Local Headlines Archives for 2014-08

Money rolling into Connecticut 5th District race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's 5th Congressional District race is expected once again to be an expensive battle, attracting millions of dollars in outside money.

 

Both the Democratic freshman incumbent, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, and her Republican businessman opponent, Mark Greenberg, have already been targeted by their national parties as candidates that potential donors should watch. National Democratic groups have already reserved more than $1 million in TV ads to help Esty retain her western Connecticut seat, while Greenberg has already loaned his campaign more than $600,000 and has the resources to contribute even more.

 

"It's not going to be cheap," Esty said. "We're in an expensive media market. I've got a wealthy self-funder. He has basically a limitless checkbook. We've seen in the past what that looks like in this state, and I expect to see a lot of that again."

 

Greenberg contends he doesn't think a lot of money should be spent on the race - by him or others. On Saturday, he publicly challenged Esty to join him in asking all third parties not to spend millions on a bevy of TV ads and mailers. If the groups do spend money, one candidate would contribute the amount to the other candidate's charity of choice.

 

"I just think fundamentally when we spend $3 (million) to $4 (million) to $5 million on each side for a congressional race every two years, there's something wrong," Greenberg said.

 

Greenberg's challenge to Esty is similar to what has become known as the People's Pledge, or what Greenberg is calling a transparency pledge. The People's Pledge was created during the 2012 Massachusetts U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to discourage attack ads funded by outside groups.

 

While the Massachusetts pledge did help to block TV, radio and Internet ads by outside groups, both campaigns still spent a total of $21.7 million. It ranked fourth on the list of spending in U.S. Senate races that year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

Bill Evans, Greenberg's campaign manager, said his candidate is open to any kind of limits on spending.

 

"We're literally putting it out there as an idea and they can come back at us," he said. "If they want to, make it let's cap the race at a certain point. We're open to suggestions."

 

It appears unlikely Esty will accept the challenge given the continued high level of interest from both sides in winning this seat, considered the most politically equal among the five U.S. House seats. Two years ago in her victory speech, Esty spoke about being "up against the odds" when three out-of-state super PACS opposing her candidacy spent about $2.5 million in the final weeks. She said her victory proved "Connecticut cannot be bought." This year, she's also voiced concerns about Greenberg's ability to tap his personal wealth.

 

"This is just a deceptive ploy from an ultra-rich tea party candidate who's been running for Congress for six years and has already spent $3 million of his personal fortune in two failed attempts," said Esty campaign spokeswoman Laura Maloney. "How can voters trust him to keep his word when he's already pledged to spend whatever it takes to get elected?"

 

Esty ultimately outspent her 2012 GOP primary opponent, former state Sen. Andrew Roraback. She spent $3.2 million compared to his $1.57 million and won 52 percent of the vote. Esty loaned her campaign more than $600,000 that year.

 

As of June 30, Esty's campaign had $1.48 million in cash on hand. Of the money she has raised, $647,614 came from committees, such as political action groups. Greenberg's campaign reported having $263,768 on hand. He had raised $7,500 from committees. Greenberg said he's prepared to spend more of his own money if necessary.

 

Both candidates say they agree the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the regulation of campaign spending by corporations has been harmful, leading to more special interest money being spent on elections. Esty said she supports comprehensive campaign finance, including a "constitutional amendment that prevents special interest money from drowning out the voices of voters." Greenberg, meanwhile, said he believes U.S. House members should serve four years rather than two, and be limited to two terms. He said that could help limit the influence of outside money.

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'The Prospector Theater' highlighting employment for adults with disabilities

The soon to be opened Prospector Theater in Ridgefield is a non-profit theater that's dedicated to providing job training and employment for adults with disabilities.  Ridgefield resident Valerie Jensen founded the Prospector, which is located on the site of the old Ridgefield Playhouse.  The idea came from her work leading SPHERE - Special People Housing Education Recreation and Employment - which helps people with disabilities. 

 

The Prospector currently has 10 full-time employees, with a goal of hiring about 60 people to work part-time jobs by the end of the first year at the theater’s concession stand, the restaurant, or working behind the scenes on the film projectors or sound systems.  The theater will also house a small production center that will train people with disabilities to produce, shoot and edit films.

 

“The answer to the unemployment epidemic among adults with disabilities is in our own backyard, on every Main Street in America,” Jensen said. “Employment opportunities are in our local movie theaters, restaurants, and shops. Small businesses are missing out on a huge resource that lies in the incredible talent pool of the 44 million talented Americans with disabilities, who are willing, competent, and able to work.”

 

“The Prospector represents the best of private investment in our community,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “It’s a new movie theater built by a private family that will not only bring economic vitality to our downtown but also create a work environment for people with developmental disabilities. We're excited and extremely appreciative to the Jensen family for their investment in and caring for our community."

 

"Far too often, Americans with disabilities who have the ability and desire to work don’t have access to job training and employment opportunities,” 4th District Congressman Jim Himes said. “The Prospector Theater is a remarkable private investment that will create jobs and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities in Ridgefield’s community. It’s also an economic asset for downtown Ridgefield that the entire community will be able to enjoy.”

