Local Headlines Archives for 2014-09

Racoon trapped in parking garage, escorted out

Danbury firefighters were called to solve an unusual problem early Tuesday morning at the Patriots Garage in Downtown Danbury.  Deputy Fire Chief Bernie Meehan says it seems a raccoon was trapped on the upper deck of the garage and couldn't find its way out.

 

Meehan says the raccoon looked very healthy, probably about 30 pounds.

 

Firefighters used an animal snare, a leash-like item with a hook, to coax the raccoon down the stairs.  The animal then ran off.

 

(Photo courtesy: Danbury Fire Department)

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Danbury Hall at Fairfield Hills campus demolished

Demolition has started on Danbury Hall at the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown.  The Newtown Bee reports that the workers started tearing down the building Monday morning.  The project is intended to open the sightlines of the complex from Wasserman Way. 

 

The project cost of $511,000 also covered hazardous materials abatement, but was originally supposed to also include demolition of 8 single-family former staff homes. 

 

Additional funding was needed for asbestos removal, which changed the scope of the project.

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Another swastika found at Wilton High School

Another swastika has been found at Wilton High School.  In a letter to parents Friday, Principal Robert O'Donnell said it was found Tuesday etched into the paint of a boys bathroom stall on the third floor.  Since the first swastika was found etched into a locker on September 4th, the common areas have been checked regularly. 

 

Both the one found on the locker and the one in the bathroom were removed immediately.

 

O'Donnell says he is working with the student government to address the issue and the social studies department is developing curriculum to address the meaning and impact of the symbol.  He is also reconnecting with the Anti Defamation League to discuss strategies to address the matter systematically.

 

When the letter circulated, students showed the Principal a third symbol carved into a first floor door, though officials say that one likely went unnoticed for years. 

 

A 15-year old student, who was not named because of age, turned himself in for etching the first swastika into a locker.

 

O'Donnell said in his first letter to the community that symbols of hatred, racism and anti-semitism have no place in an environment of free of prejudice, cruelty and intolerance.  In his latest communication, O'Donnell said when students make very poor choices that impact the school community, it's incumbent on educators and parents to teach students that this is unacceptable behavior that is hurtful to us all.

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Open house gala at WCSU's Visual and Performing Arts Center

An opening gala is being held Sunday at Western Connecticut State University's new Visual and Performing Arts Center.  The behind the scenes open house will allow the community to see and hear West Conn students, faculty and staff actively using the new building.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says there are three distinctive wings of the facility designed specifically for art, music and theater arts.

 

(Contributed photo)

 

The event will open with remarks from University President Dr James Schmotter.  Among the spaces that will be used and on view are the Concert Hall, Main Stage Theater, Studio Theater, a recording studio, the art gallery and sculpture studio. 

 

Steinmetz says the behind the scenes event will offer the community a glimpse of how the space comes to life when students and staff are there.

 

Opening events will be held in each of the three main performance and exhibition spaces over the next several weeks.  Sunday's open house at the center starts at 1:30pm on West Conn's westside campus.

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State land conveyed to animal sanctuary honoring girl killed on 12-14

A ceremonial bill signing has been held by state officials to turn over more than 30 acres of land in Newtown.

 

The 34.44 acres of land will be used by the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation for an animal sanctuary named in honor of the 6 year old girl who was among the children killed at Sandy Hook School.  The land is located on the Fairfield Hills property.   

 

The legislation was officially signed in June by the Governor to transfer the state owned parcel.  The Special Act requires the Foundation to cover administrative costs of the transfer.

 

The Foundation has partnered with The Animal Center in Newtown to create the sanctuary and wildlife reserve.  Catherine's parents say the Sanctuary will reflect their daughter's compassion for animals by providing adoptive services for companion animals, refuge for farm animals and a native wildlife rescue and release service.  The plans also call for a learning center, educational programing, walking paths and butterfly gardens.

 

“This legislation honors Catherine’s deepest passion to love and protect animals of all kinds,” said Governor Malloy. “I am proud that the State of Connecticut is able to convey this parcel for the creation of an animal sanctuary in her honor. Catherine so strongly wanted animals to know her kindness.  It is beyond inspiring that her love and compassion for animals will live on through this sanctuary for generations to come. I would like to thank First Selectman Llodra and all of the lawmakers for their leadership and support of this bill. I would also like to thank Catherine’s parents, Jenny and Matt Hubbard, for allowing their daughter to continue enriching the lives of so many through this project.”

 

 

“The conveyance of this land to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation is a significant step toward the creation of a sanctuary for animals, in honor of a 6 year old with a passion for all creatures, large and small, fuzzy and slimy,” said Newtown First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra. “The vision of the sanctuary expressed so eloquently by parents Matt and Jenny Hubbard in honor of their beloved daughter is closer to reality because of the kindness and compassion of many, including legislators, local land use officials, the Department of Agriculture and Governor Malloy.”

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Medical marijuana dispensaries start sales in Conn.

The six medical marijuana dispensaries in the state have started selling items to patients who hold medical marijuana licenses from the state.  There are more than 2,300 patients registered with the state as having one of 11 debilitating conditions. 

