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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-07

Bethel, Southbury receive state funding for housing improvements

Two area towns are receiving Community Development Block Grants under the Small Cities Program.  Bethel will receive $800,000 for the Reynolds Ridge Senior Housing complex.  Department of Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein the Bethel Housing Authority will create two handicapped accessible units, replace interior and exterior doors, replace windows and make energy efficiency improvements at the 80 units.


Southbury has been awarded $400,000, and will be undertaking its first Housing Rehabilitation program.  The plan calls for rehabilitating 12 units by replacing roofs, heating systems, and windows.  Lead paint and asbestos removal along with electrical and code upgrades will also be made.


Klein says the grants help facilitate projects to enhance a community.  That's done in a number of ways including developing or preserving affordable housing, providing services to the most vulnerable residents in our communities, and creating and retaining jobs. 


Klein says Connecticut is making critical investments in housing that will have a lasting effect on individuals, families, and communities.  The CDBG Small Cities program uses federal funds allocated to Connecticut by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Mileage fee proposed to pay for transportation plan

Tolls aren't the only way The Governors Transportation Finance Panel has discussed as ways to raise the $100 billion needed for Malloy's 30-year transportation improvement plan.  The panel created by Governor Dannel Malloy has discussed the idea of a so-called mileage fee.  It would be assessed based on the number of miles driven per year, as determined by a car's GPS system.


Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says while it's necessary to look at all opportunities to fund transportation, the ideas so far are all about new taxes.  McLachlan says the idea currently being discussed by the chairman of the panel, former state lawmaker Cameron Staples, couldn't work because not all cars have the technology.


McLachlan says a new fee is absurd given that Connecticut has seen the two highest tax increases in state history in the last four years.


As cars get better and better milage, revenue from the gas tax gets less and less.  McLachlan says spending should be cut in Connecticut, and the state should "stop spending money foolishly" so that there is money for repair roads.  He says he'd prefer ideas to better allocate the money that's already coming in to Connecticut.


The panel is slated to make recommendations late next month.  A final report is due in October. The legislature could come back before the end of the year to approve it.

Redding to preserve 30 acres as open space

Redding, The Redding Land Trust and Aquarion Water Company are partnering to preserve 30 acres of open space land near the intersection of Routes 107 and 53.  The property borders the Saugatuck River just before the Reservoir. 


The land is priced at $400,000, with Aquarion contributing $60,000.  The Land Trust will spend $170,000 toward the purchase, with the town using a state grant of the same amount.  The grant was awarded to Redding in October. 


The Redding Pilot reports that the state will hold an easement over the land, and Aquarion will hold a secondary easement.  Redding and the Redding Land Trust would be the deed owners.

Fire Leaves Many Homeless At Heritage Village in Southbury

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) Two people have been hospitalized and the residents of five homes displaced in a fire at a Southbury condo complex.

Officials say crews were called to the Heritage Village condominiums at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night.

The complex is an active senior community and has more than 3,000 residents. The flames damaged five units, which have been deemed uninhabitable.

Firefighters found people outside of the building when they arrived. No one needed to be rescued but officials say about 10 to 15 residents lost their homes.

Authorities say two residents were sent to the hospital in serious condition, one of them after suffering a heart attack. Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire.

Esty urges action on gun violence prevention measure

With Congress on vacation, a local lawmaker is chastising her colleagues for not bringing gun violence prevention legislation to the floor for a vote. 


Speaking on the day of adjournment Wednesday, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said Connecticut knows the devastation caused by gun violence, citing the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  But she says just as tragic are the deaths that don't make national headlines.  She pointed to 19 people killed in the capital city of Hartford this year alone.


Esty says no person, no community is protected from the problem of gun violence.


Esty urged leaders of the House to spend their five week recess thinking about all of the lives lost each year to gun violence.  In March, she introduced a bill to have comprehensive background checks for all commercial sales of guns.  She wants that called for a vote when they reconvene in September.

Greater Danbury Community Health Center breaks ground

A ground breaking ceremony has been held for the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  A four-story, 36,000 square foot building is going up at the former police station site. 


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the new building means permanent new jobs for downtown who will eat in local restaurants and shop locally.  He says the building is going to be beautiful, and represents a $20 million investment in CityCenter.



Connecticut Institute for Communities CEO Jim Maloney says this is a major step forward in expanding their services.  The building will house pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services, comprehensive women's health services, an on site-blood sample suite, a full service pharmacy, administrative offices for the health center and headquarters for the Connecticut Institute. 


A pharmacy will be on site.  Anyone can enroll in the health center at no cost and use the deeply discounted facility.  People without health insurance will be able to cut their bills by about two-thirds.


Maloney says existing staff will basically double from about 60 employees, to more than 120.  Maloney expects $6 million a year in payroll for physicians, APRNs, front desk staff, medical assistants, clerical staff, billing, finance, legal, HR and front desk staff.  He says it will be a significant shot in the arm economically for downtown Danbury.


The financing package involves a mix of public and private funding.  The state is providing a $4 million grant.  Governor Dannel Malloy was on hand for the ground breaking.   


(Photo Courtesy: Governor Malloy)


There's private commercial mortgage financing totalling $6 million dollars and $5 million dollars from three federal New Market Tax Credit program investors.


Governor Malloy said, “We are pleased that the state can help move this project forward-- it will both enhance community health care in the Danbury area and also provide a major economic boost  to  the  city’s  downtown.  Connecticut  is  making progress  every  day,  driving unemployment to a seven-year low as we create tens of thousands of jobs.  As we do that, we’re expanding health care access like never before.  It  is projects like this that demonstrate  how we’re accomplishing both of those goals.”

Cooling Center opened in Danbury to beat the heat

A cooling center has been set up in Danbury to help residents cope with the heat.  An air conditioned HART bus will be stationed outside of 198 Main Street today and tomorrow from 1pm to 5pm. 


Continued high temperatures and humidity have also prompted reminders about ways to prevent heat-related illness.  People are urged to drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous activities, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and avoid exposure to direct sunlight or long periods in the sun. 


In Newtown, the Municipal Center at Fairfield Hills will be open 7am to 9pm through Thursday.

Danbury Democrats, Republicans endorse candidates for November election

Some people who have worked for the City of Danbury are making a foray into politics.  Both the Republican and Democratic Town Committees have met to nominate candidates for the City Council, Board of Education and Zoning Commission.  Former City Center Director, Democrat Andrea Gartner, is among those seeking a seat on the City Council.  Former Fire Chief, Republican Geoff Herald, is also seeking a position on the City Council. 


The Town Clerk race will feature incumbent Democrat Joan Bielizna, challenged by Republican state Representative Jan Giegler. 


Two Democrats who ran for state Representative positions last year are seeking local office.  Candace Fay will be on the ballot as a Zoning Commission alternate.  Henry Hall is seeking a position as Constable.


Mayor Mark Boughton (I) Republican
Treasurer Daniel Jowdy (I) Republican
Town Clerk Janice Giegler Republican
  Joan Bielizna (I) Democrat
City Council at Large Christina Chieffalo (I) Republican
Elect 7 Philip Curran (I) Republican
  Michael Esposito Republican
  Jack Knapp (I) Republican
  Warren Levy (I) Republican
  Gregg Seabury (I) Republican
  Andrew Wetmore (I) Republican
  Al Almeida Democrat
  Andrea Gartner Democrat
  Paul McAllister Democrat
  Gregg Williams Democrat
  James Hughes Democrat
  Abu Helalul Karim Democrat
  Sherri Neptune Democrat
Ward 1 (Elect 2) Irving Fox (I) Republican
  John Priola (I) Republican
  Dennis Perkins Democrat
  Daniel Iskandar Democrat
Ward 2 (Elect 2) Vinny DiGilio (I) Republican
  Elmer Palma (I) Republican
  Ashley Ward Democrat
  Robert Karrat Democrat
Ward 3 (Elect 2) Chris Arconti (I) Republican
  Joe Cavo (I) Republican
Ward 4 (Elect 2) Matthew Kennedy Republican
  Mary Maroto Republican
  Thomas Saadi (I) Democrat
  John Esposito Democrat
Ward 5 (Elect 2) Geoffrey Herald Republican
  Clifton Kowicz Republican
  Duane Perkins (I) Democrat
  Fred Visconti (I) Democrat
Ward 6 (Elect 2) Theresa Keeler Republican
  Michael Negron Republican
  Paul Rotello (I) Democrat
  Ben Chianese (I) Democrat
Ward 7 (Elect 2) Nancy Cammisa (I) Republican
  Joe Scozzafava (I) Republican
  Theresa Buzaid Democrat
  Richard Molinaro Democrat
Board of Education (6) Annrose Fluskey-Lattin (I) Republican
  Richard Hawley (I) Republican
  Patrick Johnston Republican
  David Metrena (I) Republican
  Emanuela Palmares Republican
  Daniel Rosemark Republican
  Gladys Cooper (I) Democrat
  Frederick Karrat Democrat
  Holly Robinson Democrat
Zoning Commission (9) Milan David Republican
  Sally Estefan (I) Republican
  Jeffrey Giegler Republican