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Area vote machines part of election result audit

Voting precincts have been selected at random for an audit of the August 12th primary results.  10-percent of all polling precincts used in an election are subject to the state mandated audit.  They were selected at random by the Secretary of the State's office. 

 

Among the 68 that will go through hand recounts are the machines from the Stony Hill Fire House in Bethel, Scotts Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield and the Community Building in Southbury. 

 

Secretary Denise Merrill says Connecticut has the toughest elections audit laws in the country, officials don't just take the machines' word for it.  The audits must be completed by September 12th.

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Ridgefield Selectmen approve land sale, reject vendor permit

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has denied a vendor permit for a mobile flower truck in town.  The application request led to a larger discussion of mobile vendors in Ridgefield.  According to minutes of the meeting, Selectmen called for a template to be worked out so the process can be more formal.  Permits are issued for one year, all of the ones granted in Ridgefield so far have been for food trucks such as ice cream, coffee and lunches. 

 

Seasonal permits were brought up that would be for just the summer.  Some members of the Board expressed concern with the effect on brick and mortar businesses.

 

A strip of land owned by Ridgefield has been approved for sale by the Board of Selectmen.  A special town meeting was held last week about the 1,316 square feet of land on Sunset Lane to be sold to resident Tom Salvestrini.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi gave background on the proposal, saying that Sunset Lane was originally further north, closer to the homes there now.  When the railroad pulled out, that left 15 feet of frontage. 

 

The issue had been brought up about putting in deed restrictions, but Selectmen Andy Bodner expressed concern that the property being discussed could be sold to enhance the properties already there.  It was said that under no condition would the property owners be allowed to subdivide.

 

The Town had the property surveyed, and the Assessor's evaluation put a price of $4.55 a square foot on the property.  The total was $5,987.80.  The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously for the sale. 

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Newtown looks into regionalized emergency dispatch

A study about regionalizing emergency dispatch operations is being discussed in Newtown.

 

The Newtown Board of Selectmen have received an update from members of the Legislative Council about regionalization of Newtown Dispatch. A 2011 regionalization effort with Danbury and other towns was not successful, in part because Danbury had not yet consolidated its 911 call center operations.  Danbury is currently in the process of doing that and moving toward civilianization. 

 

Newtown is at a crossroads when it comes to Computer Aided Dispatch software so officials say this might be the right time to consider regionalization.  New World has had many updates and changes, leading to several questions.  A presentation last week to the Board of Selectmen pointed out that New World uses global Computer Aided Dispatch, which Newtown Police do not favor. 

 

Site visits have been completed and input was sought from Newtown police officials, the Newtown ambulance corp, director of the Emergency Operations Center and the Newtown Board of Fire Commissioners.  Among the concerns is that there is no consistent coverage during off hours, with regional dispatchers not knowing Newtown as well as a resident would.  But that point was countered with one of the benefits listed being an increased number of dispatchers familiar with Newtown.  There also may be a higher standard in terms of required training. 

 

The presentation at the Board of Selectmen meeting last week noted that regionalization is not an evaluation of current dispatchers and that the presentation was not an in depth analysis. 

 

The next step is to fund a study.

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Danbury hires 4 new police officers

Danbury has appointed four new police officers to the Department.  All of the officers come to Danbury from other police departments in the region.  They are all certified in first aid/CPR. 

 

During the City Council meeting this month, the appointments were confirmed.  Mayor Mark Boughton welcomed them to the City and that he's looking forward to them continuing their careers here.  He told the new members that Danbury offers all of the things an officer could want in a modern city police department.  He added that there are some exciting new initiatives coming up, though he did not elaborate on what those initiatives are.

 

Anthony Mistretta has been employed as a police officer in Naugatuck for the last two years.  Alexander Relyea has worked for the last 2.5 years as a police officer in New Milford.  Collin Marino has worked for the last 3.5 years as a police officer with that department.  Marino is also certified for the Bicycle Patrol.  Brittany Salafia has been working as a police officer in Redding for the past year, and prior to that was a police officer in Manchester.

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Ribbon cut at Danbury's new middle school

When the school year begins next week, Danbury's third middle school will reopen.  School officials held a ribbon cutting and open house Wednesday at the West Side Middle School Academy.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella 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. 

 

There will also be a Global Studies Academy open to 6th graders.  Glass says there will also be 100 6th graders in the Global Studies Academy.  Over the next two years, that academy will be populated.

 

There was an application process for each Academy.  The STEM program is moving from Rogers Park Middle School.  Mill Ridge was closed in 2010, and was retrofitted with these academies to relieve overcrowding in the schools and to provide more specialized choices for students.

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Bethel Zoning Board holds meeting about medical marijuana facility

The Bethel Zoning Board of Appeals has held a special meeting to discuss the appeal about the medical marijuana dispensary coming to Garella Road in Bethel. Two residents filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approving a zoning permit application for Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center. 

 

At their last working session, the Board ruled that the filers were not aggrieved and that the use of the site meets regulations.  The Board requested that the town's Land Use Attorney draft a resolution for last night's meeting. 

