeding all dogs there in perpetuity .  Architects , landscapers and veterinarians have committed their services as well.  The plans call for working with the existing meadows, forests and treelines along with refurbishing nature trails. 

 

Trout Unlimited Candlewood Valley chapter President Stephen Zakur submitted testimony with concerns about the property abutting Deep Brook, which is home to a wild trout population.  He notes that the Chapter, through grants and donations over the last decade has invested $250,000 of work on the stream and thousands of volunteer hours.  He says the land was previously transferred to Newtown with a restriction that it be used for open space and recreation.  He is concerned with the clearing of forest lands, construction of roads and strain on the resources.  They describe the property as having steep slopes, no access road and being hidden from public view.

 

Newtown Deputy Director of Planning and Land Use Robert Sibley submitted testimony supporting the proposed animal sanctuary saying that it is consistent with the updated Plan of Conservation and Development.  First Selectman Pat Llodra submitted testimony saying that Catherine's love of animals provided the springboard for her parents to work for several months to create the infrastructure necessary for a project that rightly honors their lost daughter.  She called the parcel the ideal spot.

 

Newtown resident Joseph Hovious is an environmental engineer and has consulted for the town's Conservation Commission, of which he is a member, and also for Trout Unlimited Candlewood Valley chapter and the Pootatuck Watershed Association.  Apart from those roles, he says much of his work over the past 9 years has been on the water quality of Deep Brook.  He says while sympathetic to the efforts of the Foundation, the suggested level of development and buffer zones are not defined.

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Public hearing held tonight on waste transfer station proposal

A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury about a proposed Waste Transfer Station.  The meeting is being held by the  the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says it's the result of a citizens petition about the application by MSW LLC.  Joseph Putnam has tentative approval from the DEEP to build the facility on Plumtrees Road. 

 

Some 200 residents signed a petition prompting DEEP to hold the hearing.

 

Saadi says given the significant improvements in the area over the last decade, the neighborhood is not a good fit for a transfer station.   The facility will process up to 800 tons per day of waste including municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, recyclables and yard waste.  Concerns about noise, traffic, vibrations, lighting and odor are likely to come up at the hearing. 

 

Saadi says there is a lawsuit in court over the Danbury Planning Commission's 2007 denial of the application.

 

The meeting is at 6pm at City Hall.

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Walnut Hill bridge to reopen within weeks

A project is set to wrap up that had been delayed several times by engineering challenges underground and an extreme winter.  Detours will be in place in Bethel for a while longer while work continues on the Walnut Hill Bridge replacement. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the bridge deck is completed, the top has been grouted and it's been cured.  The curbs are in place and the guard rails are being installed.  The approach ramps on the north and south sides of the bridge were completed last week to connect it to the roadway so the structure can be paved. 

 

The extreme cold this winter meant it took longer for the concrete and the grout to cure. 

 

A new drainage system was installed and the road has been raised several inches from where it was to also improve drainage.  Traffic should be flowing over the bridge by the last week of May, weather permitting.

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Ridgefield Library reopens to new, bigger facility

Ridgefield Library has reopened its doors.  Books were transferred hand to hand from the temporary location on Governor Street Friday afternoon to the newly renovated and expanded facility on Main Street.  The final book in the chain was "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak, a former Ridgefield resident. 

 

There were some short speeches by town and library leaders and the unveiling of the Wall of Donors. 

 

The opening weekend events include crafts, music and guided tours.

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Medical marijuana dispensary takes first steps in Redding

The application by D&B Wellness, one of the six medical marijuana producers to receive state approval, was denied last month by the Bridgeport Planning and Zoning Commission.  This week, the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission was presented with a plan to set up a dispensary on Old Mill Road.  According to minutes of the meeting, the plans call for a high level of security and to be operated as an "appointment only" facility in the former bank building. 

 

The plan calls for four employees to staff the only dispensary location in Fairfield County.