Kevin Haas

  Alan Kovacs Republican
  Robert Laber (I) Republican
  Robert Melillo (I) Republican
  Alexander Rodriguez Republican
  Annette Zatkovich (I) Republican
  Theodore Haddad Jr. (I) Democrat
  Richard Jowdy (I) Democrat
  James Kelly (I) Democrat
Zoning Alternate (3) Mary Cronin Republican
  John Herlihy Jr Republican
  Robert Oravetz Republican
  Candace Fay Democrat
Constable (5) Michael Halas Republican
  Louise McMahon Republican
  Michael Safranek Republican
  Francis Kieras (I) Democrat
  Emil (Butch) Coladarci (I) Democrat
  Henry Hall Democrat


Bridge in Southbury closed 'indefinitely'

A bridge over a brook in Southbury is closed indefinitely.  The Spruce Brook Bridge was inspected by the State Department of Transportation on Friday when town officials noticed a significant change in the condition of the culverts.  Southbury officials were told that an immediate closure was recommended. 


The bridge carries a roadway over the Transylvania Brook and was closed indefinitely on Monday after a follow up inspection. 


Detour signs and a road block have been set up alerting motorists to use Route 172 to Liberty Lane and Yankee Drive.  The road connects to Spruce Brook Road beyond the bridge. 


A safe alternative over the brook is being worked on.

Greater Danbury Community Health Center breaks ground

Governor Dannel Malloy will be in Danbury this afternoon for a ground breaking ceremony.  A four-story, 36,000 square foot building is being constructed in downtown Danbury to house the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  Connecticut Institute for Communities CEO Jim Maloney says this is a major step forward in expanding their services. 


Maloney says the new building means 50 permanent new jobs for downtown Danbury.  The building at 120 Main Street, the site of the old police station, is being financed by $15 million in public, private and other dollars.  Maloney hopes to be able to open the building in about a year.


The building will house pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services, comprehensive women's health services, an on site-blood sample suite, a full service pharmacy, administrative offices for the health center and headquarters for the Connecticut Institute.

State approves funding to widen I-84 in Danbury

Funding for the first block of projects under Governor Dannel Malloy's proposed transportation overhaul has been approved by the State Bond Commission.  The first batch of projects identified in a ramp-up initiative is known as "Let's Go CT!" includes funding for a new dock yard on the Danbury Branch Rail Line in Norwalk will allow the state to increase capacity and service.


$4 million dollars for the design, engineering, and construction of a new dock yard on the Danbury Branch Rail Line in Norwalk was approved.  That will allow the state to increase capacity and service on the Danbury Line.


"Though the administration and I have differed on some  things, transportation infrastructure upgrades are a priority where we completely agree and have my full support.  I appreciate today's investment in the Norwalk to Danbury Branch Line after so many years of work from the local delegation to maintain, upgrade and modernize this line," said Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher.


Boucher continued by saying that the Danbury line has great potential to improve economic development in the region, but money for the necessary upgrades was  derailed or diverted over the years.  She says commuters have been forced to use other lines that are better equipped, yet most of the big office complexes are ironically located next to this rail line.


The package also includes $10 million dollars toward the design and engineering for the widening of I-84 in Danbury between exits 3 and 8.  This will widen the highway in both directions and will ease rush-hour traffic along that heavily congested section of the highway.


Malloy says he was caught in traffic for an hour and a half in that area on Holy Thursday.

Absentee ballots available soon for Region 9 re-vote

Absentee ballots will be available starting Thursday for the second referendum vote being held about replacing the roof at Joel Barlow High School.  The vote on little more than $1 million will be held on August 18th.  The same amount was approved by voters in Easton and Redding on May 5th, but due to technical errors, the vote was declared invalid by the Region 9 bond council. 


The Redding and Easton Town Clerks say the Region 9 Board of Education didn't submit the legal notice paperwork to them. 


An application for an absentee ballot must be completed before a ballot can be issued.  A second referendum could cost the towns $8,000.

Greater Danbury area towns to benefit from state bond money

Several items approved today by the state Bond Commission will benefit the Greater Danbury area. 


In New Milford, Dakota Partners will receive a $4.2 million loan to help with construction and rehabilitation of East Street Apartments.  The project contains 30 affordable rental units.  The loan will be provided at 1-percent for 30 years.  The project is costing $11 million in total and will be offset by $6.2 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $720,000 in CHFA financing. 


Weston is receiving $256,000 in bond money for ADA and other code improvements at the town library.  The grant will cover approximately half of the total estimated cost of the project, with the remaining funds being bequeathed to the library by a late Weston resident.  Representative John Shaban called ibraries a priceless public resource.  In such difficult economic times, he says he is pleased to be able to help secure some return from the state for needs of the district.


Phone line repairs and electrical system improvements will be made at Southbury Training School with $225,000 in state bond money.

Newtown officials remind residents to stay cool, check on neighbors

Newtown is looking to help people beat the heat by offering some extended hours and reminding residents of places that are air conditioned where they can gather.  The Muncipal Center at Fairfield Hills is open 7am to 9pm through Thursday and on Friday from 7am to 5pm. 


CH Booth Library and the Newtown Senior Center are open during their normal hours. 


The Newtown First Selectman, Emergency Management and Health District offices are asking that residents check on any elderly or frail neighbors, monitor pets and keep them out of the sun.


Individuals are urged to take the following steps to ensure good health:

Drink plenty of water

Avoid strenuous activities

Take frequent rests for cooling down in an air conditioned area or near a fan

Wear light, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Eat lightly throughout the day

Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or long periods in the sun (especially between the hours of 12 noon and 4pm which are the hottest hours during the day


Heat Related Illness has some common symptoms that should be watched for, including:

Dry Red Spotted Skin


Mental Confusion







Body temp. at or above 105 degrees F

Water main break being repaired in Bethel

A water main break in Bethel is being repaired on the corner of Hoyt’s Hill and Route 302.  Service to parts of the town has been shut down because of the break.  Residents in the Hoyt's Hill, Spring Hill Lane, Governor's Lane, Whippoorwill Road, Fawn Road and parts of Winthrop Road will be without water for several hours.  About 60 or 70 homes are affected.  There was no official estimate for when the water main break would be repaired.


(Photo Courtesy: First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Twitter)

Red Bulls II soccer team to play benefit game for Newtown

A fundraiser featuring the Professional United Soccer League Team New York Red Bulls II is being held on Thursday to benefit Newtown Youth & Family Services.  The team will play an exhibition game against the Newtown Pride FC of the Connecticut Soccer League. 


Event coordinator Kyle Lyddy says the proceeds from the game and a silent auction will go toward the peer-to-peer mentoring program run by NYFS.  Lyddy says they are holding the event on Thursday to raise awareness of the services offered by Newtown Youth and Family Services, and to keep some of those services going.


The Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport will be transformed into a soccer field. 


"The opportunity to play in a match for this cause, and use the game of soccer as a conduit to enrich the lives of children in our community is something that we as an organization are excited about," said New York Red Bulls II general manager Shaun Oliver.