 

A letter has been drafted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, requesting that they review the appeal and make changes to regulations so in the future, something like this will trigger the use of a special permit.  That will insure an opportunity for public discussion on the matter.

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Women in politics group supports Esty in reelection bid

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, is backing Elizabeth Esty in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District race in November.

 

EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock says Esty is a leader working to expand economic opportunity for the working families that sent her to Washington.  She added that Esty fights tirelessly to break through partisan gridlock with common sense policies that help all families get a fair shot.

 

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $390 million to support pro-choice Democratic women candidates, making it one of the most successful political organizations.

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Politicians getting in on ALS 'Ice Bucket Challenge'

A number of area politicians have been challenged to participate in a viral event raising awareness, and funds, for the ALS Association.  A Ridgefield this week challenged First Selectman Rudy Marconi.  Chuck Hancock has argued with the selectmen over their decisions on the Schlumberger property.  But Marconi says he was expecting someone, anyone, to call him out because his mother had ALS.

 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty challenged U.S. Senator Chris Murphy to either donate money or get iced.  He took the challenge while on vacation and got his whole family involved.

 

 

Murphy then challenged 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  The pair have a close relationship and often poke fun of each other, most notably over who had more Twitter followers.  Himes continued that ribbing in his video, saying Murphy was not dignified wearing a swimsuit.  Himes on the other hand, wore a suit and was a bit surprised by his daughters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Union chief: Teachers felt rushed after Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Teachers felt they were rushed into returning to the classroom following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the president of the local teachers union said Friday.

 

Tom Kuroski, president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, told members of a state commission that some teachers, still struggling with their own emotions, felt ill-prepared to deal with their returning students.

 

The shooting, which left 20 first graders and six educators dead, occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, a Friday. Classes resumed for Newtown students, except those attending Sandy Hook, on Dec. 18, the following Tuesday. Sandy Hook students returned to classes on Jan. 3, 2013.

 

"If you look at what other school districts have done, that have endured similar tragedies, they've definitely given their teachers some time to get the training, the thorough training that they're going to need in order to do the best job they can when they return," said Kuroski, a science teacher. "A one-day workshop where our input wasn't even listened to was not something that we thought was moving us in the right direction."

 

Friday marked the 21st meeting of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to come up recommendations on gun safety, mental health and school security in wake of the massacre. Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, the commission's chairman, said Friday that the 16-member panel is in the final stages of crafting its report, and he expects it may be finished in about six weeks.

 

Besides Kuroski, the panel heard Friday from Vincent Riccio, owner of Security Academy of Connecticut. It's a business that specializes in active shooter training and security consulting for schools, businesses and government entities.

 

Kuroski described for panel members the "state of mass confusion" on the day of the shootings. He said he wasn't included in the initial meetings with school administrators about how to proceed and a decision was made to hold a mental health training session that Sunday to prepare for students returning on that Monday. He said teachers felt they weren't ready yet to return to work so soon afterward.

 

"I think the desire to move forward as quickly as possible, that people lost track of what was going on," he said.

 

Ultimately, Kuroski said, Newtown teachers returned to work even though some didn't feel ready emotionally.

 

"They felt as though they wouldn't be there for their kids who they loved, and they were letting them down somehow," Kuroski said. "They felt, all of us felt, like we needed to be there, even to the expense of our own mental health."

 

Since then, however, Kuroski said mental health services for students and staff have been "well done."

 

Also on Friday, Kuroski expressed concerns that federal grant funding to improve security in Newtown's various schools didn't arrive until this June. He said the changes in the Newtown public schools' administration was likely to blame.

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Newtown police receive funding for speed control enforcement

Several municipalities in the Greater Danbury area are eligible for federal funds, funneled through the state, for speed enforcement efforts.  

 

Newtown Police say they have accepted a $17,400 grant to be used along high risk rural roads.  The program runs from Monday through September 30th.  A majority of the funding is being used for overtime costs for the officers carrying out the enforcement effort.  About $4,000 of the grant is being used to pay for a new radar unit for one of the patrol cars. 

 

118 municipalities in the state are eligible for funding.

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Ex-Conn. governor Rell named to national GOP group

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Former Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell is returning to politics as a member of a national Republican group working to increase the ranks of GOP state government leaders.

The Republican State Leadership Committee announced this week that Rell has joined the group's board of directors. Rell said in a statement that she'll be focused on the fall elections and the committee's efforts to recruit new female Republican leaders.

The 68-year-old Brookfield resident became governor in 2004 after Governor John G. Rowland resigned in a corruption scandal, and she held the post until 2011. She was lieutenant governor under Rowland from 1995 to 2004.

The Republican State Leadership Committee works on increasing the GOP ranks in state legislatures, lieutenant governor posts and secretary of state positions across the country.

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Selectmen divided on proposed Brookfield tax deferral

A joint meeting of the Brookfield Boards of Finance and Selectmen has been held about a proposed tax assessment deferral.  At the meeting Wednesday night, First Selectman Bill Tinsley pushed for the incentive for the developers of the mixed use site in the Four Corners district.  An ordinance was passed a few months ago allowing for tax deferrals in order to bring new development to Brookfield.