 

Commissioners questioned the amount of water to be used by the operation because there would only be one bathroom available, and one hand washing sink.  The water needed for the operation was approved. 

 

D&B's license will expire May 15th if they don't receive zoning approval somewhere.  An application has yet to be filed with the Redding Zoning Enforcement officer or the Zoning Commission, which meets on Thursday.

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WCSU commencement ceremonies tonight, Sunday

Commencement ceremonies are being held this weekend at Western Connecticut State University.  Tonight, 160 graduate students will receive their degrees at the O'Neill Center on the Westside campus. 

 

Commencement ceremonies for graduate students will feature remarks by the president and chief executive officer of the Western Connecticut Health Network, Dr John Murphy.  West Conn has recognized Murphy for his exemplary leadership and innovation in health care administration as the recipient of the university’s 2011 Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  The first physician to serve Danbury Hospital as its president and CEO will deliver the commencement address at 7 pm at the O'Neill Center on the Westside campus. 

 

Commencement ceremonies for 1,155 undergraduate students will have two addresses.  One will be from Governor Dannel Malloy.  The ceremony will also feature remarks by author and educational futurist, Anya Kamenetz.  Kamenetz, recognized for her insights into change and technology, is a syndicated columnist and contributing writer for “Fast Company” magazine.

 

The undergraduate ceremony is at 10:30 am on Sunday at the Athletic Practice Field on the Westside campus. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.

 

Traffic is always an issue with commencement because it's the largest crowd that's on campus at any time of year.  Attendees are encouraged to arrive early.  There will be shuttles from the White Street parking garage to the westside campus, where parking is limited.  Shuttle service will start at 7am.

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Bethel names Assistant Superintendent of Schools

Bethel's outgoing Superintendent of Schools has announced the Board of Education's choice as Assistant Superintendent.  Dr Kristen Brooks was unanimously selected to fill the role.  She has been the principal at Berry Elementary School since 2006.  Smith says as Principal, Brooks has helped make Berry School one of the highest achieving elementary schools in the state.  Smith is leaving Bethel for the same position in Wilton.

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100 flags make of 'Row of Honor' in NY display

100 American flags make up Putnam County's Row of Honor.  The installation is part of the county's Memorial Day remembrances.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the Row of Honor is meant to raise awareness and funds for various veterans projects. 

 

Putnam County residents have sponsored the flags and the names of their loved ones who served or are serving in the military will appear on the memorial. 

 

The project is an effort of local veterans groups, government and tourism departments.  The flags will remain on display at Lake Gleneida until June 12th. 

 

They will be reinstalled for Veteran's Day.

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Danbury War Memorial asks City to cover some costs

The Danbury War Memorial is looking for a little help to get by during continued tough financial times.  During the City Council meeting Tuesday, advocates asked the City to consider waiving sewer and water usage fees.  The fees total about $1,000. 

 

Combat Veteran Frank Anders was among those speaking out.  He knows the War Memorial is not part of the City government, but he can't imagine letting it fail.  He says that doesn't say a whole lot about Danbury.  Kenny Moore, a basketball coach at the gym there, was among those.  He says the lack of funding could hurt youths.

 

Veteran Tom Winkler says on more than one occasion the War Memorial hosted going away and welcome home events for various units deploying into combat without any request for reimbursement.

 

Ron Struski says the War Memorial is also an emergency shelter and polling place for the City, which cuts into their funding when they have to close to serve those needs.  Over that past years, funding has gone from $175,000 to the current $50,000.  In the past, reserves for major improvements were used for operational expenses at the request of the City to offset rising costs with a promise that Danbury would be there for the War Memorial in the future.  Struski says the future is here.

 

Struski says they've been able to sustain cuts from the City over the years with the construction of the fitness center, but now that box store fitness centers have come in, that funding is lower. 

 

A Committee of the Council will consider the request.

