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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-04

Bethel Board of Finance cust $542,000 from proposed budget

The Bethel Board of Finance has made revisions to the budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The budgets last week were rejected by residents, 29 votes on the municipal side and 2 votes on the education side. 


The Finance board cut $300,000 from the education spending plan and $242,000 from the municipal side.  The proposed tax increase is .21 percent.  The overall proposal of $70.3 million will go to a special town meeting set for Monday night. 


Bethel residents will then set a date for the next referendum.

Groundbreaking ceremony held for New Fairfield Free Public Library renovations

A ceremonial groundbreaking has been held for the renovation to the New Fairfield Free Public Library.  A massive renovation is planned in New Fairfield to bring the Library into compliance with the American Disabilities Act.  A competitive state library grant will help pay for the project, which includes improved walkways and construction of an elevator.  There will also be energy-efficiency improvements for the building that hasn’t seen renovations for 30 years. 


The groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday. 



State Representative Richard Smith says the library provides important educational services to the community and he hopes the renovations will attract new visitors, noting that the improvements will assist the people who already visit regularly. 


The library will remain open during the renovation, which is expected to last a few months, with entry available only through the front doors.  The Children's Library is temporarily located in the upper level community room.

State releases new figures on enrolled medical marijuana patients

The Department of Consumer Protection has provided an update on the number of people registered for the state's medical marijuana program.  The state's medical marijuana program was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy about three years ago.  It allows licensed physicians to prescribe medicinal marijuana for certain debilitating diseases or conditions. 


At that time, the state also approved four producers and six dispensaries, one of which is located in Bethel. 


The latest numbers from the state are from mid April, and show overall there are more than 3,600 qualified patients.  Fairfield County has 884 patients approved for medicinal marijuana, the second largest of all counties in Connecticut, behind only New Haven County.  There are 994 patients in that county.  Litchfield COunty has 235 qualified patients.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission meets with families

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has held another meeting about outreach.  During the gathering Tuesday night, the Commission discussed information gathering and re-engaging with the 26 families who lost loved ones on 12-14. 


During previous meetings, Chairman Kyle Lyddy talked about the ongoing presentations and whether they should continue if the group decides that ultimately an anonymous competition will be held.  The group looked at the 9-11 Memorial Competition Guidelines for design concept and submissions for similar rules. 


Lyddy said he wanted to re-engage with the families, some of whom are members of the Commission, to show them what the group has so far and to ask for their input. 


Lyddy is also working on another Q&A sheet for the next meeting.

State police review of response to Sandy Hook not yet complete

Reports reviewing law enforcement action during mass shootings have been issued for several recent events, but not about Sandy Hook School.  Reviews of police and first responder actions along with recommendations about areas of improvement have been issued generally within two years. 


The Hartford Courant reports that Connecticut State Police have yet to issue an after-action report.  Spokesman Sgt Shane Hassett told the publication that those kinds of report take a considerable amount of time and they are continuing to work on one. 


It's been nearly two and a half years since the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook School. 


The Connecticut Police Chief's Association reviewed the Newtown Police Department's response, and that 9 page report didn't make any recommendations on improvements.  The Courant reports that these types of reviews are not meant to place blame, but focus on ways lives can be saved.

WCSU ranked in top 5 of colleges providing best value in Conn.

Western Connecticut State University places in the top 5 for Colleges Providing the Best Value in Connecticut.  The statewide review of colleges and their value was done by a group called SmartAsset.  Western Connecticut State University was ranked 4th highest in the state. 


The survey compared the expense of attending college with the anticipated return to the student in terms of education and financial compensation from future employment.  UConn, Yale and Trinity College placed in the top 3.  Central Connecticut State University rounded out the top 5. 


The cost of college attendance was determined based on tuition, student living costs, and average scholarships and grants offered to students at the institution. The return to students was estimated on the basis of retention rates for current students and the average starting salary for graduates of the institution.

Informational meeting about grass carp stocking in Candlewood Lake

An informational meeting is being held tonight by the Candlewood Lake Authority about their planned grass carp stocking program.  The Authority, with the backing of the five municipalities surrounding the Lake, applied for and was awarded a grant from the state for the program.  Executive Director Larry Marsicano says part of the permitting process is to hold a forum for residents to learn about this, express concerns and ask questions.


The Eurasian Milfoil can be disruptive to boaters and swimmers on the Lake. 


Marsicano says there's very little that can be done when trying to manage something, that doesn't have unintended consequences.  But he says this program also includes water quality monitoring, weed mapping and analysis. 


Tonight's meeting is at 7pm on WestConn's midtown campus, in the science building.

Newtown residents approve town, school budgets

Newtown residents have approved budgets for the coming fiscal year by a large majority.  The municipal side was approved 2,379 to 814.  The education plan was approved 2,246 to 939.  There was an approximate 19 percent voter turnout.  


The budget is $111.73 million and is a .6 percent increase over the current fiscal year.  The municipal side is $40.1 million and the schools asked for $71.6 million. 


Even though there is a spending increase, there is a projected reduction in taxes by .7 percent.  This is because of intergovernmental revenue increases, new grand list revenue and more savings in health insurance costs for municipal employees. 

Recount shows Bethel education budget fails by 2 votes

The Bethel education budget failed last week by two votes.  An automatic hand recount was triggered after the referendum when the results showed there were just three more votes in opposition than those in favor.  Residents rejected the municipal budget by 29 votes, and decided that both were too high. 


The founder of the Tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee, Billy Michael, says this is the second time a recount was needed.  He says the BAC isn't against a slight increase in spending, noting that there can be 3-point-3 million dollars in new spending without needing a mill rate increase.


The Bethel Board of Finance is set to meet at 7pm tonight about budget revisions.

New Fairfield residents approve budget

New Fairfield residents have approved a budget with 694 in favor, 401 opposed.  There was about a 12-percent voter turn out.  The $52 million budget is a slight increase in spending over the current year.  There's $41.4 million budgeted for the schools and $10.6 million on the municipal side.  The increase is about $879,000.  New Fairfield officials say that's for an increase in tax relief for seniors, school employee raises and extended paramedic coverage to 24-hours-a-day during the week. 


Because of the revaluation done last year, not everyone will see a tax increase. 


Savings were found in the school budget by eliminating three teaching positions through attrition and declining enrollment.  While there is a 1.3 percent increase in spending, school officials say that was kept down because of health insurance savings and energy efficient lighting being installed. 

Danbury official addresses concerns about the proposed budget

Some concerns with various areas of the proposed budget in Danbury have been addressed. 


Some residents and city officials have questioned Mayor Mark Boughton about the civilian dispatching at the police station and the combined police and fire dispatch.  One resident asked about recorded messages at the Police Department.  The automated system was installed in 2009.  There is a shift commander on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Boughton says any resident can call the non-emergency line and talk with the shift commander. 


He noted that all of the dispatchers have been trained, and for the first several months are working side by side with officers and firefighters. 


Which non-profits receive City funding was also questioned.  There is just one lump sum line item in the budget for funding.  Boughton says social service grants are once again awarded by the United Way of Western Connecticut after a thorough vetting process. 


Volunteers spend several weeks reading agency proposals and listening to presentations to arrive at a final funding recommendation based on the biggest impact on the community.  The City then must approve the recommendations.  There is information publicly available of why each decision was made and how they scored each agency.


Committees of the City Council have met to vet the budget and ask questions of various city department heads.

Newtown creates committee to study town roads policies

Newtown officials have created a committee to study policy and planning for town roads.  During the Board of Selectmen meeting last week, the panel was put together to advise officials of how best to spend money to fix deteriorating roads. 


Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob said during the meeting that there are several heavily traveled, but poorly maintained private roads in Newtown.  In addition to roads in the two lakeside neighborhood associations, which was previously four associations, there are more than 100 other roads that don’t pay for the maintenance provided by the town.


First Selectman Pat Llodra said the town pledged in 1968 to maintain private roads to ensure safe emergency vehicle access to all residents in four lakeside neighborhood.  In return, they pay 50-percent of material cost to the town for improvements.  But there are several other private roads where no payment is received. 


$3 million in bond money will be used over the next several years to fast track work on some roads in the worse condition around Newtown. 


The committee will include residents, Public Works employees and Newtown officials.

Monroe boy shines spotlight on rare neuro-genetic disorder

A rare neuro-genetic disorder is being placed in the spotlight by a local lawmaker.  Angelman Syndrome results in intellectual and developmental delay.  Joey Moretti, a young boy from Monroe, is the inspiration behind The Fighting Angels Foundation.  His father, Joe Moretti Senior says it's been a learning experience, researching and trying to learn as much as possible about the disorder.


Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski said on Saturday that Governor Malloy declared the day as Angelman Awareness Day in Connecticut.


The characteristics of Angelman Syndrome include lack of speech, seizures, and walking and balance disorders.  Angelman Syndrome is often misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy or autism, due to lack of awareness. Individuals with Angelman syndrome usually have a happy demeanor, laugh frequently and are often smiling. 


The disorder occurs in one in 15,000 live births. 


Sredzinski says when he found out that  cutting-edge genetic research was being conducted at the UConn School of Medicine, he decided to highlight what is being done, and ultimately bring attention to, the fight for a cure.

Local lawmaker backs measure creating fee to fund state parks

A bill now awaiting action by the state Senate seeks to provide for the fiscal sustainability of state parks.  The bill would allow people to make a voluntary opt-out $5 donation to state parks when they renew motor vehicle registration. 


Redding Representative John Shaban introduced an amendment to create a type of lockbox for the funds, and the amendment was approved for add on to the proposed bill.  He cautioned that whether that mechanism will finally protect this “dedicated” fund is still unknown. 


State Senator Ted Kennedy Junior notes that Governor Malloy's proposed budget calls for a $2 million dollar cut to state parks.


The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut is concerned.  President Mike Riley says the bill represents a raid on the Transportation Fund.

Newtown Hook and Ladder breaks ground on new facility

A ground breaking ceremony has been held for the Newtown Hook and Ladder volunteer firehouse on Church Hill Road.  The ceremony was held Wednesday and marked the start of construction at the former Trinity Episcopal Church site.  The 16,000 square foot building is slated to open in about a year and replaces a firehouse built in 1929 on Main Street.  Newtown has agreed to contribute $1.5 million toward the $2.5 million cost.  The building will sit on little more than three acres purchased for $500,000.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day Saturday

The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut is hosting it's annual Healthy Kids Day.  Membership Director Megan Hebert says the free community event is to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active.


They will teach families how to develop a healthy routine at home.  Healthy Kids Day  features games, healthy cooking demonstrations, and other events. 



The free event is being held this afternoon at the Y's Greenknoll Branch on Huckleberry Hill Road in Brookfield from 1 to 3pm.

Newtown budget referendum Tuesday, special Saturday absentee session

A special Saturday voting session is being held in Newtown today for those who won't be able to get to the referendum being held on Tuesday.  Today's voting in Newtown is being held at the Town Clerk's office from 9am to noon. 


The budget is proposed at $111.73 million and is a .6 percent increase over the current fiscal year.  The municipal proposal is $40.1 million and the schools are asking for $71.6 million. 


Even though there is a spending increase, there is a projected reduction in taxes by .7 percent.  This is because of intergovernmental revenue increases, new grand list revenue and more savings in health insurance costs for municipal employees. 


The Saturday voting session at the Town Clerk's office is from 9am to noon.  The budget referendum is Tuesday with polls open from 6am to 8pm.

Women's Business Council hosts Conversations with Extraordinary Women

The Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has hosted their 5th annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women.  During the event Thursday night, three women shared their journeys to success and what they learned along the way. 



Director of New Media at Yale, Amy Kundrat says years ago the biases in the workplace were more overt--including separate want ads.  She gave the example of a male colleague who consistently interrupts women, but not men.  She suggested creating a safe space in organizations to talk about that unconscious bias.  Kundrat says recent surveys have shown that women only make up 17 percent of corporate boards in the United States and that women hold only 20 percent of elected offices.  Norway has a 40 percent rule for corporate boards.


Missy Chase Lapine, founder of Sneaky Chef Foods says having it all changes on an hourly basis.  If she has helped to empower women to feel like a supermom doing well by families, she considers herself a success.  A group of high school and college students attended the event and Chase Lapine told them to be motivated, to make themselves proud, and to strive to do better than the day before.  But she noted that it is hard to remain true to who you are and remain true to yourself when everyone around you tells you differently.


Ms Foundation for Women CEO Theresa Younger says women and men are being paid differently.  To explain it to those who don't believe the numerous polls stating otherwise, she gave this example:


"Equate it to boys and girls, and ask them to explain why their daughter should be paid less than their son when you paid the same amount for  them to go to college."


Younger says she is fortunate to lead an organization that juggles the issues facing women in this country in the fight for equality so everyone can reach their fullest identity.


'Dancing with the Stars' to benefit Danbury Youth Services

Some stars of Danbury are putting on their dancing shoes tonight for a fundraiser benefiting Danbury Youth Services.  The Dancing with the Stars event is being held at The Palace Danbury.  Among the featured dancers are City Center executive director Andrea Gartner, State Representative David Arconti and Danbury Elderly Services Director Susan Tomanio. 


Danbury Youth Services Co-chair Sherry Creighton says the money raised tonight will go toward DYS programming.  DYS programming includes counseling for children and families, afterschool programs, mentoring programs, earn a bike program and others.  Creighton says the event is a partnership with A Common Ground Community Arts Center and Arthur Murray. 



The event is from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.  Tickets are$75.00, which includes Appetizers and Drinks.  Votes are $10.00 each.


This year's "Dancing with the Stars" event features the following "Stars" and "Dancers":

  • Andrea Gartner, City Center executive director, dancing with Andy Cabell from Arthur Murray;
  • David Arconti, state representative for Danbury, dancing with Elizabeth Cotter;
  • Dinilio Jimenez, DYS board member, dancing with Tara Aston from Arthur Murray;
  • Dana Perez, Danbury Westside Middle School counselor, dancing with Jill Hancock from A Common Ground;
  • Jack Deep, owner and manager of Deep's Hardware, dancing with Jen Spagnolo Danise from A Common Ground;
  • and Susan Tomanio, executive director Elderly Services at City of Danbury, dancing with Mike Rodrigues from Arthur Murray.


Judges include Deputy Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Glass and Danbury First Lady Phyllis Boughton

Commission formed to study options for Newtown Community Center project

The Newtown Community Center project is headed back to the drawing board.  During the Board of Selectmen's meeting on Monday, a Commission was created to continue studying the needs of the town.  Opposition to Phase 1 of the proposal as just a senior center and aquatics center forced the cancellation of an April 28th referendum on the issue. 


First Selectman Pat Llodra says the ground work that's already been done should make the Commission's job easier.  Llodra says she wants to ensure that essential partners have a voice.  She is looking for a six month process to determine what various sectors of the community are looking for in a Center. 


The funding for the project comes from a $15 million grant donated by General Electric last year.  Most of the grant is to be used for the development and construction of a new community center.  About $5 million would be spent for operational costs over the first several years that a Center is open.


The Commission's first meeting will be held either next week or the week after.

Overnight paving on I-84 in Danbury

Some overnight road work is underway along a five mile stretch of highway through Danbury. 


The state Department of Transportation is milling and paving both east and westbound between exits 3 and 8.  The overnight work started Sunday and is being done between 8pm and 5:30am.  The work is scheduled to be completed by mid-July.  Various lane closures will be set up for the overnight roadwork each week night. 


The DOT says modifications or extensions to the schedule may be needed due to weather delays or other unforseen circumstances.

Bill adds GPS usage to state stalking statutes

A bill has been advanced this week to the state House aimed at better protecting victims of stalking.  The legislation would include the use of a Global Positioning System, or GPS, into the existing criminal laws on stalking.  Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski says this isn't for routine use of a GPS device by businesses who keep tabs on deliveries and the like.


The Office of the State's Victim Advocate supports this legislation.


A committee on Tuesday voted nearly unanimously to make the use of a GPS device for stalking a class B misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail. 


Sredzinski says that new technology is sometimes being used to  terrify, torment and instill fear in victims who are forced to always look over their shoulder. He hopes that including GPS devices in existing law will will provide victims with some level of comfort.


Current state law says stalking is when a person recklessly causes another to reasonably fear for his or her physical safety by willfully and repeatedly following, or lying in wait for that person.

Area lawmakers rally for environmental protection bills on Earth Day

State lawmakers and environmental advocates have rallied in support of a number of bills aimed at protecting the environment. 


Kent state Representative Roberta Willis says the state and country have come far since the first Earth Day was celebrated 45 years ago.  There was no Environmental Protection Agency, no Department of Environmental Protection, and no Council on Environmental Quality.


One of the bills being considered this session would phase out single-use plastic bags in Connecticut.  Lawmakers are also calling for passage of legislation to reduce the use of pesticides in the state.


A bill to ban the sale of personal care products which contain microbeads is also being considered.  Redding state Representative Dan Carter says the idea for the bill came from a constituent.  The small particles of plastic found in toothpaste, soap and other products find their way into wastewater treatment facilities, and into the water becoming a significant source of pollution.  Lawmakers say the non-biodegradables threaten aquatic life which often mistake them for food.