 

The Brookfield Village project consists of a retail center and 79 moderate-income apartments in four buildings on Federal Road.  There is also a pending proposal from the developer on a parcel of land behind that for 24 condos. 

 

Tinsley is proposing a 100-percent tax deferral of the taxes owed on the improved property value for the first three years of the project, with an incremental increase of taxes after that.  The development is off Federal Road at Station Road.

 

Selectman Bill Davidson says the developer made a committment years ago and doesn't need encouragement to come to the town.  He says the town shouldn't give up tax revenue that it doesn't have to with this particular project.  Davidson notes that he is supportive of the developer and the project, but the developer will be making a lot of money over time at this site or he wouldn't be involved.

 

Tinsley is slated to bring the proposal to the Economic Development Commission next week and then present it to the Board of Selectmen for a vote at their September 8th meeting.

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'Newtown Recovery and Resiliency Team' created

The Newtown Recovery and Resiliency Team has been established, with the help of grant funding.

 

Newtown has established a team of professionals, funded by a Department of Justice grant, to work in partnership with local recovery providers, community organizations and town employees in response to the continued needs in the community.  The six-member Recovery and Resiliency Team has a background in community behavioral health and clinical treatment. 

 

The Team is in place to build community relationships, provide resources and to facilitate and foster collaboration between service providers and funding sources.  The Team says they want to ease the burden of navigating the mental health system, which they say can be confusing. 

 

The office is located on 28 Traders Lane and members say there is an open door policy. 

 

The Team is led by Community Outreach Liaison Melissa Glaser, who has a background in community behavioral health and clinical treatment.  The other team members are: Project Manager Margot Robins; Clinical Recovery Leader Deb Del Vecchio-Scully; and three case managers Catherine Galda, Eileen Rondeau and Suzy DeYoung.

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Expanded parking proposed for Bethel train station

An informational meeting will be held next month in Bethel about a proposal to expand the Bethel Rail Station parking lot.  The meeting is being held by the state Department of Transportation, which says the project is needed to accommodate demand due to increased ridership on the Metro North Danbury branch line. 

 

The north side of the existing lot would be expanded along with repaving the entire lot, new sidewalk ramps, landscaped islands, better drainage and lighting.  The proposal calls for eight handicap spaces being added as well as a pedestrian pickup/drop off area in front of the stations for cars and buses.  New sidewalk would be installed along Durant Avenue to close the gap where the existing sidewalk ends. 

 

Construction on the estimated $2 million project would start in 2016.

 

The meeting will be held September 4th.

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New playground opened in Newtown

A play space in Newtown has been opened but is not fully completed.  FunSpace II at Dickinson Memorial Park is a replacement of the Fun Space playground, which was torn down last year because of age and condition.  That play space was constructed in 1989. 

 

The new playground was dedicated at the end of July, though there are still some things to complete.  The landscape design shows slides, a climbing tower, rope climbing and wooden ramps and tunnels among other features. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that the project cost about $800,000 and was paid for through Capital Improvement Plan funds and private donations.

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Danbury officials consider sale of City land to Buck family

A committee of the Danbury City Council has held a meeting about a possible land sale.  The City asked for proposals from developers for 13 acres off Old Ridgebury Road and received a more than $3 million offer from the Buck family.  Peter Buck, founder of the Subway sandwich shops, recently donated millions of dollars to Danbury Hospital. 

 

The proposed small building for warehouse storage would be a low intensive use for the property.  No contingencies were placed on the sale.  The Council will discuss how the City can still use some of the property.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says this is an opportunity to put a piece of property back on the tax rolls, help grow the grand list and mitigate any need for property tax increases.  Boughton says the City has to get creative in how Danbury generates revenue so property taxes won't have to rise.

 

Some Council members in the past have said they would like to see Danbury hold on to the property in case the City needs it for a municipal use in the future.  But Boughton says they've analyzed school needs through 2020 and the City doesn't expect to have a big increase in enrollment.

 

The owner of the Matrix Corporate Center was looking to build a retail center on the site in 2012, but the deal never came to fruition.  That potential sale was going to fill a $3 million hole in the city's budget.  Greenwich Developer Paul Foley previously sought to build a small movie theater, retail center, loft apartments and a cafe on the site.  Several years before that there was a proposal to build a minor league baseball park on the land.

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Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Co. to receive FEMA grant

More than $107,000 is coming to the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company in Newtown from FEMA.  The Assistance to Firefighter Grant will be for 13 breathing masks and spare air supply.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says the all volunteer department is made up of many lifelong members as well as some newcomers and this money will have ensure they have the equipment they need.

 

The Dodgingtown Fire Department has been serving the Newtown community since 1909.  The Assistance to Firefighter Grant has helped firefighters obtain critically needed equipment since 2001.

 

Blumenthal says day in and day out, these brave men and women put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.  He adds that these funds will help the company continue to do their life-saving jobs safely and effectively.

