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Local Headlines Archives for 2014-12

Rowland lawyers file appeal as sentencing looms, candidate seeks probation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Lawyers for former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland are making a last-ditch appeal to a federal judge, urging her to dismiss Rowland's convictions for election fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

In paperwork filed last week, Rowland's lawyers made a procedural argument for his acquittal, the Republican-American newspaper of Waterbury reported Monday. The defense attorneys cited the federal government's failure to respond to its latest motion for acquittal.

This new filing comes shortly before Rowland is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7 on seven counts related to attempts to hide work on two Republican 5th congressional district campaigns through phony business deals. It renews the defense's previously unsuccessful arguments that there was insufficient evidence to convict Rowland.

Rowland previously served a 10-month sentence after pleading guilty to a corruption-related charge in 2004.

Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to federal charges in March.  She is seeking probation.

Prosecutors say she, Foley and Rowland in 2011 conspired to hide Rowland's role in the campaign through a phony business deal. Rowland was paid about $35,000 for the unsuccessful campaign.

She and her husband face up to a year in prison.

In a memo filed Monday, her lawyers said she should get probation based on her limited role in the conspiracy, her cooperation with prosecutors, and the relatively paltry amount of money involved.

She's scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13.

Rowland faces up to three years for his part in the conspiracy.

Danbury Police head into new year with big changes

As 2014 closes, there are some changes coming to the Danbury Police Department.  Civilian dispatchers are being trained to fill the roles the officers currently hold.  A new records management system was put in place earlier this year.  A City Council member questioned Police Chief Al Baker about the perceived doubling of statistics.


Baker told the City Council this month about a new computer system that was put in place earlier this year that counts calls differently.  He says they will see regular increases in various statistics.  The computer aided dispatch system also included an automatic vehicle locator system for squad cars and electronic citation management.  He says it will adjust itself when more data is obtained.


The City hired IXP Corporation to train civilians to dispatch emergency responders, which includes shadowing current dispatchers.  Mayor Mark Boughton says those police officers and firefighters who are current dispatchers will return to fire service and the the streets. 


IXP Corporation representatives gave a presentation to the City Council in July.  Members asked for reassurance that IXP would be hiring local employees, who know the various oddities of the City including the streets that have the same name but end in road, and avenue or street and drive.

Charity formed by local man to pay off two NYPD officers mortgages

A charity created in part by a New Fairfield man after the September 11th terror attacks is helping relatives of two slain New York police officers by paying off their home mortgages.  The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for former First Selectman John Hodge's cousin, announced the plan Tuesday via social media.  On Friday, the family of Officer Liu joined Tunnel to Towers for the official announcement.


Chairman Frank Siller says the foundation got the idea after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo noted the families were facing not only grief but such practical concerns as paying for their homes. 


Firefighter Stephen Siller lost his life at the World Trade Center.  Hodge says his family formed the charity to honor his memory, and support first responders and injured soldiers.


In two days, Tunnel to Towers raised $70,000 for the families.


Tunnel to Towers is seeking donations for the families of the two Officers, with a goal of collecting $800,000.  Hodge says they are planning an event to be held in the next couple of months to help reach that goal.


One of the primary programs by Tunnel to Towers builds homes all over the country for the most catastrophically injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The smart homes for triple and even quadruple amputees, is given to them debt free. 


Another program run by Tunnel to Towers stemmed from Superstorm Sandy.  Staten Island residents displaced by the storm were set up in mobile homes on the Faith Church property in New Milford.  The Siller family is from Staten Island, Hodge is a member of Faith Church.  He says there are some amazing success stories that have come from that effort.  Hodge says the mobile homes, which people could live in for up to a year, gave people the respite they needed to put their lives back together.

Official: Danbury Airport agreement not unprecedented

Danbury's Director of Civil Preparedness is shedding some more light on the agreement made recently by the City and Entergy Nuclear, in case of an emergency at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in New York.  The Federal Regulatory Commission has named Danbury Airport as a back up to drop and ship needed supplies.  Director Paul Estefan says Danbury has enough area to do the cargo load and unload.


He says in the days of the Hubble Space Telescope, Danbury shut the roads down for about 15 minutes to get the cargo plane off the ground.  Perkin-Elmer, using a government flight, used Danbury as a partner.


Entergy would provide security at the airport for operations, and reimburse the airport for necessary helicopter fuel.


