Local Headlines Archives for 2014-07

Danbury investigates opening additional small learning academies

As Danbury gets set to open its new STEM academy, school officials are looking at what other specialized choices for Middle School students can be offered.  The West Side Middle School Academy will house the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program as well as the a Global Studies Academy.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

 

Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr Bill Glass says they're looking at the possibility of opening three small learning academies at the two middle schools.  They would be in the fields of health and bio science performing arts, and environmental science magnet academies.

 

Glass says they are studying whether to open a performing arts magnet academy at each middle school because there's a lot of interest in the field.  Western Connecticut State University is currently constructing a new performing arts center.  Glass says this would be a naturally occurring opportunity to build on the connection that already exists between Danbury Public Schools and Western.

 

Glass says a health and bio science academy at Broadview Middle School with an environmental studies academy at Rogers Park Middle School are possibilities being studied.  Danbury Hospital has expressed an interest in working with the City on the Broadview academy.  Rogers Park is near an old quarry, nature preserve, Tarrywile Park, a pond and organic gardens.

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Grant applications filed for wheelchair accessible vans

Applications have been sent to the state for grant funding of wheelchair accessible vans serving seniors and persons with disabilities.  At a recent meeting of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials, regional rankings were given to certain programs that provide van services. 

 

Using the state Department of Transportation's criteria evaluation system, HART helped the regional planning group make the rankings.  Four grant applications to purchase wheelchair accessible vans are available this year.  The applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability, New Milford Wheels, the City of Danbury and Chestnut Grove Senior Housing Complex in New Milford. 

 

There are also Three grant applications available to fund projects and activities that support those services.  Applications will be made for Ability Beyond Disability so they can implement GPS technology for door-to-door service, Rides for Ridgefield mobility Management services and SPHERE to support operations of the bus service in Ridgefield.

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Construction started in Wilton on natural gas pipeline expansion

Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan says the town has reached an agreement with Yankee Gas to expand natural gas distribution in the Wilton Village and school areas.  He says the end of July, early August was chosen for construction because it's traditionally the time of the lowest level of traffic and pedestrian activity.  The pipeline is being installed in the Center Street-River Road area. 

 

Brennan says the goal is to have construction completed in that area by August 22nd.  Work near Wilton High School should be completed around the same time, since classes are slated to resume on August 25th.  There will also be a construction crew working on Wolfpit Road West from Route 7 across the Norwalk River and the train tracks to River Road. 

 

He advises motorists that the construction will cause temporary traffic congestion.  Officials estimate that the whole installation should be completed in four months by the end of November. 

 

Brennan says natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, creating less emissions which will contribute to the Town's long range environmental objectives.  The town has already locked in a natural gas price for three years.

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WCSU scholarship created to honor slain Airman

TJ Lobraico Jr. was a carefree 10-year-old boy when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  A dozen years later on an early September evening in Afghanistan, Lobraico made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country during his second tour of duty with the New York Air National Guard as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

TJ attended community college before his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2010-11, and then transferred to Western to pursue a degree in Justice and Law Administration. TJ volunteered for his second deployment in 2013, this time to Afghanistan.  He died at the age of 22 after saving several members of his squadron when they were ambushed on September 5, 2013.

 

His family has started a scholarship at Western as a way for his memory to live on.

 

Lobraico’s mother Linda Rohatsch, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and WCSU graduate, commands the 105th Medical Group at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, the same base that TJ was assigned to, and served a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq. TJ’s father, Todd James Lobraico, is an Air Force veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who serves as a master sergeant with the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He also is a Stamford police officer.

 

The scholarship is for a student entering their junior year studying Justice and Law Administration who, like TJ, had demonstrated active participation in community service and held a part-time job.  Rohatsch says by having the scholarship designated for a junior, it's a student who has shown they are dedicated to getting through their four years and typically the junior year is the hardest to get through. 

 

Qualified applicants are required to submit a short essay that answers the question, “What does service above self mean to you?”  The TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship will provide a $5,000 scholarship annually, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

 

The goal is to raise $120,000, which is the minimum to be endowed.  It will then be self sustaining through a foundation.  They are almost half way to that goal.

 

Rohatsch says the community, the state, the air base and everyone else has been so kind.  She says she is very thankful for people's genuine kindness.  On behalf of the whole family, she says there really are not enough words for how much they appreciate that.

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Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) A Connecticut teacher who helped save students' lives during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has a book deal.

G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Tuesday that ``Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Your Life's Darkest Hour'' by teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be released next spring. The publisher says the book will be a ``poignant account of personal triumph over unbearable tragedy.'' Robin Gaby Fisher is co-writing it.

Roig-DeBellis hurried 15 first-graders into a bathroom upon hearing gunfire at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, saving their lives. The gunman eventually shot himself to death after gunning down his mother, six teachers and 20 children.

Last year, Roig-DeBellis founded Classes 4 Classes, a nonprofit that advocates teaching children that all lives are connected.

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Lawmaker calls for Metro North Danbury Branch advocate

An area lawmaker has written to Governor Malloy asking him to push Metro North to appoint more rail advocates.  On word that the Waterbury Branch Line Advocate was appointed last week, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher questioned why the railroad didn't also appoint one for the Danbury Branch.

 

Boucher says Danbury area rail riders have what she called "complaint fatigue", feeling Metro North is not listening to their concerns and complaints.  She says commuters on that line are frustrated, with good reason, but so are commuters on the Danbury Branch.

 

Boucher retold the story of a veteran commuter who is considering finding a new job or moving away because the deterioration of Metro North service has been maddening.  Earlier this year especially, commuters were telling officials they weren't sure if they would make it to work on time or get home safely because of the numerous issues the railroad is having.

 

Over the years, Boucher says the branch lines have been more neglected than the main line.  She notes that often times the branch lines can't be used and commuters will clog the highways by driving to other stations.  In addition to road congestion, Boucher says it worsens an already tight parking situation in other towns.

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Compromise on help for veterans dealing with health care delays

Senator Richard Blumenthal is pleased with a bipartisan compromise agreement reached over the weekend by the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen to improve delivery of health care services. 

 

Blumenthal calls the legislation long overdue and called for immediate passage.  Recent data has shown a worsening of wait times for Connecticut veterans to get care at the two V-A hospitals and six clinics in the state, including the one in Danbury.  

 

The compromise calls for $5 billion in emergency funding for the hiring of more doctors and facility upgrades.  It also includes $10 billion for private health care for veterans who waited too long to receive treatment.

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Parking violation fines hiked in Ridgefield

Connecticut has raised the maximum fine for parking in a fire lane and illegally parking in a handicap parking space.  That means Ridgefield has now taken action to raise the rates set by the town, to match the state fine.  A town meeting and public hearing was held Wednesday to approve the changes. 

 

The ordinance change was recommended by the Ridgefield Parking Authority.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the change was made to streamline the process.  Any time the state raises the fine and the town decides to follow suit, only Board of Selectmen approval would be needed.  Previously a public hearing, town meeting approval process was also needed.

 

Marconi and other Board members feel strongly, particularly when it comes to illegally parked cars in handicap spaces.  If people are just walking into a store quickly to pick something up and they don't have a permit, it's still a violation.  Marconi says the stiff fine is a reminder that people shouldn't park there.

 

The fine for parking in a handicap space has increased from $86 to $150.  Parking in a fire zone has gone from a $50 fine to a $92 ticket.

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Gov: Feds no longer asking for Conn. sites to house child refugees

Governor Dannel Malloy says a closer look of the Southbury Training School and Old Gateway Community College buildings has revealed that neither can be used to house thousands of migrant children from Central America because of physical and safety limitations.

 

Malloy says mass housing sites, institutionalizing children is not the way to go.  He says the better way is to place children with family members.

 

He notes that the federal government is no longer asking the state to provide facilities for the children at this time.  The children are being settled with families members, more than 300 of them in Connecticut.

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Senator touts WCSU Upward Bound Program

While in Danbury on Friday, Senator Chris Murphy stopped by Western Connecticut State University to check in with high school students participating in the Upward Bound Program.  The Danbury High Schoolers are first generation college students or are from low income families.  He says they face a barrier if they do get into college--paying for it.

 

He is working on a bill with three other Senators that would hold colleges accountable for reducing tuition by possibly withholding financial aid from the federal government.  Murphy says the federal government spends $140 billion every year on that, with almost no conditions.

 

100 Danbury High School students, many of who were recruited at the end of 8th grade, are participating in the program to develop and strengthen their academic skills.

 

A mandatory six-week, nonresidential summer program is conducted at the University. This summer program is designed to prepare students academically and socially for the upcoming school year. Students are given an introduction to the major courses they will be taking in the fall.  Murphy was in Danbury to listen to presentations the kids have been working on and to push them to stay on course, get a degree and be able to earn a substantial living in Connecticut.

 

During the academic year, each student receives an academic advisor who monitors their academic and behavioral progress. Tutoring and various workshops such as Study Skills, SAT Preparation, and Financial Aid Awareness are offered.  Career and college counseling courses are offered, as well as supplementary classes which address issues effecting today's teens. Students participate in educational and cultural trips as well as college tours.

 

Over the course of the four years, each student participates in a ten-day Great Hollow Wilderness School experience in New Fairfield Students develop self-confidence and goal setting skills, as well as learn the importance of team work and social-personal responsibilities. These skills are developed through technical rock climbing, canoeing, caving, backpacking, and meeting the challenge of a high rope course.

 

The Upward Bound Program is funded by the US Department of Education, along with supplementary grants from the Danbury Board of Education.

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Area lawmaker honored today as 'Children's Champion'

An awards ceremony is being held today at the Bethel YMCA to recognize this year's Children's Champions.  The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance has given the honor to 24 state lawmakers for their work during the latest legislative session.  Among them is Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher.

 

Boucher cited research that shows investments in pre-school and early childhood education will bring the greatest return on investment and help close the achievement gap.  She says a highly trained and educated Connecticut work force is vital in today's global economy.  Boucher says almost 80-percent of what we learn is done from the ages of birth through age 5.  She says their rapid pace of brain development means a good environment for young children is vital.

 

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide membership and advocacy organization committed to improving developmental outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children ages birth through eight.

 

Boucher also received the Children’s Champion award from the Alliance in 2013, 2012 and 2009.