Newtown Youth & Family Services has been providing mental health and community support services to the Greater Newtown area for more than 30 years.  NYFS provides after school activities, support groups, social groups for children with autism spectrum disorder and programs for pre-school, youth and teens as well as provide financial assistance for counseling to children and families. 


“We’re so pleased this event has come to fruition,” Mike Svanda, Newtown Pride coach, said. “When the tragedy at Sandy Hook took place we were devastated, as many people were. We were trying to think of a way to help affect change, a real difference for the future. We wanted to play soccer games to raise awareness and bring families together. Our goal is to play soccer to raise funds and awareness for the Newtown Youth & Family Services, and to help implement programs for peer-to-peer mentoring. It is amazing to see the New York Red Bull organization come together for this cause and it’s an honor to be a part of this great event.”


The Thursday evening fundraiser will kick off at 6pm outside of the ballpark with a fun interactive fan zone where all ages are welcome to join in the fun. The stadium will transform into a fun soccer atmosphere for a 7:30 kick off under the lights.  Tickets can be purchased online under the "Events" tab of the group's website.  They vary in price point starting at $12 with group and family discounts available.

Lawmaker says 'politics have gotten in the way of good works'

Politics have gotten in the way of good work being done for Connecticut residents.  That response from Wilton Senator Toni Boucher on the recently held General Assembly Veto Session.  The ranking member of the Education Committee said she was disappointed there was no debate on the bill that would have established requirements for the Education Commissioner.


Boucher says there is a line between the two branches, and said it was shameful there wasn't a discussion in the Senate during the veto session.


Boucher says Connecticut residents deserve representation, and were denied that.  She says a polarized and politicized closed door style of government does not develop trust and unite lawmakers for the benefit of the people.  Boucher says the unprecedented partisanship that has characterized the deliberations is outrageous.  She cited negotiating the state budget behind closed doors monumental policy shifts with no chance for public comment as reasons for her comments.

Danbury could benefit from $1 million in state bonding

A project in Danbury could benefit from $1 million in state bonding


When the State Bond Commission meets this week, they will act on a million dollar grant to help with the preservation of the historic Richter House in Richter Park.  The House will be fully renovated and expanded into an art, musical and environmental education facility. 


Danbury State Representative Jan Giegler says the new performance art center will be in keeping with the historic home’s New England farm style to accommodate up to 150 people.  She says this is a good start to the capital improvements that will preserve the local landmark for generations to come. 



Representative David Arconti says the grounds will get new stone walls, a patio and landscaping to complement the home and panoramic open space.  He says the afterschool environmental programs will be a great learning opportunity for students.


Varied programs will be offered in the arts, musical performances, acting, dancing and production; bio-learning, aquatic, and wildlife studies; and a summer youth camp and after school programs for children.

Korean War cease fire anniversary to be marked

A brief ceremony is being held this morning in Danbury to mark the 62nd Anniversary of the cease fire that ended the Korean War.  Greater Danbury Area Korean War Veterans Association Commander Brendan Sniffin says there is no keynote speaker, but there will be a rifle salute at 10am. 


The ceremony is held at the Korean war monument at Rogers Park.


Sniffin says the group reads the 17 names on the of those who were killed in action, are missing in action or POWs.  They ask that representatives of the families be there if available.  A rose is placed on the wall at each name.


The Korean War armistice was signed on July 27th 1953, drawing a new border between North and South Korea.  The war cost the lives of over 50,000 Americans.  The armistice also established a committee of representatives from neutral countries to decide the fate of the thousands of prisoners of war on both sides. The POWs were allowed to decide for themselves to stay where they were or return to their homelands.

Electronic sign coming to Danbury City Hall, pocket park progressing

An electronic sign similar to the one recently installed at Danbury High School is coming to Danbury City Hall.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the sign will notice people about meetings and other information.  That sign will give everything from road conditions to latest event at the Ives Center. 


The design for outside of City Hall on Deer Hill Avenue is being done by the same firm that did work at Elmwood Park, Kennedy Park and the new park slated for next to the police station.  He says the design team is working on that simultaneously with the pocket park.


The park is designed to commemorate police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty serving the City.  Boughton says it will include a water feature visible as drivers come down Main Street, and will serve as a gateway to CityCenter.  Boughton says he thinks they've come up with a thoughtful park to be a restful place for people to visit.


Boughton expects bulldozers on site in the next six weeks.


He's been asked why there is no parking planned for the site, and says that's because it is intended as a destination that people can walk to.

Danbury asks CT Historical Society for grant to purchase Octagon House

Danbury is working with the Connecticut Historical Society to offset costs associated with plans to purchase the Octagon House on Spring Street.  Mayor Mark Boughton says a grant would help with the retrofitting and the purchase price.


The City still has to complete negotiations with the bank, But Boughton says he won't let them change an exorbitant amount of money for a property that's fallen into such disrepair it's almost worthless.  He hasn't ruled out taking the property through eminent domain if an agreement can't be reached with the bank.


Boughton says they're also working on layout plan for a second floor community room.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team can bring people together there to talk about issues going on in their neighborhood.

Danbury, Brewster FHL hockey teams to have same ownership

Fans turned out for an announcement yesterday by the Danbury Titans, of the Federal Hockey League.  Former Danbury Whalers Coach Phil Esposito will be the coach of the new team. 


Danbury Ice Arena Regional Manager Kevin McCormack says there's a 6 year lease with the team.


The season starts in October.  There almost wasn't a 2015-2016 season though.


In June, the FHL announced that a team owned by Barry Soskin of Chicago, who owns two other teams in the six-team League, would play at The Brewster Ice Arena.  It's located just a stone's throw from the Danbury Ice Arena, where the Danbury Whalers played last season.  The General Manager was going to be Herm Sorcher, managing partner of the Danbury Whalers--an inactive member of the league in good standing.  The Whalers were in a legal battle with Eagle Ice Sports over the team's lease at their building. 


When Bruce Bennett and Ed Crowe got permission to join the FHL shortly after that announcement, the Stateline Whalers decided to forfeit their stake in the FHL.  Bennett says if they didn't pick up the Brewster team, the FHL wouldn't exist.  A team in Michigan put it in their contract that the League has to have six teams.  He agreed that a League with only four teams was not worth investing or playing in because you see the same challengers all the time.


The Brewster Bulldogs will play at the Brewster Ice Arena.  A manager has not yet been named for the Brewster team.


The Titans will play seven home games against Brewster, with the Bulldogs playing seven home games against the Titans.  The rest of the schedule has worked out so that when the Titans are home, the Bulldogs will be on the road and when the Bulldogs are home, the Titans will be on the road.

'Danbury Titans' hockey team unveil logo, jerseys

Draft night is tonight for the Danbury Titans, the newest team in the Federal Hockey League.  The team's colors, logo and uniforms were unveiled this morning at the Danbury Ice Arena.  That's the team's home ice.  The Jerseys will sport blue, green and gray, a nod to the Seattle Seahawks which is a favorite of the owners. 


Owner Bruce Bennett says ticket prices have not yet been set for the season, which starts in October.  But he says they will be slightly less than last season.



He says there's been nothing but support for the team since its creation.


When explaining to the crowd about the decision process to move from owning a car dealership to a hockey team, Bennett detailed a conversation with his wife.  She asked if he's getting ready to retire, why start this new venture.  He responded that he didn't know, and she encouraged him to do it.



The other co-owner is an Brookfield insurance broker Ed Crowe.  They also own a team that will play at the Brewster Ice Arena: The Brewster Bulldogs.


Danbury looks into banning dogs at City playgrounds

Danbury officials are considering a proposal to ban certain dog breeds from public parks, and prohibiting all dogs from playgrounds.  City Councilman Peter Nero asked that ordinances addressing both issues be examined. 


Nero said dog breeds in the group where homeowners can't be insured, or would require a rider on their insurance, should not be allowed in parks except the off-leash dog park. The off-leash dog park was approved in May.   Dogs must be licensed, but there will be no other restrictions--including no residency rule.  The park would be for daytime use only.


