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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-01

26 victims or 27? Newtown panel considers role of Lanza mom

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut panel developing a report on the Newtown massacre debated Friday whether the victims counted in the dedication should include the shooter's mother, a woman who has been faulted for contributing to the tragedy by fostering his fascination with guns as he grew increasingly socially isolated.


The gunman, Adam Lanza, began his rampage on Dec. 14, 2012, by killing Nancy Lanza inside their Newtown home before gunning down 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then killing himself.


A draft of the dedication for the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission's report references 26 victims, but commissioner Harold Schwartz asked at a hearing Friday why Nancy Lanza should not also be considered a victim. He suggested mentioning her name at least in a footnote.


"I'm not certain it is morally right to not acknowledge her as a victim," said Schwartz, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.


The role of Nancy Lanza, who often took her son to shooting ranges and purchased the rifle he would use the school massacre, has been a vexing question in Newtown. While friends have said she did her best raising a troubled son, a report by the state's Office of the Child Advocate concluded she contributed to his isolation as she kept him at home where he was surrounded by an arsenal of firearms and spent long hours playing violent video games.


The commission chairman, Scott Jackson, said it is impossible to know how much responsibility Nancy Lanza bears.


"I think that's why number 27 is always so difficult, because there's so much we don't know," said Jackson, the mayor of Hamden.


The advisory commission, created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the wake of the shooting, plans to issue its report soon with dozens of policy recommendations in areas including law enforcement and emergency response, school design and mental health and wellness.


Several commission members said they had no objection to leaving the dedication intact for the 26 people killed at the school. Commissioner Adrienne Bentman asked how other victims' families might feel about seeing Nancy Lanza's name on the same page with those of their loved ones.

Connecticut legislature approves NRA-opposed judge nominee

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The Connecticut House and Senate have voted overwhelmingly to confirm a state judge nominee who was opposed by the National Rifle Association and other groups because she supported a gun control bill approved in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

The House voted 125-18 and the Senate voted 30-4 Friday in favor of attorney Auden Grogins, a Democratic former state representative from Bridgeport. Grogins will serve as a Superior Court judge.

The NRA asked members earlier this month to urge lawmakers to reject Grogins' nomination because she co-sponsored stricter gun control legislation that passed in 2013 in response to the killings of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

Gun control supporters asked their backers to urge lawmakers to approve Grogins' nomination.

Lawmakers issue congratulations recognizing Hospice's opening

Regional Hospice and Home Care cut the ribbon this week on their new facility in Danbury.  State Senator Mike McLachlan read an official citation from the General Assembly, introduced by the Danbury delegation, congratulating the Center for Comfort Care and Healing in recognition of the opening.


Regional Hospice has been serving the area since 1983 with bereavement support and end of life care.  The organization served 500 patients and their loved ones in 2014.  1,200 people took part of their free bereavement programs last year.


Former Brookfield State Representative David Scribner, who also served on the Board of Directors for Regional Hospice said it was a long road to this opening.  The construction of the Center was funded entirely by donations and grants to cover the approximately $12 million cost.  They expect patients will come to the new hospice center from a 50-mile radius surrounding Danbury. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the staff do more than just a job, they get up every day with a smile and make people comfortable.  He called them angels of mercy who people face at the worst moments of their lives--whether it's with a dying loved one or as a patient.  Danbury is providing free sewer service to the facility.  A cost of about 5-thousand dollars a year that the Center will not have to budget for.



The all-private suite facility has a palliative-care trained medical director, physicians and APRN’s are available 24/7.  The Center for Comfort Care and Healing will also house the Healing Hearts Center for Grief & Loss, a program of Regional Hospice that provides grief support services to the community at no charge, bringing all of Regional Hospice’s programs and services under one roof for the first time.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission to host public forum

A second public forum is being held tonight in Newtown by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  A little more than a dozen people attended the first gathering last week to hear from the commission member on their progress and to give their opinion on the matter. 


Commission chairman Kyle Lyddy says the memorial is to honor the 26 lives that were lost at the school and to honor what is best for the Newtown Community.  Lyddy says some families still need time and he hopes that the community will be patient with the Commission through the process.  They do not have a deadline. 


At the first forum, resident George Osuch asked how a final decision would be made and was told that the Commission wants to find one memorial to provide comfort to those who loved and were touched by the children and women.  Lyddy says this is not about the event, but about the lives lost. 


The Commission has an inventory of everything that's come to Newtown since 12-14.  While fundraising has not yet started, Lyddy says $80,000 so far has been earmarked in donations for a Memorial. 


A subcommittee for locations has been set up.  Property owned by the town, the state and the Newtown Forest Association are being considered.  A philanthropist may be willing to donate land as well.  The subcommittee is working with the Zoning Department on potential sites and will survey them in the spring.  Their focus is on a place that can be a destination , not something people would have to drive past daily. 


The Commission has heard from 18 of the 26 families.  He hopes once a few locations suggestions are set and they have something solid to present to the families, they will reengage. 