 

The other 23 honored are:

Senator Andres Ayala (D-23) Bridgeport and Stratford

Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-13) Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield and Middletown

Senator Beth Bye (D-05) Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington and West Hartford

Senator Carlo Leone (D-27) Stamford and Darien

Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20) Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Salem and Waterford

Senator Don Williams (D-29) Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson and Windham

Representative Cathy Abercrombie (D-83) Berlin and Meriden

Representative Tim Ackert (R-08) Columbia, Coventry, Tolland and Vernon

Representative Joe Aresimowicz (D-30) Berlin and Southington

Representative Juan Candelaria (D-95) New Haven

Representative Victor Cuevas (D-75) Waterbury

Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-18) West Hartford

Representative Mae Flexer (D-44) Killingly and Plainfield

Representative Daniel Fox (D-148) Stamford

Representative Gerald Fox (D-146) Stamford

Representative Mary Fritz (D-90) Cheshire and Wallingford

Representative Patricia Billie Miller (D-145) Stamford

Representative Bobby Sanchez (D-25) New Britain

Representative Hilda Santiago (D-84) Meriden

Representative William Tong (D-147) Stamford and Darien

Representative Toni Walker (D-93) New Haven

Representative Roberta Willis (D-64) Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Torrington and Sharon

Rep. Michelle Cook (D-65) Torrington (Legislator of the Year)

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Tornado touches down in Wolcott

WOLCOTT, Conn. (AP) The National Weather Service has confirmed that a small tornado touched down in Wolcott.

Sunday's tornado was rated as an EF0, the weakest rating for the storms, with winds between 65 and 85 mph.

Investigators say among other things, the storm uprooted trees, knocked down a fence and blew down a portable backstop on the baseball field at Wolcott High School.

The weather service says the tornado touched down at 12:50 p.m. and traveled about six-tenths of a mile from the intersection of Minor Road and Center Street to the high school.

No injuries were reported.

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Mental health services draft report submitted to legislature

A draft report has been submitted to the General Assembly's Appropriations and Children's committees by a Task Force studying mental health issues in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The joint meeting was held Thursday at the state capital.  Yale Behavioral Health Director Dr Michael Hoge says access is a challenge.

 

says there are many concerns with prevention, early identification and early intervention systems.  He notes that has led to a lack universal screening for mental health problems across the age continuum.  There are also inadequate services to refer to once behavioral health needs have been identified.

 

The report found that there are some effective programs in the state, but there is an overall disconnect. 

 

A final report is due to lawmakers in October by the state Department of Children and Families, Office of Early Childhood and others.

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Area towns take step for planning agency merger

The leaders of 10 Greater Danbury area towns are taking steps to merge their regional planning group with one representing lower Fairfield County towns.  The state recently passed an initiative calling for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says his biggest concern in all of this is that it will lead to a county level of government.  Marconi says he and others will stand firm that that can't happen.

 

The 10 towns in the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and the eight towns in the South Western Regional Planning Agency would become the 18 towns in  the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

 

Marconi says the state is hoping for more regionalization efforts when it comes to a sharing of equipment and bulk purchasing power to bring the cost of government down.  But he says, the HVCEO region already does a lot of that so they are entering this merger with caution. 

 

If larger councils of governments are not created, the current ones risk losing funding.

 

HVCEO towns are: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman.

 

SWRPA towns are: Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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Conn. Senators host immigration roundtable in Danbury

A roundtable discussion at Danbury Library has been held by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy about what they call the humanitarian crisis at the border.  Blumenthal was asked about Connecticut's rejection of the Southbury Training School as a place to house 2,000 migrant children.

 

The roundtable participants included immigration activists, student leaders, and religious leaders.

 

Blumenthal says the children face enormous danger as they flee trafficking, rape, and psychological abuse in their home countries.  He says many of the children have family members here and should be placed with those relatives instead of massive institutions.

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US agency extends comment period on tribal rules

The U-S Interior Department is extending the period for people to comment on proposed changes to the rules for granting federal recognition to American Indian tribes, citing significant public interest in the matter.

Kevin Washburn, an assistant secretary with the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, announced Friday the comment period has been extended by 60 days. 

 

The rules announced in May include a requirement that tribes demonstrate political authority since 1934. Previously, they had to show continuity from ``historical times.''  This could open the door for recognition of one faction of the Kent-based Scaghticoke Tribe. 

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen was among those seeking an extension. Despite changes made to the proposed rules, Jepsen's office claims they'll still have "serious consequences for Connecticut,'' making it easier for groups petitioning for federal recognition to gain the acknowledgement.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is also adding more consultations with tribes and public meetings.

The existing regulations overseeing the federal recognition of tribes were originally adopted in 1978. They've been updated once in 20 years.
  Washburn said the new rules are intended to make the process more transparent and efficient. He said the standards are no less rigorous.

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Updated: Small plane removed from swamp by Danbury Airport

A small plane has crashed near Danbury Municipal Airport.  Interim Fire Chief TJ Wiedl says the accident happened around 7pm Thursday.  The plane is in the marshy area on the south fields of the airport near Miry Brook Road.  The small aircraft was attempting to come in for a landing.

 

Assistant Fire Chief Bernie Meehan says the pilot was standing on the plane when firefighters arrived.  He was rescued by boat.

 

(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)

 


(Photo courtesy @IAFF801 via Twitter)

 

A Ridgefield Fire Department Ambulance was near the airport when the incident occurred.
 
The single engine 1984 Beechcraft Bonanza, crashed about a quarter mile short of Runway 35.  Ridgefield Firefighters were the first to locate the aircraft, which was not visible from the road. The plane was in water about 8 feet deep.
 
The pilot was checked by Danbury Paramedics.  According to FAA records, the plane is registered to Dr. Lionel  Brown of Newtown.  He was uninjured and was released by EMS. Firefighters placed booms around the aircraft to contain any possibility of fuel leakage. The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection was also on the scene.
 
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Danbury Police, State Police, Danbury Airport Administration, and the NTSB. 
 
(Photo courtesy @MayorMark)
 
According to the Danbury Orthopedics website, Dr. Brown founded the Hand Center of Western Connecticut in 1989. In 2011, he merged offices with Danbury Orthopedics, where he continues to practice.

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Danbury officials authorize final step of 911 call center transfer

The Danbury City Council held a special meeting last night to approve a $750,000 transfer of funds to consolidate the 911 dispatch center.  Currently police and firefighters staff the call center, but New Jersey-based IXP will be taking over those duties.  Council President Joe Cavo says Danbury is one of the last places to still use police and fire staff to answer the phones.

 

Cavo says the consolidation and the use of civilians means more police and firefighters will be back on the streets doing what they were hired to do.  Three  police officers per shift will be back on street duty.  Officials estimate that the fire department will realize a million dollar savings over the next few years.

 

The contract is for three years.  The police station was designed to have the capacity to handle a call taker center.  The space, the room and the equipment are all set to go.

 

There will be a six month cross over with police and firefighters sort of training IXP dispatchers.

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Ridgefield moves forward on Schlumberger sales

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has voted to move forward with a lease for some of the town-owned Schlumberger land.  The lease for $3.4 million dollars in exchange for 12 acres is to an art collector, previously identified as the Chairman of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. 

 

The proposal still faces a town vote.  The art collector would repurpose some of the buildings on the land and house a private art collection. 

 

Another request for proposals would go out to buyers looking to develop 10 acres of land that voters previously rejected a $4 million dollars sale for.  Toll Brothers proposed building 30 luxury condos on the site. 

 

Five acres was previously sold to a developer for a hotel and office space.  That would leave the town with 18 acres, mostly for open space.  About 4.5 acres would be set aside for future town building needs.

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Delay in opening Ridgefield Spray Bay

Spray parks in Ridgefield were set to open this weekend, but that has been delayed.  Work has not been completed at the Park and Recreation Center's Spray Bay because of recent rain storms.  

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that a rubber surface still needs to be installed.  The rubber surface has to dry for several days before the system can be tested. 

 

The new grand opening has been set for August 2nd.  Originally the town hoped to open the 26 fixtures on Independence Day weekend. 

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Redding approves capital items, Region 9 votes on new roof

Redding residents have approved bonding for two capital projects.  $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department was approved on a vote of 325 to 197.  $6.73 million over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan was approved on a vote of 375 to 148. 

 

Redding and Easton also approved funding for a partial roof restoration for Joel Barlow High School. 

 

A second vote was held yesterday for the Region 9 issue after the first decision had to be thrown out.  During a budget referendum, residents did approve the funding, but a technical error meant a new vote had to be taken.  The Region 9 Board of Ed held a hearing in March a day too late for public notice.  The total appropriation is $1.4 million.  Redding's share is 54-percent based on school population with Easton picking up the remaining cost. 

 

The vote passed overall by nearly 300 votes.

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Fortune 500 firm Sealed Air moving HQ to Charlotte

North Carolina has convinced Fortune 500 packaging company Sealed Air Corp. to move nearly 1,300 jobs to the Charlotte area by relocating its New Jersey headquarters and consolidating management operations from several other states.

 

Sealed Air has about 175 positions in Danbury.  A company spokesman sauid in published reports that manufacturing operations will remain in Danbury, with fewer than 50 non-manufacturing positionsbeing relocated

A North Carolina committee that approves corporate tax breaks on Wednesday approved up to $36 million over 12 years if the company meets job and investment targets. The Elmwood Park, New Jersey, company was expected to announce the move with North Carolina officials later Wednesday.

North Carolina Commerce Department spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the company will consolidate some operations from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Jersey into a new headquarters complex in the Charlotte area costing more than $50 million.

Genardo said the company also considered Greenville, South Carolina, before choosing Charlotte.

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HVCEO towns start process of merging with another regional planning group

A town meeting was held in New Fairfield Tuesday night and the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen met Wednesday night to discuss merging the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials with another regional group.  The South Western Regional Planning Agency is made up of lower Fairfield County towns up to Wilton and Weston. 

 

HVCEO covers 10 towns in the Greater Danbury area up to New Milford and Sherman.  

 

A state initiative passed recently calls for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  If larger councils of governments are not created, the current ones risk losing funding.