Danbury officials recommend smaller budget than Board of Ed requested

A Committee of the Danbury City Council is recommending that the education portion of the budget be lower than what the Board of Education requested.  The Board sought $127.5 million, but the Mayor has recommended $124 million.  That smaller number is still a 2.3 percent increase in spending over the current year. 


Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says full day kindergarten, a new middle school and increased security are leading to some of the increase.  Special education is a major cost driver in this budget.  Danbury is looking to create a a so-called building brace program to keep kids in the district rather than outplace a student.  Part of the outplacement cost is transportation.


Pascarella says the state has flat funded Education Cost Sharing grants to Danbury since 2008, even though the City has seen consistent enrollment increases. 


Pascarella says if there are more budget cutbacks there will have to be fewer teachers, less supplies and consolidated administrators.

Danbury named 'Tree City USA' for 25th year in a row

Danbury has once again been named as a Tree City USA.  The National Arbor Day Society awards various cities nationwide with this honor and chose Danbury because of the work by the Forestry Division to follow tree care ordinances while addressing community needs. 


This is the 25th consecutive year that Danbury has been given this recognition. 


In honor of this Arbor Day, on Friday, Mayor Mark Boughton will join the Danbury Garden Club for a tree planting ceremony at 10am at Park Avenue School.  Another tree planting will follow at 11am at Kenosia Park.

Ridgefield Board of Ed scales back budget proposal

The Ridgefield Board of Education has scaled back its budget proposal to comply with a reduced budget approved by the Ridgefield Board of Finance.  The $86 million proposal was lowered Monday by $400,000 and represents a .98 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year. 


The Ridgefield Press reports that cuts were made by reducing the curriculum and instruction budget, the hardware and software technology line item, and some maintenance projects.  Projected energy savings and staff turnover savings were increased.  New staffing requests were reduced and some supplies and materials accounts were also reduced. 


The only change from the recommendations was a $25,000 reduction to the curriculum and instruction budget for planning to improve the STEM program was replaced with a $25,000 increase to the projected staff turnover savings.

11 Newtown families: No ties to group behind McGraw concert

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The families of 11 people killed in the Newtown school massacre distanced themselves Wednesday from a gun control group, saying they want to clarify that victims' families are not benefiting directly from a Tim McGraw concert planned this summer.


The July 17 concert in Hartford is benefiting Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group that was created in response to the 2012 tragedy and involves several victims' relatives. It has lobbied for tighter restrictions on guns and organized community-based efforts around the country to protect children from gun violence.


In their statement, the 11 families said they wanted to address confusion regarding whom the group speaks for and the purpose of the benefit concert headlined by McGraw. They said the statement is not related to any position on gun control.


"Our decision to publicly address this matter is not related to a position regarding any of the complex issues surrounding our tragedy," the families said. "We wish only to provide clarification for the many generous donors that believe they are directly supporting the families at the center of this tragedy" by contributing to the Sandy Hook Promise organization.


McGraw has defended his decision to participate in the concert at the XFINITY Theatre against criticism from gun rights advocates, saying there is no contradiction between gun ownership and supporting Sandy Hook Promise.


The opening act, Billy Currington, withdrew and said on his Facebook page that he doesn't want to become involved in a debate between gun rights and gun control.


"I've never been one to take on controversial issues - I'm a singer," he wrote. "I do feel strongly about honoring and supporting the Sandy Hook community and will be making a donation to a local organization."


The families who signed the statement are the parents of slain first-graders Charlotte Bacon, Josephine Gay, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Jessica Rekos and Avielle Richman as well as the families of slain principal Dawn Hochsprung and teacher Victoria Soto.

Danbury officials discuss proposed High School renovation project

Danbury's chief elected official is backing his plan for a major renovation project at the High School.  During a public hearing on Monday, Mayor Mark Boughton told the City Council that the proposed design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy.  He cautioned that it will be a staffing challenge once opened, but he sees no other way to accommodate the influx of students.


The City Council takes up the $53.5 million proposal again in two weeks.  Boughton is pushing for approval to send the idea to a referendum the second week in June. 


An addition to the current building would include a two story gym, an academic floor and a science and computer lab level with the possibility in the future for another level.  62-percent of the cost will be paid for by the state. 


Boughton anticipates construction by November if the weather cooperates, or by the Spring of 2016

Deadline approaching for additions to Veterans Walkway of Honor in Danbury

The next phase of the Veterans Walkway of Honor is under way in Danbury.  The bricks engraved with the names of veterans from all branches of the armed forces are located at the Danbury War Memorial and lead to the memorial monuments.  


450 bricks already line the walkway. 


The deadline for ordering an engraved brick is the 27th, and they will be installed in time for Memorial Day.  Profits from the brick sales go directly to the Danbury War Memorial Association and other local veteran organizations.


A new addition will also be added to the walkway this year. Twelve granite pillars, each with a military medallion will be installed, with a bronze plaque listing the six veteran organizations in the city.  They are Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #149, American Legion Post #60, Disabled American Veterans Chapter #25, Marine Corps League Hat City Detachment, Catholic War Veterans Post #1042, and Korean War Veterans Association.


For additional info, contact Lee Teicholz at (203) 748-0723 or Dan Hayes at (203) 743-3932.

Bethel Residents reject budget according to unofficial referendum results

Bethel residents have rejected a combined municipal and education budget proposal of about $70.9 million. It represented a 1.13 percent tax increase.  There was about a 26-percent turn out at the polls.  Last budget process took four votes to gain approval of a plan.


The proposed municipal budget of $27.6 million was rejected by 29 voters, according to unofficial tallies.  The proposed education spending of $43.28 million was unofficially rejected by 3 votes. That will trigger an automatic recount.


The municipal budget received 1,438 yes votes and 1,467 no votes.  1,873 residents said the plan was too high while 599 said it was too low.  The education budget received 1,451 yes votes and 1,454 no votes.  1,760 residents said the plan was too high while 701 said it was too low.


One of the 14 capital items, making up about half of the $2 million proposal, is road reconstruction, was approved 1,780 to 1,103.


The capital items are as follows:

$50,000 for the 2017 revaluation work

$30,000 for a new air compressor for the Bethel Fire Department

$52,000 in structural repairs to the Highway Garage

$285,000 for an emergency generator for Bethel High School

$35,000 for a Building Department vehicle replacement

$20,000 for a fuel maintenance system

$118,000 for a backhoe/loader replacement

$170,000 for a Highway Department vehicle replacement

$15,000 for two funnel plows

$12,000 for a trailer for the Parks and Recreation Department

$18,000 for a top dresser for the Parks and Recreation Department

$30,000 for construction of Rubino Property Fields

$50,000 toward the 2017 Plan of Conservation and Development

$1 million in road reconstruction

Public hearing held about Danbury budget proposal

A public hearing has been held about Danbury's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. 


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is proposing a $237.7 million budget with a tax increase of 2.4 percent.  Sewer and water rates would remain the same.  The municipal side of the budget is heavy on infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges and school roof improvements. 


The City Council committee studying the education portion of the proposed budget is meeting at 6pm tomorrow in City Hall about the plan. 


Boughton also issued a so-called Playbook of steps to take over the next five to 10 years to streamline City government and save taxpayers money.  He has proposed creating a Project Management Office.  Other cities that have done this and Boughton says they've seen a 30 percent decrease in failed projects and 25 percent increase in projects delivered under budget.

Funding awarded for housing, services for homeless veterans

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs has released nearly $700,000 to Connecticut public housing agencies to provide rental assistance for 76 homeless Connecticut veterans.  Case management and clinical services will also be provided. 


Senator Chris Murphy says every time Connecticut wins new housing vouchers from homeless veterans, they go to different parts of the state.  Danbury has received the vouchers in the past, but this round is going to Norwalk, Hartford and West Haven. 


Murphy commended Vet House 1 and Vet House 2 in Danbury, calling the effort innovative.  He says Danbury's tremendous effort to get veterans off the street is a great example of the community and government coming together.  He says Danbury will continue to get its fair share of vouchers.


Murphy says one homeless vet is too many, and given all they have done to serve this country, they must be provided with the support they need.


In 2008, Murphy assembled a working group to secure more HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers for the state.  Since then, the assistance has increased by more than 300 percent, and has helped more than 700 Connecticut veterans move off the streets and into homes of their own.  In 2010, Murphy visited Army Sgt. Shellyann Burke of Waterbury – a nine-year veteran who had been living with her 3-year old daughter out of their car – at the new 2-bedroom apartment they had been able to move into because of the increased number of HUD-VASH vouchers made available to Connecticut veterans.