 

Among the patients is Dan Gaita of Bethel.  He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and says this is helping him treat his symptoms without feeling like a criminal.  Gaita was in the Marines and served in Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti.  He says the VA for over a decade has had him on a cocktail of pain and nerve medications, but medical marijuana has helped him cut down some doses and get completely off others.

 

Gaita says through a dispensary, the strains are more pure and consistent because the sales are overseen by a pharmacist and doctor.

 

Other debilitating medical conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana in Connecticut are Parkinson's Disease, MS, epilepsy, glaucoma, nerve damage, cancer, AIDS and Crohn's disease.

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Public hearing on Industrial Park rules in Bethel

A public hearing is being held tonight by the Bethel Economic Development Commission.  The group is asking for public comment on revised rules and regulations for Clarke Business Park.  Among the changes is acknowledging the change in name from "Francis J Clarke Industrial Park".  Another change is to accommodate the disbanding of the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and Bethel being part of the new, larger Western Connecticut Council of Governments. 

 

The regulations are spelled out in a 17 page document.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the changes have already gone through the zoning process.

 

The rules and regulations cover everything from parking to outdoor storage as well as overall design of buildings within the complex.  Rules for landscaping, lighting and signs are also described.  The rules will be in effect for 30 years with the town having the option to approve 10 year extensions.  The draft rules and regulations say that property buyers must start construction within three years of the purchase and complete building within five years.

 

The public hearing is at 7pm in the Municipal Center.

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Housatonic Railroad permanently closes crossing in New Milford

Housatonic Railroad has closed a crossing over Waller Road in New Milford, and the town is taking steps to get it reopened.  A truck that got caught on the tracks in August allegedly damaged them.  The Newstimes reports that Housatonic Railroad sought an emergency closure for repairs, but then asked the state Department of Transportation for a permanent closing. 

 

New Milford's Public Works Director is quoted as saying that the company has not met the requirements set by the town for a permanent closing. 

 

The town's state representative and Senator have been contacted to put pressure on the DOT to reverse the decision.

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Dave Brubeck inducted into Conn. Hall of Fame

Six new members have been inducted into the Connecticut Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the state Legislative Office Building Monday. 

 

Among the inductees, Jazz great and Wilton resident Dave Brubeck.  His daughter Catherine Brubeck Yaghsizian says her father took a liking to the state after moving the family from California in the 1960s.  She says he loved to play at the Litchfield Jazz Festival.  She noted that her dad was able to get off the road and use Connecticut as a place to compose more serious pieces and found the countryside very inspiring.

 

The other inductees are lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim of Roxbury, Pratt & Whitney founder Frederick Rentschler, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and Judges John T Downing and Constance Baker Motley.

 

The Connecticut Hall of Fame is designed to recognize current or former residents of Connecticut who have distinguished themselves in their profession and performed outstanding service to our state or nation.  It also serves as an educational tool for the students who visit the Capitol.  

 

Past inductees include Opera singer Marion Anderson of Danbury,  author Mark Twain of Redding and Paul Newman of Westport.

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Rowland looms in Connecticut 5th District race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The trial that led to the conviction of former Gov. John G. Rowland is having repercussions on this year's 5th Congressional District race, the same seat at the center of Rowland's case.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who currently holds the seat, is planning to use her opponent's testimony as a point of criticism in this year's race, one of the most hotly contested Connecticut congressional elections.

Rowland approached Republican businessman Mark Greenberg about consulting for his 2010 campaign, but making it appear he was paid by Greenberg's animal rescue organization. It was similar to a 2012 scheme Rowland was convicted on.

At trial, Greenberg called himself ``gutless'' for not informing federal authorities about the proposed arrangement.

An Esty spokeswoman said the campaign will hold Greenberg ``accountable'' for his actions.

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Connecticut ex-governor convicted of new crimes

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Former Governro John Rowland, who resigned from office a decade ago in a corruption scandal, was convicted Friday of federal charges that he conspired to hide payment for work on two congressional campaigns.

 

Rowland, once a rising star for the Republican Party, served 10 months in prison for taking illegal gifts while in office and now as a repeat offender faces the possibility of a much stiffer sentence.

 

The government's case centered around a contract between Rowland and a nursing home chain owned by the husband of 2012 congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley. Rowland's attorneys argued he volunteered for the campaign while receiving $35,000 to consult for her husband's company, but prosecutors said the money was an illegal payment for campaign services.

 

Rowland was convicted in New Haven federal court of all seven counts, including conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation, causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission and causing illegal campaign contributions.

 

Rowland was elected to the U.S. House three times, governor three times and served as chairman of the national Republican Governors Association. He had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet member before he was impeached and resigned.

 

He was released from prison in 2006 and began rebuilding his life, landing a job as an economic development coordinator before becoming host of a popular radio show. In his first interview after leaving prison, the man known for his charm and quick wit said he had faith God would steer him down a different path.

 

"When you lose your freedom, it's a very humbling experience," he said.

 

But he found himself in the crosshairs of federal investigators once again as he pursued a return to politics.

 

Much of the evidence against Rowland came from email correspondence, such as one in which he wrote to Wilson-Foley's husband, Brian Foley, shortly after proposing he become a paid political consultant for his wife. Foley testified during the trial that Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland's help but for her primary campaign believed his involvement, if made public, would attract negative publicity.