Tonight's public forum is at 7pm at Newtown High School.

Brookfield GOP candidate applies for campaign fincancing in special election

One of the two candidates running in the special election next month for the 107th state House district seat has qualified for public campaign financing.  Republican Stephen Harding is seeking to fill the seat left vacant in Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury. 


The requirement is to raise at least $3,750 in small contributions from a minimum of 113 people in the district.  He raised over $4,000 in small contributions from more than 150 people in the district.  Harding submitted his application to the state for a $20,000 grant.  Harding is a Brookfield Board of Ed member. 


He faces Democratic former selectman Howard Lasser in a February 24th election.

Danbury fire officials ask for help in keeping City safe

Danbury Fire Department spokesman Steve Rogers says it would be a huge help if people could clear snow from around fire hydrants on their property.  He wants to make sure can get all the way around the hydrants.  Rogers notes that if there's a three foot clearance, firefighters can hook up the hose and get water to a fire if needed.  Rogers says they appreciate everyone's help in keeping Danbury safe.

Regional Hospice opens new Center in Danbury

Regional Hospice and Home Care has opened the state’s first and only nonprofit, all-private-suite, family focused hospice center.  The ribbon was cut at the Center for Comfort Care and Healing on Monday.  President and CEO Cynthia Roy says this has been a long journey, and just when they thought there couldn't be one more thing to endure, there was.


The drapery installer last week accidentally drilled into the sprinkler system and caused three patient rooms to get flooded.  It was 20 minutes before the SWAT team of 100 Danbury Police Officers were set to be there for an emergency drill.  Roy says the Center survived, and the place now looks fantastic.


Roy says she is perplexed when people ask her why they built such a beautiful place for people who are dying.  She believes that death is like birth, a sacred moment that families will never forget.  She notes that people remember where they were, what time of day and the last words of loved ones when they pass.  Roy says the loss of a life changes the world of all who knew that person.  She hopes this center is a place that is sacred, to honor, witness and be thankful for the love and life of that person. 


During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Roy also honored their former colleague, 23-year old Rachel Sack of Bethel.  The young mother was killed by a hit and run driver in November on South Street in Danbury.  Her family was on hand for the ceremony.  Roy said it was strange to do the opening without her, but she is always in their hearts.  Her picture hangs in the new center.


Roy says she is proud of what the staff has built collectively.  She says each person has given of themselves and given financially.  As hospice workers, Roy says they are welcomed into families lives at a very difficult time.


The Center is set to open the first patients in February.

Greater Danbury region prepares for Blizzard 2015

Area towns are taking precuations for the blizzard of 2015.  Most have closed town offices and libraries for Tuesday.  Schools around the region have also closed for the day.


Danbury has issued a Level 2 Snow Emergency.  If residents have no other place to park, the Patriot parking garage will be open free of charge for the duration of the storm. Cars on city streets will be ticketed and towed.- are prohibited from parking on city streets. All vehicles may be returned after all snow-and-ice-control operations have ceased.


Redding Town Hall Emergency Info Line is functional at 203-938-2002 and will be open from 9am-5pm during the day as a means by which residents can obtain up to the minute information.  After hours this line will have an automated message detailing information for residents. Please ONLY call 911 in the event of a true emergency.


New Milford has declared a snow emergency and parking ban effective at 5pm so that snow removal can be done.  Public Works Director Michael Zarba says New Milford will close the two crossovers on the Green for use as temporary snow storage.  The areas will be cleaned as time permits and then reopened.  Alternate parking is available in the posted lot behind Town Hall.  Additional parking is also available in the Patriots Way lot by the railroad tracks and the Richmond Center along the rear fence. 


Bethel winter street parking ban will be in effect for the duration of the storm. Please ensure all vehicles are off town streets through the duration of the storm to aid highway cleanup operations.  The Police Department reserves the right to tow vehicles if necessary to ensure successful snow removal operations.  Residents are advised to shelter "in place" and stay indoors for duration of the storm. Bethel's emergency center has been made ready in case it is needed.  Conditions will be evaluated early Wednesday to determine if emergency shelter is needed.

Danbury Library adds new iPad kiosks to Children's Department

Danbury Library is adding some new technology for kids ni the new year.  Funding from the Friends of the Danbury Library has enabled the Library to put in Crayola kiosks in the children's department that hold 8 iPads.  Digital Services Librarian Katherine Chung says kids can access over 50 educational apps on the iPads.


Danbury Library has also added two new online databases for children to encourage reading and learning. 


“Starwalk Kids Media” provides children in kindergarten through eighth grade with a selection of high quality books. Children and parents can select books by age, grade or reading level and children can listen to an audiobook or read it themselves. This program's app has been downloaded to all of the Junior Department’s iPads so the books can also be enjoyed while visiting the library.


The second online database that is has made its debut is the “Worldbook Early World of Learning.”   The online resource encompasses three interactive learning environments for preschoolers and children in the early elementary grades. The program includes interactive games, narrated stories and videos that teach numbers, shapes, phonics, vocabulary, and research.