Mental health funding cuts stir outcry in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to cut state grants to community mental health and substance abuse providers is prompting an outcry from advocates and some families of Newtown massacre victims in Connecticut.

Advocates say the Democratic governor's spending plan for next fiscal year reduces the grants by $25.5 million.

That money is used by private agencies to help cover patients without medical insurance and the gap between how much it costs to provide mental health services and the state's reimbursement for Medicaid patients. They're predicting layoffs and program closures.

One Newtown parent wrote a letter to Malloy and legislators, asking if the deaths ``mean nothing'' to them now.

Despite the proposed reduction, Malloy's budget still spends more on the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services than last year.

Public hearing in Danbury on budget, other items

Nearly a dozen items are up for discussion in Danbury tonight at a Public Hearing. 


The main items are the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Capital Item bonds and a Danbury High School renovation project.  The City Council is also calling on residents to attend the public hearing if they want to weigh in on a proposed Dog Park off Miry Brook Road, Tax Deferral Assessments and adding two members to the Board of Assessment Appeals.  The other three items on the agenda are changes to Governmental Entities, changes to liquor permit renewals and the 2015 Neighborhood Assistance Act.


The Tax Deferral Assessment ordinance revision is to comply with changes at the state level.  Currently Danbury can offer a 50-percent deferral for projects up to $25,000 for three years.  The state has changed the threshold to projects up to $10,000.


There are end dates set for several Commissions, Authorities and Agencies in the Governmental Entities code of ordinance.


The liquor permit renewals ordinance would bring Danbury into compliance of a new state law that requires the Chief of Police to be notified of and comment on renewal applications by establishments with on premises liquor permits.


The 2015 Neighborhood Assistance Act program, run by the state, allows businesses to sponsor approved community programs and receive tax credits for their contributions. No City funding is used for the credits.


Tonight's Public Hearing is at 7pm in Council Chambers of City Hall.

Lawmaker opposes shrinking drug-free zones around schools

A local lawmaker is speaking out against a bill making its way through the legislative process. 


New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith says he's disappointed the Judiciary Committee narrowly approved a bill to shrink drug-free school zones and all felony drug possession charges to misdemeanors.  Smith, a practicing attorney, says he voted against the measure in the Judiciary Committee because of the potential long-lasting affects it will have.  The group voted 22 to 20 in the early morning hours of the final day for sending bills out of Committee.


The drug-free school zone would be reduced from the current 1,500 feet to the immediate school property.


The legislation is a core piece of Governor Malloy's proposed Second Chance Society program.  Smith says the bill would allow anyone to possess up to a kilogram of narcotics without being charged with a felony.


Proponents claim its intent is to give drug offenders a second chance at turning their life around by making drug possession a simple misdemeanor, barring them from a mandatory jail sentence.   Smith says there would be no limit on the quantity or type of the possessed drug, nor is there an enhanced penalty for multiple offenses.


Smith says he would rather see the person addicted to drugs get treatment as opposed to sitting in a jail cell, but that this bill does not provide for that.

Danbury Whalers still in Danbury, for now

5pm came and went Friday and the Danbury Whalers had not moved out of the Danbury Ice Arena.  Eagle Ice Sports, which owns the Arena, sent the Whalers owners a letter earlier this month saying that it would not be renewing their second five-year term of a lease signed 5 years ago.  Among the complaints listed in the letter was the team paying invoices for rent and other expenses  late.  The arena also cited the team allowing customers to bring in outside food, drinks and alcoholic beverages.  The Whalers CEO claims the Arena owes the team money.  Negotiations are reportedly still under way.

Danbury Mayor proposing renting out jail cells to generate revenue

Danbury officials are looking to increase revenue to the City through regionalization.  During his budget address, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton suggested leasing 10 jail cells a night. 


When asked who would rent the cells, he gave the example of Bethel.  The neighboring town is planning to build a new police station with a lock up and dispatch center.  Bethel residents rejected a $14 million proposed police station in December.  A slightly scaled back proposal is now being considered.


Boughton says the prisoners end up going to the Danbury Court house anyway, so Danbury could transport them there as well.  He claims by other municipalities contracting out those services to save money, Danbury could generate $700,000 a year in revenue.


He also suggested consolidating area police dispatchers into the new Center that's now up and running.


Last summer Newtown was considering the future of dispatching services for their police department.  A 2011 regionalization effort with Danbury and other towns was not successful, in part because Danbury had not yet consolidated its 911 call center operations.


A public hearing on the budget is being held Monday at 7pm at City Hall.

Exchange student program seeks host families

Residents in Western Connecticut who are looking to host an international exchange student are being sought as host families for the Council on Educational Travel USA.  Local coordinator Nancy Hershatter says the program is for high school students aged 15 through 18 to attend an American high school for a semester or a year.  They have come to the U.S. from over 40 countries as diverse as Thailand and Finland, Denmark, Spain and China. 


The Council on Educational Travel USA also administers an outbound program. 


Hershatter says hosting an international exchange student is a great way to grow in a shrinking world.  She says the only requirement is that volunteers have a nurturing home and a family open to learning about another culture.


More information can be found on the organization's website or by emailing  Hershatter will also be at Rumor's Cafe, 22 Mill Plain Road, between 3 and 5 PM on Saturday, April 18.

Federal Road water main project continues, costs rise

Milling and paving work is being done next week on Federal Road in Brookfield between Candlewood Lake Road and the Danbury city line.  The work, weather permitting, will be done on Wednesday and Thursday.  There will be various lane closures. 


This stems from a project to extend a water line down Federal Road. 


Property owners along Federal Road are paying for the infrastructure work in the form of a benefit assessment.  But there was a mistake when the bonds were issued in 2010 and 2013.  They were done as tax free, and Brookfield now owes the IRS 289-thousand dollars.  The Newstimes reports that Brookfield must also spend 150-thousand dollars to swap out the bonds for taxable ones.

Danbury Police Officer of the Year Award presented

The Danbury Police Officer of the Year Award has been presented to this year's honoree.  The Exchange Club of Danbury says Police Officer Joseph Pooler is a veteran officer with a genuine concern for the public and his fellow officers. 


He is a member of the SWAT Team, Crisis Negotiation Team and serves as Sniper Team Leader. 


The Exchange Club says Pooler's mindset is focused on the prevention of crime, and has a knack for putting victims at ease.  He was also selected as this year's Officer of the Year for a successful conclusion to cases through diligent investigations.  The Exchange Club says Officer Pooler's dedication to the Danbury Police Department and community, professionalism, pride and respect that he has for his job and fellow officers is highly commendable. 


The Exchange Club says Pooler was selected as this year's honoree because he demonstrates a consistent work ethic and professionalism.

Tim McGraw defends decision to headline Sandy Hook concert

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Tim McGraw is defending his decision to headline a Connecticut concert to benefit a Sandy Hook group, responding to critics who call it a ``gun control fundraiser.''

Gun rights advocates took to Facebook and Twitter, calling the country singer a hypocrite for appearing in the event that will benefit Sandy Hook Promise, which seeks to protect children from gun violence.

Opening act Billy Currington withdrew and said on his Facebook page he's ``never been one to take on controversial issues.''

McGraw said in a statement to The Washington Post Thursday he supports gun ownership, but it requires education and safety. He said the concert is intended to help the community.

McGraw will perform at the XFINITY Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut, on July 17.

Progress being made on new Sandy Hook School

More progress is being made on construction of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.  In an updated post on the official project design and construction website, the contractor says the foundations for Wing A and the basement of Wing B have been excavated. 





The foundations and footings for those areas have also been installed.  Some utility work has started at the site as well.  Retaining walls along the new entry driveway and some drainage infrastructure has also begun. 


Construction officials said in their forecast of the work this month is that the Wing B foundations would continue to be installed.  The start of the Wing C foundations is set to begin. 


The school is slated to open in the fall of 2016.

Esty calls for roadblocks to gun violence prevention removed from appropriation bills

A local member of Congress is lobbying U.S. House leadership to act on gun violence prevention measures.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is calling on House leaders to not include legislative language in upcoming appropriation bills that would block efforts to reduce and prevent gun violence. 


Esty, Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, says these riders have been added without open debate in previous bills, and have acted as roadblocks.  She specifically cited language that's prevent law enforcement and academic institutions from using gun trace data to better understand the pattern of criminal gun transfers. 


Esty says there's no justification for preventing scientific research into the causes of gun violence and restricting the ability to track and combat the spread of illegal guns.

United Way launches campaign to end homelessness

A local social service agency is working on a new campaign to reduce homelessness.  The United Way of Western Connecticut has collaborated with Opening Doors of Fairfield County for this effort. 


Together, they have launched a 100 day campaign to direct the limited housing resources available to families and individuals who are currently experiencing a housing crisis. 