 

"Had a brief chat with Lisa. I get it. Let's you and I meet," Rowland wrote to Foley.

 

In March, the Foleys each pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions, a misdemeanor. Brian Foley became the government's star witness, testifying that he paid Rowland for campaign work and the work he did for Foley's company, Apple Health Care Inc., was only cursory.

 

Rowland's lawyers attacked Foley's credibility, showing he illegally funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to his wife's campaign and could have faced significant prison time if he had not cut a deal. They argue the former governor was unaware of any conspiracy to keep Rowland happy in his campaign work by paying him through Apple.

 

Rowland did not testify in his own defense and his lawyers presented one witness, Apple executive Brian Bedard, who testified that Rowland did real work for him and he did not believe the contract was a sham.

 

Rowland was also accused of trying to cut a similar business deal with another politician.

 

Mark Greenberg, a Republican who is again running for Congress this year, testified that Rowland proposed becoming a consultant to his 2010 campaign while being paid as though he was working for the candidate's animal rescue organization. Greenberg said he turned down the proposal from Rowland. Rowland's lawyers argued that he never ended up working for Greenberg and no crime was committed.

 

Convictions on all the charges carried a possible maximum prison sentence of 57 years.

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Candlewood Lake Authority looks to launch grass carp program

Danbury has signed on to an effort by the Candlewood Lake Authority to run a grass carp program design to control and manage Eurasian Milfoil.  The CLA is applying to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a grant to pay for half of the program.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the group plans to raise funds from community organizations for the balance.

 

The grass carp program has worked in other water bodies including nearby Ball Pond, Lake George and other water bodies.

 

The CLA hopes to stock grass carp in the lake this spring.  It could also help with a new, similar invasive species that's shown up in the lake, but grows on the top of the lake. 

 

CLA has permission from First Light, the owners of the lake, but they still need a permit from DEEP.

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Funeral service held for Paul Baker

A funeral mass has been held for longtime WLAD broadcaster, Danbury Racearena announcer and author, Paul Baker.  Baker was the morning announcer and sportscaster on WLAD from the station's sign on in 1947 through 1977.  He passed away Saturday at the age of 94. 

 

Baker's two children, Joe and Paula, longtime friend Andy Montanari of Ridgefield and former Danbury High School football coach Gus Edwards delivered eulogies to the standing-room only assembly at St Terea's in Woodbury yesterday.   An avid golfer, Baker was a regular emcee at community events throughout his life.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said everyone who grew up attending sports events, listening to the radio or going to the Racearena knew who Paul was.  He said today was like a little bit of Danbury passing, a day of sorrow for his loved ones.  Boughton called him someone who knew how to live life the way we all want to live life, routinely golfing his age through his 80s.

 

WLAD's current General Manager Irv Goldstein, who grew up in Danbury, said school was never really officially canceled on snowy mornings until Paul and Abe announced it on WLAD. 

 

Baker remained active until his last few months through writing, charitable work and his church.

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9/11 NEVER FORGET traveling exhibit in Brewster

The 9/11 NEVER FORGET traveling exhibit is in Brewster this week.  It was created as a learning tool by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a group started by New Fairfield Selectman John Hodge's family to honor his firefighter cousin who died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. 

 

The stop was funded by the Brewster Education Foundation.  Brewster High School Principal Dr Joseph Castagnola says they had an interested in bringing this to Brewster since its creation in 2013.  He is the former New Fairfield Superintendent of Schools, and worked with Hodge.

 

Castagnola says his students are visiting during social studies classes while the lower grades are attending with their families.  He says so far, it's been really well received.  Parents of high schoolers who did not want their child touring the exhibit had the option to send back the explanation letter declining the opportunity.  He says the juniors and seriors today were toddlers when 9/11 happened while middle schoolers hadn't been born yet, so it's an important part of history for them to learn.

 

(Photo Courtsey: Tunnel 2 Towers Facebook)

 

Castagnola says meaningful discussions have been started in the classroom through this exhibit.

 

The 53-foot tractor trailer unfolds into an 1,100 square foot space.  The memorial includes live tours from FDNY members.  Artifacts, including steel beams from the towers, documentary videos and audio recordings of first responder radio transmissions are part of the exhibit.  The exhibit is presented with age-appropriate explanations of what happened on 9/11.  

 

The exhibit arrived on Monday and will depart on Thursday.

 

CV Starr Intermediate/JFK Elementary students with parents, district employees and the community can attend at three different times today and tomorrow.  They are today from 2pm to 7pm; tomorrow from 8am to 10am or 2:30pm to 4pm.

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Memorial Sidewalk project launched in Newtown

Memorial Sidewalk has been dedicated in Newtown.  Construction on the sidewalk project connecting Main Street to Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook Village was started on Wednesday.  The Newtown Bee reports that the first phase of construction should be completed within six months.  That part of the project is privately funded with some public funds. 

 

Dr Thomas Draper and his son Joseph were thanked during the dedication ceremony for their work on the project.  They said that after 12-14, the family wanted to create a physical connection between the center of town and Sandy Hook.