He says the helicopters are not sitting around waiting for an emergency to happen.  Estefan told City Council members that ic could be up to 48 hours before a helicopter arrives, because they move from the west coast to the east.


Danbury Airport is a back up choice for Indian Point, if Stewart Airfield is available that would be the first choice to airlift supplies.

Danbury Airport to help Indian Point in case of emergency at the plant

A letter of agreement signed recently by City officials allows Entergy Nuclear to drop and ship needed supplies from Danbury Municipal Airport to the Indian Point Nuclear plant in the event of an emergency at the New York facility.  The Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requiring the plant to have an airport outside of their area to bring needed supplies in the event of an emergency.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets the parameters of what airports they can move the supplies in and out of. 


If Stewart is available, that airport will be used.  Danbury Airport is the one that the NRC has identified as a back up if everything fails on that side of the Hudson.  The supplies would be airlifted from Danbury to the plant in New York, and would not be brought back once they are airlifted.


The types of emergencies outlined in the agreement include tornado, flooding, earthquake and the like. 


Danbury Airport would be notified of an emergency through the Connecticut State Emergency Operations Center.  Entergy would provide security at the airport for operations, and reimburse the airport for necessary helicopter fuel.  Any damage done to the airport by truck traffic in the staging area would be paid for by Entergy.

'Honor Flight Act' praised by area lawmaker for helping veterans

Senator Chris Murphy is touting a bill he introduced that's been approved and headed to the President's desk.  Senator Chris Murphy introduced the Honor Flight Act after hearing from some older veterans that they were reluctant to take part in the Honor Flight program because they feared having to deal with the hassle of the TSA process. 


The organization arranges free trips for U.S. military veterans to visit the DC memorial of the war in which they served. 


Currently, the TSA works with the Honor Flight Network to expedite the pre-flight screening process, but the partnership is not written into law and can change at any time.  Murphy says that would force Honor Flight veterans to endure a cumbersome screening process. 


Murphy says he is pleased the House and Senate worked so quickly to ensure that veterans will be able to visit the memorials constructed in their honor with dignity and pride.

Newtown families to continue Congressional lobbying

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Parents of two victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting say they will continue to fight for stronger laws to combat gun violence.


Nicole Hockley, the mother of 6-year-old Dylan, and Mark Barden, the father of 7-year-old Daniel, appeared at a news conference Monday with three members of the Connecticut congressional delegation to mark the two-year anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of 26 students and educators on Dec. 14, 2012.


Both say they believe they are making progress in pushing for new laws and programs to improve mental health care, and strengthen gun laws.


They declined to comment on a lawsuit they and other Sandy Hook families have filed against the maker, distributor and seller of the gun used to kill their children.

Families of Newtown victims sue gunmaker, seller

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A law firm representing the families of nine of the 26 people killed and a teacher injured at the Sandy Hook Elementary School says it has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the shooting.


The negligence and wrongful death lawsuit asserts that the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle should not have been made publicly available because it is a military weapon unsuited for civilian use.


In addition to Bushmaster, the families have named Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the store where the Bushmaster rifle was purchased in 2010. Messages seeking comment from the defendants were not immediately returned.


The 40-page complaint was filed in superior court in Bridgeport.

Newtown victim's mom speaks out about gun violence

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- The mother of a first-grader killed in the Newtown school shooting rampage spoke out against gun violence Sunday on the second anniversary of the massacre, saying it has broken the hearts of other mothers across the country.


"And just like our hearts were broken and we can't breathe, the hearts of the mothers in Ferguson, in Bridgeport, in Hartford, in Florida, in New Haven, in Danbury, they can't breathe," said Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost her daughter, Ana Grace, on Dec. 14, 2012.


"And we should care. We should care when our children are lost to gun violence."


Marquez-Greene, speaking at The First Cathedral's church service in Bloomfield, recalled the moment two years ago when she and her husband were in the Newtown firehouse, where officials were informing parents of the 20 children slain along with six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She and her husband found their son, now a fifth-grader, but not their daughter.


"But in that same firehouse," she said, "my husband and I knew Ana was with Jesus and that we would see her again."


A troubled 20-year-old gunman had shot his way into the school. He shot and killed his mother before driving to the school, and he committed suicide as police arrived.


Marquez-Greene asked anyone feeling despair and the desire to commit "a senseless act of violence" to ask for prayer and "to know that we love you." She said she went to Washington to speak out against gun violence but felt that change would come not from the leaders there but "from us."