League of Women Voters to host legislative forum

State House and Senate members from the Greater Danbury area will be at a forum tomorrow at Danbury Library.  It's being hosted by the Danbury Area Member-at-Large League of Women Voters.  Spokeswoman Judy Griemsmann says this region had an active league in the past, but not in the last two years. 


The League of Women Voters produces voter guides and hosts public forums and candidate debates among other activities.  The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan group.  They don't support political parties or candidates, but rather is there to raise public awareness of issues and increase citizen participation in policy making. 


People who attend the event will hear the legislators discuss goals of this General Assembly session, ask questions of the legislators.  Voter registration forms will also be available.  


The event is at the Danbury Library 2:30 to 4pm on Sunday.

Danbury group to receive state funds to help end homelessness

New efforts to end chronic homelessness among veterans and persons with disabilities in Connecticut by 2016 has been announced.  The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is awarding 15 private, not-for-profit agencies $1.1 million to provide in-home supportive services to 176 recently housed persons who have experienced chronic homelessness.


Center for Human Development in Danbury is among the recipients of the new supporting housing subsidies from the state. 


The state has also been chosen by a national non-profits coalition to be part of a 6 state initiative to combat homelessness.  The national initiative is being organized by the nonprofit Community Solutions. 


According to recent surveys, there are about 1000 Veterans and about 2400 chronically homeless people with disabilities in the state.

Sandy Hook School Support Fund looking for input on continued needs

The Sandy Hook School Support Fund is looking for community input on the on-going needs of those impacted by the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  A similar survey was sent out by the group last year. 


This is an online survey with some questions proposed by the Recovery and Resiliency Team.  The survey is anonymous and the Distribution Committee says is being done to get as accurate a picture as possible of the needs and feelings in the community.  Most of the questions are the same however, so the group can measure the data against the benchmark first survey done last year on challenges, strengths and needs.


Responses must be completed by February 6th.

Danbury company awarded $53 million contract from NASA

Danbury-based Praxair, an industrial gases manufacturer, has been awarded NASA’s agency-wide Acquisition of Liquid Hydrogen contract. Praxair’s hydrogen supply network will serve four NASA sites, including the Space Center in Mississippi; Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Marshall Space Flight Center, in Alabama; and Glenn Research Center in Ohio. 


NASA projected the maximum value of the five-year contract to be $53 million.


“NASA has been a longtime customer of Praxair, and we are proud to have been awarded this contract,” said Jeff Barnhard, vice president, east region for Praxair’s U.S. industrial gases business. “We look forward to playing an even larger role in our country’s national space program and the expanding satellite technology industry.”


Praxair’s hydrogen manufacturing infrastructure and delivery capability satisfies NASA’s stringent standards for product quality and on-time delivery to fulfill the agency’s missions. NASA uses liquid hydrogen as fuel for rocket engine development, testing and launch of spacecraft; delivery of satellites into earth orbit; and delivery of payloads to the International Space Station.


NASA also awarded Praxair a five-year liquid oxygen supply agreement for the Kennedy Space Center.  The Department of Defense previously awarded Praxair a five-year liquid hydrogen supply agreement for missions launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Governor Malloy calls for widening I-84 in Danbury

Governor Dannel Malloy says that widening a section of Interstate 84 in Danbury is critical for economic growth in the western part of the state. 


Still no word from Malloy on how he plans to pay for massive transportation infrastructure improvements that he's proposing.  During a stop yesterday at the I-84 rest area off exit 2, Malloy said he wants to widen a five mile stretch the highway to three lanes from exit 3 to 8 in Danbury.  He spoke generally saying tolls and taxes aren't the only way to pay for two generations of neglect.


(DOT Commissioner James Redecker, Governor Dannel Malloy)


Malloy has proposed increasing bus service in the region with a more modern service.  He also wants to make improvements to the Danbury branch of Metro North with an expansion to New Milford.


While there's been no official talk of bringing tolls back to Connecticut, it's been on many people's minds.  Malloy was asked how he responds to criticism that border tolls are an unfair regional tax.  He says that's a fair complaint.


Malloy also responded to questions about Transportation Committee chair Representative Antonio Guerrera, of not wanting tolls in his district but at the state's gateways.  He says tolls are a tax on people who use the highway, and he understands the goal of capturing 26 percent of the traffic that comes from out of state.


Malloy says paying for any improvements is a discussion still to be had, and for now he is focused on a comprehensive report on what improvements are needed.

Adam Lanza's Newtown House to be Demolished

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Officials in Newtown have voted to tear down the home where Adam Lanza lived before he carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The vote Wednesday evening by the Newtown Legislative Council approves a proposal by the board of selectmen to raze the 3,100-square-foot home and keep the land as open space.

First Selectwoman Pat Llodra said she expects the Lanza house will be razed once winter is over. The 2-acre property was given to the town in December by a bank that acquired it from the Lanza family.