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Danbury reports Primary results in GOP, Democratic races

Danbury is reporting preliminary race results for the Primary contests.  The Democratic Registrar of Voters contest was between Danbury Democratic Town Committee endorsed candidate Susan Ward garnered 665 votes.  Incumbent Marge Gallo, who petitioned her way on to the ballot, received 699 votes.

 

Danbury Republicans were at the polls Tuesday as well.  The Registrar of Voters reports that GOP endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley received 586 votes.  John McKinney received 509. 

 

There were three people running for Lt. Governor.  Endorsed candidate Penny Bacchiochi garnered 626 votes.  McKinney’s running mate, Dave Walker, received 263 votes.  Heather Somers, who originally was going to be Mayor Mark Boughton’s running mate, received 198 votes. 

 

The Comptroller’s race was between two political newcomers.  Sharon McLaughlin of Ellington, the endorsed candidate, received 803 votes.  Angel Cadena of Shelton received 213 votes.  McLaughlin has a master’s degree in accounting from Southern New Hampshire University.  She has worked for the last 15 years at Entex/Siemens.

 

In Bethel, Foley received 240 votes, McKinney received 268.  Bethel voters also cast 160 votes for Walker, 177 for Somers and 163 for Bacchiochi.

 

In Brookfield, Foley received 307 votes, McKinney received 228.  Brookfield voters also cast 165 votes for Walker, 106 for Somers and 257 for Bacchiochi.

 

In New Fairfield, Foley received 193 votes, McKinney received 105.  New Fairfield voters also cast 62 votes for Walker, 84 for Somers and 148 for Bacchiochi.

 

In New Milford, Foley received 316 votes, McKinney received 316.  New Milford voters also cast 148 votes for Walker, 182 for Somers and 296 for Bacchiochi.

 

In Redding, Foley received 174 votes, McKinney received 140.  Redding voters also cast 132 votes for Walker, 99 for Somers and 77 for Bacchiochi.

 

In Sherman, Foley received 69 votes.  McKinney received 47.  Sherman voters also cast 25 votes for Walker, 29 for Somers and 59 for Bacchiochi.

 

In Wilton, Foley received 219 votes, McKinney received 230.  Wilton voters also cast 174 votes for Walker, 174 for Somers and 98 for Bacchiochi.  Turnout was 11% of eligible voters.

 

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Primary Day Tuesday, polls open until 8pm

The secretary of the state predicted there will be a light turnout for Tuesday's primary to decide whom the Connecticut Republicans will choose to challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in November.

 

On Monday, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill predicted that 25 percent to 30 percent of registered voters, at most, will show up at the polls.

 

"I don't think we'll even get as high as 30 percent," she said, adding how turnout figures for primaries tend to depend on the race and not necessarily the time of year.

 

The marquee race this year is for the Republican nomination for governor, between businessman Tom Foley, of Greenwich, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, of Fairfield. Republicans also will choose their nominees for lieutenant governor and comptroller.

 

In Danbury, registered Democrats will be deciding who they want to be the Registrar of Voters candidate in November.  The decision is between Danbury Democratic Town Committee endorsed candidate Susan Ward and incumbent Marge Gallo.

 

There area few polling location changes.  In Newtown, District 1 and 1-5 will be joining District 2 in voting at Reed Intermediate School.  In Brookfield, District 2 will be voting at the Brookfield High School cafeteria instead of the gym.

 

As of the end of July, Merrill said, there were about 400,000 registered Republicans in Connecticut, 700,000 registered Democrats and 800,000 unaffiliated voters. Primary voters must be registered with one of the two major political parties to participate on Tuesday.

 

Merrill said she has not seen a last-minute rush of unaffiliated voters trying to register with a party.

 

While Merrill said she doesn't expect any problems, she also said her office will be working with the State Elections Enforcement Commission to operate an election hotline that can respond to potential issues at the polls, which will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Concerns can be reported by calling 866-SEEC-INFO or by sending an email to elections(at)ct.gov. The hotline and the email address will be monitored throughout the day.

 

Meanwhile, voters can go online to http://www.sots.ct.gov/vote to determine whether they're registered to vote, where their polling places are located, which candidates are on the ballot and the type of identification they need to take to the polls.

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Redding seeks foreclosure on Gilbert & Bennett developer

Redding is looking to foreclose on the developer of the former Gilbert and Bennett wire mill site because of unpaid back taxes and overdue payments.  The Newstimes reports that the developer owes more than $2.5 million in property taxes.  The developer also owes more than $14 million in back taxes. 

 

Despite not paying, the developer has continued to collect rent from tenants including the federal government--which is using some of the iste as a maintenance shop for the nearby Weir Farm National Historical Site. 

 

The master plan for the Georgetown site includes housing, commercial and retail space along with a new train station.  The Georgetown Land Development Corporation took over the site in 2002.

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Danbury area towns get grant funding for speed enforcement

Several municipalities in the Greater Danbury area are eligible for federal funds, funneled through the state, for speed enforcement efforts.  The Danbury City Council has accepted a $35,300 grant to be used along high risk rural roads.  Police Chief Al Baker says the program runs through September 30th.