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Kent to create 'town green' with STEAP funding

A $500,000 grant has been awarded to Kent.  The Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant money from the state will be used to purchase a vacant 1.6 acre lot in the center of town.  Kent is looking to build public restrooms, parking  and a village green.  Tourism is a significant driver of Kent’s economy.  Governor Dannel Malloy says this project would make the town an even more attractive tourist destination. 

 

The vacant lot sits on Route 7 and was once a Chevrolet dealership.  First Selectman Bruce Adams says it's a blighted property and will greatly benefit the town once it's put to good use.

 

Adams says a green would be a great place to host events such as craft fairs or movie nights.  He says right now people people stop at the railroad tracks, turn around and go back because it looks like nothing if beyond that.

 

$100,000 in STEAP funds will go to Cornwall for structural repairs to the North Cornwall Meeting House, including reconstruction of the steeple and repairs to the building itself.

 

$500,000 in STEAP funds will be used to repair two bridges that cross Beaver Brook on Park Road in Barkhamsted.  The bridges and road incurred significant damage from past storms.  The Department of Transportation rated one of the bridges “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete”.  The other bridge was damaged when Beaver Brook flooded during Hurricane Irene.

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Air defense drill for 4 Northeastern states

The New York state Division of Military and Naval Affairs says a two fighter jets from a Massachusetts Air National Guard unit have conducted an air defense exercise over parts of four Northeastern states.

Officials say the exercise took place from 10 am until noon Tuesday over northeast New York, southern Vermont, western Connecticut and Massachusetts. The exercise was run by the Eastern Air Defense Sector based in Rome, near Utica.

The drill involved two F-15 jets from the Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing, a Civil Air Patrol Cessna airplane and a C-5 cargo plane from Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts.

Officials say most of the activity during the exercise was not visible from the ground.

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DOT meeting in Newtown on intersection realignment

The state Department of Transportation is holding a hearing tonight in Newtown on a proposed intersection realignment.

 

State officials are hosting an informational session tonight about a plan to create a four-way intersection for Church Hill Road, Commerce Road and Endmond Road.  The proposal was made to reduce the number of accidents at the intersection and to ease congestion on Church Hill Road, Route 6. 

 

Side walks would be added to increase pedestrian access as well.  A left turn lane would be created on Endmond Road, Route 6 would be widened a bit and the stop lights would be synchronized. 

 

The project is estimated to cost about $4 million.  It would be paid for mostly with federal funds and only about 20-percent of state funding.  The construction work, if approved and funding secured, would start in 2016 and take a little more than a year to complete.

 

The meeting starts at 6:30pm with a presentation at 7pm at the Newtown Municipal Center.

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Bethel, Danbury come to agreement on water storage tank

After six years of a stalemate between Bethel and Danbury, an agreement could be near for a water tank being placed near Long Ridge Road.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they need to build a water storage tank on town-owned land within Danbury city limits at Eureka Lake.  He says it's needed to handle what the state health department says is a water shortage in the downtown district. 

 

The City's Planning Commission has time and again denied the request saying the area is designated as scenic. 

 

No new industrial development can take place in Clarke Park because of the storage issue.  It's a fragile system, sensitive to any kind of disruption.  Knickerbocker says any kind of pressure change causes rust to dislodge. 

 

Bethel filed a lawsuit, but agreed to drop it if Danbury approves new plans to build the 750,000 gallon tank further into the woods.  An out-of-court- settlement offer put together by Bethel officials was tentatively agreed to by the Danbury Planning Commission Thursday night.

 

Knickerbocker says that option is more costly than the original design, but less costly than going to an alternative site.  That would have involved underground mains being moved and elevated tanks being constructed that could be seen for many miles.

 

A public hearing would have to be held in Danbury for final approval.

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Ceremony in Weston marking emergency first aid administration

During a ceremony in Weston Monday morning, Governor Dannel Malloy, advocates and state lawmakers marked the enactment of  "An Act Concerning the Storage and Administration of Epinephrine at Public Schools''.  The bill was signed into law last month and allows certain school employees to administer emergency first aid medication to children or teenagers who appear to be experiencing severe allergic reactions, even if an allergy wasn't previously documented. 

 

The ceremony was held at Weston High School.  The bill was co-sponsored by Redding Representative John Shaban and Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford among others.

 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities submitted testimony against the bill saying there are concerns about potential liability exposure on school personnel and school districts from well-intentioned, but improperly administered medicine.  A substitute nurse from Westport also submitted testimony, but hers was in favor of the bill and cited her son's allergic reactions.

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Prescription drug discount cards saving NY residents $850,000

Discount prescription drug cards provided to Putnam County residents are resulting in big savings.  Officials report that residents in Putnam county have saved over $850,000 on nearly 13,000 prescriptions. 

 

It's a program similar to one in Danbury and elsewhere that allows residents of any income, age or existing health care coverage to participate in. 

 

The ProAct Prescription Discount Card Program is anonymous and can be used at most pharmacies in the region.  Residents can receive a discount of between 10 and 20 percent on name brand medication, with larger savings on generic medication.  But the card cannot be used to reduce co-pays or deductibles.

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Danbury businessman participates in White House meeting on exports

A Danbury businessman has attended a White House roundtable discussion about boosting U.S. exports.  Dr. Robert Bedoukian was a guest of 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for the event hosted by the Secretary of Commerce and United States Trade Representative Ambassador.  Only three other Representatives and one Senator were invited to participate in the event.

 

Bedoukian Research, founded in 1972, is a supplier of specialty aroma and flavor ingredients to the pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and specialty chemical industries.

 

Esty says the Secretary of Commerce and others heard about the importance of intellectual property rights.  Currently, 55-percent of Bedoukian Research's sales are exports.  Federal officials discussed best practices and available federal tools for businesses looking to expand their exports. 

 

Esty says they heard the real world experience of the business owners challenges and opportunity for selling to the 95 percent of customers who don't live in the United States.  Esty is looking to bring some of those experts and resources back to the district and host an event for local businesses to learn about opportunities they have to get their products and services more easily exported around the world.

 

Last year, Connecticut set a record $16.4 billion worth of exports.  In 2011, a little more than 27-percent of all manufacturing workers in Connecticut depended on exports for their jobs.

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Redding goes to the polls on cell tower, road reconstruction

There is a referendum tomorrow in Redding about borrowing for two items.

 

One of the proposals Redding residents will be deciding on is an emergency communications tower.  The other is a road reconstruction plan.  Originally there was going to be a vote at an informational meeting, but residents instead will be voting tomorrow.  That machine vote coincides with a referendum on the roof replacement project at Joel Barlow High School. 

 

Redding officials are proposing $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department.  $6.73 million dollars over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan. 

 

Both projects would be funded through short term borrowing pending long term financing.

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Easton, Redding to re-vote on JBHS roof restoration

A special Region 9 Board of Education meeting was held in June about a technical error that is delaying the roof restoration project at Joel Barlow High School.  There was a problem with the public notification.  The referendum date was set at a meeting four days after notice was given of the meeting, not five days as required. 

 

The $1.4 million project would have started in late July, but has been pushed back to August. 

 

The Region 9 district is holding a referendum tomorrow.

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High school to college transition workshop to be held

Danbury Library is hosting a workshop for high school graduates who are going off to college this fall.  It's titled “Transitioning from High School to College”.  The workshop will be conducted by Tom Bisogno who teaches “Decision Making in Groups” at Western CT State University.

 

Bisogno says many college students have difficulties or drop out within the first two years of their degrees because they are not prepared to tackle the academic requirements, adjust to different teaching styles or make good decisions about other basics of college life like finances, lifestyle choices, class attendance and study habits.  The workshop will cover the key areas which students and researchers have identified as important for success in college.  Some of the topics include time management, attendance, studying, and plagiarism.

 

The program will be held Saturday, July 26 from 10:15am to 12:45pm at the LibraryRegistration is required online at danburylibrary.org, click on “Events” or call 203-797-4527.

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Area lawmaker speaks to youths about gun violence prevention

The "Make Progress National Summit" in Washington DC held Wednesday for young people featured an address from U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.  He talked about what they can do to reduce gun violence saying there seems to be a growing indifference to incidences in schools and at colleges and universities.

 

He said patience is not an easy thing to preach when his colleagues want immediate returns on political action.

 

Murphy says increasing support for gun violence prevention measures could take decades, the same way it took decades for the NRA to build it's massive support system.  He questioned whether member of Congress who opposed background check legislation will be able to hold on to their seats when 90-percent of Americans support the measure

 

Murphy says the average age of a victim of gun violence is 19, followed by 18, 16 and 17.

 

The Summit brings together hundreds of progressive leaders and young people from around the country to discuss ways they can make a difference now in moving our communities and the country forward.  Other featured speakers included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

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DUI checkpoint to be held tonight in Newtown

Newtown police will be holding a sobriety checkpoint tonight into Sunday.  While police did not disclose the exact location of the checkpoint, they do say motorists travelling in both directions will be stopped and briefly interviewed.  During the DUI checkpoint, police will also be on the lookout for other motor vehicle violations ranging from cell phone use to seat belt violations. 

 

Police say the special enforcement effort is one of three being held over the summer. 

 

The first was during the 4th of July weekend.  The Newtown Bee reports during that enforcement effort, 1 DUI arrest was made, 3 tickets were issued to people driving with a suspended license and 1 speeding ticket.  8 infractions and 56 warnings were also issued.

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Newtown First Selectman honored by Jericho Partnership

The Jericho Partnership has held its annual fundraising breakfast.  Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra was the keynote speaker Thursday at the Amber Room.  She was also presented with an award from the non-profit.

 

The theme of the breakfast was "Faith in the Marketplace".  Llodra told her journey about how faith has helped sustain her as a parent, grandparent, educator and municipal leader.  Llodra told those in attendance about how she applies her own beliefs and practices in her "marketplace" as an elected official.

 

Llodra's speech focused on two practices she uses to guide her actions.  The first, she says is a trust in the peace of God; being calm, steadfast, focused, careful and courageous.  The other is a belief in good.  She says people need to seek it, find it, look for it and to not be distracted by badness or evil acts.  Llodra urged those in attendance to trust and believe that for every act of evil there is greater and better and more persistent acts of goodness and kindness.