Lanza killed 20 children and six educators at the school before committing suicide.

Neighbors have been pleading with town officials to tear down the house, with one resident saying it's ``a constant reminder of the evil that resided there.''

Western Connecticut Health Network holding annual meeting

Western Connecticut Health Network is holding it's annual meeting today.  The annual meeting of Western Connecticut Health Network will be held at 4 o'clock this afternoon at the Ethan Allen Hotel.  There will be a State of the Network address and also a recap of the accomplishments. 


One of the items likely to be discussed will be this summer's opening of the largest expansion in Danbury Hospital's history. 


The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion is an 11 story tower that added 316,000 square feet to Danbury Hospital.  It was paid for in part by a $30 million donation from Subway restaurants founder Peter Buck.  The addition includes a new emergency department, a critical care unit and private patient rooms.

Change of venue granted in lawsuit against Bushmaster

A lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook School shooting will have a change in venue.  The owner of Bushmaster Firearms International has been granted a move of the case from Superior Court to Hartford Federal Court. 


The families of several of those killed and a teacher injured at Sandy Hook School originally filed the lawsuit around the two year anniversary.  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.

Former Garner warden named Corrections Commissioner

A former warden of Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown has been named Commissioner of the state Department of Correction.  Governor Malloy has tapped Scott Semple to serve in the post, and will now go through legislative confirmations. 


Semple has been Acting Commissioner of the DOC since August. 


He became warden of the high security prison in Newtown in 2009.  Garner specializes in treatment of adult male offenders with significant mental health issues.  Malloy says Semple, as a former corrections officer, is familiar with best practices and finding ways to reduce recidivism.

Sandy Hook Memorial Commission holds public forum

A forum has been held by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  The group charged with recommending whether a permanent memorial should be created, a design and a location was created in 2013. 


The group of 12 has been in contact with the families of the 26 children and women who were killed on 12-14.   18 of them have responded.  Emergency services groups, other parents of students at Sandy Hook School and staff members have weighed in as well.  Community members were called on to attend the open forum to hear updates and ask any questions. 


Another gathering will be held at the end of the month.

Home heating safety reminders from Fire Department

With bitter cold temperatures sticking around, the Danbury Fire Department is offering some reminders to homeowners as they try to keep warm.  Spokesman Steve Rogers says you should keep anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators, or space heaters.


Residents are being urged to keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen, laundry room, and garage.  They can fight fires caused by paper, wood, cloth, flammable liquids, and electrical short circuits.


Heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires and one in every five home fire deaths.  Danbury Fire Department spokesman Steve Rogers says a little common sense goes a long way toward safety.


Residents are urged to have a qualified professional clean and inspect chimneys and dryer or stove vents every year.  If you use a fireplace, store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.

Danbury Library offers iPads for borrowing from Technology Center

Danbury Library patrons can now check out iPads.  The The Library has started circulating 9 iPads to adult cardholders who are at least eighteen years old.  Digital Services Librarian Katherine Chung says the lending period is one week and check outs are available to one per household at a time. 


Checkouts and returns are completed in the library’s Technology Center. 


The tablets come pre-loaded with applications that include Overdrive, Hoopla, Freegal, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with photography services such as Clone Camera, Photoshop Mix and Photoshop Express and productivity apps that include Excel, Word and Keynote.


The iPads are protected by so-called "survivor cases", but Chung is asking that people treat thetablets like their own.  If they are lost or completely damaged, the patron will be responsbile for the cost of replacement.


The Danbury Library children’s department, through funding from the FRIENDS of the Danbury Library, now has brightly colored Crayola kiosks that hold eight iPads kids can use to access over fifty educational applications.

Lawmakers hear testimony on Southbury Training School future

Lawmakers from both parties listened to parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities as part of a Family Action Day hearing at the state Capital.  Speakers testified about whether Southbury Training School should be kept open and if new admissions should be allowed. 


Parents like Allison Jacobson told lawmakers they continue to wait years on end for housing opportunities for their children, some of whom are adults now.  Some speakers say they know whatever sympathy was expressed by lawmakers, their plea for funding could be lost in yet another deficit-driven budget battle.


Parent Al Raymond says for the last 29 years there have been no new admissions at Southbury Training School.  He argued against those saying that it costs more per resident than group homes do by noting that STS resident population gets smaller every year due to attrition.  Raymond says since 1986 there's been no new admissions to make up the losses, and by reopening admission it could lower the per person cost.  He says it could also reduce the waiting list of those who need special care.


Some speakers say they know whatever sympathy was expressed by lawmakers, their plea for funding could be lost in yet another deficit-driven budget battle.  One of the parents accused lawmakers of giving developmentally disabled people a lower priority in the budget than convicted criminals in the prison system.

Sandy Hook Advisory Commission working on final details of report

The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has met to discuss finalizing their report to the Governor and the legislature. 