 

A retaining wall is planned to run the length of Church Hill Road, with a small green area required by the state to accommodate state snow plows. Most of the section along Church Hill Road is state right of way, so the town will seek easements for construction.

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DMV evacuated because of smoke from burning t-shirt

The Department of Motor Vehicles building on Lee Mac Avenue in Danbury was briefly evacuated Tuesday afternoon.  The Danbury Fire Department responded to a small fire in an adjoining building.  At the DMV though, someone smelled smoke.  It was likely coming through the ventilation system.  The DMV was evacuated for about 10 minutes shortly after 1pm.  The fire was caused by a t-shirt burning in a dryer.

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New Fairfield road to get new name to honor local heroes

A road in New Fairfield is getting a new name.  Farmer's Lane will be getting the secondary name of to honor two men who have ties to the same home on the street.  Chris Blackwell died on 9/11, TJ Lobraico died in Afghanistan last year.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says residents of that street asked for the change, which will be done on New Fairfield Day on Saturday.

 

The dedication will be filmed.  After the Lion's Club Parade, a make up of the cancelled 4th of July Parade, there will be another ceremony on the field, which will feature a replaying of the dedication.  The Connecticut Patriot Guard will present honorary member flags to the two families.

 

Blackwell, a member of the FDNY, grew up in New Fairfield.  He was a 25 year member of the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department.  One of his daughter is a police officer, the other is studying healthcare, and his son is a member of the FDNY.  He worked with Danbury Ambulance and was specialized in building collapses and trench rescues.

 

Lobraico attended Western before being deployed.  He was in the Justice and Law Administration program, pursuing a degree in law enforcement.  His mother graduated from the university and his father took classes there as well.  Lobraico was a member of the 105th Security Forces Squadron.  He died when his unit was attacked near Bagram Airfield.  He joined the Air National Guard in 2008 and was on his second overseas deployment.  His parents also serve in the 105th Airlift Wing.

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Weston's revised gun law doesn't include police, fix requested

Weston officials have discovered a glaring omission in the town's new gun ordinance.  Police Officers were not included in those exempt from section 79.  State and federal officers, members of the military, authorized messengers, and bank guards when performing their duties were among those listed. 

 

The Weston Forum reports that the ordinance was revised after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  It bans residential target practice and prohibits the discharge of machine guns or assault weapons within town borders. 

 

During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said a public hearing will need to be held to make the change.  That's according to the Town's charter.  The hearing has been set for the next regular meeting of the Board.

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Congressional candidates spar over ISIS, campaign fundraising

The two candidates in the 5th Congressional race are once again involved in a heated exchange, this time over foreign affairs. 

 

Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty held a telephone conference call Friday with Brookfield combat veteran Mike Zacchea to discuss ISIS and the beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff, who graduated from Rumsey Hall in Washington, Connecticut.  The town is part of the 5th District. 

 

Republican Mark Greenberg's campaign said in a press release last week that tougher action needed to be taken against Islamic militants, and that Esty has remained quite on the issue.  The email included a campaign donation button.  Esty's campaign responded calling for Greenberg to apologize for the email.  Greenberg's campaign responded right back saying Esty had yet to release comments condemning the beheading of two American journalists on her website, but that she has two "contribute" buttons seen right above her criticism of his initial email. 

 

The Greenberg campaign said "Elizabeth Esty's hypocrisy knows no bounds and she will stop at nothing to pursue partisan, political advantage.”

 

During the press call Friday, Esty condemned the terrorist acts.  Zacchea, a combat veteran who medically retired from the Marines with the rank of Lt Col., also demanded an apology from Greenberg.  He said he felt scandalized that Greenberg would use the murder of Steven Sotloff for political purposes.

 

Zacchea received a Purple Heart for his service after being wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade.  He served directly with eighteen Iraqi solders, two Americans, and a British citizen who were abducted and beheaded by terrorists in Iraq.

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Sandy Hook Advisory Commission hears from Llodra, Erardi

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has held another meeting in their effort to come up with recommendations to improve public safety following the shootings on December 14th 2012.  They heard testimony from Superintendent Dr Joseph Erardi.  He asked Sandy Hook School staff, who were present on 12-14 and worked all of last year to give him their opinions and insight on the events that followed.

 

Staff told Erardi about the importance of having an effective communication protocol in place during and after the event.  Erardi also said that it's not just a case of making money available to harden the school buildings, but also the time needed to make sure emergency protocols are understood by all.

 

Staff would like to see a strong partnership with local police who know every room, every number, every door all of the time.

 

Another recommendation is the importance of knowing who is the buildings at all times.  There are subcontracted staff not listed on rosters, such as food service staff.  When Central Office and Town Emergency Planners, immediately after 12-14, no one had Chartwell Food Service on their lists.

 

Newtown's first selectman is recommending the state conduct a full after-action study to find out what worked and what didn't in her town's response to the December 2012 school shooting.  Pat Llodra said local officials were overwhelmed with the logistics of handling donations, volunteers, correspondence, and media requests.

 

She says the town, for example, had no way to vet the qualifications of the mental health experts who came to help.