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Budgets approved in Danbury, Redding, Region 9

There was very little discussion among Danbury City Council members last night when approving a $235.7 million budget. The mill rate is set at 27.6, and represents a 2.98 percent increase. The School budget will increase $3.5 million.  Much of the increase in funding for the schools is to cover teaching positions for 19 new classrooms in the elementary schools, a new middle school and full day kindergarten.

 

The city side of the budget includes money for the police department to replace cruisers, video cameras and tasers. There is funding for the fire department for new ladder trucks and pumpers. It also includes a 10-percent increase in grants to the volunteer fire department. 

 

Slight increases in the sewer and water rates will take effect in the new fiscal year, though a senior tax freeze will continue.

 

The budget includes a $2.3 million paving and drainage program to start this summer. For several years there have been slight decreases to social service funding, but Mayor Mark Boughton says the allocation will remain flat funded this year.  The budget includes $5.25 million for pay-as-you-go capital items including IT equipment, police cruisers and airport security upgrades. The funding would also go to a roof replacement program at the schools, Still River drainage and improvements to the WIC building on Main Street.

 

Redding residents voted in favor of a $47.46 million annual budget for the coming fiscal year, which includes Redding’s share of the Region 9 budget.  The vote was 676 in favor, 297 opposed.
 
The Region 9 School District budget of $22.69 million was also approved by 686 votes.  Easton’s share is $10.4 million and Redding’s share is $12.27 million.  667 Redding residents voted in favor of the budget while 307 were opposed.  The vote was 485 in favor in Easton and 159 opposed.
 
Residents in both towns also approved $1.45 million for partial roof restoration at Joel Barlow High School and bonds and temporary notes in the same amount.  The vote was passed by 821 votes.  Easton’s share is currently equal to 45.9% or $667,845 and Redding’s share is currently equal to 54.1% or $787,155.  498 Easton residents approved the funding while 146 voted no.  In Redding, 721 approved the allocation and 252 people voted no.

 

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Brookfield residents discuss budget, set referendum date

Brookfield's annual town meeting has been held.  The budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year were discussed.  The proposed municipal budget is $21.89 million  and represents a 5.7 percent increase in spending over the current year.  The proposed education budget, with a less than 1 percent increase, is $38.5 million. 

 

Also on the agenda last night were two capital items; a little more than $1 million for equipment and projects around town and also nearly $2.5 million for the Still River Greenway project. 

 

The budget referendum was recommended to be held on May 20th.

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Brookfield Zoning Commission considers Four Corners development

A property near the Four Corners in Brookfield is moving through the approval process.  The Brookfield Village owners are defining the project details with the Zoning Commission.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley says this is an important cornerstone development in the revitalization and economic growth of the Four Corners. 

 

Tinsley says construction equipment is starting to arrive at the Residences at Laurel Hill. property  Financing has been completed by the property owner and construction is imminent.

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US legislation aims to boost Metro-North safety

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Four members of Congress have announced legislation to improve rail safety following two fatal accidents and other incidents on Metro-North Railroad.

Connecticut Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced Tuesday a proposal requiring control cabs to have a fail-safe device sounding an alarm when a train engineer seems idle while the train is in motion.

It requires rail carriers to develop a fatigue risk plan and report on progress for technology that can slow or stop a train not being operated correctly.

Redundant signal protection for track workers also would be required.

A Metro-North spokesman says the railroad is addressing various components of the legislation.

In May 2013 a track worker was killed in Connecticut, and in December four passengers died in a Bronx derailment.

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Danbury 'March for Babies' walk raises $65,000

The March for Babies walk in Danbury on Sunday drew more than 500 participants. 

 

The walk at the Ives Concert Park on West Conn's westside campus raised more than $65,000 for March of Dimes.  The group raises money to support prenatal wellness programs, research grants, neonatal intensive care unit family support programs and advocacy for stronger healthier babies. 

 

Nine March for Babies events have been held in Connecticut this year raising more than $1.2 million.