Part of the discussion was about including photographs of the victims in their dedication.  Member Chris Lyddy, a former Newtown state Representative, says they should make a statement that the families don't necessarily endorse the report if they provide a photo.  Lyddy says many of the families have diverging views on mental health, school safety, and gun protocols and may not they agree with the full report.


Lyddy also mentioned that the families testifying before the Commission have told the group what they've been able to do in their recovery.  They have one central location where people are directed to communicate with them and to learn about their family member.  He suggested they also direct people to that site,


When it comes to how to refer to the man who carried out the shootings, the Commission wants to have a unified voice.  Many of the Commission members agreed that the report should have one mention of the gunman's full name as a reference, and then just the initials AL. 


Dr Harold Schwartz was also part of the writing group for the Child Advocate's report and says that was their conclusion as well.  He says some victim's families said they had extreme emotional reactions to hearing the man's name.  Other said the use of the name humanized him.  If there was a secondary reason to use initials, Schwartz said for some, the use of the full name aggrandizes the shooter and creates a negative legend of sorts.


The Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement sits on the panel.  Dr David Schonfeld said by referring to the shooter only by that gives him a title or status that distills a complicated life down to one thing.


The final report from the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission will include a recommendation to ban the sale and possession of guns that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading.  In its meeting Friday, the commission also decided to remove language from the report that would have acknowledged the importance of the Connecticut's gun manufacturing industry.

Danbury community center, Head Start projects moving along

The state Bond Commission this week approved funding for three projects in Danbury.  One is to convert the former YMCA building into a Boys and Girls Club facility.  Connecticut Institute for Communities Executive Director Jim Maloney says the paperwork will be finalized over the next 30 to 60 days. 


Engineering and design work for the building, both internal and external improvements, needs to be submitted to the state for public bidding. Maloney says it will be about a million dollars worth of improvements. 


Another project involves infrastructure improvements to the Danbury War Memorial.


Bond money was also approved to purchase a building on Park Avenue in Danbury to add more Head Start classrooms.  That funding was for a down payment.  The next step is the closing.  Private funds will be used to do the rehabilitation.  Maloney says that won't be completed by the upcoming fall semester.  The target is to have the classrooms ready by next January.

DHS presented with $25K check for safe driving contest

Danbury High School has been presented with another "Celebrate My Drive" grant.  The students once again worked to raise awareness of the dangers of reckless and distracted driving.  They received $25,000 from State Farm Insurance Thursday for their effort.  DHS Principal Gary Bocaccio says the students were elated.


Danbury High School was one of the first place winners last year, but were ineligible to win the $100,000 grant two years in a row.  Bocaccio says he challenged the junior class to work just as hard to bring the top prize to Danbury next year. 


A group of students, teachers and others will meet soon to decide how to spend this year's winnings.

Doctors propose more conditions be covered by medical marijuana

Doctors for Connecticut's medical marijuana program reportedly have recommended expanding the number of conditions that could have medical pot prescribed. 


There is a medical marijuana dispensary located in Bethel.  It's one of just 6 licensed by the state. 


Doctors have suggested that some chronic back pain conditions and sickle cell disease be added. Consumer protection officials and state lawmakers would have to approve the move.

Democrats back former Selectman to run in Brookfield special election

The special election for the 107th state House District of Brookfield, and parts of Bethel and Danbury is coming up soon, and the candidates names need to be sent to the Secretary of the State by tomorrow. 


Democrats held a convention Tuesday and selected former Brookfield Selectman Howard Lasser to run for the seat vacated by Republican David Scribner last week.  Lasser previously served on the town's Board of Finance, Charger Revision Committee and the Senior Citizen Tax Credit Committee.  He is currently leading the Brookfield Craft Center.  He also ran for the position of Brookfield First Selectman in 2013, but lost by less than 100 votes.


The Republicans are meeting tonight to select their candidate.  The special election is February 24th.


Scribner resigned the day he was set to be sworn in for his ninth term--in order to accept a position on the state Liquor Control Commission in the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Roxbury First Selectman, legislative leader at odds over regionalization

The Council of Small Towns hosted an issues forum Wednesday.  Legislative leaders were on hand, and there was a heated exchange on one particular issue.  House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says more local government efficiency will be sought.


He said while the state should get out of the way of municipalities to create more efficiency, he doesn't think taxpayers should be in a position that perpetuates inefficiencies where they do occur.


Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry says towns have been surviving and clawing every day to regionalize expenses, and that it's wrong for leaders to make new demands.

Local lawmaker appointed to Gun Violence Prevention Task Force

An area lawmaker will continue in her leadership role on the U.S. House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will continue to serve as one of eleven vice chairs during this new session of Congress.  Esty says the scourge of gun violence is devastating communities while Congress has shamefully failed to act on common sense reforms.


The Task Force is calling for expanded background checks and stricter punishments for illegal gun trafficking and straw purchasing.  Esty says these proposals will protect the 2nd amendment rights of lawful gun owners, while keeping people safe.  She says children's safety doesn't have a "D" or an "R" after it and shouldn't be a partisan issue.