One of the goals of the effort is to reduce the family shelter wait list by housing 100 families.  Another goal is to reduce the time between assessment and allocation of resources for housing inventory.  The United Way says they also want to enhance outreach efforts to landlords to help increase the inventory of affordable rental units throughout Fairfield County.

WCSU to host 'Mini-Mudder' obstacle race

The mascot of the Western Connecticut State University Colonials, Chuck, is playing host to the 3rd annual Mini-Mudder event this weekend.  The event fundraiser is to benefit recreation programming.  Assistant Director for the Center for Student Involvement Amy Shanks says it's one of the most popular events held on campus and is changed a bit from year to year.


The event on Sunday will include 16 physical challenges over the course of two miles.  It begins and ends on the turf field of the Athletic Complex on the West Side Campus on Sunday. 


Registration is $20, and free for WCSU students.  Registration will begin at 7 a.m. on the day of the event in the lobby of the Westside Athletic Complex (stadium building) until 8 am. The first heat will start at 8 am. Additional heats will start every 15 minutes.


The event will not be timed and will be held rain or shine.


Headbands will be distributed at the finish line. Camouflage “Got Mud?” t-shirts will be available for purchase on event day.  The event is hosted by the WCSU Recreation Office, the WCSU Health Promotion & Exercise Sciences Department and the Student Government Association. Participants between the ages of 12 and 17 must have written parental consent. Participants between the ages of 12 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult throughout the course.

Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes benefit held by Monroe Women's Club

A benefit is being held this weekend in Monroe to raise funds for the organization known as Female Soldiers Forgotten Heroes.  The community-based transitional housing facility in Bridgeport helps homeless female veterans and their children. 


The home was purchased in partnership with the Kick for Nick Foundation, named for 19- year old Nicholas Madaras of Wilton who was killed in Iraq in 2006 while on foot patrol. 


The luncheon fundraiser on Saturday is being held at Roberto's Restaurant on Main Street by the Monroe Women's Club.  There will be a silent auction among other events that afternoon. The benefit is from 1-4 pm.  The cost is $35 per person. Tickets may be purchased by calling 203-452-8468. Questions can be directed to

Danbury seeking applicants for Veteran Affairs Director

The position of Director of Veterans Affairs in Danbury has officially been listed as an opening. 


Over the last several months, the workload of the office has been audited.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the position is right-sized at 19 hours a week.  Last month there were 33 requests for service from area veterans.  21 of them were not Danbury residents.  Boughton says that was the case over the last five or six months since the passing of Director Patrick Waldron in October at the age of 81.


He attributed part of the slow down to the opening of the new Veterans Affairs office on North Street.  That office, opened by the federal government, provides needs counseling and other services for returning veterans. 


The local job has now been posted.


Boughton says Waldron did such a great job and had so many procedures that he just knew about, it's going to be a big learning curve for the next person coming in.  Boughton says the City suffered a major loss with the passing of the 37-year Director.  He said Waldron fought relentlessly to help veterans, serving generations of veterans.  Waldron help generations of veterans, their widows and dependents.


The City will work closely with the state and federal VA departments to provide a seamless approach to services offered to veterans.

Rally for higher minimum wage held in Danbury

Union members, civic leaders and elected officials from Western Connecticut were part of a global protest Wednesday.  Arally and march were held in Danbury. 


(Photo courtsey: AFT Connecticut)


Healthcare employees, school support personnel, adjunct professors, home health and child care providers, service and maintenance workers joined fast food and retail workers at 4:15pm in a protest called Fight for $15.  Speakers at the rally will included Danbury Hospital Nurses Union President Mary Consoli and AFT Connecticut First Vice-President Steve McKeever.


The Danbury rally was one of four in Connecticut.

Connecticut committee hears testimony on allowing keno

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The president of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation says keno can be up and running in six months, if lawmakers ultimately agree to pass legislation authorizing the gambling game.

Anne Noble said the quasi-public agency already has ``the expertise, infrastructure and vendor relationships in place'' to launch keno.

The legislature's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee held a public hearing Wednesday on a bill allowing the lottery to offer keno. It's similar to legislation scrapped last year after lawmakers had second thoughts about allowing the game.

While Noble said keno would help the lottery diversity its portfolio and protect its revenue stream to the state, some lawmakers voiced continued concern with the legislation.

Sen. Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, said he's worried about the impact on families by allowing the game in bars and restaurants.

Danbury ramps up pothole repairs

The asphalt plants were supposed to open last week, but Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says many delayed opening until this week because of the rain.  Four crews had been at work in Danbury filling potholes during the off-season with Cold Patch, but Iadarola says that will be ramped up.


Danbury officials are asking resident to continue reporting potholes to the City’s 311 Information Line.  Motorists are being cautioned that when driving over a puddle of water, it might be a particularly deep pothole in hiding.


If you brake directly over a pothole, it can actually cause more damage than if you're able to slow down before getting to the pothole.  The potholes are prioritized on the busiest roads and then crews continue down the list.

Mayors, selectmen lobby lawmakers to maintain state funding levels

As the legislature's money committees near decision time on a new state budget and tax plan, mayors and selectmen came to the state capital to plea their case for maintaining current levels of aid.  Though the Governor's budget supposedly does no harm to municipalities it may actually create some cuts in state aid. 


Connecticut Conference of Municipalities spokesman Kevin Maloney says many have been forced to trim costs.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has proposed leaving 15 vacant positions open in the next fiscal year's budget. 


Boughton pointed out that the state budget cuts the Priority School District Grant by $6.6 million. 


Officials also complained about the high cost of abiding by mandates that the state does not fund.  Small towns are threatening to fire their resident state troopers if Governor Malloy's plan to pass the full cost of the program to communities survives the state budget process.  About 56 towns, including New Fairfield, Kent, and Sherman, either have a resident state trooper or share one.

Candlewood Lake area towns meet with CLA about funding

The Mayors and First Selectmen from the five municipalities that surround Candlewood Lake have agreed to help cover some cost differences in the Candlewood Lake Authority's budget.  During a meeting Monday, CLA explained more about the 80-percent cut by the lake's owner, First Light Power. 


Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman will each contribute about $77,000 toward the CLA's $534,000 budget.  First Light is contributing $10,000.  CLA must fundraise to make up the difference. 


New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman says they plan to meet again after the summer to talk more in depth with the CLA about future budgets. 


With the support of the surrounding communities, the CLA  applied for and was awarded a state grant to stock grass carp in the lake in an effort to control the non-native, invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is hosting an informational meeting about the sterile triploid grass carp program at West Conn on the 29th.  The meeting will be at 7pm in room SB125 of the Science Building on the midtown campus located on White Street.

WCSU announces dates, speakers for commencement

Western Connecticut State University has announced their commencement speakers, dates and locations.  The May 2015 undergraduate commencement ceremony will feature remarks by former Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell. 


Senator Chris Murphy will deliver the graduate commencement address on Friday May 8th.  That ceremony will be held at 7pm in the O’Neill Center on the university’s Westside campus in Danbury. 


The undergraduate ceremony will be held on Sunday May 10th at 10:30am, and for the first time it will be off campus.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says the ceremony will be at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Some of the factors in the decision include the traffic jams and delays for families making it to the ceremony, the stadium is crowded and it's outside. 


Every year there's stress over if the weather will cooperate on the day of the ceremony. 


Central, Souther and Eastern Connecticut State Universities all hold their undergraduate commencement ceremonies at either the XL Center in Hartford or at Webster Arena.  Steinmetz says Webster is the closest indoor facility big enough to hold the 5,000 to 6,000 people who will attend the ceremony.

Blumenthal to offer amendment in honor of Newtown victim

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is seeking to amend a federal education bill and set aside funding to train teachers in social and emotional learning.  He introduced the amendment yesterday, calling it the Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators Act.  The legislation is named for 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, one of 20 first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 


Scarlett Lewis created the foundation after her son's death. Lewis said Jesse wrote the words "nurturing, healing and love" on her kitchen blackboard days before the shooting.  She said those words became the inspiration for the foundation.  The Jesse Lewis Foundation is focused on programs and curriculum for children, teachers and parents that encourage peaceful and positive interactions.


Blumenthal says qualities of courage and resilience shown by Jesse and other Sandy Hook heroes will help inspire lesson plans for emotional intelligence and personal strength.


Blumenthal says this would address how children learn to recognize and manage emotions, achieve positive goals, demonstrate caring and concern for others, maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions and handle interpersonal situations effectively. This includes learning how to calm oneself when angry, make friends and resolve conflicts. Numerous studies and reports have found that students who exhibit these skills not only perform better academically, but are less likely to engage in problem behavior like alcohol and drug use, violence, truancy and bullying.


