Local Headlines Archives for 2014-11

Shopping, parking lot safety reminders from police

Crime doesn't take a holiday and this Thanksgiving, Danbury Police are reminding Black Friday shoppers to be aware of their surroundings.  Spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says drivers should keep their parked cars locked, and to not be distracted by a cell phone while walking in parking lots.

 

Officials are also reminding people to keep an eye on credit card statements following big shopping trips to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.

 

Carroccio says people should be out in groups late at night and early in the morning and keep an eye on personal belongings.  Police are asking that people report all suspicious persons, vehicles and activity to the Danbury Police Department at 203-797-4611 or by calling 911 when appropriate.

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Firefighters urge Thanksgiving cooking safety

This Thanksgiving, firefighters are hoping not to be asked to your house for dinner.  There are some annual reminders coming from the Danbury Fire Department about cooking safety.  With many more people in the home and more distractions, Fire Department spokesman Steve Rogers says it's important to pay close attention to what's happening in the kitchen.

 

Another potential from burns comes from people who try deep fryers for the first time tomorrow. Rogers says turkey fryers that use hot oil can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property.  Splatters and spills of cooking oil, and the ignition of its vapors if overheated, are serious risks. 

 

With a lot more people in the home, Rogers says it's also a good idea to keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.

 

Firefighters are also reminding cooks not to leave food unattended on the stovetop and check the turkey frequently.

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WCSU president to retire in July

The President of Western Connecticut State University has announced his retirement.  After more than 10 years leading West Conn, James Schmotter announced Tuesday  that he will retire on July 1st. 

 

In an email to the university community, Schmotter said that it's been an honor and a joy to work with everyone over the past decade.  Schmotter said that the enthusiasm, commitment and accomplishments of this university’s faculty, staff and students is beyond words.  He added that stakeholders have consistently provided support that has been both materially valuable and emotionally inspiring, that he'll always treasure the memories he has made in Danbury. 

 

He joined West Conn from Western Michigan University, where he was dean of the business school and a professor of management.  Schmotter has overseen tremendous growth at the university including the newly opened School of Visual and Performing Arts Center and the west side campus center.

 

His teaching career started at Northwestern University and he first became an administrator at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

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Ridgefield native, army Lt, killed in Tennessee crash

A Ridgefield native and Army 1st Lieutenant has been killed in Tennessee after being hit by two cars on Sunday.  24-year old James Garvey graduated from Ridgefield High School in 2008 and UConn in 2013.  He recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. 

 

Nashville Police report that Garvey was on foot when he was hit shortly before 4am on Interstate-40.  It's unknown why he was on the roadway.  Police say one driver hit the 1st Lieutenant and didn't stop, another driver tried to avoid him, but was unable to. 

 

Garvey's family is setting up a foundation in his name to help fund the UConn ROTC program.

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Danbury Hospital Workers Approve Union

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Danbury and New Milford hospital workers have voted to unionize.

About 260 radiology technologists, respiratory clinicians and licensed practical nurses have joined 600 nurses at Danbury Hospital and 125 nurses at New Milford Hospital to be represented by AFT Connecticut.

Workers had complained to the National Labor Relations Board that administrators tried to hinder organizing by intimidating workers.

The health network denied the accusation.

Health network Chief Executive Officer John Murphy said the hospitals are committed to working with the new union. He said the company is disappointed with the outcome of the vote but respect the choice employees have made.

Union officials did not release the vote tally.

The union vote also affects technical employees who work in hospital satellite sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Southbury.

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State report released on Sandy Hook gunman's history

A 114-page report has been released by the state Office of Child Advocate about the mental health and education history of the man who carried out the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The report said the school system unwittingly enabled his mother to "accommodate and appease'' him as his mental health problems worsened.  Education advisor Dr Penny Spencer says they concluded that the gunman's homebound placement was inappropriate and non-therapeutic. 

 

Homebound status had limited monitoring.  She says it's important for the state to consider more review and monitoring of decisions which result in a child being removed from the educational setting.  Child Advocate Sarah Egan says a needs assessment should be done about what is not being met by the school system.  She says that will allow schools to be able to implement the right supports and modifications.

 

The report indicated that the gunman's severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems were combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence.  Dr Julian Ford of the UConn Health Center says that was evident at least since he authored the "Big Book of Granny", a school assignment filled with images and narrative about child murder, cannibalism, and taxidermy.

 

"His feelings of violence were completely disconnected from an awareness of other people as people.  I think that's part of what happens in the cyberworld where mass violence becomes a matter of intellectual discussion, completely distinct that these are people we're talking about."

 

"According to the present-day statement of the co-author (an individual who as an adult was diagnosed with mental illness and is purportedly living in a residential setting), the book was created following a class assignment to create a comic book-style creative writing project. The co-author claims that the book was bound in school and submitted for a grade. Other reports indicate that the gunman may have attempted to sell the book to peers for 25 cents and that a school administrator spoke to his mother about the matter. "

 

The report said they recognized the "significant role" that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines played and said the young man's easy access to them "cannot be ignored as a critical factor in the tragedy".

 

The advocate's office investigates all child deaths in the state for lessons on prevention.

 

Dr Harold Schwartz says the gunman appears to have been on a path to violence for some time and the more rigid he became, the harder he was to reach.  He says there is no clear indication in the educational records that school staff carefully reviewed or were otherwise explicitly aware of the contents of the "Big Book of Granny". 

 

Ford says there's no evidence that anyone observed him committing acts of violence before December 14th 2012.  Ford also says there was no evidence he was the victim of violence even though he could have been subjected to bullying as so many other youths are that have difficulties with peer relationships.

 

The Office of the Child Advocate report identified missed opportunities to provide more appropriate treatment.

 

In the three months before the shootings, the 20-year old had not left his room in his mother's spacious colonial-style house, where he lived surrounded by an arsenal of weapons and spent long hours playing violent video games. His parents were divorced, and he had not seen his father for two years.  The report also provocatively asks whether a family that was not white or as affluent would have been given the same leeway to manage treatment for their troubled child.

 

"Is the community more reluctant to intervene and more likely to provide deference to the parental judgment and decision-making of white, affluent parents than those caregivers who are poor or minority?" the report said.