Greene's husband, Jimmy Greene, a saxophonist and composer who has dedicated a new album to their daughter, also spoke and played at the service.


Other churches across Connecticut remembered the victims Sunday as the Newtown community quietly marked the anniversary. At Newtown's St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, bells rang out and the victims' names were read.


The town held no official public memorial events Sunday. Officials said would be for private reflection and remembrance.


First Selectman Pat Llodra and school Superintendent Joseph Erardi said in a public letter that the community's recovery has been a "challenging journey, filled with days of joyful hope and occasional dips of despair."

Newtown faith community provides support, prayers on 12/14 anniversary

The Newtown faith community offered a number of gatherings yesterday to offer remembrance , comfort and counseling on yesterday's second anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association also held a prayer service marking the day. 


Senator Richard Blumenthal made remarks on the Senate floor last week about 12-14.  He says it was a day of good and evil.  Out of the tragedy, he says came actions that should continue to inspire the nation.


Blumenthal says what he saw that day at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse, was through a parent's eyes, not just from his position as an elected official.  The cries of grief, the faces and voices filled with tears and longing, those images are ones he says he will never forget.  They are also ones Blumenthal says have led him to redoubled his determination to try to make America safer and better. 


Speaking to his colleagues in the Senate, Blumenthal said the families have demonstrated unrelenting resolve and so should they.  But he acknowledge that it took more than 10 years for the Brady Law to be approved, even after a President of the United States was almost assassinated and his Press Secretary, Jim Brady, was severely injured and paralyzed.


No formal ceremony was held by the town or in the schools to mark the day, with leaders saying it would be spent in quiet reflection.

Buck to delay land development while turf field constructed

Plans to develop a 13-acre parcel of land in Danbury are on hold.  Mayor Mark Boughton announced Friday that Peter Buck, founder of Subway restaurants, has agreed to not yet construct  a small building for warehouse storage of cars on the land that he purchased from the City in September.  The 13 acres off Old Ridgebury Road sold for $3.2 million, but has been used for the last several years by Youth Soccer. 


Buck agreed to wait until a replacement field can be built.  His plan calls for leaving most as open space free of development, but Buck's representative told the City Council at an earlier meeting that the family would not want hikers and others walking through the property. 


Danbury has selected the field between Mill Ridge Primary School and the Westside Middle School Academy to be renovated into an artificial turf field that will accommodate soccer, lacrosse, and other sports. 


Some $750,000 from the sale was set aside for recreational uses.  Boughton also announced Friday that new basketball courts and hiking trails on the Farrington Property would be added using this funding.  Some of the Open Space Bond approved by voters several years ago was also set aside for an artificial turf field.


Boughton says Buck's proposed use of the land is less intensive so the development doesn't require state 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.  One, to build a minor league baseball park, went to referendum and 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.

Two initiatives unveiled in Danbury Mayor's 'State of City' address

A State of the City Address has been delivered by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  He told business leaders yesterday that Danbury is growing and adding jobs.  Boughton touted the completion of some major projects including the Army Reserve Center, West Conn's Performing Arts Center and the Danbury Hospital expansion.


Naugatuck Valley Community College will be expanding its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Certificate program at Henry Abbott Tech, through an evening program.  Boughton says he would like to create a similar program with Danbury High School, giving students real world experience through internships with local companies.  An associates degree and a high school diploma could be earned at the same time. 


He also unveiled two new initiatives, one called the DHS2020 plan.  It's a 110,000 square foot addition off the back of the High School for a Freshman Academy.  The roof will be replaced and outfitted with solar panels.  The bottom floor of the building will be a new gym and locker room complex, the cafeteria will be enclosed to accommodate separate dining for the 9th grade.  The front of DHS would be redesigned to accommodate security needs and create a new school store for the marketing students. 


The auto shop which sits outside the main building will be redesigned as a venue to accommodate both visual arts and performing arts.  Boughton says this will make it so the entire building won't have to be opened up for a performance.


The other initiative has been dubbed ConnectHatCity.  Boughton wants to convert street lights to LEDs.  During the replacement, technology would be installed to create free wifi zones for access by students at Naugatuck Valley Community College and WestConn, library patrons and downtown business.