 

A majority of the funding is being used for overtime costs for the officers carrying out the enforcement effort.  About $5,000 of the grant is being used to pay for speed detection equipment.  Two 8 hour shifts, 4 days a week through the end of September will be paid for with this grant.  Baker says it will be a combination of traditional cruisers and motorcycles, but primarily motorcycles because of their flexibility on the narrow roads that are part of this targeted enforcement.

 

118 municipalities in the state are eligible for funding including all of the Greater Danbury region.  Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Easton, Kent, Monroe, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Southbury, Weston and Woodbury are all eligible.

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Danbury Democrats to vote in Tuesday primary for Registrar of Voters

Danbury Democrats will be voting in tomorrow's primary.  The incumbent Registrar of Voters petitioned her way on to the ballot.  Marge Gallo was not endorsed by the Danbury Democratic Town Committee for a 9th term.  She has served 16 years and supporters say that her track record has been a good one.

 

The party's endorsed candidate is Susan Ward.  She is a paralegal and an active member of the Lion's Club.

 

Danbury DTC chairman Joe Walkovich says the reason they are looking for someone new in the position is because of a proposal last fall to change the 6th ward polling location from Park Avenue School to the Moose Lodge, off Boulevard Drive.

 

During a City Council meeting about the proposal, Gallo was asked why she originally supported the move and then changed her mind.  She said the ongoing construction looked like it wouldn't wrap up in time for Election Day 2013, and there was a lack of parking.  But she says construction at the front of the school finished, and parking was added.  Gallo said she didn't think about November's possible winter weather and the slope of the Moose Lodge parking lot at the time.

 

The City Council eventually voted to keep the polling location at the public building.

 

Polls on Tuesday are open from 6am to 8pm.

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Bone marrow donor registry drive to be held in Danbury

Finding a match is like winning the lottery.  That's how the family of a local man with blood cancer describes their search for a bone marrow donor.  Fred is a Brookfield resident who is not only battling leukemia, but he is also disabled with M.S.  That's why the Altberg, DeJoseph and Tarsi families have teamed up wth "Delete Blood Cancer", a nationwide organization, to host a bone marrow registry drive. 

 

Fred has overcome many challenges in his life.  The 53-year old is a devoted husband who cares for his disabled wife and is an inspiration to everyone around him. Fred has been a member of the ASPCA for twenty years and in his spare time he cheers avidly for the NY Giants.  He is a former electrical engineer and father to his Yorkipoo, Gordon.

 

People aged 18 to 55 and in good general health can register to be a bone marrow donor on Sunday August 10, 2014, on the lawn, at the Danbury War Memorial.  It's as easy as getting your cheek swabbed and be willing to donate to a patient in need.  Anyone who is unable to attend the drive can register online at,  www.deletebloodcancer.org,  to receive a free swab kit.

 

Blood cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths and when chemotherapy can’t beat the blood cancer, a bone marrow transplant may be the patient’s best hope for survival. Only half of those in need of a transplant are able to get one.

 

Hot dogs, beverages and chips will be provided, donated by Stew Leonards.

 

The event is from 11am to 5pm.

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Redding plans energy savings projects for Community Center

The Redding Board of Selectmen has approved taking energy saving steps at the Redding Community Center.  The Redding Pilot reports that the light fixtures in the parking lot will be changed to LED bulbs similar to ones at Redding Elementary School.  The lights would also be turned off when the building is not in use. 

 

The Board of Selectmen also approved installation of an energy management system for the heating and cooling system at the Redding Community Center.  The system would automatically adjust based on occupancy and can be managed from off-site. 

 

The town's finance director said in published reports that Redding could save $13,000 annually and see 100-percent savings over the next 10 years.

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Newtown P&Z approves Sandy Hook School plans

Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission approval of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School design takes effect on Monday.  The Commission unanimously approved the plans at their public hearing last Thursday. 

 

The plan has also been approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission and the Aquifer Protection Agency.  State officials still need to approve the plan.  The proposed redesign of the Dickinson Drive site includes a more than 87,000 square foot building and parking for 150 vehicles. 

 

Construction could start as early as this fall.

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Volunteers sought to measure Candlewood Lake water clarity

The Candlewood Lake Authority is looking for about a dozen volunteers to help measure and track water transparency.  Executive Director Larry Marsicano says they will train volunteers and give them the tools necessary to measure clarity of the lake.

 

Volunteers will have to lower a 20 cm diameter black and white disk into the water from a boat or dock and determine the exact depth where you lose visual contact with it and measure that distance with a meter stick.  The data will be recorded in a smart phone app for the next three months and examined. 

 

The tracking is already being done at four deep water sites on Candlewood Lake.  The volunteers need to be willing to regularly measure Secchi disk transparency from their dock during the months of August, September, and October. Measurement would have to be taken at least two to three times each week.  The Lake Authority provides the Secchi disk, explains how to use it, and how to download and use Collector.