 

"This report raises, but cannot definitively answer, the question as to whether better access to effective mental health and educational services would have prevented the tragic events at Sandy Hook," the authors wrote.

 

Ford says the gunman's mother was trying to keep him sheltered, and when medical officials offered a comprehensive approach to pull him out of the downward spiral, she ignored the recommendations.  He says youth not in favor of being in treatment need to have a coordinator message of the benefits and that the team is working on their behalf, not compelling them to participate.

 

Documents released by police in December 2013 included descriptions of sporadic treatment for his mental health troubles. At one point, experts at the Yale Child Studies Center prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but Nancy Lanza discontinued the treatment and never scheduled follow-up visits, police reports said.

 

A Connecticut judge last year ordered Newtown school officials to give Lanza's records the Office of Child Advocate for its investigation. The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for the office's report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future mass killings.

 

The report pointed to the gunman's mother planning to move him out of Sandy Hook in 2012, as a likely turning point.  The report says that he was perhaps stimulated by fears of leaving the "comfort zone" of his home, AL planned and carried out the shooting.  But the authors conclude that there was not one thing that was necessarily the tipping point driving the gunman to commit the shootings.

 

Rather, they say there was a cascade of events, many self-imposed.  Those included: loss of school; absence of work; disruption of the relationship with his one friend; virtually no personal contact with family; virtually total and increasing isolation; fear of losing his home and of a change in his relationship with his only caretaker and connection; worsening OCD; depression and anxiety; profound and possibly worsening anorexia; and an increasing obsession with mass murder occurring in the total absence of any engagement with the outside world.

 

Joseph Erardi Jr., who became superintendent of schools for Newtown this year, said the report will have great meaning if "there is one school leader, one district, one mental health provider or one set of parents who reads this work and can prevent such a heinous crime."

 

He also said wealth and race will never be a factor when deciding how to treat a child in his school system.

 

"There will never, ever under my watch be a decision made based on race, color, creed, or wealth index....never," he said. "I feel very strongly about this and would never allow this type of influence in any way."

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Swastikas found spray painted at Ridgefield High School

Two swastikas have been found at Ridgefield High School.  Officials have not disclosed where the graffiti was found spray painted.  A statement on intolerance was released by school officials Friday morning.

 

The school principal sent a letter home to parents saying that those who create such illustrations offend everyone in the Ridgefield High School community and that this will never be considered acceptable behavior.  The principal's letter went on to say that this type of behavior does not represent the type of school they strive to be or a school where every student and staff member receives the benefits of human kindness.  Stacey Gross said in the letter that the acts were an attempt to “weaken our conscience, poison our spirit, and destroy the freedom of all of us.” 

 

It is unknown whether or not the school has identified a person of interest.

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Antiques marketing effort runs into local flag ban

WOODBURY, Conn. (AP) Plans to fly flags along the state-designated Antiques Trail in Woodbury have run into zoning regulations that ban flag signs.

The Republican-American reports that Karen Reddington-Hughes, president of the Woodbury Antiques Dealers Association, paid for a flag displaying a logo created by the state Office of Tourism for the trail.

She had planned to place an order for any of the 15 businesses that appear on the antiques trail website.

Zoning Commission Chairman Robert Clarke proposed withholding enforcement of flag violators while considering a change to the regulations. He says any approval of flag signs would likely not apply solely to antiques trail members.

The antiques trail began in 2009 as a pair of signs on Interstate 84 and has grown into a statewide marketing effort similar to the Connecticut Wine Trail.

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Civil Air Patrol conducts training drill from Danbury Airport

The Civil Air Patrol's Connecticut Wing has conducted a statewide search and rescue exercise.  The mission on Sunday was to enhance the proficiency of the cadets and senior members.  The 399th Danbury Composite Squadron worked out of Danbury Municipal Airport on training drills to track and locate emergency locator transmitters, ELT, sending out simulated emergency signals. 

 

The cadets had to plot their findings and direct a ground team to the transmitter.  One of the distress beacons was located in the hills of Redding. The aircrew then successfully directed the cadet ground teams in to silence the ELT.

 

Danbury Mission Base provided training to 22 cadets with 12 senior members providing support, training and aircrew.

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New report on Newtown shooting out Friday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A report being released Friday is expected to provide new information into the events that led up to the December 2012 shooting that took the lives of 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

The Office of Child Advocate and the state's Child Fatality Review Panel investigate all child deaths in the state, with a focus on preventing future tragedies.

The office has said this report will focus on the gunman, Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old with a history of mental-health issues. The office looked at his mental health and educational history and how those intertwined.

The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for this report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future incidents.

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Bethel residents approve open space land purchase

Bethel residents have approved three proposals presented at a special Town Meeting this week. 

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance previously backed a purchase of land located between Maple Avenue and Hickok Avenue.  The 12.89 acres would be purchased by the town for no more than $675,000 from MH Development, LLC and Ellis A. Tarlton, III for use as open space.  Officials say the town may have some grant funding for this purchase or may receive grants in the future.  Most of the cost would be bonded.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's a steep and environmentally sensitive piece of land.  Various developers proposals over the years have been rejected because of the endangered species nearby.  But he says a proposal for affordable housing, which could overrule local zoning regulations, has been presented to the town.  Knickerbocker says it would require a significant amount of blasting, hundreds of trees would be removed and it would create a traffic nightmare for the winding road leading up to the site.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have approved accepting $3,737 from the State Department of Transportation for a 27,644 +/- square feet of land.  It's located at the corners of Plumtrees Road, Whittlesey Drive and Walnut Hill Road.  It's needed for the proposed construction of the new Plumtrees Road Bridge.

 

The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have also approved an expense of no more than $36,534.60 for a replacement motor vehicle known as fire vehicle 69BL, to be funded from the capital non-recurring account.

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State-mandated election audit taking place in Redding and elsewhere

Redding is among the towns where polling precincts were selected at random by the state for a post-election audit.  The results from machines at the Redding Community Center, District 2, will be counted today between 9am and 1pm.   Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says 77 precincts were chosen, representing 10-percent of all polling places used on November 4th.