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Phone scam warn of by the Putnam County Sheriff

The Putnam County Sheriff and the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration has issued a warning about phone calls by someone claiming to be from the IRS.  The callers say their intended victim owes taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. 

 

Those refusing payment are threatened with arrest, deportation or loss of driver's license. 

 

Sheriff Donald Smith says the IRS usually contacts people by mail and won't ask for payment the way the scammer is.  They also will not ask for credit card information over the phone. 

 

The scam callers also give common names and fake badge numbers and know the last four digits of the victim's social security number.  The Treasury Inspector General's office has receive more than 20,000 claims of this scam happening with thousands of victims losing over $1 millionas a result.

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House Oks up to $1 gift card cash redemption

Connecticut consumers with old gift cards worth less than $1 may soon be able to get the cash.  The House on Saturday voted 105 to 32 in favor of a bill that allows consumers to have the retailer cash in their cards with small remaining balances, with certain exceptions.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky voted for the bill while New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor was among those opposed to it. 

 

Representatives Dan Carter of Bethel, John Shaban of Redding and Richard Smith of New Fairfield were also among the handful of 'no' votes.

 

Danbury Representatives Bob Godfrey, David Arconti and Jan Giegler along with DebraLee Hovey of Monroe, John Frey of Ridgefield and David Scribner of Brookfield voted for the bill.

 

The bill now moves to the Senate for further action.

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Brewster man makes 'Honor Flight' to DC to see WWII monument

A Brewster resident is among those who were on the most recent Honor Flights to Washington DC.  An Honor Flight is free transportation for veterans to be able to see the war monuments erected in their honor at the Nation's Capital. 

 

86-year old Salvatore Inserra is a World War II Navy veteran.  He says last Saturday is one of the days he will remember for the rest of his life.  He experienced the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery, saying it made him recall his days in Guam, where he was stations for 16 months in 1945 and 46.  His squad's job was to guard the Japanese Prisoners of War. 

 

Inserra has lived in Brewster since 2003 and is the chaplain of the VFW Post.

 

The Honor Flight Network program was created by Earl Morse, a physician assistant in the Air Force. After completing 27 years in the service, Morse retired in 1998 and wanted to do something more for veterans.  Today, the Honor Flight Network has more than 70 chapters throughout the United States and 2013 marks their ninth year transporting more than 81,000 WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans to the nation’s capitol.

 

Guardians wishing to accompany a veteran pay their own way at a cost of approximately $400. 

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Sherman residents approve budget, Redding votes today

Redding residents are voting on a budget today. 

 

There are three questions on the Redding budget ballot.  One question asks residents if a $47.46 million budget should be approved, including the town's share of the Region 9 budget.  Another question is if $22.69 million should be be approved for the Region 9 school budget.  Redding's share is little more than $12-million with Easton picking up the remaining $10 million. 

 

The last question on the ballot is whether or not to authorize $1.45 million for a partial roof restoration of Joel Barlow High School and bond or temporary notes to cover the amount.  Redding's share is about 54-percent of the tab, based on population of the school.

 

Sherman residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The vote Saturday was for a $5-million municipal budget and a little more than $9-million education budget.  The budget includes increases on both sides including a nearly 3-percent increase in school spending over the current year, which was smaller than the Board of Education requested.  It's a 4.3 percent increase on the municipal side.

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Bethel annual town meeting vets budget proposals

The annual town meeting in Bethel about the budget was held last night.  Residents were told about the proposals for the coming fiscal year's tax and spending plan.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's $2.43 million in proposed capital expenses, including $1.5 million for road construction.

 

The capital items also include $96,000 for the Parks and Recreation Department for a tractor, a replacement truck and the Meckauer Park garage.  $650,000 for a new firetruck and $50,000 for a study of the Municipal Center gym are some of the other items.

 

The proposed education budget is $42.1 million.  The $27.2 million municipal budget includes $3.84 million in debt service and the school's 540-thousand dollar building maintenance account. 

 

A referendum vote will be held later this month.