Many of the leaders of the task force represent districts marred by gun violence, including Aurora ,CO and Columbine, CO.

Danbury Probate Judge sworn in for new term

Danbury's Probate Court Judge has been sworn into office for another term.  Judge Dianne Yamin was the first female to fill the position in Danbury and is the longest serving Probate Judge in the City's history.  She is entering her 25th year as Probate Judge.


She calls it an honor to serve the community in everything from weddings and adoptions to matters involving the mentally ill and intellectually disabled.


In addition to her responsibilities as a judge, Yamin also gives seminars to groups about the probate system.  She's held annual seminars at the senior center for years about what she does.  Over the years though, she's gotten more inquiries to learn more about the probate system.  Yamin has two seminars coming up: one to retired state employees, the other to a moms group at a church in New Fairfield.

Local lawmaker supports veteran help bill, now in the Senate

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has voted in favor of legislation to address the epidemic of suicide among veterans. Himes says each day, 22 of America’s veterans take their own lives and this bill will improve the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health care available to returning heroes. 


The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act would establish a new peer support and community outreach pilot program for transitioning service members, among other initiatives. 


The bill, which passed the House of Representatives Monday, has been reintroduced in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal and John McCain.  It now moves to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for consideration.  The Act failed to win passage in the Senate last year by one vote. That lone senator, Tom Coburn, has retired.

Brookfield officials outline 2015 priorities

Brookfield's First Selectman has outlined his priorities for the coming year.  Bill Tinsley says among the projects he'd like to see accomplished are finishing the Parks Revitalization Project on the lake side of the road, starting construction of the Still River Greenway and funds approved for the flooding fix in the Meadowbrook Manor section of town. 


Tinsley says he'd also like to complete a new Plan of Conservation and Development since the last one in Brookfield was done in 2002. 


The First Selectman says he also wants to reach a community consensus when it comes to Library facilities, there's been efforts recently to expand.  There has also been some opposition.

Newtown victims' families sue town, school board

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Families of two of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are suing the town of Newtown and its school board.

The suit served on the town on Friday alleges security measures at the school were not adequate.

The lawsuit says classroom doors could only be locked from the outside with keys, leaving teachers vulnerable to intruders. The suit also says the front of the school didn't have security glass to protect against gunshots.

The plaintiffs are the parents of slain children Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner.

Town Attorney David Grogins declined to comment on Monday.


The Hartford Courant reports the lawsuit alleges that substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau, who was also killed on 12-14, wasn't given a key to lock the door and wasn't told of the school's security protocols.  All but one girl in the classroom were killed.  The lawsuit erroneously names the school principal as Sandy Gombos. The text of the lawsuit also erroneously names the school superintendent.


Norwalk attorney Donald Papcsy, who is representing the families and is a Sandy Hook resident, released a statement Monday afternoon.  He said they "hope the town will work with these families, who have already suffered, and continue to suffer, unimaginable loss, to help resolve this matter in the most efficient and constructive way possible."

GOP nominating convention soon for 107th state House seat

Things are moving quickly in Brookfield to name a successor to state Representative David Scribner.  Governor Malloy announced on Friday that a special election would be held February 24th to replace the Republican he named to a post in the Consumer Protection Department.  That means candidates names have to be sent to the Secretary of the State's office by this Friday. 


Republican convention temporary chairman Robert Belden says he anticipates there will be between three and seven candidates.


A meet and greet event will be held Wednesday, and the nomination will be made Thursday.  Both events will be at 7pm at Golf Quest.  The public is invited to both events. 


Any Republican interested in running for the open seat should contact Robert Belden at 203-240-1345.

State approves money for YMCA purchase, War Memorial updates

Nearly $3.8 million dollars has been approved by the state for the Danbury Community Facility Collaboration.  The Bond Commission Monday approved funding three projects by the group of non-profits.  Most of the money, $2.5 million, is to purchase the former Boughton Street YMCA building and turn it into a community center.  Connecticut Institute for Communities CEO Jim Maloney says Danbury is the largest city in the state without a Boys and Girls Club. 


$800,000 grant-in-aid funding has been approved for the Connecticut Institute for Communities to assist with renovations for seven head start classrooms at the Head Start of Northern Fairfield County facility at 29 Park Avenue in Danbury.


$498,000 grant-in-aid funding has been approved for the Danbury War Memorial to assist with renovations and improvements to the building.  The improvements include upgrades to the gymnasium and fitness center, relocation of the main entrance and lobby, security improvements, refurbishment of three early childhood classrooms and other miscellaneous renovations.

Legislature may mull data exemption for UConn Foundation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State lawmakers may take another look at the University of Connecticut Foundation's exemption from the state Freedom of Information Act.

The Journal Inquirer reports state Representative Roberta Willis, co-chairwoman of the legislature's Higher Education and Employment Committee, said more needs to be known about the foundation's finances. It's the fundraising organization of the state's flagship university.