 

Llodra says the local government would have collapsed without help from companies such as General Electric, which provided four full-time executives to work with the town.

 

Llodra also revealed that school officials would not give her contact information for the victims' families until two weeks after the shooting.

 

Llodra told the Commission that at one point, the town logged 65,000 stuffed teddy bears. That didn't include other types of stuffed animals, hundreds of backpacks, bicycles, skateboards, school supplies, candles, gift wrap, crayons, sneakers, and more.  Thousands of books were also donated to Newtown.

 

Llodra said the volume of mail sent to Newtown prompted U.S. Postal Service employees to set up shop in the town hall’s basement.  Volunteers helped sort more than 200,000 pieces of mail.

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Newtown considers funding to demolish burnt out home

The Newtown Legislative Council next week will consider a nearly $30,000 allocation to demolish a home in the Hawleyville section of town that was destroyed by a suspicious fire in June 2011.  The Board of Selectmen addressed the issue at their meeting last week and were told that the insurance company hasn't paid the homeowner, who can't afford to take down the house. 

 

Officials say the remains of the Great Hill Road home is a public safety issue for the neighborhood.  A court order allows the town to demolish it, and the town will then put a lien on the property, though First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Board of Finance this week that it's unlikely the town will get any of its money back. 

 

The Legislative Council will mee on Wednesday.

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Two boat launches to close for paving

Two area boat launches will be closed soon for repaving.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the Squantz Cove state Boat Launch on Candlewood Lake and the Squantz Pond state Park boat launch on the pond will be closed on Monday and Tuesday for repaving.  DEEP notified the Candlewood Lake Authority about the closings yesterday.

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Bethel medical marijuana dispensary to open next week

Monroe-based D&B Wellness Compassion and Care Center gained approval in May as one of only six medical marijuana dispensaries licensed in the state.  Only patients certified by physicians to the state Department of Consumer Protection as having one of 11 debilitating conditions, and would benefit from use of medical marijuana, can register for use in Connecticut. 

 

In order to enter the Garella Road center, patients must have a medical marijuana card.  To make a purchase, the patient's name has to be registered with the state, and the Bethel facility as their designated dispensary.

 

The "appointment only" facility will have a high level of security including a full time security guard, video surveillance and other security features.  The center will employ a pharmacist, receptionist and a counselor to educate patients about dosage and alternative therapies.  The strict security requirements are detailed among 76 pages of state regulations.

 

The kinds of products that can be sold at dispensaries are very specific and limited to those prepackaged from licensed manufacturers.  Everything comes in a sealed pouch, with the strain and number tracked back to the state.  It's meant to treat tremors, Parkinsons, MS and epilepsy.  

 

An open house is being held tonight from 6pm to 9 pm for patients registered to the facility.  Department of Consumer Protection officials and others instrumental with helping the application go forward, will also be in attendance.

 

Two residents, Philip Lombino and Michael Moore, filed an appeal of the Zoning Enforcement Officer approval of a zoning permit application.  The Bethel Zoning Board of Appeals ruled on the appeal of the dispensary last month.  The Board decided that the filers were not aggrieved, and that the use of the site meets regulations. 

 

The location is zoned for retail use and town officials say the dispensary is considered a pharmacy and therefore a permitted use.  The appeal said 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. 

 

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

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Area towns mark 9/11 anniversary with ceremonies at memorials

There will be a 9/11/01 Memorial ceremony at the site of the American Flags painted on the six maple trees at 68 Dodgingtown Road off Route #302 in Newtown.  The ceremony is at 8:15am.

 

 

New Milford's 13th Annual Memorial Ceremony of 9-11-01 is at the Memorial site located in the Patriot’s Way Plaza, overlooking the Young’s Field ball fields. The service will commence with Water Witch Hose Co. #2 tolling the apparatus bell at 8:46am.

 

First responders, including the New Milford Community Ambulance Corps., New Milford Police and Volunteer Fire Departments will present and raise the flag with assistance from Military Personnel.  The ceremony will include the singing of our National Anthem and an Invocation before guest speakers offer a few words.  The ceremony will conclude with the singing of “God Bless America” and close to “Amazing Grace” offered by Patrick Maguire on bagpipes.  Ceremony guests are invited to place a flower on the memorial in remembrance and reflection.

 

 

A ceremony is scheduled for 10 am at Kent Town Hall to dedicate a 9/11 memorial, a stone with a plaque on it dedicated to James Gadiel.  The 23-year-old Cantor Fitzgerald trader died in the World Trade Center.  James' father Peter Gadiel, asked that the memorial say victims were "murdered by Muslim terrorists."  Town officials said years earlier that the wording was not supported by residents, whose taxes paid for the plaque.  The memorial instead refers to "Islamist extremists.''  During today's ceremony, a short piece will be read, which James wrote as a 7th grader.

 

 

The City of Danbury's September 11th Memorial Remembrance Gathering will be held at 6pm at the 9-11 monument in Elmwood Park on Main Street.  The twelve-foot tower of glass is mounted on a pentagon of Connecticut granite.  The glass tower lines up with the lighted flagpole flying the U.S. flag previously flown over the U.S. Capitol and the 9-11 Memorial Flag.  The glass tower is lighted from dusk to dawn.