Nero cited specific encounters he's had.  One was being charged by a Doberman in Tarrywile Park.  Another was having to shield his grandson behind a park bench from a dog-on-dog attack.  He also cited issues brought to him by constituents.  


A committee of the City Council is looking into his proposals.

Danbury Hospital ranks #3 in CT in 'Hospitals of the Year' report

Danbury Hospital is ranked number 3 in Connecticut for high performance, according to U.S. News and World Report's Best Regional Hospitals of the year.  Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr. John Murphy says they were thrilled that the report ranked Danbury Hospital as "exceeding expected standards" in the management of COPD, heart failure and knee replacement.


U.S. News analyzed over 5,000 hospitals for adult and pediatric care to find the best in the nation, based on critical criteria and patient outcomes.  Danbury was one of seven hospitals in Connecticut to exceed the standards. 


Murphy says they are proud of the physicians and staff members.


Survey data for the latest year available shows that 70,622 patients visited the hospital's emergency room. The hospital had a total of 17,862 admissions. Its physicians performed 4,322 inpatient and 10,811 outpatient surgeries.


Danbury Hospital has 344 patient beds, and is also a teaching hospital.

Sherman Democrats endorse First Selectman candidate, GOP set to caucus

Ahead of the November municipal elections, town committees are starting to meet to nominate candidates.  In Sherman, Democrats have selected Don Lowe to run as First Selectman.  Ashleigh Blake was nominated last night to be his running mate. 


The 57-year old Lowe served as a Selectman for two terms starting in 2004.  He has served on other boards and commissions in Sherman in the past.


The Republican caucus is scheduled for next week, and incumbent Clay Cope is anticipated to be the nominee.  The First Selectman announced his intentions to run for a third term back in March. 

New vote needed in Easton, Redding on Joel Barlow roof replacement

Another vote is needed on a roof restoration project already under way at Joel Barlow High School.  The Redding Pilot reports that the second referendum will take place next month due to a series of errors.  The Redding and Easton Town Clerks say the Region 9 Board of Education didn't submit the legal notice paperwork to them. 


The vote was held in May and the approximate $1 million project was approved with overwhelming support.  Redding residents approved the measure 1,146 to 424.  Easton residents voted 546 to 276.  Redding's share is about $566,000, Easton's is $477,000.  The 54-percent shouldered by Redding and 46-percent by Easton is based on enrollment in the school by each town.


At the Board of Ed meeting this week, it was decided to hold a vote on the full amount needed because the contractors are not requiring payments as work progresses.  The Pilot reports that a second referendum could cost the towns $8,000.

ACLU renews call for drone regulations in Connecticut

Video posted online by a Connecticut teen of a drone firing a handgun has prompted renewed calls for regulations of drones from the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.  A bill banning the weaponization of drones by law enforcement and the public was approved by the state Senate this session, but action was not taken on the bill in the House before their June adjournment.


A bill under consideration also would have required state and municipal police to obtain a warrant before operating the unmanned aerial vehicles in criminal investigations.  Redding Representative John Shaban says training activities and certain emergencies would have been exempt.  Shaban expressed concern with the bill interfering with federal regulations, but ultimately voted in favor of it at the committee level.


New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith was concerned with these devices being used for the wrong purposes, eroding privacy rights.  Smith says he understands that reasonable suspicion has been clearly defined by the courts, but was concerned that it wasn't defined in the bill. 


Southbury state Representative Arthur O'Neill says use of drones by other state agencies was not addressed in the bill.  He was concerned that the Department of Environmental Protection park rangers, the Department of Motor Vehicles enforcement arm or others could register flights with the state.  The data would have been posted on the Office of Policy and Management website so it's available to the public, and O'Neill was concerned with privacy violations.

CT Department of Labor offering job-related workshops in Danbury

The Connecticut Department of Labor is offering a number of job-related workshops next month in Danbury.  The Department of Labor is partnering with the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board for workshops to help Danbury area residents in their job search. 


The events are being held at Danbury Library and the Danbury American Job Center on Main Street, which is part of the Naugatuck Valley Community College campus. 


A networking group will be held on two mornings,  Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Initiative orientation will be held and there will also be a health and life science career orientation session.  Veteran representatives will be on site to meet with people as well.  Sessions on interviewing techniques, resume basics and other employment services are scheduled during August.


Networking Group: Learn firsthand about the benefits of networking within a local group of jobseekers – and beyond. This event will expand your job search to new levels – consistent with today’s job market.   
August 4 (10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
August 18 (10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)


WIA Information Session: Participants will review the process and eligibility requirements to receive funding for training through the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
August 4 (1 – 4 p.m.)
August 18 (1 – 4 p.m.)


CAMI (Connecticut Advanced Manufacturing Initiative) Orientation – This is a one hour review of the NVCC Advanced Manufacturing Facility and Program.  
August 10 (9 – 10 a.m.)

Health and Life Science Career Orientation: Review Health/Life Sciences programs at area Community Colleges.   
August 27 (1 – 2:30 p.m.)

H1B Technical Skills Training Orientation:  Review the eligibility requirements and potential opportunities for mid-level skills training in Information Technology (IT), Health Care (IT), and Advanced Manufacturing.  This session may be of particular interest to long term unemployed jobseekers with some college credits.
August 13 (1 – 2 p.m.)


Veterans’ Representative on-site: Connecticut Department of Labor Veterans’ Representative Ron Agard is available, by appointment, to meet with customers. For a pre-scheduled appointment, please email: or call (203) 437-3294.
Appointments available: August 5, 12, 19, 26  

Interviewing Techniques: In this workshop, you will increase your understanding of the interview process and address challenging questions.
August 21 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

LinkedIn: Participants will create a profile on a professional networking website. Learn the advantages of a digital presence in today’s job market. Attendees must have a valid email address.
August 7 (10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)

Résumé Basics: Learn about important résumé sections, formatting, and the pros and cons of different styles.
August 14 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

Pesticides to be banned at municipal playgrounds

Legislation banning pesticides on municipal playgrounds has been approved by the state General Assembly. 


Redding State Representative John Shaban, a ranking member of the Environment Committee, says this new law is aimed at protecting children, pets and wildlife from exposure to pesticides.  He says he's pleased the state was able to finally craft a bill that is sympathetic to property managers, but also builds on laws that bans pesticides on school grounds. 


The measure was included in budget implementor bills signed by Governor Malloy June 30th, and sent to the Secretary of the State's office this week.  The measure also includes new language about parental notification by school districts when pesticide application is scheduled.  The notification must be done at least 24 hours in advance.

Tax deferral ordinance revision considered in New Milford

A public hearing will be held next month in New Milford about tax deferrals.  At the New Milford Town Council meeting this month, there was a discussion about proposed revisions ot the tax deferral ordinance for commercial and industrial properties.  There is a standard offer currently in the ordinance, and the proposal is to change the language so that in all cases, the New Milford Town Council will be able to set the abatement level and the duration based on qualifying factors.  Those factors are also outlined in the current ordinance language.  A public hearing on the proposed revisions will be held August 10th at 7pm at New Milford Town Hall.

Danbury DMV to be closed for a week in August

State Department of Motor Vehicle offices, including the one in Danbury, will be closed the second week of August for a major computer system upgrade. 


Commissioner Andres Ayala says when the upgrade is complete, there will be a number of new online services available on the DMV website.  He says the existing online registration renewal program will be enhanced.  Compliance issues can be checked, registration certificates could be printed from home and registrations could also be cancelled online.


Residents will also be able to order vanity plates online. 


The closure is from August 11th through 15th.  DMV locations will open with full service the following Tuesday, August 18th.


Ayala says it involves a huge transfer of data.  Over 40 million pieces of information will be moved.


Beginning August 11th, Governor Malloy has ordered that the expiration date of all driver’s licenses, ID cards or vehicle registrations be extended through October 10th, and renewals can be done without a late fee until that date.