 

Three positions on the ballot are also chosen at random, this year it was Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller.

 

From the Greater Danbury area, Bethel Municipal Center district 1, Danbury High School Ward 1, Park Avenue School Ward 6, Schaghichoke School in New Milford, and Weston Middle School were chosen. 

 

Merrill says if there are errors, they're usually human error.  Whether it's hand counted absentee ballots or ballots not read by the machines.  She says the audit is done to make sure Connecticut voters have continued confidence that their votes were recorded accurately and that’s why these independent audits are so vital.  "We don’t just take the machines’ word for it," said Merrill.

 

The post-election audits must be completed by November 24th.

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State Bond Commission approves Sandy Hook School allocation

During the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly authorized up to $50 million for a replacement school to be built at the site of the former Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Wednesday, the state Bond Commission voted to release $5 million of that funding for continued planning and design work. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra says the vote today reminds the town of the generosity and support of the state.  She noted that the new new Sandy Hook School will become a reality in 2016 because of that generosity.  Llodra says Newtown is humbled and thankful for the continuing kindness of state partners.

 

Demolition was completed in November 2013.  Architectural plans for construction of the new school were approved last week. Newtown will be posting bid notices shortly and anticipates breaking ground in March 2015.

 

There will be funding requests throughout the course of the construction project.

 

The new school will be all-new construction and will be approximately 87,000 square feet of space in a two-story structure. It will feature 23 classrooms for pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. There will be dedicated spaces for music, art, a library, computer education, a cafeteria with kitchen and a gymnasium. It will be a fully accessible building for persons with disabilities and fully compliant with all current building codes and standards. It will be on a reconfigured site of the former school, located at 12 Dickinson Drive, Newtown.

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Lounsbury House renovations backed by split Board of Selectmen

Interior renovations are being made to the Lounsbury House in Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Board of Selectmen approved the renovation project on a 3-to-2 vote this week after a long debate. 

 

The plans call for removing walls and mahogany pocket doors.  A structural engineer must confirm that the building won't be weakened by the renovation.  The Community Center rents the facility and told the Press that the building would be more marketable for weddings and similar events if there's an open floor plan. 

 

The Selectmen were told that they are short on funds in maintaining the building almost every month, so even though renovations would be costly, in the end more revenue will come in.

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26 Days Of Kindness Begins Today

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) A former Sandy Hook Elementary School student is launching a second annual series of remembrances to honor the 20 children and six educators who were fatally shot in December 2012.

Based on last year's success, Ashley Petersen and supporters are launching the second annual 26 Days of Kindness beginning today and ending Dec. 14, the second anniversary of the shootings.

One Sandy Hook shooting victim will be remembered each day. Wednesday is dedicated to Lauren Rousseau, a teacher at Sandy Hook who was also a Danbury resident. .

Petersen will post details of the event on the Facebook-page  "26 Days of Kindness"

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New Fairfield house added to State Register of Historic Places

A property in New Fairfield has been added to the State Register of Historic Places. 

 

The Creamery was added to the Register by the Connecticut Historic Council on October 1st, making it eligible for a Federal Historic Preservation Enhancement Grant and several supplemental grants.  The federal grant is up to $10,000 and does not require a matching grant.  At the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, it was noted that if the town applies in January, they should know by February.

 

A feasibility study will tell what can be done with the building on Route 37.  It was suggested at the meeting that an architect should look at the building to see whether or not it is financially feasible to keep the Creamery. 

 

The house, later a blacksmith shop, is thought to have belonged to one of the first families to settle in New Fairfield in the 19th century.

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Play in NYC based on interviews after Sandy Hook shooting

NEW YORK (AP) A new play about the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in will have a benefit reading in December in New York City to commemorate the second anniversary of the tragedy.

Eric Ulloa's "26 Pebbles,'' which was adapted from transcripts of interviews with people touched by the shootings, will have a staged reading Dec. 15 at the Culture Project's The Lynn Redgrave Theater. The director will be Igor Goldin, and prices range from $50-$150.

The play's producers are R. Erin Craig, La Vie Productions, James E. Cleveland, Randy Donaldson and Wolfstone Productions.

 

Proceeds from the event will benefit three charities, the Avielle Foundation, named for one of the children; Classes4Classes, founded by Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis; and the My Sandy Hook Family Foundation.

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Wetlands Commission approves project at future animal sanctuary site

The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission has approved a 24-foot-by-24-foot concrete pad on a parcel of land on the Fairfield Hills property.  The concrete was put down before formal approval was given to The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary project. 

 

The 6-inch concrete pad is meant for a sculpture at the animal sanctuary named for one of the children killed at Sandy Hook School. 

 

During the Commission's meeting last week, members were told that whatever water would run off from the concrete pad, would trickle through vegetation before hitting the wetland.

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Danbury Whalers up to date on public safety payments to City

Danbury officials say The Danbury Whalers are up to date on payments for the security and public safety presence at games so far this hockey season.  City Finance Director David St Hilaire was asked at the most recent City Council meeting about the Whalers putting a sizeable down payment on the debt owed.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says he does not expect a change in the number of police needed at each game, but the fire marshal presence will be decided on a game-by-game basis, based on attendance and other factors.

 

City officials say they received payments for the public safety service for October and November's games.  The team will take part in a payment plan to pay off the back monies owed to the City.

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Informational tonight about Gilbert & Bennett redevelopment

An informational meeting is being held in Redding tonight about the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site.  The vacant 55-acre site in the Georgetown section of Redding has been left untouched since a 2002 proposal for redevelopment.  A master plan to clean up and revitalize the site in the Georgetown section of Redding was approved about 10 years ago by zoning officials.  The project stalled in the bad economy.

 

The Board of Selectmen will host an informational meeting prior to their regularly scheduled Board meeting to discuss the history of the project, state grant funding and the possibility of foreclosing on the developer over millions of dollars in back taxes owed. 

 

The plan calls for 150,000 square feet of commercial development with 416 residential units, a 20,000 square foot community theater, 135,000 square feet of retail space and a commuter rail station.

 

The state grant money was awarded about a year ago. 