During his address, Boughton also discussed the City's efforts to revitalize downtown.  A full time Main Street Enforcement Officer for the Unified Neighborhood Taskforce has been hired to focus in on quality of life issues and police foot patrols have been brought back to Main Street on a permanent basis to provide a security presence.  He also touted completion of the innovation center--attached to the Library, which hosts a business mentoring center staffed by SCORE.


Greystar started construction of 347 luxury apartment units on the Kennedy Avenue site. The developer believes that they will be ready for occupancy by 2016.

In Newtown, mental health problems still emerging

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Anxiety, depression, guilt, sleeplessness, marital strife, drug and alcohol abuse - two years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scope of the psychological damage to children, parents and others is becoming clear, and the need for treatment is likely to persist a long time.


With the second anniversary of the shooting rampage approaching Sunday, agencies have been working to set up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years, as the youngest survivors approach adulthood.

Mental health officials say the demand for treatment is high, with many people reporting substance abuse, relationship troubles, disorganization, depression, overthinking or inability to sleep, all related to the Dec. 14, 2012, attack in which a young man killed 20 children and six educators before committing suicide.


And some of the problems are just now coming to the surface.


"We've found the issues are more complex in the second year," said Joseph Erardi, Newtown's school superintendent. "A lot of people were running on adrenaline the first year."


Newtown has received about $15 million in grants from the U.S. Education Department and the U.S. Justice Department to support its recovery.


The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation, which oversees the biggest pot of private donations made to Newtown, has about $4 million left after paying out more than $7 million to the families of the 26 victims and other children who were in the same classrooms but survived.


Newtown Youth and Family Services, the main mental health agency, has quadrupled its counseling staff, adding 29 positions in the months following the shootings, Executive Director Candice Bohr said. She said the federal grant money that recently came through will help cover its costs.


Jennifer Barahona, director of the foundation overseeing the private dollars, said the group has been spending about $60,000 a month on one-on-one counseling for people who have no insurance or whose insurers won't cover such treatment. She said more people are reaching out for help every day.


The Newtown school system is starting a long-term program to teach young people from kindergarten through high school how to handle their feelings. It is also setting up a mental health center at the middle school in January to help those who were affected by the tragedy while in elementary school. Teachers have been trained to identify students who might have mental health problems.

Flags to fly at half-staff for Newtown anniversary

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The governor of Connecticut is calling for flags to fly at half-staff to mark the second anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office says flags are to be lowered Sunday from sunrise until sunset in honor of the 20 first-graders and six educators killed at the school Dec. 14, 2012.


The gunman killed his mother inside their home in Newtown before driving to the school and shooting to death 26 people with a semi-automatic rifle. He committed suicide as police closed in.


The town of Newtown is not holding any public commemorations Sunday. Local officials say the day will be marked through personal reflection and remembrance.

New study finds support for gun rights has increased

Pew Research Center is out with a new study that shows support for gun rights has increased since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School two years ago.  The study released Wednesday by Pew found that 52-percent of survey respondents said it was more important to protect the right to own guns, while 46 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership. 


The Hartford Courant reports that gun control advocates find the Pew survey results misleading because questions about specific policy were not asked.  Southbury resident Stephen Barton, who was injured during the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting in 2012, is quoted as saying the Pew study sets up a false choice between 'control' and 'rights'.


Barton told the Hartford Courant that background checks on all gun sales has become activists' top priority, as anything more restrictive has little chance of passage. 


According to the poll, 57 percent of Americans think that gun ownership does more to protect people, while 38 percent think that it does more to endanger personal safety.  Since January 2013, support for gun rights has increased by 7 percentage points while support for gun control has fallen by 5 percentage points.

Sandy Hook Promise touted by area lawmakers

Newtown officials previously said that this weekend's anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School would not be marked with an official ceremony.  On Wednesday, Senator Chris Murphy acknowledged the day by touting the good works that have stemmed from the tragedy.  They include Sandy Hook Promise, a group led by several parents whose children were killed on 12-14.


Sandy Hook Promise is asking kids to become good bystanders by looking for the first signs of trouble and speaking out.  He says that small act can make a big difference, and did as recently as last week.  In Utah, a student admitted to bringing a gun to school with the intention of shooting a girl he had a falling out with, and then opening fire on others.  Another student heard about the plan and told authorities.


Murphy says the man was stopped before he could carry out that plan.

Local lawmaker touts bill advocated for by Danbury family

Recent House passage of the ABLE Act is being praised by a local lawmaker.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill helps individuals with disabilities and their families.  She cosponsored the bill after hearing from the Hickey family in Danbury.