 

Jericho Partnership is an umbrella organization for 24 urban and suburban churches and ten hands-on transformative ministries to Danbury’s youth, homeless and other at-risk communities.

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Bethel: residents approve budget, Appeals board decides on dispensary issue

Bethel residents have approved a municipal budget.  The municipal spending plan was rejected by Bethel residents three times and the town entered the new fiscal year using the same numbers as last year's budget.  Thursday's vote was approved by a margin of 550 ballots.

 

The Board of Finance has cut a total $516,000 from the original proposal. The plan still represents a $515,000 spending increase over the previous year.  That is mostly being driven by wage changes from last year, employee benefits and medical insurance. 

 

Tax bills could not be calculated until the municipal budget passed. Once the bills are sent out, Bethel residents will have 30 days from the new due date to pay the bill.

 

Also on Thursday night, the Zoning Board of Appeals decided that the town planner properly issued a zoning permit to D&B Wellness to open a medical marijuana dispensary on Garella Road.  The Board reportedly took two votes, the first upholding the "retail use" portion of the town's decision and then about not violating federal laws.

 

The property is zoned for retail use and town officials had argued that the dispensary is considered a pharmacy, therefore a permitted use.

 

Philip Lombino and Michael Moore filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving and application for a zoning Permit filed by Angela D'Amico and Karen Barski.  Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center gained approval in May as one of only six dispensaries licensed by the state.

 

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.

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.  

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Starbucks, Chick-fil-A planned for Danbury

Progress is being made to clear a parcel of land on North Street in Danbury to make way for a Starbucks.  The location received a special exception from the Planning Commission for a drive thru.  Two vacant office buildings were torn down in April.  The coffee house is expected to open next year.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says part of the approval from the state was that Starbucks would do some traffic adjustments and the light will be moved.

 

Boughton says it's one of the busiest intersections in the City and he hopes the state will move forward with their widening plan over the next couple of years.

 

The Mayor also mentioned that Chick-fil-A would be opening a location in the food court of the Danbury Fair Mall.  This comes as a groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday in Brookfield for a Chick-fil-A on Federal Road at the former Burger King location. 

 

Chick-fil-A is also planning to open locations in Enfield and Wallingford.  The chain operates nearly 2,000 locations in 39 states and Washington DC.

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Appeal filed over Loaves & Fishes application rejection

An appeal has been filed by Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House to overturn a Zoning Commission denial.  The non-profit is looking to build a new facility on Bridge Street in New Milford, but the application has been denied.  Concerns with the Bridge Street site ranged from parking to traffic.

 

The town previously asked Loaves & Fishes to move out of their current site at the Richmond Center so the space could be used for municipal services. 

 

Attorney Neil Marcus filed the appeal on Monday.  Marcus says the seller is willing to give the non-profit a contract that will allow for the acquisition and construction.  He says there are a lot of opportunities for the two sides to reach a settlement, noting that minor changes to the plan could address many of the raised issues.

 

Loaves & Fishes has been in operation for more than 30 years.  They help the less fortunate and the homeless have access to a good meal.

 

The house at 25 Bridge Street would be torn down and a new building constructed.  The non-profit planned to call the facility the Danny Straub Community Outreach Center, named for the late husband of the woman selling the land where their business was located.

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Psychiatric test ordered for Newtown calls suspect

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has ordered a psychiatric assessment of a man charged with making threatening phone calls to Newtown residents in the days following the school shootings.

Defense lawyers told the judge in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Wednesday that Wilfrido Cardenas Hoffman has received psychiatric care at home in Venezuela.

Cardenas was arrested last month at Miami International Airport while traveling to Mexico from Venezuela.

Prosecutors say Cardenas made the calls two days after the December 2012 shootings in which 20 first-graders and six educators were killed. Authorities say in a few calls, he claimed to be the shooter and threatened to kill the person he called.

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Area lawmaker calls for transparency in Southbury request

An area lawmaker is calling for more transparency from the Government. 

 

Southbury State Senator Rob Kane says he, along with state Representatives and the First Selectmen among others, found out about talks to house 2,000 migrant children in Connecticut after the fact.  Kane he agrees with the Malloy administration's answer to the federal government about using the Southbury Training School, but still would have liked to be able to tell constituents what was going on.

 

Kane says Malloy had an obligation to forward the request to local officials.  He says the Southbury Training School is not an appropriate location because there are still about 300 people housed there.  They are disabled individuals and some with very specific needs.

 

State procedures for using surplus property could take up to two years to complete.  The federal government is looking for immediate housing.

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Connecticut rejects request to house children

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut officials have rejected a federal request to temporarily house up to 2,000 immigrant children from Central America at a mostly-vacant facility built for developmentally disabled adults.

The Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury reports the New England office of the U.S. General Services Administration has inquired about leasing space at the Southbury Training School.

The federal government planned to cover all expenses, including building maintenance.

Patrick M. O'Brien, assistant director of the state's Bureau of Assets Management, emailed back Monday, rejecting the request. He said the building was not suitable because of deteriorating conditions, complex state procedures for using surplus property, and the fact that some people are still housed at Southbury.

The federal government is looking for housing following a recent surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally.

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3 grade crossings cleared, 5 still being tested by Metro North

Buses will be back on Metro North's Danbury branch line again this weekend.  The state Department of Transportation and its contractors are running tests at five intersections to figure out what's causing crossing gates to activate at the wrong times.  The intersections are all in Danbury.  They are Great Pasture Road, Shelter Rock Road, Triangle Street, Taylor Street and East Liberty Street.

 

Three in Bethel – Greenwood Avenue, South Street and Taylor Road – have been fixed and the “stop and warn” requirements at those crossings were lifted yesterday.

 

Brookfield Representative David Scribner says there is still plenty of work to be done though in rebuilding confidence in the railroad.

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'Good Samaritan Mission' launched in Danbury to help homeless

An in-depth, long-term transitional program to move homeless and other at-risk men off city streets and into jobs and self-sufficient lives has begun in Danbury.

 

Called the Good Samaritan Mission, the faith-centered effort by Jericho Partnership includes shelter for up to 16 men in two-man rooms with private bathrooms, and transitional programs that will include recovery from addictions, and job training, employment and coaching.  The Mission will be housed in a three-story building on Maple Avenue, across the street from Jericho’s seasonal homeless shelter in the city’s downtown.  Jericho opened the seasonal shelter five years ago.

 

This new program is being run in partnership with Christian Community Outreach Ministries, a model in practice in more than 300 other sites across the country.

 

Executive Director Carrie Amos says she's heard many stories about being homeless, about the pain of addiction and family turmoil, and feeling helpless and devalued in Danbury.

 

Amos says over the past several months, Jericho staff met with homeless individuals and groups serving them, as well as downtown retailers and city police to formulate a strategy to help the homeless with transformative programs.

 

Jericho Partnership is an umbrella organization for 24 urban and suburban churches and 10 hands-on transformative ministries to the city’s youth, homeless and other at-risk communities.

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Danbury Hospital opens 'Peter Buck' Pavilion, parking garage

Danbury Hospital has opened the The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion and adjacent Rizzo Garage to the public.  Hospital patients and visitors for the Tower building, Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Robert J. and Pamela Morganti Center for Wound Care can self-park in the Rizzo Garage, formerly the Blue Garage.

 

It's located off of Hospital Avenue adjacent to the Broadview Middle School fields.

 

With the changes to the layout of services provided at Danbury Hospital, a staffed Information Desk will guide patients and visitors to the new Pavilion.

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Zoning appeals hearing continues in Bethel on medical marijuana dispensary

A public hearing continues in Bethel tonight about the medical marijuana dispensary coming to Garella Road in Bethel.  The Zoning Board of Appeals held its initial hearing on the case June 18th and it continues tonight at 7pm in the General Purpose Room of the Municipal Center.  Philip Lombino and Michael Moore filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving and application for a zoning Permit filed by Angela D'Amico and Karen Barski. 

 

Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center won approval in May as 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 criteria on dispensaries that are different from retail mandates, because the general public will not be patronizing the facility. 

 

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.

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and is limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.  

 

There are also strict security requirements in place, all detailed among 76 pages of state regulations.

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Redding Center Post office to cut back hours

The post office in Redding across from Town Hall will not be closing entirely, in a decision issued Wednesday.  Certain post offices have been subject to review, including the Redding Center Post Office. 

 

The United States Postal Service sent out a survey to residents, presenting them with four alternatives to closing the post office.  A community meeting was held last week in Redding about the matter.  It was decided that the alternative keeping the Lonetown Road facility open with new weekday service hours, based on workload, would be the way to go. 

 

Saturday service would not change, but the weekday hours would be cut in half.

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Blight prevention agency provides summer update to Danbury officials

This is the time of year a Danbury department receives a lot of complaints about properties in neglect. 

 

The Unified Neighborhood Assistance Team says residents notice that as the grass grows excessively high, if the surrounding property is vacant or in the process of foreclosure.  For the month of June, UNIT says they addressed several issues including more than two dozen blighted properties, nine with front lawn parking issues, nine illegal apartments or apartments with overcrowding and six abandoned properties. 

 

The department also issued five exterior blight order notices of violation.  71 quality of life issues in all were addressed last month.  Year to date, UNIT has responded to 449 issues in Danbury.

 

A majority of the 526 calls placed to the 311 Call Center in June were requests for phone numbers.  The Spring Yard Debris Pickup program generated about 20 calls with questions.  More than two dozen residents called asking about where to dispose of household garbage.  16 calls were about recycling and 11 people were looking for information about the next Household Hazardous Waste Day--which isn't being held in Danbury until September. 

 

Danbury residents also called in 43 potholes during June, which were then filled.  City officials say as the summer wears on, residents are encouraged to report high grass and bushes that block the line of site for motorists. 

 

Drainage issues, which typically coincide with heavy thunderstorms, should also prompt concerned residents to call with reports of clogged catch basins or other areas that need attention.

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Women's Center receives grant for empowerment programs

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury has recently received an infusion of grant money for some new programs.  The Fairfield County Community Foundation made a $16,500 donation to the Women's Center.  Program Manager of Counseling and Advocacy Nicole Sabel says the fiscal climate continues to challenge nonprofits to do more and more with less and less to meet an increased demand for services.