Danbury considers extending financial relief to Hospice Center, War Memorial

Prior to the completion and occupancy of the Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut Facility on Danbury's west side, the City authorized a waiver of sewer and water charges.  It was part of an economic development incentive offered two years ago. 


The City Council was asked by the Mayor to authorize the full and final one year waiver for water and sewer charges for the December 2014 quarter and the three quarters that follow.  Mayor Mark Boughton said this would allow Hospice to receive the full waiver allowed by City code. 


Last year, members of the Danbury City Council discussed waiving water and sewer charges for the War Memorial and the request of the Danbury War Memorial Association.  The group said that the request was made because of funding concerns. 


The City's Finance Director and Superintendent of Public Works all weighed in on the cost of waiving those fees.  City officials determined that based on the value of the facility to local veterans and the Community in general, it would be beneficial to provide that financial relief.  The fees total about $5,000 for the year. 


The Council approved the waivers at their meeting earlier this month.

Newtown discusses adding solar panel installations

Newtown is on its way to more solar power.  A solar farm could be added to the transfer station site.  Solar City has submitted a bid on behalf of Newtown for the Zero Emission Renewable Credit program.  The bid includes 4,182 panels with an annual output of more than 1 million kilowatt hours.  First Selectman Pat Llodra told the Legislative Council that there are several hurdles to clear, the next one is getting into this grant award system.


If the bid is accepted, the town will be over its 2 million kilowatt goal.  The final decisions will be made by Friday.


The system at the Transfer Station would be completed by the fall of 2016 if Newtown’s project is selected.  October 1, 2016 is the latest date to come online under the Zero Emission Renewable Credit program.


The state has opened the opportunity for more towns to participate in the virtual net metering program, which allows customers to assign surplus production to other metered accounts that are not physically connected to the solar panels.  Llodra told the Council that the virtual net metering makes the Transfer Station project attractive to the town.


Llodra says Newtown has made a significant dent in the goal to have 20-percent of energy be clean energy


There's a major installation at the middle school and waste water treatment plant, neither of which are really visible.  There's an installation at the Park and Rec Garage, Newtown animal Shelter, and at John Reed Intermediate School.

Special session about tolls rumored

There is a possibility that the state General Assembly could be called on to return to the Capitol for a special session on transportation funding in the fall.  With that possibility comes the thought that tolls could be on their way back in Connecticut. 


Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the Transportation Committee, says she will continue to fight tolls being placed on the borders.  She called it just another tax and something that would be very negative for the Danbury region.  She says there was no talk of lowering the gas tax in exchange for tolls, layering another fee on taxpayers.


Last week, Danbury City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi issued a letter to the Committee raising concerns about tolls.  He cited everything from the toll dodgers adding to already congested city streets, to the negative impact on local retailers.  He said as a matter of fundamental fairness, interior regions such as the Middletown, Meriden and the Hartford area should be included.


Boucher says the idea of border tolls didn't go through during the regular session because the budget faced such opposition.  She says legislative leaders didn't want to tackle tolls at that point, because the budget itself was so controversial.


Governor Dannel Malloy proposed a massive transportation infrastructure improvement plan, but didn't offer funding suggestions.

Meeting in Newtown on proposed NHS auditorium renovation

The Newtown Public Building and Site Commission is holding a special meeting tonight in executive session to interview firms for the Newtown High School auditorium renovation.  Newtown residents approved $3.6 million for renovations during a July 6th town meeting.  Part of the project cost could be reimbursed by the state.  The project calls for making it handicap accessible, up to code and adding state of the art features.  It's not slated to begin until early next year.

More bear sightings in Greater Danbury

Another bear sighting in the Greater Danbury area.  A bear was seen near the shoulder of Interstate 84 in Southbury this morning between exits 16 and 17.  It was seen scampering away from the highway. 


There was a bear spotted Thursday by LaQuinta hotel off I-84 near the Bethel-Danbury line.  A Ridgefield resident also reported seeing a bear in their backyard last Wednesday off Spectacle Lane. 


State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife biologist Jason Holly says the bears are not looking for contact with people, but rather looking for food.  DEEP advises residents not to keep bird feeders outside, keep trash covered and clean barbecue grills thoroughly.

Newtown firearms ordinance remains unchanged

Newtown's firearms ordinance will not be amended.  The Newtown Legislative Council voted unanimously to not restrict carrying firearms, even when they are permitted, into a local public building. 


First Selectman Pat Llodra said during the meeting last week cited an incident in 2010 where someone brought a handgun to a Panama City, Fla., school board meeting and shot an official.  She says some concerns were raised after that, and again after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  The ordinance was adopted in September 2013, but the drafting process began before the shootings on 12-14. 


The ordinance committee decided that the current law addressing public safety was a good one. 


Committee member Ryan Knapp said during the meeting that very few communities have such a restriction.  Police have not received a complaint about anyone with a firearm in a public building.  Knapp says there were no issues where police didn't have a "tool in their toolbox", and unable to take action.

Malloy's 9 vetoes stand despite some desire for override

Governor Dannel Malloy's nine vetoes will stand.  Despite objections from the General Assembly's minority Republicans, the legislature on Monday did not override any of the vetoes.  Wilton state Representative Gail Lavielle spoke again in support of a bill that would have imposed new hiring standards for the next state education commissioner.


She says issues about assessing student progress and how to evaluate the people who are teaching them, should be addressed by someone who's been in the field at some point .  Lavielle says it doesn't limit the administrative experience to that of a Superintendent.  It could be a principal.


Malloy had complained the bill would have infringed on the executive branch authority to hire a commissioner. 


The state Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill during the regular session.  In the House, there were just five votes in opposition.


In the Senate, Democrats adjourned the veto session before a debate could be held on any vetoed bills.  That prompted Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano to complain about the process, saying he was "very disappointed" in how it was carried out.   The veto session was required under the state constitution.

Monroe Fire: Pets saved from blaze at unoccupied home

Monroe firefighters have saved family pets from a blaze at an unoccupied home.  A fire broke out around 4:30 yesterday afternoon at a house on Percheron Drive in the Stevenson section of Monroe. 


Neighbors saw smoke coming from the house.


About two dozen volunteer firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in about half an hour.  There were no fire hydrants, so tanker trucks from surrounding towns also responded, but were not needed.  Fire officials say some firefighters were treated at the scene for minor heat related conditions. 


The Monroe Fire Marshal's office says discarded smoking materials caused the fire.

Conn. Congressional delegation urges action on transportation funding

Without action by Congress, the federal Highway Trust Fund, which provides more than half of the country’s transportation investment and funded over $603 million in Connecticut state projects last year, will run dry on July 31st.


4th District Congressman Jim Himes says more than half of Connecticut’s transportation funding could be cut off, likely costing Connecticut hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.


Speaking on the House Floor last week, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, urged leaders to pass a long-term solution that will repair America’s deteriorating roads, bridges, and transit systems.


According to a recently released U.S. Department of Transportation report, 73 percent of Connecticut roads are in poor or mediocre condition. These poor road conditions cost the average Connecticut driver to spend $628 every year in otherwise unnecessary repairs and expenses. In addition, 35 percent of Connecticut’s bridges are structurally deficient, functionally obsolete, or both.


Esty says a great nation does not respond to a crisis with duct tape, but rather leads with bold action.

Tim McGraw donates proceeds from Conn. performance to Sandy Hook Promise

100-percent of the net proceeds from country singer Tim McGraw's performance in Connecticut last night has been donated to Sandy Hook Promise.  His stop at the Xfinity Center in Hartford drew criticism  when it was announced by Connecticut Citizens Defense League saying Sandy Hook Promise is pushing for stronger gun control laws.  McGraw responded to that by saying as a gun owner--he supports second amendment rights, but believes gun ownership comes with the responsibility of education and safety.  Opening act Billy Currington cancelled when the controversy surfaced.

State starts roll out of sales tax collection on state park parking fees

This weekend marks the begining of the state's sales tax being collected on parking fees at some of the 25 state parks where visitors are charged for parking.  Starting today, the 6.35 percent tax will be collected at shoreline parks Sherwood Island, Hammonasset and Rocky Neck. 


Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen is asking that visitors try to have exact change.


The requirement was tucked into the state budget signed by Governor Malloy June 30th.  22 other parks that charge for parking, including Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, Kettletown in Southbury, and Kent Falls will start charging tax in the coming weeks.


Kent Falls State Park, Lake Waramaug State Park and Campground in Kent, Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield, and Kettletown State Park and Campground in Southbury will start charging $9.58 for cars registered in Connecticut and $15.96 for cars registered in other states.  The fee is only charged on weekends and holidays.  Mount Tom will also charge in state cars $6.39, and $10.64 for out of state vehicles on weekdays.


On weekends and holidays, Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield will charge $13.83 for cars registered in Connecticut, and $23.40 for cars registered in other states.  On weekdays, the parking fee is $9.58 for cars registered in Connecticut and $15.96 for cars registered in other states.  Seven days a week, after 4pm the fee is $6.39 and $7.45 respectively.

Danbury's 311 system 'inundated' during torrential rain Tuesday

Danbury's 311 system is operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from their relocated center in the Danbury Police Station.   311 is a non-emergency call system that provides a streamlined method for citizens to gain information or report issues and concerns regarding City services. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the torrential rain last week tested the limits of the operators, because the system got a little inundated.  Boughton says they logged 40 calls in a minute and a half with flooding concerns.


Boughton says the roll out has gone relatively well. 


Calls needing additional City research or resources will enter an automated escalation process.  Residents can then expect a call from City representatives with the status of resolution.


The number is 203-744-4311 from a cell phone.

Fines changed for importing firewood

A local lawmaker is touting a bill to protect trees and plants from harmful pests.


Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a bill into law that would enforce the restrictions on bringing in firewood to Connecticut.  Redding Representative John Shaban, a ranking member of the Environment Committee, says any person who transports firewood from a quarantined area, for a first offense, will receive a warning as long as the point of origin is disclosed .  Any subsequent offense will be be fined $85.


Shaban says this will also allow the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to better track and control shipments of firewood.  The director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will be in charge of control, suppression or extermination of insects or diseases which are, or threaten to become, serious pests of plants such as the Emerald Ash Borer.


Any person who transports firewood violating the restrictions with the intent to sell the firewood will be fined $200.

Newtown lawmaker 'disappointed' by budget drafting process

An area legislator is expressing frustration with the state budget crafting process.  Connecticut is spending more thant it takes in according to Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky, who says that's just plain wrong.  He says residents are sick and tired of that practice. 


He says it looks to his constituents, who noticed, that 42 percent of Connecticut voters were locked out of the process all together.  Bolinsky says because of the example set by the Appropriations Committee early on, he expected more and is deeply disappointed.


Bolinsky says he is still shocked there wasn't a single Republican voice in the room when the new two-year state budget was being put together.

Area lawmaker wants constitutional amendment protecting election integrity

A local lawmaker supported a bill that would have added Connecticut to the list of states calling for a Constitutional Convention. 


Bethel Representative Dan Carter says the General Assembly took up legislation that would have addressed concerns related to campaign financing.  He says corporations, labor unions and PACs should not be able to give money.


There's 27 states, with Connecticut making 28, on board with making this part of a balanced budget amendment.  Carter says when a Constitutional Convention is held, there's nothing written in stone that there is a limit to what can be brought up.


The United States Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission in 2010 removed restrictions on amounts of independent political spending.  Some state lawmakers say removing these restrictions has resulted in the unjust influence of powerful economic forces, undermining the people's ability to choose political leadership.


Congressmembers testify on manufacturing future in Conn.

Two members of the state's Congressional delegation have testified on the future of manufacturing during a hearing in Washington yesterday.  It was the first in a series of hearings held by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer has been held about the future of manufacturing, and two members of the state's Congressional delegation provided testimony. 


4th District Congressman Jim Himes said the path forward is clear.


Himes says the technological advances can't be undone, so this country has to help workers by providing education and skills necessary to compete in a global marketplace.  Himes gave the example of Housatonic Community College, which he says is preparing students for the 21st century with a course called Advance Manufacturing.  The students are training for jobs that he says are non-exportable.


5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty talked about the successes and challenges facing northwest Connecticut, how the economy has and hasn’t changed, and what families and businesses need in 2015 to Make it in America.  She comes from a third generation manufacturing family.  She says an educated workforce is the key to a successful future.


Esty says Connecticut is home to more than 5,000 manufacturers, many of them small business, supplying goods for the nation's infrastructure, aerospace and defense industry.

Petition sent to New Fairfield officials about school debt service savings

An online petition has been forwarded to New Fairfield officials calling for savings from school debt service go back to the schools rather than the town.  The Newstimes reports that 190 signatures were on the petition submitted to First Selectman Susan Chapman this week. 


$123,000 was saved by refinancing school bonds.  Officials say it's the town that gets the money because the town issued the bonds not the school system.  Plans call for the money to be used to offset the snow removal costs which were racked up in the winter. 


The published report says the petition organizers wanted a Town Meeting to be called to address the funding matter.  The transfer was made by the Board of Finance at a meeting in May.

UNIT to get more space if 'Octagon House' sale goes through

In an effort to free up some office space at Danbury City Hall, Mayor Mark Boughton announced this week that he would enter into negotiations with the bank that holds the title to the historic Octagon House on Spring Street.  He wants to have the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team operate from there so the City will have a bigger footprint in a challenging neighborhood. 


The vacant and decaying house has attracted vandalism, squatting and general blight.  The area has become a magnet for drug dealers and prostitutes.  Boughton says the City owning this property would provide stability to the neighborhood in response to resident's complaints and concerns.


He also says UNIT needs more space now that the 311 info line is operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Connecticut state parks grappling with new tax on parking

Staff at 25 Connecticut state parks will have to brush up on their math skills after learning the new state budget requires them to charge visitors the 6.35 percent sales tax.


The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is working on a way to levy the tax, which was tucked into the state budget signed by Governor Malloy June 30th.


DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen said parking fees at Connecticut state parks have not been taxed before.  DEEP Spokeswoman Cyndy Chanaca said this change, which took effect July 1, poses a challenge to the parks in the middle of the busy summer season.


Fees are now based on round numbers and staff member typically don't use coins.  Chanaca said the agency anticipates longer lines at entrance gates.


Kent Falls State Park, Lake Waramaug State Park and Campground in Kent, Mount Tom State Park in Litchfield, and Kettletown State Park and Campground in Southbury will start charging $9.58 for cars registered in Connecticut and $15.96 for cars registered in other states.  The fee is only charged on weekends and holidays.  Mount Tom will also charge in state cars $6.39, and $10.64 for out of state vehicles on weekdays.


On weekends and holidays, Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield will charge $13.83 for cars registered in Connecticut, and $23.40 for cars registered in other states.  On weekdays, the parking fee is $9.58 for cars registered in Connecticut and $15.96 for cars registered in other states.  Seven days a week, after 4pm the fee is $6.39 and $7.45 respectively. 

Danbury appoints new Animal Control Officer, Highway Division Supervisor

After more than 30 years working for the City, Danbury's Highway Department Supervisor is retiring.  Duke Hart started with the City in 1983 and was promoted through the ranks from foreman to general foreman, all the way up to Supervisor. Hart was promoted to that role in 2004.  


Mayor Mark Boughton says the new Supervisor, Timothy Nolan, has some big shoes to fill.  He says everyone will miss Hart, and all of the hard work he's done.  In a recent chat, Hart told Boughton that he's sad he's leaving but happy to start a new chapter in his life.


Nolan was confirmed by the Danbury City Council on Tuesday night.  Nolan began his career with the City in 2009 and has a background in project management and commercial construction.  He holds a number of training certifications and licenses. 


The Division is responsible for the maintenance and reconstruction of city streets, walks, curbs, bridges, storm drains and waterways.  They also fill potholes and makes other road repairs, do storm drain cleaning and plowing--among other tasks. 