Esty says families of children with disabilities face enormous costs for basic transportation, housing, health care and education.  She says right now, they are unfairly discouraged from working and saving for those needs.

Esty says passage of the ABLE Act will allow the Hickey's 13 year old son and others like him to earn and save money for himself.  She says current law would penalize him for working and saving money because he could lose public assistance such as housing and Medicaid.  Esty says its expected to pass the Senate and become law.

Documents: Newtown victims' parents intend to sue

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The parents of another first-grader killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 have filed court documents that could pave the way for a wrongful death lawsuit.

The parents of James Mattioli filed the forms Tuesday in Connecticut probate court, joining parents of 10 other children killed at the Newtown school. The documents seek to establish estates for the children a move required before lawsuits on behalf of the children could be filed.

A court clerk says most of the parents indicated in the documents that they intend to bring wrongful death actions, although the filings don't disclose any potential defendants.

Sunday is the second anniversary of the school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed.

Bethel Voters Reject New Police Station

Bethel's taxpayers last night rejected a proposal to spend $14.1 million to build a new police station.  It was rejected by 69 votes.

Taxpayers did agree to foot the initial $2.4 million bill to construct a water tank in the Long Ridge neighborhood, a health and fire safety project that ultimately will be paid through state grants, loans and water-rate increases for 10,000 users over several decades.

Residents voted to spend $4.3 million for a new energy-services contract expected to save the town as much as $30,000 in annual energy costs.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said he was disheartened by the 926-857 vote to defeat the proposed police station, and by the low voter turnout. More than 2,000 fliers opposing the new police station were distributed to residents over the weekend.

Some Sandy Hook families file notice of wrongful death claims

10 families are filing notices of wrongful death claims on behalf of their children, who were killed at Sandy Hook School nearly 2 years ago.  The Courant reports that the this is the first step in creating estates in the children's names so a lawsuit can be filed. 


The filings do not indicate against whom a lawsuit would be filed.


One notice was filed last week, another is in the process of being reopened in Probate Court.  The Fairfield County probate judge still must approve the eight filings made yesterday.  The probate filings do not automatically lead to further legal action.  The Courant reports that a potential lawsuit against North Carolina-based Bushmaster is possible, the estate of the gunman's mother and the town over security issues.


According to probate court records, the eight estates that were opened Monday are in the names of Benjamin Wheeler, Jessica Rekos, Jack Pinto, Grace McDonnell, Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Ana Marquez-Greene and Avielle Richman.  Last week, the parents of Dylan Hockley were approved as administrators. The 10th will be the estate of Jesse Lewis, which previously had been filed and closed.

Bethel residents voting on three projects

Polls are open in Bethel for residents to decide on three projects.


Bethel's Police Chief has said in the past that the Department has outgrown the 8,500 square foot building that currently exists, and that they need 25,000 square feet.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says $14 million in bonding would pay for the design and construction of a police station at Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. 


The other two questions are what Knickerbocker called "no tax impact questions". 


A water storage tank, paid for in part by grants, is on the ballot.  Knickerbocker says the Eureka water storage tank would allow for more development at Clark Business Park.  $2,400,000 is needed to construct the water storage tank on Long Ridge Road in Danbury.  The Eureka project would be bonded.  Payment for the appropriated sums shall be made by the water account users of the Bethel Public Utilities Commission. 


Lastly a $4,305,492 energy contract with Ameresco Inc, paid for in part through energy savings, is also eligible for nearly $600,000 in incentives from Connecticut Light & Power.  Funding will be in the form of a Tax Exempt Lease Purchase and Security Agreement.  Knickerbocker says the project includes replacing failing boilers, HVAC system improvements, updated building controls systems, extensive lighting upgrades and other improvements. 


Poll are open until 8pm.

Sherman residents approve Happy Acres Farm lease

Sherman residents have voted in favor of Full Circle Farming to take over the lease at Happy Acres Farm.  During a vote on Saturday, residents voted 452 in favor, 264 opposed. 


John Motsinger and Adam Mantzaris plan to continue raising grass-fed beef while slowly improving management practices, diversifying the number of crops that are grown and the business as a whole.  They said in their proposal that the pair hope to restore the farm's financial health, enhance its environmental sustainability and create a central hub for community engagement. 


Sherman owns the 90-acre property and will enter into a five year lease with the tenants.