 

The programs called Thriving Women and Project B, for middle and high schoolers, are aimed at empowering women and girls.  They focus on sustaining health relationships, how to cope with anxiety and depression and substance abuse among other topics.

 

Sabel says there's a lot of areas which they work with the individual that all impact how they see themselves.  Thriving Women and Thriving One are free and confidential facilitated groups that meet three times weekly.

 

The Spring Semester of Project B focused on friendship and what it means to be in a healthy relationship with a peer.  She says that lays the ground work for all other healthy relationships teens will encounter.

 

During the 2013 fiscal year, the Women’s Center served a total of 26,125 adults and children in its 13-town service area through three major programs, Domestic Violence Services, Sexual Assault Services and Resource Services.

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Statement of Condition on Danbury Dire Department issued

One of the final duties that Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald had to do before he retired this weekend, was provide City officials with an update on the Department.  He submitted a Statement of Condition about the fire houses, equipment and the future needs of the Department.  There are 5 career and 12 volunteer fire stations in the City.  The city maintains and owns six of the volunteer houses.

 

He gave an update on the Commerce Park Station 24, which at last update was in imminent risk of failure.  An engineering study found it was just an issue with the facade.  Herald says while there are some issues remaining, this was positive news.  Station 24 was built and donated to the city by Powers Construction in the 1970s.

 

A backup generator was recently installed at the station, which means now all career stations have backup generators.

 

Herald says the Department, like others across the country, is faced with technological challenges and changes in response to fires.  He says that drives changes at the lowest level of fire service --gear, fire trucks and air packs.  The City has been able to fund some repairs and replacements of the radio system over recent years.  But Herald it's a mix of different manufacturers, ages and models for the units. 

 

Herald says at some point, the City will have to consider revamping the whole system for police, fire, EMS, public works, and education.

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Petition calls for action to end homelessness

A group protesting outside of City Hall for two weeks in order to have Danbury officials better address the issue of homelessness have packed up their tents.  Participants plan to present a petition to the City Council at their August meeting calling for action.  Advocate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index. 

 

A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, a draft of a new plan will be crafted. 

 

The City's Health, Housing and Welfare Department reported this month to the City Council about their activities for May.  The housing caseworker managed 63 active cases and the Day Center--located at the Emergency Shelter--had 879 visits from homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless.  That figure included weekend service meetings.  The nearly 900 visits to the Day Center included 540 lunches being served, 100 showers, and 43 veteran referrals among other services.

 

MCCA weekend counseling services also resumed with 15 mental health referrals or case management and 64 for substance abuse.

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Danbury officials consider land purchase for public safety memorial

Members of the Danbury City Council will be meeting soon to discuss a proposal to buy a parcel of land next to the Police station.  The landlocked property has a home on it that the City would tear down to create a park with a memorial for fallen public safety members who died in the line of duty.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the people who lived there have passed on.

 

The goal is to purchase the land for $120,000 and get the site cleaned up and prepared for a spring construction.  Boughton says the pocket park would be a nice green space for the neighborhood while revitalizing that part of Main Street.

 

The people who lived in the home next to the police station have passed away and there's not a lot of other use for the property. 

 

The Committee, which has yet to meet, will then send their recommendation back to the full Council.  A public hearing will be held in August if approved by the Council.

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Ridgefield Fire Chief pays up on bet over charity hockey game

It wasn't a sight seen every day at Danbury Fire Headquarters.  The Ridgefield Fire Chief washing a car.  Kevin Tappe was in Danbury Tuesday afternoon to wash Danbury Fire Chief Geoff Herald's car to settle up on a bet. 

 

The Chief who's firefighters lost a charity hockey game had to wash the winner's car on the ramp of the fire station wearing a t-shirt with the winning department's logo. 

 

The second annual charity game was held in May.  Ridgefield lost to Danbury 6 to 3.  In the first year of the annual charity event, the Ridgefield firefighters beat Danbury on the ice in overtime. 

 

Proceeds from the game, more than $2,700, were donated to a Brookfield resident who suffered spinal cord injuries in a car accident.  The money was used to obtain a service dog for the woman.  Her mother is a nurse in Ridgefield.

 

Ridgefield won in the first year over Danbury in overtime.

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State lawmakers consider penalties for leaving children unattended in cars

Ridgefield Police says they will not release any more details in the case of the 15 month old left in a hot car for an extended period of time Monday until a cause of death has been determined for Benjamin Seitz.  The Chief Medical Examiner's office says it could be six to eight weeks before their ruling.

 

The spate of seven children left in cars in two weeks in Connecticut has state lawmakers considering whether stiffer penalties are needed.  Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher says their hearts go out to these families because it's a devastating situation, but she says something may need to be done.  

 

Children's Committee co-chair Senator Dante Bartelemeo says they've asked researchers for a report on the penalties for leaving children in cars in other states.

 

Right now in Connecticut, leaving a child under the age of 12 unattended in a vehicle can lead to up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

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Few people use boat pump out service during holiday weekend

Free sewage pumpout services for recreational boaters on Candlewood Lake is being offered by the state.  Up until now, many pump out facilities had charged a $5 service fee.  Funding for the new Clean Vessel Act program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment, as well as boat fuel. It's part of an effort to keep coastal waters clean for recreation by safely disposing boaters' sewage. 

 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Analyst Gwendolyn Flynn says this past weekend there weren't as many people using the services as DEEP had hoped.  Flynn says that night have been because fewer people were on the lake due to the weather or the holiday weekend meant more people on dry land having picnics.

 

Flynn says the previous weekend there was a significantly larger amount of sewage off loaded from boats.  She hopes with the nice weather, people will enjoy the lake and take advantage of their services.

 

She notes that extra sewage in the water means there are more nutrients in the water and that can cause more algae blooms and help invasive plants thrive.  There is a concern each year with the amount of invasive species, particularly Eurasian Milfoil.

 

Candlewood Lake Pumpout Cell Phone at 860-985-9474 Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 5pm.

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Protest in Danbury calling for action on homelessness set to wrap up

A group protesting outside of Danbury City Hall in order to have officials better address the issue of homelessness is set to wrap up this weekend.  A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, the Danbury Housing Partnership will receive the draft of a new plan to end homelessness. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the advocates are a little misguided in where they are placing the protest.  Boughton says the City does more than any other town in the area, and does more than most cities in the state when it comes to the issue of homelessness.

 

Boughton says while he supports their first amendment rights, the advocates should be lobbying area towns to do their part.  He says he will continue to push surrounding towns to step up and do their free share. 

 

Advocate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index.  One night in January, volunteers in Danbury conducted the annual Point-In-Time count to determine the number of individuals living without a safe, stable place to call home.  148 people were counted.

 

The City Shelter, Dorothy Day, the Jericho Shelter on Maple Avenue and The First Congregational Church Shelter across from City Hall have beds.  But some aren't open year round and others have limits on the number of nights people can stay.

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Engineering firms take pre-bid tour of Hearthstone Castle

A tour of Hearthstone Castle in Danbury took place Thursday for engineering firms interested in submitting bids to the City about plans to stabilize the structure.  The tour is mandatory because any proposal for engineering services without having seen the castle, will not be considered. 

 

Mark Nolan of the Friends of Tarrywile Park said at a City Council meeting earlier this year that the castle in its present state is saveable with some work to secure it.  A study was done recently about what can be done with the site in the future.  The findings ranged from a school to an observation deck.  A lot of the recommendations are cost prohibitive and are not feasible.

 

Nolan says the retaining wall on the lower side is deteriorating.  If that is allowed to go, more damage will de done to what is left of the structure.  Hearthstone Castle was built in 1897.  The outer walls are all that is left of the structure after years of neglect saw the roof and internal structure collapse into the basement. 

 

Even if the decision is to take the castle down and make a picnic area, an engineering plan needs to be done. 

 

The bids are due to City officials by the end of the month.

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Connecticut police honor those involved in Newtown response

18 months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, State Police have honored those who responded.  More than 100 awards for outstanding and meritorious service were given to First Responders and others who were part of the immediate and long term response. 

 

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro delivered remarks.  She said each responder ran to the unthinkable, faced the unbearable and took on the impossible.  Schriro says what they do every day makes it possible for everyone to regain their footing and restores a sense of safety and well being.  For these "gifts of service", she thanked them by saying what they do matters.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy says he's very proud of the work done by all who responded on that day or in the months after.  He saw the faces of men and women bearing witness to unbelievable tragedy and said stoic as they tried to be, the difficult nature of the work they were doing was written on their faces.

 

State police officials handed out awards for outstanding and meritorious service Tuesday at the University of Connecticut's football stadium in East Hartford.

 

State Trooper First Class Matthew Bell was among the first police officers to enter the school and saw the horror. He says receiving an award was an honor, but he's always been more concerned about the well-being of the victims' families.