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Annual Town Meeting tonight in Ridgefield

There is a town meeting tonight in Ridgefield for residents to vote on a number of items.  The Annual Town Meeting is being held at the Ridgefield Playhouse at 7:30pm.  Each of the 26 capital items, totalling nearly a million dollars, will be discussed and residents can ask questions. 

 

The proposed sale of part of the Schlumberger site can also be discussed.  That's 10 acres for $4 million that Toll Brothers would build age-restricted condos on.  The proposed budget in Ridgefield for the coming fiscal year is $133-million.  The referendum for both the budget and the Schlumberger sale will be held next Tuesday.

 

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Outside food policy changing in Danbury schools

Changes are coming to the way birthdays are celebrated in Danbury schools.  Currently students bring in store-bought food so the lables can be checked for students with food allergies.  In order to increase safety, Health and Nursing Services Coordinator Kathleen O'Dowd says outside food will not be allowed.  The new policy regulations will start in September.

 

The new policy promotes safety first and address the growing obesity epidemic.  She says education and awareness is key to keeping students safe.

 

Children will be offered alternative celebrations like extra recess, games, a guest reader such as a parent or a craft.  The decision will be at the discretion of the teacher.

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Big pensions for short Judicial terms causes debate in legislature

The typically routine process of confirming state judges is turning into a testy debate about Connecticut's system for awarding judicial pensions worth about $100,000 a year.  Lawmakers in the Senate and House voiced concerns about confirming older judges who won't finish a full eight-year term before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. 

 

New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor was among those opposed to the appointments.

The House approved the nomination of a 66-year old while the Senate approved a different nomination of the same age.  Both require additional legislative action.

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Area lawmaker touts electricity consumer protection bill

A ranking member of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee is touting a bill that seeks to protect consumers from spikes in electric rates.  New Milford State Senator Clark Chapin co-introduced the bill that also looks to clear up confusion in the system.

 

In the past few months many electric customers have seen their monthly bills doubled and even tripled in some cases.  Chapin says customers were not warned about these price spikes, leaving families shocked and struggling to pay their bills.

 

The bill approved by the State moves on to the state House in the final days of the legislative session.  The bill, if signed into law, would require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to study the disclosure of electric supplier contract terms on electric customer bills and establish ways to better communicate with customers.

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Turning grief into positive response addressed in Newtown

The lives of the several killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were celebrated and remembered in an discussion yesterday among local clergy and surviving families during the “Healing, Transformative Gathering”.  The event featured guest speakers and Co-Authors Dr. Meryl and Stewart Ain of their recently released book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, along with David Wheeler, who founded “Ben’s Lighthouse” with his wife Francine in memory of their son, Ben.

 

The gathering promoted productive ways for transforming grief into meaningful and positive response.  The Ains discussed inspirational ways a diverse group of over 30 individuals and families have carried on their loves ones’ memories and legacies

 

The event was hosted by Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown.  Proceeds raised from this event will benefit such participating families’ foundations and projects as “The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation” and “Ben's Lighthouse,” as well as local participating houses of worship assisting surviving families impacted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

Among clergy participating in this program were Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel, Reverend Matthew Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church, Ecumenical Chaplain Reverend Leo McIlrath of the Lutheran Home of Southbury, and Buddhist Monk Jampa Gyaltsen of the Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace.

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Clean City Danbury, EcoShred event in New Milford

Clean City Danbury Day is from 8am to noon. 

 

Bulk garbage dumping is limited to Danbury residents and property owners, proof is needed upon arrival.  No commercial vehicles or box trucks will be allowed, meaning any vehicle with a business name on it or commercial plates.

 

The following will not be collected: construction debris, electronics, hazardous waste, grass clippings and yard debris.  Scrap metal, tires and white appliances containing freon must be kept separate--they are not to be put in the dumpsters. 

 

Dumpsters are located at: City Hall on Deer Hill Avenue, Rogers Park by the tennis courts, West Conn's westside campus, the Public Works Building on Newtown Road and the PAL Building on Hayestown Road.