Ridgefield students organize 'Die-In'

Some students at Ridgefield High School held a so-called "Die In" Monday afternoon.  The organizers said in the student newspaper that they and others would lie down on the floor at the entrance to the student center for five minutes before the first lunch period in an effort to initiate a conversation about racial inequality in the country.  School officials said that students and staff were not blocked by the demonstration, which was done in an orderly fashion.

Danbury renames Veterans Hall for former Veterans Affairs Director

Danbury is renaming Veterans Hall at Rogers Park for the former Director of Veterans Affairs.  The City Council last week approved naming the building located on Memorial Drive as "Patrick R Waldron Veterans Hall".  Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, their widows and dependents for almost three decades prior to his death in October at the age of 81.  Council President Joe Cavo says Waldron was a Korean War Veteran who was dedicated to helping others.  He called it a great testament to all Waldron has done for the City.


Mayor Mark Boughton says renaming Veterans Hall would serve as a fitting memorial to Patrick and will honor and remember him for for his great service.  Boughton says renaming Veterans Hall represents a lasting tribute and will continue to serve as such for future generations.


City Councilman Tom Saadi says Patrick R Waldron Veterans Hall will be a great way to continue his legacy of his patriotism and service to veterans, and that he could think of no other person more deserving of this honor.


A ceremony has been held at the Danbury War Memorial to mark the 73rd anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor.  A number of World War II veterans attended the ceremony Sunday.  The remembrance service was led by Cavo, with remarks from Army reservist Saadi, along with 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  The Japanese attack on the U.S. launched the country into World War II.  The attack killed about 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers.

WCSU professor, jazz artist debuts new album honoring daughter

Jazz saxophonist, composer, and West Conn professor Jimmy Greene has released a new album entitled  "Beautiful Life".  The album is a remembrance and celebration of the life of his daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, who was among the first-grade victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The Jimmy Greene Quartet performed music from "Beautiful Life" at a sold-out gala concert on Friday, marking the opening of the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall at the new WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center.


All of the songs were specifically written for this recording.  Greene says the musicians and artists chosen, were those who would most honor his daughter's memory.  "7th Candle" and other songs reflect a bit of his journey through grief and the aftermath of Ana's murder.  He says the focus is on conveying these complex and often painful emotions.  But the album also reflects the way she lived--generous and loving and joyful, for six-and-a-half years. 


He says music is an amazing language and can do things words can't.  He called it a way to communicate when words fail.


Greene says any recording that was going to honor Ana's memory had to have singers and lyrics.  Greene felt it was important because Ana loved to sing and had a beautiful singing voice.  Greene also wanted to include songs that Ana loved, including "Maybe", from the musical Annie.  The album also features family recordings of Ana singing a Latin American Christmas melody and a spiritual hymn.


What took a long time, he says was to make sure that all of the elements that needed to be included on the album were there.  The album cover is a photograph of Ana and her brother Isaiah taken at their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the family lived prior to moving to Newtown in 2012.   Greene says that photograph finds musical expression on the album in “Last Summer”.  He flew up to Winnipeg to record the children's choir from Ana's former school.


This was the first album he's done since his daughter's murder at Sandy Hook School, and his collaborators were friends and former classmates, including Javier Colon.  “Little Voices” includes a soliloquy recited by Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose.  Rose, who attended Bloomfield High School with Greene, won his daughter’s heart as the voice of Princess Tiana in one of Ana’s favorite animated films, “The Princess and the Frog.”


A portion of proceeds from sales of "Beautiful Life" will benefit the Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers in New Britain and the Artists Collective in Hartford.


The Ana Grace Project was founded in October 2013 in a collaboration between the Greene family and the Klingberg Family Centers to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through research, professional development and public policy aimed at building community efforts to prevent violence and foster recovery. The Artists Collective, founded by McLean in 1970, is an interdisciplinary arts and cultural institution that has served the Greater Hartford area for more than four decades.

Cell tower for Richter Park far from a done deal

The Richter Park Authority in Danbury will be looking for cell companies to bid on a communications tower on the 180-acre property.  The Connecticut Siting Council will also have a say on where a tower can be located.  After those steps have been taken, a public hearing will have to be held in Danbury about the proposal.  The City Council will also have to vote on the tower. 


The Authority is looking to put a cell tower near the golf course to improve service in case of emergency and also to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the Richter Park Authority has done a number of things to bring in more revenue to keep the property active with recreational uses.  But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.  Boughton says there aren't enough golf revenues to improve the park, and they don't want to raise fees because that would chase more people away leaving the Authority with less money.