 

Receiving awards were:

 

First Responders (State Police and Local Police)

Lt. Michael Hofbauer
Lt. Michael Perry
M/Sgt. Michael Davis
Sgt. William Cario
Sgt. Joseph Salmeri
Sgt. Michael O’Donnell
Sgt. Adam Wagnblas
Sgt. Joseph Roden
TFC Christopher Kick
TFC John McGeever
TFC Edward Benecchi
TFC Dennis Keane
TFC William Blumenthal
TFC Anthony Cipriano
TFC Josef Duva
TFC Carlo Guerra
TFC Ken Cournoyer
Det. Christopher Zullo
Det. Patrick Dragon
Tpr. Laurence Greg
Tpr. Andrew Katrenya
Oxford Officer Luke Ramirez
Sgt. Thomas Bennett
Det. Brian Marino
Det. Janice Warkoski
TFC Matthew Bell
New Milford Police Det. Scott Flockhart
Newtown Police Officer Thomas Bean
Wolcott Police Officer Leonard Greene
Brookfield Police Officer Jared Turner

 

State Police Emergency Services Unit
Capt. Louis J. Fusaro
M/Sgt. Christopher McCarthy
Sgt. Raoul Palen
Sgt. Christopher Bartolotta
Sgt. Michael Alogna
Sgt. Chick Bistany
Sgt. Patrick Cauley
Sgt. Jeffrey Dubuc
Sgt. Kenneth Albert
Sgt. Shawn Corey
Sgt. Eric Murray
Sgt. Joseph Mercer
Sgt. James Kodzis
Sgt. Robert Girard
TFC Michael Avery
TFC Mark Wyler
TFC Eric Basak
TFC Arthur Derderian
TFC Brian Faughnan
TFC Chad Gomez
TFC Christopher Lunz
TFC Robert Maynard
TFC Steven Rief
TFC Daniel McCarthy
TFC William Rochette
TFC Joseph Voket
TFC David Luke
TFC David Lavoie
TFC James O’Donnell
TFC Richard Oenning
TFC Kevin Cook
TFC Steven Chapman
Tpr. Jeffrey Poach
Tpr. Michael Beauton
Tpr. Collin Konow
Tpr. Carson Konow
Sgt. Stephen Ostroski
TFC Scott Crevier
Dr. Richard Kamin

Major Crime Detectives (State Police, FBI and Newtown PD)

Lt. David DelVecchia
Lt. William Baldwin

Sgt. James Thomas

Sgt. Josh Pattberg

Sgt. Eric Dency

Sgt. Jeffrey Covello

Sgt. William Telford

Det. Karoline Keith

Det. Arthur Walkley

Det. Daniel Sliby        

Det. Michael Tranquillo

Det. Steven Rupsis

Det. Raymond Insalaco

Det. Rachael VanNess

Det. Daniel Jewiss

Det. Michael Mudry

Det. Alison Peters       

Det. Michael Downs

Det. Frank Mugavin

Det. Christopher Fongemie     

Det. Matthew Greenstein          

Det. Matthew Gunsalus             

Det. Patrick Meehan     

Det. Peter Farr

TFC Kenneth Dillon

TFC Anthony Cretella

TFC Joseph Russo

TFC James Foley

TFC Mark Pereira

FBI Special Agent Samuel Dispasquale

FBI Special Agent Lisa Skelly-Byrnes

FBI Special Agent Michael Zuk

Newtown Police Officer Jeffrey Silver

Sgt. John Turner

Sgt. Joseph Quilty

Sgt. Kevin Stratton

Det. Michael Fitzsimons         

Det. Richard Covello

Det. Peter Pinelli

Det. Marc Grandpre

Det. Thomas Kiely

Det. Christopher Allegro

Det. John Kimball

Det. William Flynn

Det. Joseph Bukowski

Det. Paul Lukienchuk

Det. Jeremy Combes

Det. Andre Roy

Det. Patrick Dwyer     

Det. Vincent Gogluicci               

Det. James Nolting      

Det. John McDonald      

Det. Shawn Sequeira               

Det. Kevin Slonski                       

Det. Scott Wisner

Det. Tanya Compagnone

Det. Matthew LaCluyze

Det. James McGlynn 

Det. Daniel Cargill

Det. Jeffrey Payette

Det. Priscilla Vining

Det. David Lamoureux

Det. Keith Hoyt

Det. Ryan Luther

Det. Brian Connolly

Det. Daniel DeJesus

 

Families Liaison Officers

M/Sgt. Kevin Mingo
Sgt. David Wagner
Weston Police Sgt. Patrick Daubert
Weston Police Sgt. Matthew Brodacki
Det. Brian Marino
Det. Janice Warkoski
TFC Jason Cassavecchia
TFC Gregory Trahan
TFC Robert Evangelista
TFC Catherine Taylor
TFC Edward Anuszewski Jr.
TFC Timothy Lehane Jr.
TFC Thomas Macholl
TFC Orlando Mo
TFC David Merriam
TFC Paul Macisco
TFC Dennis Keane
TFC Robert Maurice
Tpr. Adam McOmber
Tpr. Corey Clabby
Tpr. Scott Blair
Tpr. Dawn Taylor
Tpr. Sean Hickey
Tpr. Tamia Tucker
Tpr. Catherine Koeppel
Tpr. Gerard Joyal
Tpr. Joshua Sawyer
Tpr. Jessica Colburn
Tpr. Johnathan Kauffman
Tpr. Nicole Vallieres
Tpr. Edmund Vayan Jr.
Tpr. Michael Burke
Redding Police Officer Jason Heibeck
Shelton Police Officer Michael McPadden
Redding Police Officer Anthony Signore
TFC Walter Greene
TFC Dean Aresco

                                               

Peer Support Group (State Police and DESPP Civilians)

Sgt. Troy Anderson

Sgt. William Bundy

Sgt. Matthew Garcia

Sgt. Chris Ganzer

Sgt. Karen Gabianelli

Det. Daniel Crowley

Det. Kathleen Henry

Det. Adam Rosenberg

Rev. Dr. Paul Krampitz

Rev. Dana Hallenbeck

Rev. Edward Goetz

Fr. Michael Dolan

Dr. Mark Hall
Dr. Robin Grant-Hall

Phyllis Pavlik, LCSW

Dr. Anne Balboni

 

Law Enforcement Support Personnel (State Police Troopers & Dispatchers, FBI, paramedics)

M/Sgt. Kevin Rafferty OS

Sgt. Michael Roach

TFC Timothy Loomis

TFC Richard Binkowski

Sgt. Seth Mancini

Dispatcher Betsy Brennan

Dispatcher Mark Nadeau

Dispatcher Karen Laprade

Dispatcher Ryan Rigon

Dispatcher John Gebauer

Dispatcher Cynthia Dielemans

Lt. Sean Cox OS

Sgt. Dwight Washington

Sgt. Steven Zonghetti

Det. Richard Garcia

Det. Steven Bellandese

Det. Adam Brown

Det. Ian Nicholson

Det. Veronica Carpenter

Det. Gary Williams

Det. Andrea O'Donnell

Det. Gary Perry

Det. Daniel Rybacki

Det. Steven Orlowski

Det. Myles Ginley

Trooper Michael Prescott

Trooper William Ortiz

FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kline

FBI Special Agent Thomas F. Veivia

FBI Special Agent Gary Sanford

FBI Special Agent Jon Lauria

FBI Special Agent Jeffery Kuroughlian

FBI Special Agent William Aldenberg

FBI Special Agent Mark Lauer

FBI Special Agent Ian Kaufmann

FBI Special Agent John Sullivan

FBI Victim Specialist Ashley Hall
Paramedic Bernie Meehan
Paramedic John Reed
Paramedic Matthew Cassavechia

Civilian and Law Enforcement Support (administrative support, CT Telecommunication System, civilian and sworn personnel from the six divisions of DESPP and municipal police)

Linda Rosa

Paul Zito

Scott Wright

Mike Varney

Warren Lundquist

Matt Valleau

Mark Mattson

Robert Boudreau

Christine Plourde

DEMHS Regional Coordinator Thomas Vannini

DEMHS Regional Coordinator John. B. Field, Jr.

DEMHS Regional Coordinator Robert F. Kenny

POST Training Officer Karen Boisvert

POST Training Officer Geoffrey Anderson

State Fire Administrator Jeffrey Morrissette

State Fire Plan Administrator William Higgins

Mill Plain Fire Chief Dennis Ring

Westport Assistant Chief Michael Kronick

Greenwich EMD Daniel Warzoha

Dr. Guy Vallaro, Director, Scientific Services
Deputy Director of Identification Robert O’Brien

Forensic Examiner Lucinda Lopes-Phelan

Forensic Examiner James Stephenson

Forensic Examiner Rachel Maloney

Forensic Examiner Joseph Weronik

Sgt. Richard Alexandre

Forensic Examiner Eric Carita

Forensic Examiner Kevin Parisi

Forensic Examiner Cheryl Civitello Carreiro

Forensic Examiner Liz Sautter

Forensic Examiner Nick Juliano

Forensic Examiner Paul Penders

Det. Bryan Ferrucci

Det. George Jupin

IT Analyst Joseph Ament

Admin. Asst. Sandra Baker

Attorney Brenda Bergeron

Det. Francis Budwitz

Det. Andrew Burke

Area Coordinator Michael Caplet

Trainer Robert Christ

Hartford Police Det. Steve Citta

Program Supervisor Dana Conover

GIS Coordinator Dan Czaja

Legislative Program Mgr. Scott Devico

Program Specialist Robert Drozynski

Program Specialist Gemma Fabris

DOC Lt. Julie Gasiorek

Lt. Arthur Goodale

Det. Michael Grieder

Emer. Telecomm. Mgr. John Gustafson

Emer. Mgmt. Director William Hackett

Urban S&R Coordinator William Higgins

Intelligence Officer Mark Housley

Det. Michael Kowal

Exec. Sec. Yvonne Lewis

Fairfield PD Det. Kevin McPadden

Waterford PD Patrol First Class Richard Morgan

Intelligence Analyst Brett Paradis

Intelligence Officer Peter Payson

Program Specialist Emily Pysh

Det. Matt Reilly

Trainer Thomas Romano

Sgt. Kenneth Rigney

IT Services Director Jason Rosa

Sgt. Luis Rosa

Trainer Gary Ruggiero

Trainer Robert Scata

Dep. Comm. William Shea

Program Supervisor Cynthia Tangney

Admin. Asst. Lee Toffey

Program Specialist Brian Toolan

Mgr. Operations, Exercise & Training John Warren

IT Analyst Marshall Weaver

 

State Police Command Staff

Col. Danny Stebbins
Lt. Colonel Robert Corona
Major Butch Hyatt
Major Brian McLean
Major Brian Meraviglia
Major William Podgorski
Capt. Dale Hourigan
Capt. Thomas Begert
Capt. Edwin Henion
Lt. Mark Cassista
Lt. Mark Sticca
Lt. J. Paul Vance
Lt. Michael Jagoda
Lt. Anthony Schirillo
Sgt. Robert Palmer
Sgt. Paul Hufcut
TFC Kelly Grant

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Boughton Street YMCA to close July 25

The Boughton Street YMCA facility will be closing on July 25th as the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut restructures the organization.  The Board of Directors has decided to direct their limited resources to key programs that best serve the community.  Vice President of Advancement Maura Keenan says it's no longer feasible to maintain and operate two similar facilities so close in distance.

 

ESCAPE to the Arts in downtown Danbury, our two Children’s Centers, the Greenknoll branch, after-school programs, community health programs and day camps--all of which serve Danbury residents--will continue.  The Greenknoll branch, a similar facility with a fitness center and aquatic center, is 6 miles from the downtown Danbury branch.