 

The data gathered from around the lake will help the CLA to better understand the seasonal water quality trends on Candlewood.  To volunteer, call the CLA office at (860) 354-6928 and ask for Larry.

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Musician dad of girl killed in Newtown plans album

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) The musician father of a 6-year-old girl killed in the Newtown school shooting is preparing an album dedicated to her life.

While the world knows how Ana Grace Marquez-Greene died, jazz saxophonist Jimmy Greene wants the public to know how his daughter lived.

After Ana was killed in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, her father found a homemade book on her desk titled ``Ana's flower book for Dad.'' The booked was filled with pages of flowers drawn in different colors and shapes.

The new record will include Ana singing the hymn ``Come Thou Almighty King'' with her brother playing on the piano. Greene sings about his hope to one day join her in Heaven.

He plans to play a few songs from the album at the Litchfield Jazz Festival on Sunday.

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Fire at Kent camp ruled accidental

A fire that destroyed two cabins at Club GetAway in Kent was accidental.  The Kent Fire Marhsal's office says a propane heater near one of the cabins over heated and sparked the blaze last Thursday.  One cabin was completely destroyed, another has heavy damage and a third nearby sustained minor damage to its siding. 

 

All campers were safely evacuated from the buildings shortly before 8am.  The blaze was brought under control in little more than half an hour.  Several area towns sent mutual aid.

 

Club GetAway is located on South Kent Road.

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Blumenthal announces grant for Lyme testing

Senator Richard Blumenthal has announcde a $600,000 federal grant to improve testing for Lyme disease.

He made announcement Wednesday in Danbury alongside researchers from Western Connecticut Biomedical Research Institute and the Seattle-based RareCyte Inc.

His office says Lyme disease affects some 300,000 Americans each year and that Connecticut has a high number of reported cases. Many of the current tests used to detect Lyme disease can give false negative results early in the course of the illness, leading to delayed treatment.

 

Dr. Ramin Ahmadi, Chair, Department of Medical Education and Research shared; “We know that many people suffer the debilitating effects of Lyme disease and it is a priority for us to seek out new pathways to diagnosis and treatment. We are excited by our early findings and grateful to the NIAID for this opportunity to further our research in order to improve testing and restore health to those affected by this terrible disease.”

 

The scientists have developed an assay method for direct visualization of the Lyme infection in blood that combines RareCyte’s density-based separation and enrichment technology for rare cells with immunofluorescence microscopy. The assay could have significant impact on the state of current Lyme disease diagnostics.

 

Ron Seubert, CEO of RareCyte, Inc stated, “We are extremely pleased with our fruitful collaboration with Dr. Paul Fiedler and his group at the WCHN Biomedical Research Institute.  Development of more sensitive and accurate methods of direct detection of Borrelia burgdorferi for the purpose of diagnosing Lyme disease patients is a high-priority area of interest for NIAID. Dr. Fiedler understood the utility of RareCyte technology when applied to Lyme disease, and the SBIR grant is further recognition of that utility.”

 

Dr. Eric Kaldjian, CMO of RareCyte, is the Principal Investigator on the grant.  In a preliminary pilot study, the team, which also includes Dr. Denise McKibben and Donna Guralski at WCHN and Dr. Joshua Nordberg of RareCyte, analyzed blood samples of a small cohort of patients clinically diagnosed with acute Lyme disease using RareCyte technology before, during and after antibiotic treatment. In all patients, B.burgdorferi-positive staining objects were identified in the blood. In some cases the positive staining objects persisted even after antibiotic treatment had been completed. “Based on these preliminary results, we see a potential for monitoring symptomatic patients for response to antibiotic therapy as well.  However, the RareCyte assay for Lyme disease detection requires further development and study before it can be made available for routine clinical use.  The SBIR grant will support that effort,” said Dr. Kaldjian.

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Electronic sign installed at DHS through grant funding

An electronic sign is being installed outside of Danbury High School to tell the community about events happening at the school.  It was paid for by a grant won by students in the Celebrate My Drive campaign.  DHS secured $100,000, some of which must be put toward safe driving initiatives. 

 

Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says the marquee is a great addition to the school.  They hoped to have it by graduation, but some city approvals were needed.

 

The students decided to put the money toward many projects, doing a lot of infrastructure work and earmarking other dollars for programs.  The students also paid for benches to be installed outside the school among other projects.  There is funding set aside for other beautification work as well.

 

Danbury High School is registered for this year's Celebrate My Drive contest, slated for mid-October.  In addition to grant money, schools are competing for a concert by The Band Perry.

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Ridgefield considers mobile vendor permit program

One mobile vendor permit has been renewed, another has been delayed in Ridgefield.  The Board of Selectmen granted an extension for a coffee and lunch truck which serves construction sites including the recently complete library and the under construction Prospector Theater. 

 

The Ridgefield Press says the permit was approved on a 4-to-1 vote.  Action was delayed on granting a permit to a flower vendor, which would not have a set destination. 

 

The Selectmen reportedly want to talk with the town's attorney about developing a possible ordinance about governing mobile sales.  There is some concern that the roaming vendors would hurt brick-and-mortar stores that pay taxes.