The foundation drew questions over a large increase in its contribution to UConn President Susan Herbst's salary and a speaking fee to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Willis, a Salisbury Democrat whose district also includes the Kent area, said one measure could require the foundation to publicly disclose expenses.

UConn Foundation spokesman Derek Slap said it opposes any changes that could limit fundraising. He says donors must have confidence their personal information will not become public.

Newtown Selectmen recommend gunman's home be demolished

The Newtown Board of Selectmen is recommending to the Legislative Council that the Yogananda Street home of the Sandy Hook gunman be demolished.  According to minutes of the Board meeting this week, officials said there was significant outreach to those most effected by 12-14, with varying responses.  Most felt the house should be demolished and land left undeveloped. 


First Selectman Pat Llodra proposed that if the land is eventually sold for redevelopment, any profit revert back to the families or be put in a mental health fund.  She said if many years in the future the property is sold, the money should not go into the town's coffers. 


The Sandy Hook Insurance Recovery Fund was created to account for proceeds received from building and business insurance after 12-14, and could be used for the demolition. 


No other action was taken by the Board on Monday.


The appraised value of the 3,162-square-foot home was $523,620.


Bill LaCalamito, senior vice president at Hudson City Savings Bank, said when the house was deeded to Newtown that there was some 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.


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.


Key player in Rowland conspiracy case sentenced to probation

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut businessman who admitted conspiring to hide payments from his wife's congressional campaign to former Gov. John G. Rowland has been sentenced to three years' probation, including three months in a halfway house.

Brian Foley and his wife, Republican Lisa Wilson-Foley, pleaded guilty last March to conspiring with Rowland to hide his work on Wilson-Foley's 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination in Connecticut's Fifth District, where Rowland served for three terms in the 1980s.

Foley provided key testimony that helped convict Rowland of seven federal counts in September. Foley said he hid $35,000 in campaign payments in a contract for Rowland to consult with Foley's nursing home company.

Judge Janet Bond Arterton gave Foley credit for his cooperation, but said there needed to be consequences.

Ice skating returns to Rogers Park

Free ice skating has returned to Rogers Park in Danbury.  There was about a decade when skating didn't happen because the City renovated and preserved the pond in its natural state.  A skating rink was purchased in 2010.  During the City Council meeting this week, Mayor Mark Boughton commended the Parks and Rec Director and also the Public Works Director for their work in getting the rink set up again.


There are some rules, including that everyone on the ice must wear skates.  People must bring their own skates.  There is no hockey, sleds, bikes or pets allowed on the ice.  It's open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4pm to 8:30pm during the winter, weather permitting.


Signs will be in place if there are hazardous conditions.

Group founded by local man raises enough to cover slain NYPD mortgages

A charity created in part by a New Fairfield man after 9/11 has been joined by the families of the two slain New York police officers to officially announce that the group raised enough money to pay off their home mortgages.  The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for former First Selectman John Hodge's cousin, raised $860,000 in donations.  Hodge says they estimated the need at $800,000.  More than 10,000 people donated to the cause and came from as far away as Australia.

Danbury lawmaker appointed to head national committee

Connecticut Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey, who was sworn into office for another term today, has been named chair of The Council of State Governments' Intergovernmental Affairs Committee for 2015.  The group was founded in 1933 and is our nation's only organization serving all three branches of state government.  State policymakers from throughout the country serve on various CSG public policy committees.

Area lawmakers react to Gov.'s State of the State address

Area officials are reacting to Governor Dannel Malloy's State of the State address, which he delivered yesterday shortly after being sworn in for a second term.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says he wishes Malloy a good four years, because as well as he performs is how well the state will perform.  Boughton says he hopes to work with the Governor for the betterment of the City.


Former Danbury State Senator David Cappiello appeared on CT-N and said Malloy did not have an easy first term. 


He cited having to deal with the state employee unions, some natural disasters and the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  Cappiello says that's a lot for any governor, let alone a first term governor.  But Malloy also said the budget deficits were something he inherited.  Cappiello says now that Malloy has been governor for four years, he has to own the budget.


Cappiello notes that Malloy won the election by a bigger difference than last time.  Whether he agrees or disagrees with the agenda, Cappiello says he likes that Malloy has an agenda and doesn't shy away from pushing it forward.

Rep. Scribner resigns from House, joins state commission

State Representative David Scribner has submitted his resignation to the Secretary of the State's office, effective at the close of business Tuesday.   Scribner won re-election to the Connecticut General Assembly, yet by resigning as of yesterday he will not be sworn into his new term when the 2015 session convened today.  The vacancy in the 107th district of Brookfield and parts of Danbury and Bethel occurs as of today.  Scribner is taking a job in the Liquor Control Commission. 


Scribner, who was recently re-elected to his house seat representing the 107th District, was first elected in a special election in 1999.