 

The facility was built in the 1960s.  Officials say it's in need of significant structural upgrades, including to the pool, and a roof replacement.

 

Keenan thanked the Danbury community and City officials who have helped maintain the facility over the years.  They looked to close the branch about 10 years ago, but donors rallied around the fixture in the community.  She says it just wasn't possible this time around.

 

Keenan says the Y will continue to partner with other area agencies to meet the community’s most pressing needs.

 

“As we look at ways to best impact the Greater Danbury area, we are restructuring in order to put our limited resources into our many community based programs. We appreciate the loyalty of so many people to the Y over the years and look forward to continued growth, service to Danbury and community partnerships during our next phase of development.”  said Marie Miszewski, President/ CEO.

 

"The Y is not about the buildings we occupy.  We are an association of people from all walks of life who share a passion for nurturing children, improving health and well-being and supporting neighbors.  Our mission has not changed.  If anything, with this restructuring, we will be in a position to accomplish even more in Greater Danbury. The YMCA is committed to operating in a fiscally responsible manner and being good stewards of the funds entrusted to us to best impact our community."

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Informational about Redding Center Post Office future

A public meeting is being held this afternoon about the Redding Center Post Office.  Certain post offices have been subject to review, including the Redding Center Post Office. 

 

The United States Postal Service sent out a survey to residents, presenting them with four alternatives to closing the post office.  Three alternatives start with conducting a discontinuance study. 

 

One alternative is to then close the office and provide PO Box service through another facility.  Another alternative is to find an alternative location, usualy a local business, to be operated by a contractor.  The third alternative is to then provide mailbox delivery through a rural carrier, with other postal service obtained at another location. 

 

The fourth alternative is to keep the Lonetown Road facility open but with new weekday service hours based on workload.  Saturday service would not change. 

 

The community meeting is at 1pm at town hall.

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Town meeting in Redding to discuss capital items

There is a special town meeting tonight in Redding to discuss borrowing for two items.  The informational meeting tonight is about a proposed emergency communications tower and a road reconstruction plan. 

 

Originally there was going to be a vote at the meeting, but residents instead will be called on to vote at a referendum being held July 22nd.  That machine vote coincides with a referendum on the roof replacement project at Joel Barlow High School. 

 

Redding officials are proposing $300,000 for a new 120-foot communications tower at the police department .  $6.73 million over four years has been proposed for an additional 20-miles in the road reconstruction plan.  Both projects would be funded through short term borrowing pending long term financing. 

 

The meeting tonight is at 7:30pm at the Redding Community Center.

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Police plan in place in response to World Cup celebrations in Danbury

There is another World Cup game this afternoon featuring Brazil that could potentially end right at the height of rush hour.  In the past, spontaneous celebrations along Main Street in Danbury have snarled traffic.  Mayor Mark Boughton says for this  semi-final game, they will deploy some extra police officers to lower Main Street.

 

Boughton says they want to encourage people to have a good time, but to not enjoy the World Cup at the expense of others.  City officials have reached out to Green's Funeral Home about any wakes that might be taking place tonight, but also asked that people celebrating to respect that area. 

 

Boughton says anyone seen operating or travelling in a vehicle in an unsafe manner will be ticketed.  Some of what's been seen include people on the roofs or hoods of vehicles.  Cars will also be towed.

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'Stop & warn' ended at some railroad crossings on Danbury Branch

The so-called Stop and Warn procedure in place at some railroad crossings along the Danbury branch line were lifted Monday by Metro North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  Railroad officials say testing has determined that the flashing lights and gates at the intersections are operating satisfactorily and normal train movements can resume. 

 

There are still signal issues at the Greenwood Avenue crossing in Bethel though and the Stop and Warn operations will have to continue.  That's when the trains slow to a stop before the intersection and the conductor looks to see if the crossing is working. 

 

Non-rush hour trains will once again be running on the Danbury branch during weekdays.  Busing will continue on the weekends to allow for more testing of the signal system. 

 

Metro North is adding cars to a number of trains to relieve crowding identified following schedule changes made in May.

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Developer to change plans for portion of Schlumberger build

Plans for a development on part of the Schlumberger site are changing.  Developer Steven Zemo appeared before the Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission last week to discuss a concern from the Water Pollution Control Authority. 

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that the concern is a potential odor problem from the town's sewer plant nearby. 

 

The 3-story hotel would not have to be changed.  A 4th building on the site has been eliminated and the changes could be coming to the other two planned buildings, including a storage facility and a multi-use office building that also includes some apartments. 

 

The Conservation Commission and the Inlands Wetlands Commission are also considering the plans.

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Lawmaker wants more info about Connecticut VA

Senator Richard Blumenthal  is seeking answers following the release of new data from the Veterans Affairs Department which shows a tripling of the number of health care cases delayed by more than 30 days at facilities in Connecticut.  There are two VA hospitals in the state and 6 clinics, including the one in Danbury.  Officials had been assured that delays plaguing facilities in other states were not occurring here.

 

Blumenthal says they were told Connecticut had been spared the deadly delays, falsification of records and manipulation of data.

 

Data from the VA shows that appointments delayed by over 30 days at facilities in Connecticut increased from 998 in May to 2,727 in June.

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Connecticut to provide free boat pumpout-services

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is providing free sewage pumpout services for recreational boaters using Long Island Sound, Connecticut's rivers and Candlewood Lake.

DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said he's pleased the new policy was in place in time for the July 4 holiday weekend.

Funding for the new Clean Vessel Act program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, which is supported by taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment, as well as boat fuel. It's part of an effort to keep coastal waters clean for recreation by safely disposing boaters' sewage.

DEEP has launched a new interactive map on its website to help boaters take advantage of the available pumpout services. Up until now, many facilities had charged a $5 service fee.

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Christie defends gun ammo veto, not meeting with Sandy Hook families

KEANSBURG, N.J. (AP) Gov. Chris Christie is defending his decision to veto legislation that would have reduced the legal limits on gun ammunition magazines.

Christie said Monday that his potential national ambitions did not influence his decision to veto the bill, as some critics have suggested. He also defended his decision not to meet with parents of children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting who traveled to Trenton last week to support the bill.

Christie said he had already signed the veto at that point and didn't want to waste the parents' time.

The measure would have reduced the state's legal ammunition capacity from 15 to 10 rounds.

Christie said he doesn't believe the measure would do anything to end gun violence.

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Bethel Town Meeting tonight on budget proposal

Bethel residents are being called on to attend another town meeting on the budget.  The municipal spending plan has been rejected by Bethel residents three times and the town entered the new fiscal year using the same numbers as last year's budget. 

 

The Board of Finance has cut $516,000 from the proposal. 

 

But the budget is still proposed to have a $515,000 spending increase over the current plan.  That is mostly being driven by wage changes from last year, employee benefits and medical insurance. 

 

Tax bills can not be calculated until the municipal budget passes. Once the bills are sent out, Bethel residents will have 30 days from the new due date to pay the bill.  The town meeting on the proposed budget for the current fiscal year will be reconvened at 7:30pm at Bethel High School.

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Third Danbury middle school set to open in the fall

When the school year begins again in the fall, Danbury's third middle school will reopen.  School officials recently went on a walk through of the West Side Middle School Academy that showed construction is coming to an end.  All of the faculty and staff have been hired. 

 

Deputy Superintendent Dr Bill Glass says 300 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program will be located at the former Mill Ridge Intermediate School.  The STEM program is moving from Rogers Park Middle School. 

 

There will also be a Global Studies Academy open to 6th graders.  The following year, those 100 students will move to 7th grade and another 100 6th graders will come to the school.  In the third year of it's opening another 100 students will be accepted filling out the Academy.

 

There was an application process for each Academy, using a traditional lottery process.  There is a waiting list because there's a lot of excited generated by the small learning academies. 

 

Mill Ridge was closed in 2010 and is being retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

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States look to gun seizure law after mass killings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- As state officials across the country grapple with how to prevent mass killings like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and near the University of California, Santa Barbara, some are turning to a gun seizure law pioneered in Connecticut 15 years ago.

 

Connecticut's law allows judges to order guns temporarily seized after police present evidence that a person is a danger to themselves or others. A court hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether to return the guns or authorize the state to hold them for up to a year.

 

The 1999 law, the first of its kind in the country, was in response to the 1998 killings of four managers at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters by a disgruntled employee with a history of psychiatric problems.

 

Indiana is the only other state that has such a law, passed in 2005 after an Indianapolis police officer was shot to death by a mentally ill man. California and New Jersey lawmakers are now considering similar statutes, both proposed in the wake of the killings of six people and wounding of 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara by a mentally ill man who had posted threatening videos on YouTube.

 

Michael Lawlor, Connecticut's undersecretary for criminal justice planning and policy, believes the state's gun seizure law could have prevented the killings of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, if police had been made aware that gunman Adam Lanza had mental health problems and access to his mother's legally owned guns.

 

"That's the kind of situation where you see the red flags and the warning signs are there, you do something about it," Lawlor said. "In many shootings around the country, after the fact it's clear that the warning signs were there."

 

Gun rights advocates oppose gun seizure laws, saying they allow police to take people's firearms based only on allegations and before the gun owners can present their side of the story to a judge. They say they're concerned the laws violate constitutional rights.

 

"The government taking things away from people is never a good thing," said Rich Burgess, president of the gun rights group Connecticut Carry. "They come take your stuff and give you 14 days for a hearing. Would anybody else be OK if they just came and took your car and gave you 14 days for a hearing?"

 

Rachel Baird, a Connecticut lawyer who has represented many gun owners, said one of the biggest problems with the state's law is that police are abusing it. She said she has had eight clients whose guns were seized by police who obtained the required warrants after taking possession of the guns.

 

"It's stretched and abused, and since it's firearms, the courts go along with it," Baird said of the law.

 

But backers of such laws say they can prevent shootings by getting guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people.

 

"You want to make sure that when people are in crisis ... there is a way to prevent them to get access to firearms," said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the nonprofit Education Fund to Stop Gun Violence in Washington, D.C.

 

Connecticut authorities report a large increase in the use of gun seizure warrants involving people deemed dangerous by police over the past several years. Officials aren't exactly sure what caused the increase but believe it's related to numerous highly publicized mass shootings in recent years.