A new animal control officer was also added to the force Tuesday night.  Retired Police Officer, and recently appointed Special Police Officer, Jay Mortara began his career with the Danbury PD in 1984.  Mortara received a number of awards and citations for his work over the past three decades.


The Animal Control Officer is responsible for enforcing local and state laws relating to animals, domestic and wild, for performing field and office work, and operating-maintaining an Animal Control Shelter. The officers are charged with Investigating complaints of alleged cruelty animals and of persons bitten by animals; patrolling the city for roaming dogs; and feeding and caring for the lost or impounded animals.

Transit planning, water storage tank funding approved in Bethel

A Special Town meeting in Bethel Wednesday night has led to approval by resident on a couple of issues. 


Bethel residents approved acceptance of a $100,000 grant for Downtown Transit Oriented Development/Revitalization Planning, which was granted by the state in December.  The town will be contributing $150,000 to the project from the Bethel Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  A grant proposal was made to the state last November.


The town will focus on four types of analysis: transportation planning, sewer capacity examinations, environmental analysis, and economic/market analysis.  The information will then be used to generate a report guiding future planning efforts in the Bethel Train Station area. 


$442,000 in additional funding was also approved by Bethel residents at the Town Meeting in order to construct the Eureka Water Storage Tank on Long Ridge Road in Danbury.  The money would be bonded, and reduced by any grants the town could obtain.


Residents approved the construction during a December referendum on the initial $2.4 million project.  At that time officials said the health and fire safety project would ultimately be paid through state grants, loans and water-rate increases for 10,000 users over several decades.


There was a six year stalemate between Bethel and Danbury on the issue.


The State Health Department  said there is a water shortage in the Bethel downtown district, leading to a six year stalemate between the town and Danbury.  The City's Planning Commission time and again denied the request saying the Long Ridge Road area is designated as scenic.  An out-of-court settlement was reached between Bethel and Danbury.


When the stalemate was nearing an end, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said no new industrial development could take place in Clarke Business Park because of the storage issue.  He called it a fragile system, sensitive to any kind of disruption, with any kind of pressure change causing rust to dislodge.

Danbury, WCSU stalemate resolved keeping Ives Center open

A stalemate between Danbury and Western Connecticut State University has been resolved.  $55,404 for the Charles Ives Authority to be paid out on a quarterly basis is being transferred from Danbury's Contingency Fund.  The money wasn't included in the budget approved recently because an agreement to have the Ives Center operate this summer had yet to be reached. 


The Center is located on the west side campus of Western Connecticut State University. 


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says six months of negotiations with Western was needed to extend the five year agreement.  That wasn't completed until early May, and there was a possibility the Ives Center would go dark for this season.  But Boughton says in the end, Western agreed that this is a positive "Town-Gown" relationship.


The roof of the stage was rebuilt last year, the stage itself was previously rebuilt.


Boughton plans to meet with new WCSU president in the coming weeks, and this stalemate is one of the items he plans to bring up.


Western provides ground maintenance, and the city hires university police officers for crowd control.  Western was under pressure of state funding cuts, and Boughton says the University wanted to find another way to derive revenue from the facility.  A parking fee will be tacked on to each ticket sold.  That money will go toward maintenance: the grass cutting, weeding, gardening and other related work.


Boughton called the Ives Center is a "revenue neutral operation", with enough money to pay for maintenance and security.

Esty questions railroad oversight officials on Positive Train Control

A Connecticut lawmaker is speaking out about the delays in railroads installing Positive Train Control technology, which can automatically stop a train before an accident occurs.  It's a GPS-based system that monitors a train's location.  The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the system be installed on all commuter trains by the end of 2015.  With the deadline less than six months away, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took part in a Congressional subcommittee hearing recently on the state of implementation.


Esty says she understands there are challenges, but wants the technology installed as quickly and safely as possible.  She noted that this technology has been discussed since a fatal collision in 1969.


The acting leader of the Federal Railroad Administration told Esty that the organization needs the authority over PTC systems in order to test them, as well as to provide for interim safety measures when they do not meet the deadline.


Metro North and Connecticut could be fined by the Federal Railroad Administration if they fail to install positive train control on the tracks by a December 31st deadline.  Connecticut owns the tracks that Metro North trains use in the state, and is responsible for paying for the safety system.  But officials say that it won't be fully implemented until 2018.  A state Department of Transportation spokesman says the state likely won't be fined as long as they can show progress is being made on installation of the sensors which can apply the brakes if a train is moving too fast for conditions.


In May, Esty offered an amendment authorizing $750 million to help passenger railroads implement PTC.

Redding officials voice concerns to Eversource Energy about storm response

Redding officials have met with Eversource Energy about last month's storm that knocked out power to more than half the town, and expressed their frustrations with restoration response.  The Redding Pilot reports that First Selectman Julia Pemberton told the utility that they failed to perform.  If this was a dry run for the next emergency, she said it too was a failure. 


The meeting Monday about the June 23rd storm revealed that the Redding Police Department didn't have the crews from Eversource to do anything until a day later.  Chief Doug Fuchs reportedly told Eversource that the town's so-called "make safe crews" were ready to go, but a powerline crew wasn't immediately assigned. 


The Pilot reports that Route 58, and part of Lonetown Road remained closed for two days while trees were cleared for access to Sullivan Drive and Mark Twain Lane for nearly three days.

Speed enforcement grant awarded to Ridgefield

Speed enforcement in Ridgefield is being stepped up by Police.  The Ridgefield Police Department is working with the State Department of Transportation to increase radar enforcement throughout the town. 


The goal is to slow motorists down and prevent accidents.


Ridgefield has received a highway safety grant for rural road speed enforcement.  Officers will be performing additional radar details throughout town during July and August, with the effort having been started on Friday.  The increased enforcement will focus on roadways that present a high risk based on crash data.  There will be no cost to the town for this increased detail because the grant will reimburse all expenditures by the police department.

Brookfield to examine noise ordinance

Brookfield officials are looking to revise the town's noise ordinance.  At the Brookfield Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night, First Selectman Bill Tinsley asked that they take a look at the town's Noise Ordinance.  He cited some enforcement issues, and says complaints are not neighborhood specific to the YMCA and Greenknoll. 


He cited construction, especially on the weekends. 


Selectman Bill Davidson suggested that this be kept separate from the Quality of Life ordinance under consideration.  He proposed a workshop with police officials and others to hear what the problem is enforcing an ordinance and how to proceed.

Grant awarded to Brookfield for sewer project

A grant has been awarded to Brookfield to replace a sewer system at an elderly housing complex in town.  Brooks Quarry is for lower income seniors and people with disabilities. 


For several years, some of the units have suffered a sewer system problem, where sewage backups into the units.  The system has been described by plumbers as insufficient to support the 35 units at the complex near the Four Corners.


At the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, First Selectman Bill Tinsley said the town has received a $465,000 grant for a complete replacement of the system.  He says the project is almost bid ready.

Danbury to repurpose, restore historic Octagon House

Danbury officials want to purchase the Octagon House on Spring Street and turn it into a multi-use building.  Mayor Mark Boughton is asking  the City Council for authority to begin negotiations with the bank that holds the title to the house.  It is located on 21 Spring Street.


The plan calls for locating the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team there, and having a police substation based at the house.  Boughton is also proposing to use the backyard as a community garden.


The eight-sided house is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The effort would preserve one of five like it left in the country.  It was built in 1852 by John Earle, an innovator in the hatting industry and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.  The house was converted to apartments, but abandoned by its owner in 2008. 


Boughton says this would promote and provide stability to the neighborhood in response to resident's complaints and concerns.  The vacant and decaying house has attracted vandalism, squatting and general blight.  The area has become a magnet for drug dealers and prostitutes. 


Boughton says the building needs $200,000 to $300,000 worth of work because it's fallen into disrepair.  The yard also needs some upkeep, and the parking would have to be reconfigured. 


The listing price is about $195,000, but Boughton says that's above what the property value is worth given the condition the house is in.  Boughton says he would like to reach a deal through negotiations, but is not ruling out eminent domain and then paying fair market value to the bank.


There are more officers on the streets now that the City has civilian dispatching, and more officers are coming out of the academy.  He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation. 