Senator Chris Murphy says he learned from Jesse's mother, that the 6-year old had this idea that you always help somebody when you can, and that if you can make somebody a little bit better off, then you do it.  Murphy says by making schools a safer, more compassionate place for kids to grow and learn, that will honor Jesse's memory.


5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says social and emotional learning is a proactive and effective holistic response to violence and helps facilitate early mental health interventions.

Tim McGraw to headline Sandy Hook benefit concert in July

A special concert will be held this summer to raise money for Sandy Hook Promise.  Country Singer Tim McGraw will donate all of the proceeds from a July 17th show at the XFINITY Theatre in Hartford to the group, which was created in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook School. 


As a father and as a friend, McGraw says he wants to be a part of what the group stands for--to protect children from gun violence. 


Part of his touring band, fiddle player Dean Brown, is a friend of musician Mark Barden.  Barden's son Daniel was among the children killed on 12-14.


Tickets go on sale Friday.

Fairfield County city considers allowing medical marijuana facilities

Stamford zoning officials are considering whether to establish medical marijuana factories and dispensaries in some neighborhoods.  Factories and dispensaries must apply to the state Department of Consumer Protection for operating permits. 


The General Assembly legalized medical marijuana in 2012. 


Six dispensaries and four factories operate in Connecticut.  One of the dispensaries is located in Bethel.  More than 700 of the thousands of Connecticut residents who are registered as patients to use palliative marijuana, are located in Fairfield County.

Summer host families needed for Danbury Westerners college athletes

Danbury Westerners players come from all across the United States, and there are 28 college athletes on the roster.  As of Friday afternoon, 6 players still need a host family while they are in Danbury for June and July.  The players have their own transportation, they just need a roof over their head and friendly faces to come home to.  The players need a bed to sleep in, access to a kitchen and meals, and a shower.  Host families must live within a 25 mile radius of Danbury. 


The summer season is played at Rogers Park.


Other host families this year are in Danbury, New Milford , Redding, Ridgefield, South Salem New York and Mahopac.


Host Family coordinator Shelley Pitser says besides building a lasting relationship, there are other benefits to being a host family.  That includes a host family season pass for all of the games, 10 percent off Westerners merchandise and 1 week free of the kids camp that the Westerners run.


Pitser says they are structured, diligent kids who have had to work hard to get where they are.  The students must keep their academics up while honing their baseball skills.


Pitser still keeps in contact with the collegiate athlete her family hosted 6 years ago, and this spring he made the major league roster for the Oakland As.  She says they are very proud and excited for his accomplishment.


Those interested in hosting a college athlete for the summer can contact Pitser via email,, or by calling 203-788-3898.

Clean Vessel Program will operate this boating season on Candlewood

More than $1 million in grant money is being distributed for a program that helps to improve water quality in navigable waterways within Connecticut.  A recreational marine sewage pumpout boat that operates on Candlewood Lake is among 44 in the state receiving some of the funding from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 


Clean Vessel Act grants coordinator Kate Hughes Brown says most of the facilities are on Long Island Sound.  The program mostly involves land-based and boat sewage disposal facilities, known as pumpouts.  The facility on Candlewood is a mobile vessel. 


During the 2014 boating season, pumpout facilities removed a record level of 995,000 gallons of recreational marine sewage from vessels.

Airman killed in 2013 to receive posthumous Bronze Medal

A member of the New York Air National Guard killed in action in Afghanistan in 2013 will be posthumously awarded a military decoration for bravery.

National Guard officials say Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico will be honored with a posthumous Bronze Star Medal with Valor during a ceremony early Saturday afternoon at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.  The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest individual military award and the ninth-highest by order of precedence in the US Military. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with the "V" device.

The 22-year-old from New Fairfield was serving in the Newburgh-based 105th Airlift Wing when his base security unit was attacked by enemy forces near the Bagram Air Base in September 2013.  Military officials say Lobraico's actions during a firefight allowed members of his team to reach cover and return fire. 


(Photo courtesy: NY State Division of Military & Naval Affairs)


The unit is trained to secure air bases and trains and fights much like Army infantry. 

Lobraico is the first member of the New York Air National Guard to die in a combat zone since Sept. 11, 2001. 

His parents Master Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Sr. and Lt. Col. Linda Rohatsch both are members of the 105th Airlift Wing.


Lobraico was on his second deployment.  His other awards include the Meritorious Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Air Force Training Ribbon, and the New York State Humane Service Medal. 


A building at the base will also be dedicated in his honor.


The citation reads:


Sgt. Lobraico volunteered to establish a listening and observation post eight miles from base in known hostile enemy territory.


Despite the inherent risks, he volunteered to take the point position on this mission, scouting ahead and providing security for his fire team. Sergeant Lobraico discovered a large, numerically superior insurgent force in the midst of establishing a planned combined rocket propelled grenade, improvised explosive device and small arms complex ambush of his fire team.


With total disregard for his own safety he placed himself directly between his fire team and the insurgents who unleashed a hellish barrage of rocket, grenade, and small arms fire. Sergeant Lobraico took immediate and decisive actions while braving this intense enemy fire, and was mortally wounded while directing the maneuver of his fire team to covered positions from which they could effectively defend themselves and return fire on the enemy positions.


His actions were instrumental in gaining fire superiority and the survival of his team.


Sergeant Lobraico's remarkable heroism, valorous actions and selfless commitment to his fellow Defenders resulted in the removal of numerous insurgents from the battle field at the cost of his own life. By his heroic actions and unselfish dedicate to duty in the service of his country, Sergeant Lobraico has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Bridge over Housatonic River in Newtown, Southbury being replaced

A Bridge replacement project in Newtown is getting started.  The bridge that carries Glen Road over the Housatonic River in Newtown and Southbury will be rehabilitated.  The full length of the concrete deck will be replaced, structural steel repairs will be made to the truss and floor beams. 


McNamee Construction was awarded the nearly $4.4 million project, which is slated for completion in June 2016. 


The work will be done between 9am and 3pm during the week and between 6pm and 10am on weekends.  Alternating one-way traffic will be allowed through at a time during the construction.

WCSU hosts Accepted Students Day

Western Connecticut State University is hosting Accepted Students Day today. 


Last year more than 380 families, about a thousand people, joined faculty and staff at Western Connecticut State University for “Accepted Student Day.” This year that number is expected to be significantly higher, with 30 percent more applications for the fall semester.


At 10:30 am, accepted students and their families will gather at the Midtown campus on White Street in Danbury to see what the university has to offer. For prospective Honors Program students, there will be a 9am brunch held by Program Director Dr Chris Kukk about what the program entails.  Following a welcome address, students are invited to listen to faculty presentations in their major of interest.


There will be student-to-student panels with current students about campus life, and a “successful first-year panel” for parents to ask about housing, counseling, career services, security and meal plans.  Students accepted to the School of Visual and Performing Arts will be invited to drive to the Westside campus for a tour of the new Visual and Performing Arts Center and other campus facilities.


Of the students who came to the university last year on Accepted Students Day, more than 80 percent ultimately enrolled. Since financial aid packages have not been awarded yet, many students still have not committed to any school.


Senior administrators, including the university president and provost, as well as deans and faculty representatives of every university department will be at the event.

Buses replace trains north of Southeast, NY for track work

There will be some road work taking place on Route 312 in New York by the railroad tracks.  Officials say Route 312 in Brewster will be closed at the railroad crossing through Monday at 4pm.  Message boards have been put in place, and a letter was sent to area homes and businesses from the Brewster Fire Department. 


MTA Police will be on site 24-7 until the project is complete. 


Bus service will be provided for passengers traveling north of Southeast train station to Southeast until Sunday. Passenger service North of Southeast station will resume Monday morning.

Danbury-based FuelCell to install power plant for Pepperidge Farm

Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy has entered into a new contract with Pepperidge Farm to install a 1-point-4 megawatt Direct FuelCell power plant at its bakery in Bloomfield, Connecticut.  Pepperidge Farm will pay for power as it is produced under a power purchase agreement.


This new power plant will supplement the existing Direct Fuel Cell power plant that was installed at the bakery in 2008.  Fuel Cell says that plant has been generating savings for Pepperidge Farm and carbon reductions since that time.  


FuelCell officials say ultra-clean and affordable power plants add value for food and beverage processors such as Pepperidge Farm.

Yale 'Whiffenpoofs' a cappella group to perform in Danbury

An a cappella performance is coming to Danbury.  Before the headed out on a three month world tour, the Yale Whiffenpoofs will make a stop at the Palace Danbury Theatre tonight.  Managing Director Carol Spiegel says every year, 14 senior Yale men are selected to be in the Whiffenpoofs, the world's oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group.