The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range.


Boughton says the Richter house needs a new roof and other maintenance work.  The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed.  He says there are so many other needs in the budget, including a big high school proposal coming up.  He did not elaborate on what that might be.


In making the case for approval, Boughton noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding.  He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue.

Home of Sandy Hook shooter transferred to Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Newtown has taken possession of the Colonial-style home where school shooter Adam Lanza lived with his mother in a deal with a bank that prepared the house by removing and incinerating all personal effects.


The Newtown Legislative Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept the house at no cost. The appraised value of the 3,162-square-foot home was $523,620.


Llodra told The News-Times that the process of acquiring the property began about six months ago with a call from a real estate agent hired by Hudson City Savings Bank.


Details of the negotiations and terms of the transfer were not available, but she said the bank demonstrated an extreme degree of "compassion and generosity."


Llodra told the council that the acquisition began with a call from a real estate agent who specializes in properties linked to tragic events. She said he was hired by the bank to help negotiate a possible acquisition.


She met with bank officials before presenting the offer for a closed-door discussion with the Board of Selectmen last month.


Adam Lanza's parents, Nancy and Peter Lanza, moved from southern New Hampshire and bought the new house in 1998.


Bill LaCalamito, senior vice president at Hudson City Savings Bank, said Thursday that by deeding the house to Newtown, it was trying to help the community just as others donated money, time and labor immediately after the massacre.


"We wanted to do what was right for the community," he said. "We told the town, `You've been through enough. Tell us what you want us to do."


Because of its notoriety, the house had little or no value. "Obviously no one wanted the property," LaCalamito said.


LaCalamito would not disclose the cost to the bank for the remaining mortgage and work done on the house. For example, the bank had the house stripped of rugs, furniture, lighting fixtures and other effects and incinerated the belongings, he said. The bank also paid for new locks, repaired or replaced doors that were "compromised" by police who entered the house in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings, installed a security system and hired a landscaper to maintain the property.


Randall Bell, founder of Real Estate Damage Economics, a Laguna Beach, California, company that specializes in property damage, said he proposed nine or 10 choices to the bank on what it could do with the Lanza house. Among the options were selling it in foreclosure, selling it conventionally or bulldozing it.


"The agenda was very simple: Lay out all the options," he said. "The bank was very concerned about being very sensitive to the town. My job was not to steer them in any particular direction."


The future use of the house and property will be decided later. Several residents said the home should be demolished and the property restored to woodlands. One resident said putting the house on the market might have drawn the merely curious and even conspiracy theorists.


Real estate experts say properties known for crimes or violence are usually tough to sell and state law requires disclosure of homicides and similar events.


The 20-year-old Lanza fatally shot his mother at the house before killing 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. He killed himself at the school as emergency responders approached the school.

Hat City Day marked in Danbury, statue unveiled

Hat City Day has been marked in Danbury to celebrate the city's hatting past.  During a ceremony Tuesday night, Councilman Andrew Wetmore said this stemmed in part from his unsuccessful advocating for a Hat Day in high school.  He says he is proud to be among those who brought the day to all residents, noting that pays tribute to Danbury's roots and celebrates where the City is going.


A small-scale statue was presented at the ceremony of a hatter and his tools. 




The committee will be fundraising privately for this throughout the year and hope to have a monument unveiling in the early spring of 2016.  The sculpture may have hats on the side of the structure, with names of those who donate large sums. 


Committee chairman John Jowdy says in his travels he went to Pittsburgh, the Steel City and Detroit, the Motor City.  He wanted to bring the same name recognition to Danbury.


No location has been determined.  Mayor Mark Boughton says areas like the green, Kennedy Park or somewhere along the Main Street median have been discussed as possible locations.



City Council President Joe Cavo,    Councilman Warren Levy,    Councilman Andrew Wetmore


Danbury schools have been provided with historical background information about the day, and encouraged to use slide shows, puzzles, word searches and activity suggestions from the Danbury Museum and Historical Society.


Danbury once known as "The Hat Capital of the World"; and lived by its motto: "Danbury crowns them all";  In the 19th Century hats were a staple in every man’s wardrobe, men wouldn’t leave their house without one, and the Hatting industry in Danbury began to thrive, partly because of our large supply of water and fur. 