 

Police statewide filed an estimated 183 executed gun seizure warrants with court clerks last year, more than twice the number filed in 2010, according to Connecticut Judicial Branch data. Last year's total also was nearly nine times higher than the annual average in the first five years of the gun seizure law.

 

Connecticut police have seized more than 2,000 guns using the warrants, according to the most recent estimate by state officials, in 2009.

 

Police in South Windsor, about 12 miles northeast of Hartford, say the law was invaluable last year when they seized several guns from the home of a man accused of spray-painting graffiti referencing mass shootings in Newtown and Colorado on the outside of the town's high school.

 

"With all that we see in the news day after day, particular after Newtown, I think departments are more aware of what authority they have ... and they're using the tool (gun seizure warrants) more frequently than in the past," said South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed. "We always look at it from the other side. What if we don't seize the guns?"

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Newtown victim's animal shelter dream turning real

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A slain Newtown girl's imaginary animal shelter may soon become a reality.

By next month, the state is expected to finishing conveying 34.4 acres of state-owned land in Newtown to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation. The foundation is raising money to fund the new Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, named after one of the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently signed legislation instructing the Department of Agriculture to transfer the land.

Plans for the new sanctuary include a shelter and adoption center for cats and dogs, a refuge for farm animals and a rescue and release program for injured wildlife. The goal is to open the main building in 2016.

Catherine had designed business cards for an imaginary shelter.

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World Cup celebration sparks safety concern in Danbury

With another Brazil World Cup game coming up today, some concerns are being raised about the celebrations on Main Street.  At the Danbury City Council meeting, member Phil Curren said he never got as many calls as he got about what was going on last Monday.

 

There was a wake going on at Green's Funeral Home last Monday and Curren says the honking and other activity was highly disruptive.  Mayor Boughton said on social media to stay away from Green's Funeral home, keeping from Elmwood Park up Main Street toward the highway, which seemed to help a bit during the next game.

 

He added that he thought this was the reason the Council passed the Parade Ordinance.  The process of getting a permit is for organized parades, where as these are spontaneous outbursts of celebrations with no real organizer to apply for a permit. 

 

Curren says it's not just the excessive honking that's a problem.  He noted that some residents complained to him if they were to go down Main Street without a seatbelt on, they would get a $100 ticket.  But they saw people riding on top of cars and in the back of pick up trucks.  Curren called it a safety issue.  He also pointed out that emergency vehicles wouldn't have been able to get down the road because of the congestion.

 

Boughton and Police Chief Al Baker will talk as the team progresses, about directing something more formal around the green.

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Ridgefield Fireworks rescheduled

Ridgefield's July 4th Fireworks, sponsored by Fairfield County Bank & Pepsi Beverages Company, have been rescheduled to Saturday July 12th.  They are being held at Ridgefield High School.  If there is rain next Saturday, the rain date is July 13th.  Gates open at 6pm. 

 

A $20 parking pass is required! They are available at Fairfield County Bank, Town Hall, and Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce.  All proceeds will go to the Family Fourth Committee. 

 

Parking is avaialble at  RHS and Barlow Mountain & Scotland Elementary (115 & 111 Barlow Mountain Road).  Handicapped Parking is located at Ridgefield High SchoolShuttle buses will be provided to and from Barlow Mountain and Scotland Elementary School.

 

No grills or alcohol permitted.

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DEEP approves Limkiln diversion, funding stalled

A request by Brookfield to divert the Limekiln Brook has been approved by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The request was made to alleviate flooding conditions in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood. 

 

Grants have been applied for in order to pay for the project, which is estimated to cost about $2.4 million. 

 

Brookfield officials say it's not clear when the grants might be awarded because the state wants to consider a number of projects all at once.  It could be as long as a year before Brookfield is notified if grant funding will be awarded.

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Protest against 'inaction on homelessness' at Danbury City Hall

A group is protesting outside of City Hall in order to have Danbury officials better address the issue of homelessness.  They are then calling on the City to offer services that promote housing stability and personal well-being.  A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness was adopted in Danbury in 2005.  This September, the Danbury Housing Partnership will receive the draft of a new plan to end homelessness. 

 

One-time Mayoral candidate Lynn Taborsak wants the City to prioritize housing assistance based on a vulnerability index.  Taborsak is also calling on the City to provide people with housing quickly, without income or sobriety requirements and then offer services that promote housing stability and personal well-being. 

 

On the night of January 29, 2014, volunteers in Danbury conducted the annual HUD Point-In-Time count to determine the number of individuals living without a safe, stable place to call home.  This year Danbury counted 148 people.  18% were in families with children and 82% were single adults.  

 

The protest will end on the 13th with participants presenting a petition to the City Council at their August meeting calling for action.

 

The City Shelter provides 20 emergency beds year round to 5 women and 15 men.  Dorothy Day provides 17 beds year-round.  However, from June 1st until October 1st, guests who have stayed more than 30 days are not allowed to stay at Dorothy Day even if beds are available.   There are 55 different single homeless adults in that category.  

 

The Jericho Shelter on Maple Avenue is open for 6 months of the year from November 15th until April 15th and has 16 beds for men.  The Jericho Shelter provided 2075 bed nights for the 2013-2014 shelter season.  The First Congregational Church Shelter across from City Hall has 26 beds.  That shelter provided 3498 bed nights this season for men and women.

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Boughton sends official withdrawl letter for Gov. race

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has formally withdrawn from the Republican primary race for governor.  He announced in mid-June that he intended to leave the race.

 

Boughton sent his official notice to the Secretary of the Sate's office on Thursday, asking to be removed from the August 12th primary ballot. 

 

When making the announcement that he was stepping out of the race, he threw his support behind the party's endorsed candidate Tom Foley.  Foley faces a primary challenge still from Senator Minority Leader John McKinney.

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Report: More than $28 million raised for Newtown

A new report shows more than $28 million has been donated to charities in connection to the deadly 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Of that $28 million, more than $15 million has been distributed.

The unspent funds were set aside by various organizations for long-term community needs, including mental health services, scholarships and memorials.

The report, compiled by the Office of the Attorney General and the state Department of Consumer Protection, was released on Tuesday. It is based on information from 77 organizations that voluntarily responded to a survey about their charitable fundraising activities.

Attorney General George Jepsen said 96 percent of the organizations asked to complete the survey complied. He said the report documents the generosity while providing transparency about how the money was spent.

 

Jepsen and Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein also compiled a Charities Disaster Relief guide.

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New principal hired for Berry Elementary in Bethel

Bethel Public Schools have appointed a principal for Berry Elementary School.  Danielle Legnard has worked in New Canaan schools for the past 18 years.  She is a former elementary school teacher, literacy and math specialist and has a background in curriculum development. 

 

46 applicants applied for the position, nine were given interviews and three candidates were then invited back for a second interview.  Legnard has a BA from Manhattanville College, a Masters from Sacred Heart University and a 6th year degree in Educational Leadership from Sacred Heart. 

 

Her start date is today.

 

Outgoing Superintendent of Schools Dr Kevin Smith wrote:

 

"Ms. Legnard is an accomplished author. She has published several articles including “The Math Promise: Celebrating math at home and school;” “Mathematical Mind Journeys: Awakening minds to computational fluency;” “Empowering Teachers;” and “Math Workshop: The recipe for every young mathematician’s appetite.” She was a nominee for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and serves as an adjunct professor and program developer at Sacred Heart University for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics and Science program.  Danielle is a member of Atomic – the Association of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. She has presented at both local and national conferences for these organizations."

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Area lawmakers call for federal funding to fix Metro North problems

Federal funding for vital repairs to Metro North in Connecticut is being called for by a number of state lawmakers.  Senators Toni Boucher and Mike McLachlan along with Representatives Bob Godfrey, Dan Carter, Gail Lavielle, David Arconti, David Scribner, John Frey, John Shaban and Mitch Bolinsky have all signed on to the letter. 

 

Senator Bob Duff penned the open letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging action on three projects. 

 

The lawmakers want funding to replace the Walk Bridge in Norwalk which failed twice in a month span, severe weather resiliency improvements and flood proofing of the signal system.  More than 100 state lawmakers signed on to the letter.

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Oversight firm recommended for Newtown Community Center project

A firm has been selected to manage the Newtown Community Center Project.  Public Buildings and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell told the Newtown Bee that Diversified Project Management was requested to fill the position.  DPM does need municipal approval, but will start collecting information about Requests for Qualification for architects and construction management firms.

 

The Community Center is being paid for with a $10-million grant from GE. 

 

The Commission is hoping to follow the same process as the new Sandy Hook School--by creating a short list of firms, inviting them to submit proposals and selecting from that list.

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Murphy, Kane want student access to more websites

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Republican state Sen. Rob Kane are joining forces to urge Connecticut schools to allow students greater access to political websites.

Both said Monday there is no justification for restricting high school students from accessing such websites for research, including those addressing hot political topics such as abortion and gun ownership rights.

Murphy recently sent a letter to the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education asking its members to provide students with greater access.

The politicians teamed up after learning about a Woodbury student who recently raised questions about why his high school's Internet firewall blocked him from accessing politically conservative websites.

In a written statement, Region School District 14 acknowledged it was wrong to block ``appropriate websites, regardless of political or religious viewpoints.''

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Danbury School officilas update Code of Conduct

An annual review of conduct codes at Danbury Schools has updated language about threats to the school population and also changes to bullying consequences. 

 

Deputy Superintendent Bill Glass says the minimum punishment for students found guilty of bullying is now a one day out-of-school suspension, which includes having a guardian meet with the principal.  Social media was also added to the definition of bullying incidences among middle schoolers.  He says cyber bullying has become an increasingly challenging area to deal with because of the saturation of technology.

 

Danbury schools have a whole separate policy about bullying and inappropriate behaviour on social media, which was updated a few years ago.

 

The threat policy was updated to be more general, not just bomb threats.  Glass says it could be anything from arson to false alarms.

 

The high school rules about truancy were updated.  One and two hours of detention for the first two times a student cuts class have been increased to one and two day in-school suspensions respectively.  A third skip will result in an out-of-school suspension with a parent conference.

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