 

 

Bethel will remember the victims of the September 11th attacks with a ceremony at 6pm.  The rememberance will be held at the Municipal Center.  In a change from previous years, there will not be a procession from the fire house.

 

 

Ridgefield's annual 9-11 observances will be held outdoors at the memorial off Route 35 that has a beam of World Trade Center steel as its centerpiece.  The ceremony will start at 6:30 on Danbury Road at the Parks and Recreation facility.  Members of the Ridgefield Clergy Association will share thoughts, and offer prayers.  The Ridgefield Police Department will provide an honor guard.  The Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department will provide a color guard for the ceremonies.

 

 

To honor and remember those lost, and to recognize those who continue to serve and protect, Brookfield will hold a 9-11 Candlelight Vigil on Thursday at 7pm, at Brookfield Town Hall.  The service will be held in the Rotary Memorial Garden. In the event of bad weather, the service will be held in Town Hall Foyer. Those in attendance are being asked to bring a candle.

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Campaign official says he opposed Rowland role

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A former political director for the 5th congressional district campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley has testified that he advised against the campaign hiring former Gov. John Rowland.

Chris Syrek was testifying Wednesday at the federal trial for Rowland, who is facing federal charges including allegations that he conspired with Wilson-Foley and her husband to violate federal election laws.

Syrek said that when he expressed his opposition to a campaign role for Rowland, Wilson-Foley suggested the campaign might not have to pay him. Syrek said he worried she was alluding to an off-the-books arrangement.

The Foleys have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges they conspired to allow Brian Foley to make an illegal contribution to his wife's campaign by paying Rowland for campaign work.

Rowland's trial in New Haven began last week and is expected to take about three weeks.

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Danbury Hospital opens new Emergency Department

The new Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Emergency Department at Danbury Hospital, at 40,000 square feet, is double the size of the former Emergency Department.  Department of Emergency Medicine chairman Dr Patrick Broderick says the increased capacity will handle up to 90,000 patient visits annually.

 

The new ER can be accessed from Hospital Avenue.

 

Broderick says the facility will better serve the growing needs of the community while fulfilling its mission to improve the health and well-being of residents.

 

The ER includes a streamlined triage area and an express care area for less acute patients.  All private patient rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology.  There is also a dedicated imaging center so patients can be diagnosed and treated more rapidly.  There is a separate area for Pediatric services to serve the needs of children and young adults and direct-access heliport to expand the Hospital’s capacities as a Level II Trauma Center.

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FERC hearing in Danbury about natural gas pipeline expansion

A natural gas pipeline expansion in the region is the subject of a public comment meeting tonight in Danbury.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is holding the hearing about a draft Environmental Impact Statement of the project by Algonquin natural gas. 

 

The project would involve the construction and operation of about 37.6 miles of natural gas pipeline and associated equipment and facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The majority of the pipeline facilities, about 26.3 miles or 70 percent of the total 37.6 miles, would replace existing infrastructure.  Algonquin would also modify 6 existing compressor stations and 24 existing metering and regulating stations. 

 

 

Algonquin would replace a 26-inch-diameter mainline pipeline segment with 42-inch-diameter pipeline located in Putnam and Fairfield Counties. This 4.5 mile-long replacement segment would begin at the Southeast Compressor Station and extend into Danbury.  Algonquin would install the new 42-inch-diameter pipeline beneath Interstate 84, the Still River, a railroad line, and Mill Plain Road.  The replacement segment would end at Algonquin’s existing MLV- 19 site located east of Clapboard Ridge Road.

 

The Project would cross the Hudson River in New York and the Still River in Connecticut using the horizontal directional drill method.

 

 

Algonquin’s proposed construction work areas would be located within 50 feet of 337 residential structures and 95 non-residential structure. To address impacts on residences, Algonquin developed Residential Construction Plans to inform affected landowners of proposed measures to minimize disruption and to maintain access to the residences during construction.

 

Modifications to the six existing compressor stations include the installation of 81,620 total horsepower (hp) in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Algonquin also proposes to abandon four existing compressor units for a total of 10,800 hp at one compressor station in New York. Algonquin would also modify three existing mainline valve (MLV) sites and five existing pig 1 launcher/receiver sites, construct five new launcher/receiver sites, construct new MLV cross over piping at two locations, and construct a new MLV. Mainline regulation facilities would also be added at the terminus of one of the pipeline segments in New York.

 

Tonight's meeting is at 6:30 at Danbury City Hall.

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Injured veterans take 355 mile bike 'Ride 2 Recovery'

A group of bicyclists had a police escort through Western Connecticut yesterday.

 

More than 150 injured veterans and their supporters set off Sunday on the UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery Minuteman Challenge, a six-day,  355-mile bicycle ride from Massachusetts to New York City.  There was a rest stop yesterday afternoon at the Sandy Hook Fire House.  Riders travelled through Bethel to City Center Danbury for their overnight stop at the Crowne Plaza hotel.  Riders will be taking off at 9am from the hotel headed into New York.  Riders will be taking Route 22 to 312 and eventually to Route 52 and then crossing the Newburgh Beacon Bridge.  The USO Canteen is travelling with the cyclists to provide lunch stops each day.