The Whiffenpoofs were founded in 1909.  Their century-old tradition is carried on each year with over two hundred performances in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Rose Bowl. 


Opening the show will be the Danbury-based Martini Glass A Cappella, 13 women from the greater Danbury area.  Many of their Martini Glass A Cappella members are current or alumni students from Western Connecticut State University. 


Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online, by telephone at 203 794-9944 between 1:00-5:00 PM daily, and at the box office starting onehour before showtime on the day of the event.

Ridgefield Police to honor K9 Officer Zeus with 'Final Ride'

Retired Ridgefield Police K-9 Zeus will be honored on Wednesday.  The 11 year-old German Shepherd retired from the force last May due to severe degenerative hip disorder.  His health has seriously declined since then and Zeus will be euthanized Wednesday. 


His final ride will will begin at Ridgefield Police Headquarters at 4:45 pm.  Zeus’s Final Ride will take the following route: West on Governor Street, North on Rt. 35/Main Street, North on Rt. 7, ending at Ridgefield Veterinary Hospital.  Ridgefield officers will be joined by local law enforcement agencies to pay tribute to Zeus during this final ride.


(Photo courtsey: Ridgefield Police)


During Zeus’s career he was responsible for over 250 narcotics arrests, performed hundreds of demonstrations for the public and conducted over 50 tracks for missing or wanted individuals. During these tracks he located 6 individuals that were in life-threatening situations and located 6 suspects that had fled the scenes of crimes. The largest amount of narcotics Zeus was responsible for seizing was 10 pounds of marijuana which occurred in 2006.


Zeus joined the department in 2006 and was partnered with Officer Shawn Murray who he continued to reside with after his retirement.  


Members of the community are asked to gather on the sidewalks of Main Street Wednesday along the route if they wish to pay tribute.

Bethel Police Commission hosts meeting on proposal for new station

A public information session is being held tonight in Bethel by the Police Commission.  A new, less expensive plan for a new police station will be presented.  The original proposal was rejected by voters in December.  The $13.7 million proposed project is about $400,000 less than the plan for a 25,000 square foot facility at the corner of Judd Avenue and Whittlesey Drive. 


The Police Commission does not plan to vote on forwarding the proposal during tonight's meeting at 7pm at Bethel Town Hall. 


The original proposal was for a building three times the size of the current Police Station.  The proposed site is 8 acres near Bethel High School.  The current building was constructed in 1974, expanded in 1989 and does not comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency standards or environmental regulations.  Bethel now has 37 officers, 8 dispatchers, two clerks, 11 ranked officers and two civilian employees. 


Police officials say the estimated price is not based on bids, which they say could come in even lower.

Congresswoman tours UTC Aerospace Systems in Danbury

A town hall style meeting has been held by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty with employees of United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems in Danbury.  The employees develop and manufacture elctro-optical systems that support a range of critical missions in space, air, and on the ground in defense, civil and international markets.  Esty is a member of the U-S House Science, Space and Technology Committee.  Esty said UTC Aerospace employees told her of a need for a strong, predictable federal partnership.

Forum in Newtown on state cuts to Developmental Services Department

An informational forum is being held in Newtown tonight about proposed cuts to the state Department of Developmental Services.


The Arc Connecticut, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is co-hosting the informational with Representative Mitch Bolinsky and Senator Tony Hwang.  The Newtown lawmakers are part of the General Assembly's Intellectual/Developmentally Disabled Caucus. 


Hwang says they have received letters from several families in the region about the impact that Governor Malloy’s proposed cuts to DDS would have on their families.  Hwang says he wants to find a long-term, sustainable funding mechanism that does not subject families to the fear and uncertainty they are faced with every year around budget time.  Hwang says he recognizes that the state has a spending and taxation problem, but that he wants to weigh every dollar spent against its anticipated benefit. 


Cuts to the Department of Developmental Services have already been made in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, as Malloy acts to close a growing deficit.  Further cuts to the department in his proposed biennial budget, include to its Volunteer Services Program. 


Arc officials say the proposed budget cuts will have a devastating impact, especially on children and new graduates who will be left with virtually no supports. 


Tonight's meeting is at CH Booth Library from 6:30 to 8pm.  RSVP to Erika Pocock at or by calling 800-842-1421.

Danbury Mayor presents budget proposal, new initiative

A $237,700,000 budget is being proposed by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton for the coming fiscal year.  The proposal is a tax increase of just over 2%.  Boughton says spending up 6% from last year, but if it wasn't for the increase to the schools the mill rate could have been reduced.  Part of the increase is due to higher enrollment and more costs to accommodate more students.


The municipal side of the budget is heavy on infrastructure projects.  Roads, bridges and school roof improvements top the list.  Boughton says the last few winters have taken a toll on Danbury's infrastructure.  It's about 30 million dollars in work that will be done around the City this summer and fall.


There are two new initiatives.  They will take place with the start of the new fiscal year.  The 311 info line is going to become a 24/7 operation.  Starting on July 1st, residents will get a live operator on the phone at all times to discuss a concern, a pothole or something that needs to be fixed.


The other initiative is a pilot program with Savings Bank of Danbury.  Residents will be able to go to any of the 5 branches in the City as of July 1st to pay their property taxes with a teller.  Boughton says this will take some of the pressure off City Hall, but also allows Danbury to offer services to residents 6 days a week.


$3 million dollars in bonding is also being proposed.  $1.7 million of that will go to road and drainage improvements throughout Danbury.  The balance is for other projects that should last the City 20 years.

Connecticut bill would allow kids to use medical marijuana

A General Assembly panel has advanced a proposal expanding Connecticut's medical marijuana program to allow children with several debilitating conditions to access the drug. Under the proposal, residents under age 18 could be considered a qualifying patient with approval from a parent, pediatrician and a physician with experience treating the debilitating condition.


One critic of the measure, Republican Representative Richard Smith of New Fairfield says until there's more definitive medical information on the effects of marijuana on developing brains, he can't support the bill. 


The measure was approved by the committee 29 to 15. 


Also among those voting against it was Cecilia Buck-Taylor of New Milford, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan, John Shaban of Redding and Brookfield Representative Steve Harding.  One of the yes votes came from Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey.

Animal sanctuary, Animal Center part ways

A two-year joint effort between The Animal Center in Newtown and the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation led to the formation of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.  With the mission and goals of the sanctuary now established, The Animal Center announced on its website that the agency and the sanctuary will be individually pursuing their respective goals for the welfare of animals. 


The animal sanctuary is named for one of the children killed at Sandy Hook School. 


Last year, Connecticut transferred some state-owned land in Newtown to the non-profit for the sanctuary.  The parcel of land is 34 acres.

Potholes are subject of most March calls to Danbury's 311

Pothole reports were the main source of calls last month to Danbury's 311 info line.  More than 150 reports of potholes were submitted to Danbury via telephone, email and DanburyDirect. 


The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team is reporting to the City Council tonight that potholes were the majority of inquiries made to the 311 info line. 


Residents are being encouraged to keep an eye on catch basins and potential drainage issues associated with melting snow and with rain.  Potholes will continue to be a problem until the weather stabilizes, drivers are urged to use caution when driving over puddles as they may in fact be large potholes. 


Danbury residents are being reminded to slow down before hitting a pothole, leave plenty of room between vehicles and to hold the steering wheel firmly.

Easton lawmakers hosting Capital Update forum

Easton lawmakers will be on hand for a legislative update meeting Tuesday.


It's nearly the half-way point of the 2015 legislative session.  To provide an update on the many issues being tackled at the state Capital, and to give residents an opportunity to weigh in, State Senator Tony Hwang and state Representative John Shaban will be hosting a community meeting in Easton Tuesday night.  The lawmakers had originally scheduled this forum for February, but it was postponed because of the snow. 


The meeting will be held at the Easton Public Library from 6:30 to 8pm.

First Light Power's parent co. answers Candlewood funding question

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has heard back from the parent company of First Light Power about funding changes to the Candlewood Lake Authority.  GDF Suez wrote this week that there was a significant deliberation process held before deciding on a competitive grant program. 


First Light, in making an 80-percent reduction to funds for the CLA, said it wants to distribute an equal amount of funds to the 23 town Housatonic River region.  GDF Suez wrote to Murphy that they believe it will have a greater positive impact on the communities around Candlewood Lake. 


The company continued by explaining that the grant program requires organizations to described how they will use the funding so that First Light can have a better accounting of how the money is used and what the benefits are.

Local lawmaker speaking out about proposed state budget

Governor Dannel Malloy is receiving a steady stream of complaints from social service advocates and others about the cuts in his second two-year budget, which were needed to help cover an approximately $1 billion projected deficit in each fiscal year. 