 

Some of the state funding would by used by the Georgetown Special Taxing District to reconstruct the Norwalk River Flood Walls as part of the redevelopment.  The work will keep potentially contaminated soils from eroding downstream during severe flooding conditions. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7pm at the Redding Community Center.

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Sherman School names entryway for former student, Airman killed in Afghanistan

A 22-year old killed in Afghanistan is being honored by his former school.  The Sherman School has renamed the entryway after Staff Sgt TJ Lobraico.  The renaming was done on Veteran's Day Tuesday.  Lobraico was born in New Milford, was a graduate of New Fairfield High School and attended Western Connecticut State University.  He was serving on his second deployment with the New York Air National Guard when he was killed last September in Afghanistan.

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Danbury Police Search For White Van In Fatal Hit And Run

Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says police have meticulously gone over physical evidence and video evidence in the fatal hit and run of 23 year old Bethel mother Rachael Sack.   Police are looking for a vehicle of interest.

 

The vehicle is a white van with a ladder rack and passenger side windows. The van was going south on South Street at Great Pasture Road at approximately 11:57 PM on Friday November 7th.

 


Anyone with information on the van is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRoccco at 203-797-2157.

 



 

A reward fund has been set up to help encourage witnesses of the accident to come forward. Donations can be made in care of Union Savings Bank, Attn: Main Office, 226 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810. Currently the reward is over $1,000

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Reward Set Up in Hit And Run Death of Bethel Mother

A 23-year-old Bethel mother is being remembered by family friends and co-workers . She is the  pedestrian killed Saturday by a hit-and-run driver.

Rachel Sack was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital on Saturday morning after being hit by a dark-colored SUV while crossing the road in the area of South Street and Great Pasture Road.

 Sack had a nearly  3-month-old son, Jackson, and was in the process of buying her first home.

She  worked at the Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut in Danbury as a certified nurse's assistant.

The Regional Hospice is  setting up a scholarship in Sack's name and is creating a fund for Jackson.

A reward fund has been set up to help encourage witnesses of the accident to come forward. Donations can be made in care of Union Savings Bank,  226 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.

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Danbury officials have moment of silence for Veterans Affairs Director

Danbury officials have paid tribute to the City's Director of Veteran's Affairs, who passed away recently.  Patrick Waldron died at the age of 81 on October 28th.  During the City Council meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mark Boughton called for a moment of silence to honor the more than 30-year city employee.  Waldron was a Korean War Veteran, honorably discharged from the Navy. 

 

Boughton says the City suffered a major loss with the passing of the 37-year Director of Veterans Affairs.  Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, serving generations of veterans.  Boughton says Waldron help generations of veterans, their widows and dependents. 

 

Waldron was a member of American Legion Post 60, Disabled American Veterans Chapter 25, and Korean War Veterans.

 

In his obituary, Waldron's family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Wounded Warrior Project or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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Young Bethel Mother killed in Danbury Hit and Run

The Bethel Patch reports that multiple classmates of the victim in Saturday’s fatal hit-and-run accident in Danbury identify her as 23-year-old Rachel Sack, of Bethel.

According to eyewitness accounts, Sack was struck by a dark colored SUV while walking near the South Street and Great Pasture Road intersection in Danbury, near Michaels II Cafe. The driver fled the scene.

Sack leaves behind a 3-month-old baby boy, the baby’s father and numerous family members and friends.

Danbury Police are asking eyewitnesses to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco from Danbury Police Department’s Traffic Division. 

 

The accident was the third hit-and-run in Danbury since Oct. 31.
 

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Emergency Shelter provides update to Danbury officials on operations

The Danbury City Council on Thursday was given an update on the Social Services Department casework.  The Danbury Housing Caseworker is managing approximately 60 active cases. 

 

The Day Center, located at the Emergency Shelter, had approximately 872 visits from homeless individuals or those at risk of becoming homeless, which includes weekend service meetings. 

 

There were six initial assessments for new clients and 43 action plans developed for others.  The Day Center handled 61 Veteran Referrals during the reporting time period.  Five people came in looking for Case Management Services and two people made employment inquiries.  The Department of Social Services says there were also two people who did searches through the computer access provided in the emergency shelter for job placement and availability.

 

201 visits were for showers, more than 400 were for lunch.  10 housing related issues were address, there were two medical referrals made and 18 other inquiries made, including a one-day dental clinic. 

 

The report also said there were 87 visits for Substance Abuse Referrals/Case Management in the last reporting period.

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Healing Hearts playground dedicated to kids who funded construction

There's a dedication ceremony today for the newly completed playground at the future home of Regional Hospice and Home Care Center for Comfort Care and Healing.  A group of kids raised $50,000 for the purchase of the one-of-a-kind playground for the Healing Hearts Center.  Regional Hospice Foundation Executive Director Paul Sirois says this is the culminating event of a two year process.

 

12-year old Ryan Patrick was inspired to do good following the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  He wanted to help a group helping Newtown.  Several of his friends joined him formally founding KIDOs, which stands for Kids In Deed Organization.  The playground is being named for them.

 

The playground has ropes and heart-shaped arches creating a heart-shaped tunnel for children to climb through, around, and up and down. 

 

Healing Hearts provides free grief counseling to families throughout Connecticut and nearby New York.

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Monroe's new state Representative weighs in on issues

The new state legislative session starts in January, and there will be some new faces in the Chambers.  Republican JP Sredzinski this week won election to the open House District of Monroe and Newtown.  During a Newtown Bee forum he introduced voters to his thoughts on the job.  He says there are three main pillars to state government: public safety, education and infrastructure.

 

During this legislative campaign season there was one thing many of the candidates agreed on, that Common Core education standards need to change.  Sredzinski says the teachers and administrators should have been involved in the implementation process.

 

Stefan Pryor, who has served as the state’s education commissioner for nearly three years, announced in August that he would not seek a second term, should Governor Malloy win re-election. Pryor has been a source of controversy as he oversaw the rollout of Malloy’s education reform efforts, including teacher evaluations and education standards

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One of the items on the General Assembly's agenda in January will be the recommendations from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.  Sredzinski is a 911 dispatcher in Stratford.  In that role, he says he sees every day the struggles that people with mental health have.  He would have liked to have seen last year's legislation go even farther on mental health care reforms.  Sredzinski says the state has a tendancy to send down unfunded mandates to towns, but he hopes the state would come through with funding for this area.