By 1800, Danbury was producing more hats than any place else in the United States.  By 1887, some 30 factories were manufacturing 5 million hats a year.  After decades, things began to slow down, by 1923 only six hat manufacturers were left in Danbury. Costly labor disputes, changing fashion trends, and less profit resulted in many factories closing or moving, and the last hat factory in Danbury closed in the 1980’s. 


City officials say even though the hatting industry in Danbury has completely vanished, its impact on the City’s history will last forever.

Newtown teachers want continued mental health funding

Teachers and other school employees in Newtown have met with local and national union leaders to discuss issues stemming from the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met privately with educators on Tuesday.


The Newtown school district has received more than $6 million in grants from the federal Department of Education for counseling and other services for parents, students and staff members.  The Education Department says post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students' performances in and out of the classroom.


AFT Connecticut vice president Steve McKeever says some teachers are worried what will happen once funding for mental health services runs out by the next school year.  The union plans to revisit proposed Connecticut legislation requiring workers compensation coverage for mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress.


At a school board meeting Tuesday evening, Weingarten presented a collage as a tribute to the six educators killed on 12-14.


AFT represents 470 educators district wide and held the meeting to determine how the union can be a continuing presence in a community, still shook to its core because of what happened almost two years ago.


In announcing the latest grant in September, the Education Department said an assessment by the district shows a belief that school is unsafe "still pervades the community." Severe post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and grief continue to affect students' performances in and out of the classroom, the agency said.


Newtown education officials have said half the students in the Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of the shootings have moved on to middle school, which now requires attention for possible counseling and other services.

Monroe man bilked out of $5k in lotto scam

A Monroe man has been scammed out of $5,000 in a phone scam.  Monroe Police told the Monroe Courier that a 64-year old resident received a call on November 20th saying that he won nearly a million dollars in the Las Vegas Megabucks Lottery, but in order to claim the winnings he would have to send a $5,000 lotto and processing fee. 


The man was told to send the money via Western Union to a location in Alabama and one in Florida.  Monroe police say the man believed the caller and sent the money even though he knew he had never played the Las Vegas Lottery. 


Monroe police say they should be contacted if someone receives a suspicious phone call asking for money.

Leader of teacher union in Newtown to discuss recovery progress

The President of the American Federation of Teachers is coming to Newtown today to meet with school employees.  A commemorative piece of art will be presented later tomorrow at the Board of Education meeting.  AFT President Randi Weingarten, Newtown Federation of Teachers President Tom Kuroski and AFT Connecticut Vice President Steve McKeever will discuss their impression of progress among teachers and other school staff in their recovery since the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  They will also discuss issues that remain concerns, including greater access to mental health services in the community.

Update given on Gilbert & Bennett site

An informational meeting has been held in Redding about the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site.


The vacant 55-acre site in the Georgetown section on Redding has been left untouched since a 2002 proposal for redevelopment.  Parties came back to the table for further negotiations, with the last meeting being held in September.  During the recent presentation, First Selectman Julia Pemberton said the Master Plan special permit expires in July of 2018, but the site plan expires next May.  The owner of the property can apply for an extension through the time when the special permit expires. 


Pemberton said an architectural firm working on the feasibility study completed its review of the buildings conditions and an evaluation of what it will take to stabilize them.  There is an understanding that additional subsidies will have to come into play to make it economically viable. 


The Georgetown Special Taxing District was awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development for infrastructure work.  But the grant came with contingencies including that the developer has at least $60 million in capital investment to start constructing housing. 


The redevelopment calls for commercial buildings, 416 residential units, a community theater, retail space and a commuter rail station.

Plumtrees Road Bridge project can now go out to bid by state

Now that Bethel residents have agreed to sell a 2,700 square foot strip of land to the state, the Department of Transportation can do necessary construction for a new Plumtrees Road Bridge. 


First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's a technical reason it's advantageous for the state to own the land.  It has to do with maintaining the waterways under environmental protection law during construction.  He says this sale will allow the project to go out to bid, which will happen soon.


The Boards of Selectmen and Finance previously approved accepting $3,737 from the State.  The piece of land is located at the corners of Plumtrees Road, Whittlesey Drive and Walnut Hill Road.


The state will deed the land back to the town after construction is complete, so Knickerbocker says the sale is just a technical formality than anything else.  He called it an insignificant piece of land, part of a steep slope that leads down to the water.  There's nothing that the town could do with the parcel.


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