“I have cherished every moment of my service in the State House of Representatives, and I can’t overstate  how much it has meant to me to have been entrusted by the residents of the 107th District over the years to represent them in Hartford.  I thank the Governor for his faith in me for this new post.  I am looking forward to the new set of challenges that will accompany my new responsibilities, and I am grateful for this opportunity to continue my public service in a new and exciting way.”


According to Connecticut election laws, Governor Dannel Malloy has until January 17th to issue a Writ of Special Election setting a date for a special election to choose a successor.  That special election must be held in the 107th district 46 days after the writ is issued.


According to Connecticut state law, major parties have until 36 days prior to the special election to endorse candidates.  Petitioning candidates have eight days after the Writ of Special Election is issued to turn in signatures to get on the ballot.

Prosecutors defend motives for prosecuting Rowland case

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Federal prosecutors are defending their motives for prosecuting the conspiracy case against former Gov. John Rowland and former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley.

Wilson-Foley's attorneys have argued that hiding payments for Rowland's work on her 2012 campaign was a ``record-keeping'' violation that could have been handled in a civil enforcement by the Federal Election Commission.

In a pre-sentencing memo last week they suggested the criminal prosecution was driven by sensationalism due to the involvement of Rowland, and the government's dissatisfaction with the sentence the former Republican governor served in his 2004 corruption case.

Prosecutors responded in a filing Tuesday, denying they were on a ``blind pursuit'' of Rowland, and arguing that if elected Wilson-Foley would have taken office ``as a criminal who had won election by criminal means.''

WCSU professor weighs in on 'Torture Report', subsequent proposals

The outgoing chairman of the Senate intelligence committee is urging a legal ban on torture and other policy and legislative changes to ensure that the U.S. government never again mistreats detainees.  Western Connecticut State University political science professor Chris Kukk, a former Counter Intellegence Officer, previously said that there is no difference between "torture" and "enhanced interrogation techniques".


Kukk says in the past, when this type of information was buried, all of the laws had to be rewritten because the country waited too long to find out what was done wrong. 


He says throughout human history, these types of techniques don't work.  The 525-page executive summary cited the CIA's own documents in finding that the agency's interrogation program was more brutal than previously understood but failed to produce crucial intelligence. 


California Senator Diane Feinstein's proposals come amid polls showing that a majority of Americans believe harsh CIA interrogations after the 9/11 attacks were justified.

Judge postpones Rowland sentencing due to evidence concern

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) A federal judge has delayed the sentencing of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland in a campaign fraud case because of defense lawyers' concerns about some evidence.

U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven on Monday postponed Rowland's sentencing, which was scheduled for Wednesday. A new sentencing date wasn't immediately released.

Rowland was convicted in September of conspiring to hide payments for work he did on the failed 2012 5th congressional district campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley, through a phony contract with a nursing home business owned by her husband, Brian Foley.

Rowland's lawyer, Reid Weingarten, asked for the delay, telling Arterton he didn't know that Brian Foley told his wife that a law firm signed off on the deal with Rowland.

Rowland potentially faces more than three years in prison.

Progress at site of new Sandy Hook School

Progress is being made at the Newtown site of the new Sandy Hook School. 


Construction officials in December continued mass excavation throughout the project site to create a new footprint for the building.  Soil was also placed to make a new entryway to the site.  Limited storm drainage piping and structures were slated to be started at the Dickinson  Drive site. 


(Photo courtesy:


The building will have one long so-called main street corridor.  There will be three wings off of it for different grade level classrooms.  


Consigli Construction broke ground in October for the new 87,000 square-foot Sandy Hook School.

Civilian dispatch in Danbury on track for police, fire departments

Phase one is underway in Danbury for the migration to a centralized civilian dispatch center for the Police and Fire departments.  Mayor Mark Boughton says starting this month, civilians are staffing the front desk operations of the Police Station.  By mid-February, the new Western Connecticut 911 dispatch center will go live. 


Boughton called it a huge culture change for the public safety system, and sets the stage for an eventual migration to a regional 911 call center.


Boughton says it represents a $1 million-per-year increase of proactive policing for the community. He says residents will see quicker response times by police, more traffic enforcement, and a greater emphasis on quality-of-life enforcement.


Financially, after an initial two- to three-year up-front investment, Boughton says taxpayers will see a significant savings driven by a reduction in overtime, and a reduction of staffing through attrition.

Public hearing scheduled for mixed use project in Brookfield

A public hearing is continuing this month in Brookfield on a mixed use development.  The Inland Wetlands Commission decided at their last meeting of 2014 to continue the public hearing for the Laurel Hill Road project. 


Their next regularly scheduled meeting is on the 12th. 


The mixed Use, Incentive Housing Development consists of 98 residential units and 8,600 square feet of commercial space with supporting driveway and utilities.  The Inland Wetlands Commission says it requires the disturbance of existing wetlands, including minor filling of a wetland, and disturbance of upland review areas associated with both onsite and offsite existing wetlands. 


The meeting on the 12th is at 7:15pm at Brookfield Town Hall.


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