 

The new legislative session opens on January 7th.

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Fairfield state Rep. elected to Senate

The new state legislative session starts in January, and there will be some new faces in the Chambers.  Fairfield Republican state Representative Tony Hwang this week won election to the open Senate District which includes a part of Newtown.  During the campaign, he was critical of Governor Malloy's budgeting tactics.

 

House Republicans won 10 more seats on Election Day Tuesday, bringing their number to 64 in the 151-member House.

 

During this legislative campaign season there was one thing many of the candidates agreed on--Common Core education standards need to change.  Stefan Pryor, who has served as the state’s education commissioner for nearly three years, announced in August that he would not seek a second term, should Governor Malloy win re-election. Pryor has been a source of controversy as he oversaw the rollout of Malloy’s education reform efforts, including teacher evaluations and education standards.

 

One of the items on the General Assembly's agenda in January will be the recommendations from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.  Hwang voted for the Gun Bill in 2013.

 

The new legislative session opens on January 7th.

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Newtown officials issue statement in advance of 12-14 anniversary

Newtown's First Selectman and Superintendent of Schools have issued a joint statement in advance of next month's two year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The letter from Pat Llodra and Joseph Erardi says like last December 14th, the day will be recognized through personal reflection and remembrance.  There are no formal or official ceremonies being held by the town or the schools. 

 

They thanked people in advance for respecting school children and residents with privacy and gentleness of spirit.

 

The Superintendent says each school may recognize the anniversary in ways that are appropriate for their age group.  Town organizations such as Parks and Rec, the Library, Edmond Town Hall and the Senior Center may remember the anniversary in ways that are within their scope of service. 

 

Llodra and Erardi said in their note that there are days of joyful hope and occasional dips of despair, but that Newtowners are grateful for the continued support of those beyond the town's borders.  Newtown officials thanked neighboring towns, the state, nation and world for the kindness and support as the town continues on a journey of recovery.  Newtown officials continued to encourage others to create long-lasting and sustainable good in order to honor those who lost their lives in the senseless act of violence. 

 

Llodra reiterated that no one can undo what happened, but they can chose to respond to it.

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Incumbents reelected in Greater Danbury area legislative races

Election Night Greater Danbury 2014

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

 

Town/District/Position Candidate/Party Total
24th Senate: Danbury, Bethel, Michael McLachlan* (R) 13,536
                         New Fairfield Theodore Feng (Working Families) 2,219
     
26th Senate: Bethel, Redding, Toni Boucher*(R) 23,885
                   Ridgefield, Wilton Phil Sharlach (D) 12,943
     
28th Senate: (portion of Newtown) Tony Hwang (R) 20,505
  Kim Fawcett (D) 16,225
     
30th Senate: New Milford, Brookfield Clark Chapin* (R) 19,021
  William O. Riiska (D) 13,674
     
2nd House: Danbury, Bethel, Dan Carter* (R) 4,413
                      Redding, Newtown Candace Fay (D) 3,287
     
67th House: New Milford Cecilia Buck-Taylor* (R) 4,361
  Gale Alexander (D) 2,603
     
106th House: Newtown Mitch Bolinsky* (R) 4,660
  Matt Cole (D) 3,753
     
107th House: Brookfield, Bethel David Scribner* (R) 5,934
  Dan Smolnik (D) 2,532
     
108th House: New Fairfield, Danbury, New Milford Richard Smith* (R)  
     
109th House: Danbury David Arconti* (D) 1,364
  Josh Stanley (R) 754
     
110th House: Danbury Bob Godfrey* (D) 1,900
  Frank Goncalves (R) 857
     
111th House: Ridgefield John Frey* (R) 6,511
  Sky Cole (D) 2,257
     
112th House: Newtown, Monroe Jen Aguilar (D) 3,578
  JP Sredzinsky (R) 4,601
     
135th House: Redding John Shaban* (R) 5,575
     
138th House: Danbury, New Fairfield, Jan Giegler* (R) 4,096
                         Ridgefield Henry Hall (D) 2,290
     

 

In Brookfield, residents voted in support of separating the municipal and education budgets into two votes.  There will also be advisory questions of "too high", "adequate", or "too low".  Brookfield residents rejected other Charter revision proposals. 

 

Bridgewater voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure clearing the way for restaurants to serve alcohol.  The last dry town in Connecticut is giving up on Prohibition, taking up the issue for the first time since the 1930s. Two developers have proposed opening restaurants - as long as they can serve alcohol.  The vote was 660 in favor, 246 opposed.  The town had more than 73% voter turn out.

 

In Ridgefield five of the seven proposed Charter revisions were approved.  The two that were rejected by residents would have made the positions of Town Treasurer and Tax Collector appointed positions.  The jobs will remain elected offices.

 

Ridgefield residents rejected a proposed land sale.  A portion of the former Schlumberger site, 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, would have been sold for to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The vote was 56-percent opposed, 44-percent in support of the sale.  The land sale has 3,601 'Yes’ votes to 4,676 ‘No’ votes.  Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A five acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

 

Danbury had nearly 39% voter participation.  New Fairfield had a 48% voter turn out.  Redding had a 55% voter participation in the Election.  Sherman's voter turn out was 57%.

 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty fended off a challenge from Republican businessman Mark Greenberg, winning a second term representing the 5th Congressional District in northwestern Connecticut. The seat was considered to be one of the GOP's best chances for victory this year. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee appeared to like its chances and canceled television advertising in the district, diverting $500,000 for ads in Iowa in the final two weeks.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also been reelected.