 

 

Highlights of the ride included a visit to Gillette Stadium on Sunday; a ceremony at the Rhode Island State House in Providence and an afternoon celebration in downtown Hartford on Monday; a stop at West Point on September 11th; and a visit to the 9-11 Memorial Museum on September 12th.

 

Ride 2 Recovery supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs for injured veterans, featuring cycling as the core activity. From indoor spinning training at military installations to multiday, long-distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans heal through the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes.

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9/11 ceremonies mark 13th anniversary

A number of ceremonies are being held to mark the 13th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  Among them is a program in Newtown on the Dodgingtown Road property of Howard Lasher, where an American Flag is painted across six maple trees.

 

The guest speakers at the ceremony tomorrow are Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, flag memorial artist David Merrill and West Conn political science professor Dr Chris Kukk. 

 

The ceremony is at 8:15 Thursday morning, includes a moment of silence, the playing of taps, a name reading and placing of roses among other tributes.  The local VFW Post will lead a rifle salute, the Dodgingtown Fire Department will perform a bell ringing and the Superintendent of Newtown Schools will also make some remarks.

 

Originally created to honor the loss of nine close business associates of Lasher from the American Stock Exchange, and the son of a member of the Exchange who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald.  The Memorial has, over the years, come to represent all who were lost on that infamous day.

 

Lasher says though they are gone, they are not forgotten, for the circumstances and date of their deaths has forever been etched into hearts and minds.

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Small plane that crash in Watertown left from Danbury

Emergency workers have responded to a small plane crash in Watertown.  Fire officials were on the scene Tuesday morning and said there are no injuries. The pilot was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

The plane was heading from Danbury Municipal Airport to Waterbury Airport.  It hit the ground and came to rest in a stand of trees and brush.  The fixed-wing, single engine aircraft is registered to Daniel Kropas of Ridgefield.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was at the scene to investigate a fuel spill.

Police and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter. @OnSceneFire)

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Old Ridgebury Rd land sale approved by Danbury to Peter Buck

13 acres of city owned land off Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury has been approved for sale to Peter Buck.  An all cash, $32 million proposal was considered by the City Council on Wednesday.  Currently, the land is being used by youth soccer players.  Officials say the small building for warehouse storage of cars would be a low intensive use for the property.  Buck has proposed building an 18,000 to 20,000 square foot building, not visible from the street, with incidental parking.  It would not be open to the public. 

 

Most of the revenue from the sale would be put into the General Fund.  $750,000 would be set aside for recreational uses.

 

Councilman Ben Chianese asked if there would still be recreational opportunities on the land.  The plan calls for leaving open space free of development, but privacy is desired.  Buck's representative told the Council at an earlier meeting that the family would not want hikers and others walking through the property.

 

Councilman Paul Rotello says he would have liked to see Danbury hold on to the property for recreational use or in case future municipal use is needed.  He was one of three Councilmen to oppose the sale.  Councilmen Duane Perkins and Irv Fox also voted in the negative.

 

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.  He noted that other offers were heavy on contingencies and heavy on development.

 

There were no contingencies placed on the sale.  Boughton says the proposed use is less intensive so it doesn't require state approvals, just local approvals. 

 

The land was a donation from the WCI Group, who went into bankruptcy and their assets sold to Toll Brothers.  There have been several proposals in the past.  A proposal to build a minor league baseball park on the land went to referendum, but was rejected.  In 2012 there were two tries to have a mixed-use development built on the site.  The most recent was a proposal from the nearby Matrix Corporate Center.  They provided an approximately $35,000 non-refundable deposit, but decided to opt out of the sale.

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Ribbon cut at WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center

The ribbon has been cut at the new Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University.  The $97 million, two year construction project came in a little under budget.

 

(Photo courtesy: WCSU)

 

University Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says all of the music and arts students are now on the west side campus.  The old classroom space on the midtown campus will be renovated.  Ives Concert Hall will remain as a lecture space, and a place for speakers who will be a big draw for the community.

 

(Photo courtesy: WCSU)

 

The new building has a Studio theatre--featuring flexible seating for up to 125 audience members, a Main stage theatre--featuring seating for an audience of up to 350 with an orchestra pit to accommodate up to 30 musicians, a Concert hall with "seating in the round" on three levels for an audience of up to 350 and an art gallery. 

 

Among other features of the new building are 28 practice rooms--acoustically treated and isolated, 18 distinctive art studios for MFA students and fully outfitted scene and costume shops.  There are also art studios for drawing, graphic design, painting, photography and sculpture; theatre rehearsal studios; and dressing rooms for chorus and guest artists.

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House candidate saw Rowland as a 'toxic' presence

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Republican candidate for Congress has testified that he ruled out hiring former Gov. John G. Rowland for his 2010 campaign because the former governor's $35,000-a-month fee was outrageous.

Mark Greenberg testified Thursday, the second day of Rowland's trial on federal corruption charges that Rowland's previous felony conviction tainted his expertise.

Greenberg said Rowland proposed to be paid for providing business and charitable advice. Sam Fisher, a political consultant for Greenberg in 2010, testified that Rowland wanted to be paid through Greenberg's nonprofit animal shelter.