 

There is a special book drop off location at 30 Main Street from 9am to 3pm.

 

The Rotary Club of New Milford is hosting a Spring Cleanup Document Shredding Day today with Secure Eco Shred.  They will be in Lore's Plaza parking lot on Route 7 from 10am to 1pm with a massive mobile shredder.  Boxes of documents, pay stubs, receipts, bank statements, medical records, credit and the like will be shredded.  There's no need to remove staples or paperclips. 

 

Last year approximately 12,000 pounds of paper was collected and shredded which was recycled into paper products. This prevented over six tons of paper from being added to the landfill and translated into 130 trees that did not have to be cut down. 

 

The cost is $10.00 per standard copy paper-type box. All money collected will be donated to the New Milford Rotary Club and will be used to help senior citizens, schools, scholarships, environmental and other local projects.

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Changes proposed to new Sandy Hook School

A joint meeting of the Newtown Board of Education and Public Buildings Site Commission will be held May 14th to review plans for the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

According to minutes of the Board's meeting this week, the new size of the school is projected to be 86,000 square feet. 

 

There were several changes discussed including elimination of bleachers in the gym, making for a smaller gym.  Ssmaller pre-k classrooms based on estimated class size was also proposed.  The minutes say designers want to eliminate lockers for 4th graders, replacing them with cubbies in their classrooms similar to other grades. 

 

The second proposed computer room will be replaced by laptop carts.

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Redding student 4th confirmed measles case in Conn.

A letter to parents of Redding Elementary School students says one of the children at the school is the fourth confirmed case of measles in the state.  The letter sent home this week said the child, who was not vaccinated, did not pick up the infectious disease while at school, but did attend class while infectious .  

 

The disease can spread quickly to others who haven't been vaccinated.  Parents were advised to check their child's immunization status. 

 

In February, an infant and an adult living in Fairfield County were confirmed infected while last week an adult in New Haven County also was confirmed to have measles.

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White House proposal could bring tolls back to Conn.

There's once again talk of tolls coming back to Connecticut, this time based on a White House proposal to loosen restrictions on tolling federal interstates. 

 

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says tolls on Connecticut's western border would drive motorists to avoid them by taking local roads creating traffic bottlenecks in neighborhoods, adding to air pollution.  Proponents say most of the revenue would come from non-Connecticut residents, but McLachlan says commuters taking the train in New York would be punished, especially those leaving from Brewster because of ongoing signal issues on the Danbury Branch. 

 

He notes that in recent years the state has raided more than $187 million from Transportation funds to balance the budget.

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Newtown public information bill remains in limbo

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Key lawmakers say they doubt a compromise will be reached on whether to place additional restrictions on the public release of information from homicides to protect the privacy rights of Connecticut victims.

Sen. Anthony Musto and Rep. Ed Jutila, co-chairmen of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, said Thursday they don't believe all sides can reach an agreement before the legislature adjourns on May 7. The debate was originally prompted by the Newtown school massacre.

Musto said lawmakers' opinions are firm about whether to further restrict or loosen the rules for releasing information to the public.

If no action is taken, certain crime scene photos from homicides will remain exempt from public release.

The GAE Committee approved a bill Friday that theoretically keeps the issue alive for a last-minute compromise.

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Bill creates funding stopgap for campaign system

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A bill that creates an alternative funding source for Connecticut's public campaign financing system is moving through the General Assembly.

 

The Senate voted 24-10 Friday in favor of legislation that taps revenue from the corporation tax in case there's not enough money from the current funding source, unclaimed financial property. The bill moves to the House.

 

Democratic Sen. Anthony Musto said the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which administers the Citizens Election Program, expressed concern it might have inadequate funds to provide full grants to the program's participating candidates in this year's election because of a large number of anticipated primaries.

 

Danbury Republican Sen. Michael McLachlan opposed the bill, saying grants to candidates should be reduced if necessary. He questioned the budgetary ramifications of using corporate tax revenue.