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Election Night Greater Danbury 2014 results

Election Night Greater Danbury 2014

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

 

Town/District/Position Candidate/Party Total
24th Senate: Danbury, Bethel, Michael McLachlan* (R) 13,536
                         New Fairfield Theodore Feng (Working Families) 2,219
     
26th Senate: Bethel, Redding, Toni Boucher*(R) 23,885
                   Ridgefield, Wilton Phil Sharlach (D) 12,943
     
28th Senate: (portion of Newtown) Tony Hwang (R) 20,505
  Kim Fawcett (D) 16,225
     
30th Senate: New Milford, Brookfield Clark Chapin* (R) 19,021
  William O. Riiska (D) 13,674
     
2nd House: Danbury, Bethel, Dan Carter* (R) 4,413
                      Redding, Newtown Candace Fay (D) 3,287
     
67th House: New Milford Cecilia Buck-Taylor* (R) 4,361
  Gale Alexander (D) 2,603
     
106th House: Newtown Mitch Bolinsky* (R) 4,660
  Matt Cole (D) 3,753
     
107th House: Brookfield, Bethel David Scribner* (R) 5,934
  Dan Smolnik (D) 2,532
     
108th House: New Fairfield, Danbury, New Milford Richard Smith* (R)  
     
109th House: Danbury David Arconti* (D) 1,364
  Josh Stanley (R) 754
     
110th House: Danbury Bob Godfrey* (D) 1,900
  Frank Goncalves (R) 857
     
111th House: Ridgefield John Frey* (R) 6,511
  Sky Cole (D) 2,257
     
112th House: Newtown, Monroe Jen Aguilar (D) 3,578
  JP Sredzinsky (R) 4,601
     
135th House: Redding John Shaban* (R) 5,575
     
138th House: Danbury, New Fairfield, Jan Giegler* (R) 4,096
                         Ridgefield Henry Hall (D) 2,290
     

 

Bethel residents have approved four of the six Charter revision proposals.  One of the two that were rejected were to increase the Board of Selectmen membership from three to five and increasing their term of service from two years to four years.  The other rejected proposal was about the way the Board of Finance handles revisions to the Board of Selectmen’s budgets.  The town had a 56% voter turn out.

 

In Brookfield, residents voted in support of separating the municipal and education budgets into two votes.  There will also be advisory questions of "too high", "adequate", or "too low".  Brookfield residents rejected other Charter revision proposals. 

 

Bridgewater voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure clearing the way for restaurants to serve alcohol.  The last dry town in Connecticut is giving up on Prohibition, taking up the issue for the first time since the 1930s. Two developers have proposed opening restaurants - as long as they can serve alcohol.  The vote was 660 in favor, 246 opposed.  The town had more than 73% voter turn out.

 

In Ridgefield five of the seven proposed Charter revisions were approved.  The two that were rejected by residents would have made the positions of Town Treasurer and Tax Collector appointed positions.  The jobs will remain elected offices.

 

Ridgefield residents rejected a proposed land sale.  A portion of the former Schlumberger site, 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, would have been sold for to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The vote was 56-percent opposed, 44-percent in support of the sale.  The land sale has 3,601 'Yes’ votes to 4,676 ‘No’ votes.  Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A five acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

 

Danbury residents have approved $20 million in bonding for public improvements.  Mayor Mark Boughton says residents know that if something is brought to them for a vote, the City Council and he have thoroughly vetted the issue.  He says they look at things like cost and the impact of the budget.  The money would go to road paving, bridge repairs, school roof replacements, Public Works equipment and equipment to finish the civilian dispatch center in the Police station.  The vote was 6,245 in favor and 3,352 opposed.  Danbury had nearly 39% voter participation.

 

New Fairfield had a 48% voter turn out.  Redding had a 55% voter participation in the Election.  Sherman's voter turn out was 57%.

 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty fended off a challenge from Republican businessman Mark Greenberg, winning a second term representing the 5th Congressional District in northwestern Connecticut. The seat was considered to be one of the GOP's best chances for victory this year. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee appeared to like its chances and canceled television advertising in the district, diverting $500,000 for ads in Iowa in the final two weeks.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also been reelected.

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Sample ballots for Greater Danbury area towns posted

Area residents are at the polls today to chose candidates for a variety of offices.  There is a hotly contested 5th Congressional District race, a rematch in the 4th Congressional District, a gubernatorial contest, contested races for Secretary of the State, Attorney General and Treasurer.  Judge of Probate and Registrar of Voters positions are also being voted on.

 

Bethel Charter revisions are also on the ballot.  Ridgefield residents are also voting on Charter changes.  Brookfield also has proposed revisions to the town Charter.

 

Sample Ballots can be found by clicking on each of the municipalities names:

 

Bethel

 

Bridgewater

 

Brookfield

 

Danbury

 

New Fairfield

 

New Milford

 

Newtown

 

Redding

 

Ridgefield

 

Sherman

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State legislative candidates up for election Tuesday

The 26th state Senate district includes parts of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  Two Wilton residents are vying for the post, a three term incumbent, and a businessman.

 

Two veteran lawmakers are seeking to get out of the state House of Representatives and into the state Senate.  With the retirement of Senate Minority John McKinney from the 28th Senate District, there is an open race.  Republican Tony Hwang and Democrat Kim Fawcett, both from Fairfield, are looking to fill the role, which represents a part of Newtown.

 

The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012.  Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.

 

The only other State Senate seat in the region is the 24th District currently represented by Republican Mike McLachlan.  He is being challenged by Working Families Party candidate Theodore Feng.

 

A Danbury lawyer is looking to unseat a two-term incumbent in the 2nd House District race.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown.

 

Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor was elected in 2012 to the 67th district House seat, having prior experience serving as vice-chair of the New Milford Town Council.  Democrat Gale Alexander has been on the Board of Finance for the past 12 years, has run mayoral and state senate campaigns and holds a teaching certification.

 

A freshman lawmaker is being challenged by a political newcomer in the 106th state House District.  Mitch Bolinsky is the Republican incumbent.  He is being challenged by Matt Cole, a recent Western Connecticut State University graduate and social worker.

A Danbury lawyer is looking to unseat a two-term incumbent in the 2nd House District race.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Redding and Newtown. - See more at: https://wlad.com/local-headlines/118995#sthash.wnJvCuTK.dpuf

 

A tax attorney is looking to unseat an 8-term incumbent in the the 107th state House District, which includes Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury near Candlewood Lake.

 

Two young men are running to represent Danbury's 109th state House District.