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Brookfield officials updated on Cadigan Park improvements progress

Brookfield officials say progress is being made at Cadigan Town Park with the beach revitalization.  Two new artificial surface fields at Cadigan will be ready for play by the end of the month.  Work on a walking-jogging track, softball field, tennis courts, basketball courts and a parking lot will be completed in September. 

 

Brookfield officials say the Youth football program should have an uninterrupted first season on the new fields. 

 

Bid packages will be sent out this month for the beach side of the road.  The completion goal for the revitalization work is a Memorial Day 2015 opening.

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Danbury officials accept donations of meditation bench, field fence

A granite bench has been approved for outside the Danbury War Memorial.  The meditation bench is next to the Veterans Memorial Walkway near the Korean War monument.  It's a grey wall style bench with lettering that measures 72 inches by 18 inches.  City Council President Joe Cavo says the Veterans Council of Danbury previously approved the installation.

 

The bench is from Swenson Granite Works in Newtown and valued at about $2,000.

 

The Danbury Dominican Softball League has proposed an outfield fence at softball field #1 at Rogers Park.  The group says the chain link fence is needed to prevent injury to players from going into the drainage ditch that runs the length of the outfield. 

 

Recreation Department Chairman Nick Kaplanis addressed a concern from City Councilman Duane Perkins about non-city employees working on city property.  He says fence installation is not something usually done by City employees, it's contracted out of house.

 

The area is flood prone, so city officials will meet to make sure the fence is properly installed.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they don't want the new structure to create a blockage that would displace some of the normal flooding that takes place there. 

 

The project is valued at about $4,500.

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Danbury schools to partner with colleges for co-op program

The Danbury Public School District has been planning an early college initiative with Western Connecticut State University and Naugatuck Valley Community College.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says over the course of four years  students can leave high school with an Associates Degree.  Students would begin their collegiate programing as a freshman.

 

Coupled with internships, summer work, and some blended learning--students can then then matriculate into a four year university or go into the workforce with special certification. 

 

If everything comes together, that program could start next September.

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Ground broken today in Wilton for a natural gas expansion project

Yankee Gas will break ground on the first large-scale natural gas expansion project in the state at 11 o'clock this morning.  Wilton is the first Connecticut municipality to partner with Yankee Gas through the state's Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which was approved by state regulators last year.

 

The strategy calls for an expansion of the state's natural gas distribution system to provide more residents and businesses with the opportunity to switch to clean-burning, affordable natural gas.  Construction to connect Wilton's downtown business district, municipal buildings and schools to the new natural gas line is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.  

 

Wilton's Energy Commission estimates that with the availability of natural gas, the town will save about $500,000 annually in energy costs.

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Hearing about Brookfield joining regional planning group

The leaders of 10 Greater Danbury area towns are taking steps to merge their regional planning group with one representing lower Fairfield County towns.  A public hearing is being held tonight in Brookfield about merging the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and the South Western Regional Planning Agency into the 18 town Western Connecticut Council of Governments. 

 

The state recently passed an initiative calling for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  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 area leaders say the HVCEO region already does a lot of that. 

 

The hearing tonight at Brookfield Town Hall is scheduled for 7:15.

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Polling location change in Newtown for Primary

Voting for the Republican Primary in Newtown has been moved from the Newtown Middle School gym to the Reed Intermediate School cafetorium.  The Registrar of Voters says this was done because of the likelihood that it will be hot on the 12th and there is no other facility with air conditioning.  Reed School is usually the polling location for only District two, but all registered Republicans are being called on to vote at the Trades Lane building only for the primary.  The change has been approved by the Secretary of the State's office.

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Newtown kids to perform with Broadway stars in two productions

Two shows with some Broadway stars and Newtown area kids will be performed in Newtown starting tonight.  The 12.14 Foundation, which was created to promote healing and strength through the performing arts, did a production of Seussical the Musical last year.   Michael Unger says this year A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream has been written especially for Newtown.

 

The world premiere of A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream is a new musical version adapted by Michael Unger and Eric Svejcar with a score by Mr. Svejcar. Joining the Newtown children in this production are Broadway stars Marla Mindelle (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Sister Act), Clark Thorell (Hairspray, 2012 Annie revival) and Saum Eskandani (Disaster!, A Year With Frog and Toad).

 

The first show A ROCKIN' Midsummer Night's Dream, a world premiere adaptation of one of Shakespeare's favorite plays will be performed on August 1st at 7PM, August 2nd at 2PM and 7PM , August 3rd at 2PM, August 8th at 7PM, August 9th at 2PM and 7PM and August 10th at 5PM.

 

The Foundation will also be performing The 101 Dalmatians Musical later this summer.  That show has been especially adapted for Newtown as well. 

 

The venue for both productions is Newtown High School (12 Berkshire Road, Newtown, CT) and ticket prices range from $22.50 to $30.00.

 

As was the case with Seussical, there are approximately 20 Newtown students apprenticing backstage to learn from the team of Broadway professionals participating in this production. The orchestra will also include Newtown-area parents and students.

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