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Danbury education budget forum tonight

Parents have the chance to ask budget-related questions to Danbury officials tonight.  Danbury Children First is hosting a meeting tonight with Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella and Mayor Mark Boughton.  Executive Director Linda Kosko says the pair will provide information about the budget and how it relates to the education children receive.

 

Kosko says education is critical to children's success and the future. She notes that there's more full day kindergarten and special academies in the city so now is the time for parents to ask questions.

 

The City Council will vote on the budget Tuesday.  There will be childcare provided tonight if parents call Danbury Children First at 203-797-8088.  The meeting tonight is 7pm at the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church on Clapboard Ridge Road.

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Hawley principal selected by Newtown Board of Ed

The Newtown Board of Education has unanimously selected the new principal of Hawley School.  At their meeting Tuesday night, the group selected Christopher Moretti to fill the position.  The Newtown Bee reports that Moretti emerged from a strong pool of candidates.  Joanne Peters Edmondson resigned from the elementary school principalship in December, but will remain in the position through the end of the school year.  Moretti comes to Newtown from Region 15 and previously served as assistant principal at a school in Wilton.

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Franc Preserve officials a Bethel Town Park

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has approved rules fir the Franc property and made a referral to the Parks and Recreation Department.  The Franc Preserve was officially designated as a town park last Tuesday. 

 

The lead trail has been designated as the J.R. Shannon Trail.  A sign dedication will be planned. 

 

The rules are similar to other parks in town.  The preserve will be open sunrise to sunset, no alcohol or drugs will be allowed, no hunting or trapping, dogs must be on leashes and whatever is brought in--must be brought out.  Bicycles and motorized vehicles will not be permitted.

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Candlewood Lake recognized for bass fishing

Candlewood Lake is being recognized by Bassmaster Magazine. In the third annual ranking of America’s best bass fisheries, Candlewood Lake is ranked number 34 of the top 100. 

 

The magazine used data from state wildlife agencies, current tournament data and expansive polling of the BASS membership.  The master list of lakes included more than 180 bass fisheries. 

 

There is a new lake at the top of the list--Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay.  Candlewood is the only southern New England lake to make the top 100 list.  Texas and California tied for the states with the most entries on the list; both have eight lakes ranked in the Top 100.

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Area lawmaker backing long-term care insurance

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is asking Connecticut's Congressional delegation for help in encouraging more seniors to buy long-term health care insurance.  They want Congress to create an easy to use federal income tax deduction for the cost of premiums. 

 

Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says policy length needs to change.  She says many elderly people are outliving the typical three-year policy and could be in long-term care much longer, outspending what was budgeted for.  Boucher says the tax exemption would encourage people to take on these policies.

 

Officials say the elderly population in Connecticut could grow 69-percent by 2032.  The state's population is already the 7th oldest in the nation.

 

State-paid long-term medicaid services make up 10-percent of the state budget, nearly $3 billion.

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Heavy rain leads to flood warnings in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Heavy rains have led to flooding problems across Connecticut.

The National Weather Services has issued a flood warning for the Housatonic River, which has gone above flood stage near the Stevenson Dam in Monroe. The weather service has a flood watch is posted for the entire state, and numerous flood advisories.

They say many small streams are likely to overrun their banks and flooding is also expected in low-lying areas and streets with poor drainage

Forecasters say parts of Connecticut were receiving more than half an inch of rain an hour at times and could get more than 3 inches of rain before the storm system passes Thursday night.

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Region 12 elementary schools to remain open

Elementary Schools in Region 12 will not be consolidated.  Residents in Bridgewater and Roxbury defeated the proposal to close the elementary schools in the individual towns and create one K-to-5 school to be constructed on the Shepaug campus. 

 

Voters in Washington approved the proposal. 

 

Residents in Bridgewater and Roxbury also voted down the second question on the ballot last night that would have meant spending $40.87 million to consolidate the schools on that campus and renovate the middle-high school. 