 

Tn the 138th state House District of Danbury, Ridgefield and New Fairfield, six-term Republican incumbent Jan Giegler is seeking reelection.  She is being challenged by Democrat Henry Hall. 

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Conn.'s last dry town considers allowing liquor sales

Today is Election Day and several towns, including Bridgewater, are voting on questions as well as candidates. 

 

Bridgewater is taking up the issue of allowing alcohol sales in restaurants and cafes in town following proposals from two developers to open restaurants if they could have liquor permits.  Bridgewater is the last dry town in the state. 

 

Residents are being asked a yes or no question on the November ballot.  A yes vote would allow restaurants to sell alcohol between 11 am and 11 pm Monday through Thursday, from 11 am to midnight Friday and Saturday and from noon to 10 pm Sunday.  It would also allow for the sale of alcohol from 11 am to 1 am on New Year's Eve. 

 

The issue was going to be voted on in February, but town officials wanted to reexamine so-called Blue Laws. 

 

This would not allow for package stores.

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Danbury residents asked to approve $20 million in bonds

Danbury residents are being asked to approve $20 million in bonding on today's ballot.

 

The $20 million in bond money would be used for public safety improvements.  $1 million of the funding would be used for equipment upgrades and replacement in the Public Safety Communications Network. Mayor Mark Boughton says this is the last of the equipment needed to outfit the Police Station for civilian dispatch. 

 

$6.5 million is for the Road Reconstruction program.  Boughton says the last several years of harsh winter weather and wet springs have wreaked havoc on the roads.  $3 million would be used by the Public Works Department for equipment and vehicle replacement.  $4 million would go to the Engineering Department for the bridge repair-replacement program. 

 

The remaining $5.5 million would be for roof replacements and repairs on City-owned buildings. Boughton says a revolving account is going to be created for the schools because many of them are nearing 20 years in age.

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Ridgefield land sale on ballot

Today is Election Day and several towns, including Ridgefield, are voting on questions as well as candidates. 

 

In Ridgefield, residents will be asked about a land sale next week.  It's 12 acres off Old Quarry Road, the former Schlumberger site.  The land and some of the buildings would be sold to Sky Dome LLC for $3.45 million.  The Philip Johnson building and three other buildings would be restored and retained at buyer’s expense. 

 

 

The deed prohibits resale for development outside current zoning. 

 

Ridgefield bought the 45 acre property several years ago for $7 million.  A 5 acre parcel was previously sold and proposals are being considered for another 10 acres to be sold.

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Danbury officials authorize purchase of land for pocket park

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

 

The land was bought for $120,000. 

 

It will be cleaned up and prepared for a spring construction.  Boughton says the pocket park would be a nice green space for the neighborhood while revitalizing that part of Main Street.

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Visconti drops out of Connecticut governor's race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti dropped out of Connecticut's gubernatorial race Sunday and threw his support behind Republican Tom Foley in a last-minute effort to defeat Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in Tuesday's election.

 

Visconti announced his withdrawal from the race during a campaign stop with Foley in Brookfield. He later said he made the decision Saturday afternoon after seeing a poll showing Foley trailing Malloy by three percentage points, and he met with Foley on Saturday evening to discuss the move.

 

"I had to make a decision to help Tom rather than Gov. Malloy being re-elected," Visconti said in a phone interview Sunday. "If it can't be me, I'd rather have it be Tom."

 

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Malloy and Foley deadlocked with each receiving the support of 43 percent of likely voters, while Visconti was favored by 7 percent.

 

Visconti says he didn't receive anything from Foley for dropping out of the race and supporting him.

Visconti, a contractor and gun rights activist from West Hartford, ran on a platform that included repealing Connecticut's wide-ranging gun control bill, which was approved after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six adults in December 2012.

 

Originally a Republican candidate for governor, he had to submit the signatures of 10,000 registered voters to petition his way onto Tuesday's ballot.

 

Visconti said recently that high-level Republicans were pressuring him to withdraw from the race, even though polls showed him pulling voters equally from both major parties. He said he worried about being a spoiler.

 

Foley said he believed Visconti's withdrawal will help him on Election Day, although he said his internal polling showed him beating Malloy by four or five percentage points before Visconti's announcement.

 

"It's uniting everybody who's interested in change in Connecticut and getting rid of Malloy and moving the state forward," Foley said about Visconti's move.

 

Malloy campaign spokesman Mark Bergman released a statement Sunday saying: "Tom Foley just doubled down on his plans to repeal Connecticut's strict smart gun law that has made our neighborhoods, our schools and our streets safer. Make no mistake, Tom Foley is in the pocket of the right wing extreme gun lobby and today's announcement is further proof."

 

Foley declined to comment about the statement.

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Brookfield Charter revisions on the ballot Tuesday

Brookfield is one of three area towns that will have Charter Revision questions on the ballot tomorrow.

 

The proposed changes in Brookfield are broken into three questions.  One proposed Charter change is to have the budget separated into education and municipal votes along with advisory questions.  Another proposal is that the Town Meeting moderator be an elected position. 

 

The last question would be about whether the remaining charter revisions be approved. 

 

Among those revisions are removing agencies that no longer exist, increasing the membership of the Library Board of Trustees from six to nine, updating special appropriations levels, making the Town Attorney parliamentarian of all Town Meetings and clarifying ethics provisions.  The proposal also allows all Boards and Commissions to fill vacancies as they occur.

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Changes to Bethel Charter on ballot Election Day

Three area towns have charter revision questions on the ballot tomorrow.

 

In Bethel there are six questions being voted on when it comes to proposed changes to the town's Charter.  One question is about increasing the Board of Selectmen membership from three to five and increasing their term of service from two years to four years. 

 

Another question is about increasing the amount of money that requires a bid, transfer between town departments and special appropriations for Town Meetings.  The next question is about changing the Board of Finance's ability to make line item cuts in the Board of Selectmen budget.  Residents are also being asked if they want to move the Annual Town Budget Meeting from May to April.  Another question would increase the threshhold for bonds and other appropriations requiring a town meeting. 

 

The final question is about technical changes to the Charter.