Rowland is accused of accepting consulting fees from Lisa Wilson-Foley's 2012 congressional campaign disguised as payments from a nursing home chain. Foley and her husband Brian Foley pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions.

The ex-governor has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, falsifying records and other charges.

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US gives $3.1 million for Newtown school recovery

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The U.S. Department of Education has announced it's awarding another $3.1 million to Newtown schools to help students and staff in their continuing recovery from the December 2012 shooting deaths of 20 children and six educators.

Newtown Schools Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said on a conference call Wednesday that the money will allow the schools to hire more school counselors and social workers. The $3.1 million is for programs operating in this school year and for 2015-16.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose district includes Newtown, said $16.5 million in total has been received from the departments of Education and Justice.

Erardi said that despite the passage of time, Newtown's students, staff and parents still require recovery and support. He said he believes the town and the schools are at the beginning of recovery.

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Delays in renovations at Danbury FCI

The Bureau of Prisons is being called on to explain delays in planned renovations to the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution.  Connecticut's two U.S. Senators and nine of their colleagues from the northeast have written with concerns over a revised 30-month timeline to renovate Danbury FCI. 

 

In the summer of 2013, the BOP announced plans to transfer out more than one thousand female inmates from Danbury; many were to be sent to a new facility in Aliceville, Alabama.  The BOP announced in November 2013 that it had reconsidered its decision.  It committed to constructing a new facility for women in Danbury.

 

"Orange is the New Black" author Piper Kerman, who spent most of her sentence at Danbury, says women have been transferred to facilities that were not designed to house them on a long-term basis.  She spent 11 months of her 13 month sentenced in Danbury, with the rest in a federal prison in Chicago.  Kerman says a lack of legal resources and rehabilitation programs are just two of the many problems reported by women who were moved away from their families.

 

Kerman says access essential programming, such as a Residential Drug Abuse Program, has been proven to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety.

 

Faculty and law students in the Arthur Liman Program at Yale Law School were asked to research and draft a report about the harm that the transition imposes on women.   The report about the consequences of extensive delays in the renovations was released Wednesday.  The change to a mostly male facility, which were originally scheduled to take 18 months, are not yet underway.  It's now estimated to take 30 months. 

 

The minimum-security “camp” at Danbury continues to house approximately 200 women, above its rated capacity of 146, according to the Liman report.

 

In addition to Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernard Sanders (D-Vt.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), and Angus King (D-Maine).

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Testimony: Rowland wanted payment outside campaign

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A congressional candidate has testified that a former Connecticut governor wanted to become a consultant to his 2010 campaign but be paid as though he was working for the candidate's animal rescue organization.

Mark Greenberg says he turned down the deal.

Greenberg was the first witness Wednesday in John Rowland's federal trial. The former Republican governor is charged with seven federal counts, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to violate election laws.

During opening statements Wednesday, Rowland attorney Reid Weingarten said Rowland never worked for Greenberg, and did legitimate work for a nursing home chain owned by the husband of another candidate, Lisa Wilson-Foley in 2012 while volunteering for her campaign.

Prosecutors say they will prove Rowland offered an improper deal to Greenberg and hid his political work for Wilson-Foley.

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Nominations sought for 3rd annual Warrior Award

Nominations are being sought for the 3rd annual Warrior Award.  It will be presented to a local veteran at the 2014 Walk of Honor in Danbury October 19th.  Event organizer Mary Teicholz says it's been an honor the past two years to have so many people share their veterans' stories with the committee.  People who previously sent in nominations can re-submit.

 

Teicholz says the committee is blessed to have so many incredibly brave veterans in our community.  She created this award because it's important to take the time to say "thank you".  She adds there are many heroes walking among us every day, we might not realize who they are, but know they have given of themselves.  She calls this recognition a small token of gratitude.

 

Nominees must have served in a combat zone and exemplify the values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.  The nominations should be approximately five hundred words and should include the nominee’s name, military rank, medals awarded and as many details as possible about their service.

 

The name and contact information of the person submitting the nomination must also be included.

 

The deadline for all nominations is September 22, 2014.  Nominations can be emailed to mteicholz@yahoo.com, or visit www.walkofhonor.us for additional information.

 

The first recipient was a Vietnam veteran who earned the Bronze Star with Valor, Navy Achievement Medal with Valor and three Purple Heart Medals. Danny Mack Welch served 6 combat tours in Vietnam.  He served from 1968-1970, and was additionally awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 6*’s, He fought in multiple combat operations including Operation Persuit, Tampa, Worth, Ballard Valley, Mameluke Thrust and Allan Brook.  Welch was nominated by Operation Vet Fit co-founder Dan Gaita. 

 

Bethel native Todd Angell was the second recipient.  He received one of the nation’s highest military awards for valor, the Silver Star, for his heroism in Afghanistan as a corpsman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.  Angell was active in NJROTC, finishing out his senior year as Commander of Cadets.  Immediately after high school, he joined the US Navy and was accepted into Corpsman School. Todd volunteered to become a Combat Medic, so he could attach to a marine unit knowing full well that would mean deployment to Afghanistan.  He was nominated by his mother.

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