 

Again, residents in Washington approved the proposal.

 

April 29, 2014

VOTE RESULTS

 

Question #1
Town # Yes # No Result
Bridgewater  81  787 FAILED
Roxbury  306  585 FAILED
Washington  550  251 PASSED
Question #2
Town # Yes # No Result
Bridgewater  58  818  FAILED
Roxbury  245  669  FAILED
Washington  532  288  PASSED

 

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Violent video game tax stalls in General Assembly

With the General Assembly session coming to an end next week, an area lawmaker is disappointed that one of her proposals didn't even come up for a public hearing.  Newtown Representative DebraLee Hovey says a bill to put an extra tax on violent video games would be like the sin tax on cigarettes.

 

Hovey says making it harder to buy a gun is only one step to reduce violence.  She is calling for a cultural change to be done through less controversial steps, like warning lables on violent games with a MATURE rating.  The tax on the games would have gone toward educating people about the effects of violent video games and signs of behavioral issues in children and young adults.

 

Hovey says educating parents about the potential mental health implications to their eight year old from playing violent video games is as common sense as warning pregnant women about the dangers of drinking alcohol.

 

She cited countless studies, including a recent 2014 piece out of Iowa State University, as attributing the playing of violent video games with noticeable increases - in both frequency and severity - of aggressive behavior.  This is true particularly among children and teens.  According to that same study, more than 90% of video games rated E10+ or higher contain violent content, which is often justified and portrayed as ‘fun’.   Moreover, Hovey says it is now common knowledge that Adam Lanza was known to play these violent video games for hours a day.

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Fairfield Hills Authority moves forward on Plymouth Hall preservation

The Fairfield Hills Authority has considered a number of items when they met in Newtown Monday night.  Among them was an update on Plymouth Hall preservation. The group unanimously approved moving $2,000 from the building drawing scanning project to the project for assessment of repurposing or mothballing Plymouth Hall.

 

At their meeting last month, the group discussed funding a feasibility study to see if it's worth keeping the large building that many people have shown interest in.  The group though voted not to fund the study.   

 

They turned down a request from the SyFy show "Ghost Hunters'' to film an episode on the campus of the former Fairfield Hills psychiatric hospital.  The Authority said the filming would be too disruptive.  The site has hosted film crews in the past, most notably the 1996 movie "Sleepers''.  The site is being redeveloped as a municipal and non-profit hub.

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Monroe Republican town Committee endorces Foley for Gov.

Tom Foley is picking up more endorsements as he seeks to secure the Republican Party's nomination for Governor.  The 2010 candidate announced endorsements from five more town committees, including in Monroe. 

 

Foley says these five committees join the endorsements of 70 Republican leaders across the state including lawmakers, elected officials and party chairs. 

 

Foley is one of six candidates hoping to be nominated at the convention next month.  The others are Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, Attorney Martha Dean and former West Hartford Councilman Joe Visconti.

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Danbury company tapped by UI for energy project

A Danbury energy company has been selected by United Illuminating to help with renewable power generation.

 

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has been awarded the project of creating two 2.8 megawatt fuel cell power plants for United Illuminating.  One will be at a site to be named later this month.  The other will be in Bridgeport as part of a project that includes a solar array. 

 

The Bridgeport installation will be part of a renewable energy park at Seaside landfill.  FuelCell company officials say the power plant efficiently converting natural gas into continuous electricity that is virtually absent of pollutants.  The total project will occupy approximately 9 acres of land, with the fuel cell power plant using about one quarter of an acre and approximately 1,000 solar panels occupying 8.5 acres. 

 

FuelCell Energy will operate and maintain the power plants for 20 years under long term service agreements. The plants are expected to be operational in early 2015.  These two fuel cell plants will provide continuous baseload power to the electric grid adequate to power approximately 5,600 homes, generated in a highly efficient and environmentally friendly manner.

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