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Tax attorney challenging 8-term incumbent in Brookfield

A tax attorney is looking to unseat an 8-term incumbent in the the 107th state House District, which includes Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury near Candlewood Lake.  Republican incumbent David Scribner says he’s running for reelection to continue exercising fiscal restraint. 

 

He is the longest serving leader on the Transportation Committee.  He says there have been tremendous improvements to the Metro North Danbury branch, noting there is a long way to go.  He touted a $2 million grant to expand the Bethel train station, getting the long stalled Route 7 bypass project completed under budget and on time, protecting funds for an environmental impact study to expand I-84 from the New York line to Waterbury and opposing border tolls.  He says there’s been no stronger more vocal voice in Hartford in opposing putting tolls on the border of Danbury and Brewster.  He says that’s targeted every session.

 

Democrat Dan Smolnik is a local tax attorney, former Democratic Town Committee chairman and a member of the Charter Revision Commission. 

 

Scribner says education is critically important, calling it an investment in the future.  He cited too many mandates being placed on schools including Common Core, which he says was never voted on by the legislature.  He says teachers should be able to do their jobs because they are properly educated, chose the profession for a reason and shouldn’t be restrained by paperwork driven goals on someone else’s checklist.  He says it was a shame that the GOP had to petition for a public hearing on Common Core to listen to the practical experience of educators.

 

Smolnik said in an interview with Danbury Patch that officials should get more feedback from educators before implementing the Common Core standards.  He says while the basic structure is a good idea, the execution is a disruptive change.

 

Smolnik has questioned Scribner's initial "no" vote on the 2013 bill that banned large capacity magazines.  Smolnik says the legislation provides an excellent start in identifying people with mental health disabilities.

 

Scribner says the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s findings will need to be thoroughly examined.  He says when three issues were combined into one bill last year, commonly referred to as The Gun Bill, school security and mental health issues were virtually ignored.  But he says those two portions are critically important.  He hopes the SHAC findings are reviewed over time.  He thinks all three components should have been addressed and gotten right, as opposed to doing it in haste in an emergency certified manner, which didn’t get a public hearing.

 

Smolnik is largely focused on fiscal issues, supporting the increased minimum wage.  Smolnik said the increase over time from $8.70 to $10.10 an hour raises the standard of living and won't hurt small businesses.  Smolnik says he largely supports the governor’s First Five program, which has provided grants and forgivable loans to companies, most recently Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy and Praxair.  Smolnik says he hopes the looming $1.4 billion budget deficit can be largely erased by small business expansion.  But he did not rule out a tax increase.

 

Scribner says there is nothing more paramount on a statewide basis than things that effect the economy.  He says the state government should be cleaned up first.  While he respects state employees, there are ways to appropriately over time, streamline government.  He wants to identify areas where efficiencies can be created, while still providing quality services to Connecticut residents and businesses.  Scribner says before more spending or hikes in taxes and fees should be looked at, fiscal restraint should be adhered to.

 

Scribner, a one-time Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut board member, says improving quality of life for their clients was a priority for him.  He helped change state regulations to allow for them to build a new in-patient facility to serve all of Western Connecticut.  Over a million dollars in state grant money to help build that facility, which is slated to open in early January.  He also participated in working with Western Connecticut Health Network to establish a cardiac care unit at Danbury Hospital a few years ago.  He says people who need care at a moments notice, can now receive that close to home.

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Edmond Town Hall no longer a polling location in Newtown

Some voters in Newtown will be casting ballots in a different location this year.  Edmond Town Hall has been deactivated as a polling location.  While the building is ADA compliant for general use, it does not meet stricter ADA standards for a polling location.  District 3-2 voters will cast ballots Tuesday at the Reed Intermediate School cafetorium.  That is also District 2 polling location in Newtown.  Districts 1 and 1-5 vote at Newtown Middle School, Districts 3 and 3-5 vote at Head O' Meadow School.

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30th state Senate District race a repeat of 2012

The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012.  Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.

 

Chapin previously served 12 years in the state House.  He touted work to bring back some sale tax exemptions in the latest session, including the sales tax free week on back-to-school shopping.  There was also a tax free prescription drug exemption that he fought to bring back.

 

Riiska has held local office and been on many boards and committees such as the United Way, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber, Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation, and the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health now Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates.  He spent 12 years as chairman of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Government Relations Committee, and has been a member of that group for twenty years.

 

Chapin says the best way to grow jobs is to spend less and tax less.  He wants to continue working on pro-business legislation.  He’s been endorsed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, The National Federation of Independent Business and the Connecticut Realtors.  Municipalities get a share of the Real Estate Conveyance Tax, the legislature increased it on a temporary basis several years ago and it was supposed to sunset.  But it became a permanent tax.

 

Riiska says Chapin's votes reflect national corporate interests rather than the interests of the people and small businesses of Northwest Connecticut.  He was also critical of what he called Chapin's stock response to inquiries from constituents on issues.  Riiska says there are only 36 senators, and the one representing the northwest corner of the state should be an advocate, an educator, a shaper of opinion.

 

This year the legislature created a new aquatic invasives program.  Chapin says while there hasn’t been too much funding for invasive plants, there was a renewed effort to create a program within DEEP to give grant money to municipalities to fight invasive aquatic plants.

 

Riiska says if elected, one of his main goals is to get the state's economic house in order by passing realistic budgets that reflect rigorous long term planning.  His plan for creating and retaining private sector jobs is by creating a fair and stable tax and regulatory system.  He says in order to grow manufacturing jobs, community college and technical school programs need to be supported. 

 

Chapin says mental health reforms will need a large pool of money to address it properly.  But he says it’s something that needs addressing and is something most legislators would agree on.

 

Riiska says there will be economic growth if the road, rail, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure are maintained.  He also made a pledge to fight for the towns in the District to get their fair share in eduction funding, and to protect open space.  Riiska wants to address what he called long neglected mental health issues.

 

Chapin says almost $190 million has been taken out of the Transportation Fund for other costs.  He notes that if the gas tax, which goes into that fund, was used to fix roads and bridges the state would be better off.  He says if the state Department of Transportation has too much on their plate and is just collecting too much money, the legislature should think about lowering the tax.

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