About $470,000 dollars in cuts proposed by Malloy in the next budget are opposed by a local lawmaker.  The cuts are for Connecticut Honor Guard detachments at veteran's funerals to eliminate two members of the guard, bringing their numbers down to three.  Southbury state Representative Arthur O'Neill says given the pomp and ceremony of Malloy's inauguration, this is ironic.  He received a military salute.


The unit would be cut from five to three members.  They perform a rifle salute, play taps and fold the flag among other duties.  Lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would fully exempt military retirement pay from the state income tax.


O'Neill also cited wage increases for people in Malloy's office, Commissioners and others totalling $1.2 million.


Lawmakers still have about a month before they must vote on tax and spending plans that are typically the basis for closed-door negotiations with the administration.

State Police Trooper promotion ceremony

20 State Police Troopers have been prompted.  A ceremony was held yesterday at the State Police Training Academy.  Among those being promoted from Trooper to Sergeant is Michael Dogali of Newtown.  He served at Troop A in Southbury for 9 years and has been reassigned to Troop L in Litchfield.  He has a BA in criminology and earned a Unit Citation from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  Lt Governor Nancy Wyman attended and addressed the promotees.

Redding Board of Education makes cut for a flat funded budget proposal

A flat funded education budget in Redding has been approved by the Redding Board of Education.  The group was seeking a .8 percent increase of about $173,000.  In order to fulfill the 0% increase budget, several cuts were approved by the group this week.  They include reducing a few positions, some health insurance reductions and eliminating half-day kindergarten buses and a new retirement being announced.  The Redding Board of Finance will take up the newly proposed budget at their meeting on Monday.

Newtown adds money to current budget for snow removal effort

The Newtown Legislative Council has approved amending the current fiscal year's budget to add money for snow removal efforts.  The budget was increased nearly $300,000 to make up the difference in the amount spent and what was in the budget. 


There were 25 winter weather events that the Newtown Public Works Department had to respond to this season, which is substantially more than typical.  First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Legislative Council Wednesday night that the total cost of storms was a little more than $841,000. 


Newtown officials emphasized that this amendment avoids the town operating at a deficit, and has nothing to do with taxes.  Overtime was originally budgeted at $156,370, salt costs were pegged at $320,342 and there was $63,407 for sand in the budget.  That was all based on a five year rolling average of previous years spending on winter operations.  Llodra looked at a 10 year history and says the town has been pretty close each year.


The nearly $300,000 is being funded by state revenues, which were greater than anticipated. 


It comes from two intergovernmental accounts that were increased when the state budget was adopted in May, after the local budget had already been approved by voters.  The state owned property reimbursements, money for hosting Garner Prison, increased from $780,000 to $946,000.  The town's share of Pequot Compact funding increased from $820,000 to $952,000.

Local lawmaker critical of Gov. on deficit mitigation strategy

Criticism is coming from a local lawmaker over Governor Malloy's response to the growing deficit in the current state budget.  After the state Comptroller pegged the deficit at $172 million and urged the Governor to formally consult the legislature, Malloy's budget chief said that could wait until end-of-the-session budget negotiations. 


Senator Rob Kane, whose district includes Bethlehem, Bridgewater and Oxford, says that attitude is misguided.  Kane claims the Governor hopes big revenues after the April 15th tax deadline will bail him out.  He doesn't see that happening.


Kane was critical of the Governor for continuing to put off lawmakers, the Office of Fiscal Analysis , the Comptroller and the treasurer .  He says Malloy can not continue to go this alone.


Kane says the Rainy Day Fund may have to be tapped.

Newtown officials advance proposed budget

The Newtown Legislative Council has approved the Board of Finance recommendation to present a $111.73 million municipal and education budget to the voters.  The budget referendum will be held on Tuesday April 28th. 


Council members Wednesday night praised Newtown officials for finding a million dollars in the budget to move into the road maintenance account rather than increasing the overall bottom line.  The education budget is proposed at $71.58 million while the municipal budget would be approximately $40 million.


It's an overall .6 percent increase in spending.  The mill rate would be reduced though because of additional revenue, including on the grand list, and a reduction in debt service costs.

Bus stop changed in Brookfield for magnet school students

There's a bus stop change being made in Brookfield and some parents are not pleased.  Students who attend the Academy of International Studies magnet school in Danbury currently wait for the bus at Brookfield Town Hall, but that's changing on Monday to Cadigan Park on Candlewood Lake Road. 


Parents were notified of the change via letter sent out last Wednesday and say that was too short of a notice. 


Acting Superintendent of Schools Ralph Iassogna told the Newstimes that the change was prompted by safety concerns of the First Selectman and Human Resources Director.  Iassogna says siblings of the magnet school students have been playing on the grass median between the parking lot and the nearby park.

Town meeting held on proposed Brookfield capital improvement projects

A Special Town Meeting has been held in Brookfield to give residents an overview of the capital improvements projects proposed for the coming fiscal year.  During the meeting Wednesday night, the budget referendum date was set for May 19th. 


First Selectman Bill Tinsley says there's $6.7 million for deferred and long overdue maintenance.  The items will be broken down into three questions for the budget ballot.


Almost 20 different maintenance and repair projects are planned for Brookfield High School and Whisconier Middle School representing $2.6 million in proposed spending.  There's also about $2 million for an emergency Flood Drainage Diversion project.  $2.1 million for improvements at Town Hall, the Library and to the roads is being proposed.


The overall proposed budget is about $61 million with no planned tax increase.  The proposed budget represents a year-vs-year spending increase of 1.29%.  The Board of Finance says that's off-set by income growth in the grand list of taxable property, and from a growth in fees associated with robust construction activity.


The Municipal budget is pegged at $21,659,688, with an Education budget of $39,522,766.


The Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 7th, 7pm, in room 133, Town Hall about the budget proposals.

Lawsuits against estate of Sandy Hook gunman's mother consolidated

A Judge has granted a motion to consolidate 15 lawsuits by families of children and educators killed at Sandy Hook School against the estate of the gunman's mother.  The lawsuits seek to collect on her homeowner's insurance.  A status conference for the single case has been scheduled for next Thursday, the 9th.  The lawsuits contend that Nancy Lanza failed to properly secure the rifle that her troubled adult son used on 12-14.  The Yogananda Street home was demolished last week after the town was able to purchase it from the estate for a dollar.

Police cracking down on texting while driving

State police and more than 50 local police departments have begun a crackdown on people using their cell phones while driving.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation says the ``U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY'' initiative focuses on texting, but police also will be looking for drivers talking on their phones. 


The Brookfield Police Department received an $18,000 grant to support officer overtime, for targeted special enforcement of distracted driving laws on local roads.  New Milford and Danbury Police Departments also received grant money for the month long effort.


The effort will run through the month of April.  Violators face fines of $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second violation, and $500 for any additional charges.

Route 53 bridge in Redding being replaced

A construction project starts in Redding today.


The state Department of Transportation will be rehabilitating a bridge over Route 53.  The bridge that carries Route 53 in Redding over a brook between Umpawaug Road and John Read Middle School is being replaced.


The bridge was built in 1928 and is 28 feet wide.  A 21-foot section is being rebuilt so that there can be 12-foot travel lanes and 4 foot shoulders in each direction.  Some other minor safety improvements will also be completed. 


The project work will be done Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm with alternating one way traffic controlled by flaggers or temporary traffic signals.  The construction is scheduled through September 8th.


Dayton Construction Company Incorporated of Watertown Connecticut was awarded the $425,000 contract.

Mental health care roundtable held in Danbury

A roundtable discussion about mental health prevention, intervention, and treatment has been held in Danbury.  It was hosted by Senator Chris Murphy, who is writing a bill with a Republican from Louisiana to reform the mental health system.  He wanted to learn about the concerns and needs of the Fairfield County mental health advocacy community.


In the Danbury region, Murphy says there's a lack of inpatient bed space for someone with a complex psychosis who needs two weeks or a month of care.  Murphy says people get discharged into the community too early because that type of facility doesn't exist in the area.


He was joined by mental health professionals, providers, clients, educators, and advocacy groups.


(Photo Courtesy: Senator Murphy)

Boehringer Ingelheim cuts ribbon on new research facility

Boehringer Ingelheim has cut the ribbon on a new research facility. 


The Ridgefield-based pharmaceutical company says the Pilot Plant will be used to produce larger quantities of compounds being researched for testing and other uses.  Senator Chris Murphy was among the officials on hand Tuesday for the ribbon cutting.  He says the Pilot Plant will play a crucial role in research and development to bring new treatments to market faster. 


The building project was about $65 million and part of a larger overall expansion of BI's U.S. headquarters.


(Photo Courtesy: Senator Murphy)


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