He's hoping to convert the upstairs into a community room or meeting room that residents could use if they needed an area to accommodate about 45 people. 


The community garden would be monitored by a non-profit.  A small office would be located in the house for those who manage the plots that people can use to grow vegetables.


In 2011, Boughton organized a Spring Street Improvement initiative to enhance the safety and security of the neighborhood.  As part of the initiative, Spring Street has received repaved sidewalks, troublesome trees were removed, water drainage improved and street lighting enhanced.

Newtown residents approved funding two projects at Town Meeting

Newtown residents have approved several items during a Town Meeting held last night.  $1 million in bonding was approved for road improvements and resurfacing projects, beyond what was included in the budget. 


$3.6 million was also approved to renovate the Newtown High School auditorium.  The project calls for making it handicap accessible, up to code and adding state of the art features.  Some of the project would be reimbursed by state funding.  It's not slated to begin until early next year. 


The road bond passed unanimously by those in attendance at the Town Meeting.  There was one vote in opposition to the High School project.

Bird causes power outage that closed Danbury Library for the day

Danbury Library closed early Tuesday due to a power outage in downtown Danbury this afternoon.  Eversource Energy says about 550 customers were left without electricity in the Main and New Streets area for little more than an hour.  Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross says a bird flew into equipment, knocking it offline.

Another tribal chairman slams federal change in recognition

NORTH STONINGTON, Conn. (AP) The chairman of the Eastern Pequot Tribe says ``dirty politics'' are to blame for a federal rule preventing his tribe and two others from reapplying for recognition.

Dennis Jenkins tells The Day that ``backroom dealings'' in Washington made sure Connecticut tribes denied recognition in the past would not get an opportunity to reapply for recognition allowing them to seek federal assistance and pursue casino development.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs last month dropped a provision allowing three state-recognized tribes in Connecticut the Eastern Pequots, Schaghticokes and Golden Hill Paugussetts to reapply for recognition.

The Eastern Pequos won recognition in 2002. It was withdrawn three years later after the state and Ledyard, North Stonington and Preston objected.

Jenkins has said he doesn't believe the tribe should pursue a casino.


The leader of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said the new rules fall short of the promise to provide a transparent, timely, and consistent process for recognition.  Chief Richard Velky says they will not be deterred by the grave omissions and errors in the Final Regulations.

Verizon proposes cell tower 'monopole' near Danbury/Bethel line

A proposal from Verizon to construct a cell tower at the Bethel-Danbury town line was sent to the state today.  An application has been submitted to the Connecticut Siting Council by Cellco Partnership, Verizon Wireless. 


The Application calls for the installation of a wireless telecommunications tower on a 14 acre lot at 15 Great Pasture Road in Danbury. The application says that a 120-foot monopole tower would be constructed in the westerly portion of this parcel.  A new 12-foot by 26-foot shelter near the base of the tower would house its radio equipment and a natural gas-fueled back-up generator. 


Access to the facility will be from Great Pasture Road.


On the day of the Siting Council public hearing on this proposal, Verizon will fly a balloon at the height of the proposed tower. 


Danbury and Bethel residents of can review the Application starting today at the Danbury Town Clerk and Bethel Town Clerk offices or the Connecticut Siting Council office in New Britain.

Danbury woman nominated to fill City Council vacancy

There is a vacancy on the Danbury City Council.  Marina Loyola, one of two representatives of the 7th Ward, has resigned.  Loyola has been dealing with health issues for several months and felt unable to dedicate as much time to the City Council as she wanted to. 


The Danbury Republican Town Committee has voted unanimously to recommend Nancy Cammisa to fill the vacancy.  RTC Chairman Michael Safranek says the nomination is being considered tonight by the City Council. 


Nancy is an Accounting Assistant at PlusMedia, active with Danbury Youth Wrestling and an active member of the Danbury community.

'Community Messengers' educating fellow parents about family services in Danbury

A Pilot Program taught 20 parents about community services, supports, and events and how to share that information with other parents in their neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces  The six week program, run by Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership included information about how to best share information with other parents about services to help families raise healthy children and support their learning.


The Community Messengers program is based on the premise that most parents learn about community resources by talking with other parents they know and trust.  The Partnership hopes that participants will spread the word and refer parents to the services they need.  While the six formal weeks of training has ended, the Community Messengers will continue to meet on a monthly basis to keep up to date on resources and opportunities for families.


Each weekly session covered a particular topic including: how to find childcare, how to access health and behavioral health services, finding recreational activities, services for special needs children, and how to find financial resources. Each session featured speakers from various agencies and programs in the City.


This summer, the Community Messengers will be manning tables at family-oriented events sponsored by the Danbury Library, as well as at the Danbury Downtown Farmer’s Market and other venues frequented by parents. They will be distributing information about the Summer Meals program, the free Imagination Library book program, the Help Me Grow program, and other programs that support families with young children.


If funding is available, another six week session will be conducted next year for a new group of parents.

Hospital staff to be trained about dementia symptoms

Governor Dannel Malloy has signed a bill into effect that would require each hospital in the state to include training in the symptoms of dementia as part of regularly provided training to staff members.  He signed the bill Wednesday.  During the legislative session, New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor questioned whether there have been complaints that hospitals are not properly training workers in aspects of dementia.


Neither state law nor regulation specifies general training requirements. 


Buck-Taylor said there is no doubt there is a need for dementia care and there will be more of a need as the population ages.  But she says the language of the bill was vague.


The training must start effective October 1st.  In practice, hospitals must comply with clinical training requirements set by certain regulatory and accrediting agencies.

Aging, broken infrastructure frustrates Metro-North riders

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Aging and broken public works have again plagued the Metro-North Railroad in Connecticut.

The Devon Movable Bridge, built in 1904, carries trains on the New Haven line, Waterbury branch, Amtrak and Shore Line East. It got stuck in the open position Wednesday, forcing officials to use another span, slowing commutes into and out of Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The state is targeting for replacement four moveable bridges on the New Haven line. They include the Devon bridge and a Norwalk span stuck in the open position twice last year.  The Walk Bridge was built in 1896.

A Greenwich bridge over the Mianus River and Saga Bridge over the Saugatuck River also are eyed for replacement.

A state transportation spokesman says more track repairs are required before trains can cross Devon bridge next week.


Costs related to the Walk Bridge are about $400 million, while costs to replace the other bridges have not been detailed. Replacement work is not expected for several years.  The state budget approved by the legislature will include a $2.8 billion increase for infrastructure over the next five years, including $1.77 billion for rail, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.


The failure of the Walk and Devon bridges is a "wake up call" to state transportation officials, said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton.


Her constituents are "ballistic," she said. "They have suffered for so long."

Newtown legislator wants state to stay out of pet therapy licensing

A bill about animal-assisted therapy services is awaiting Governor Malloy's signature.  The bill makes several changes to current law, including to add animal assisted activities to therapy.  It also expands therapy teams beyond dogs. 


Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the more government does, the less it does well. 


The bill requires these teams get credentials from the state.  It does not specify how DCF will credential the organizations and providers.  Bolinsky fears this will be turned into a money making operation.  He's concerned that many of the care teams are run by volunteers, and would be charged, slowing their response.


Bolinsky says having a state agency run this type of program, rather than letting it work as a community response seems like it would create more red tape and delays.


Bolinsky asked during debate if there were specific, documented complaints from those who rushed to comfort Sandy Hook residents after 12-14.  He was told there were problems with everyone who wanted to help, being able to participate in giving assistance.  The backer of the bill also said that some people said they would have liked if more Connecticut-based animals were available so there wasn't a gap when those animals had to go back to the states that they came from. 


Part of the bill requires the Department of Children and Families Commissioner to identify and mobilize animal-assisted critical incident response teams statewide.  He asked during debate who and how the teams would be identified and screened.  A national organization, Pet Partners, would oversee the program and the teams themselves would be responsible for any certification fees. 

'Terrible tax increases' critcized by local lawmaker

A terrible tax increase, and an uncertain financial future.  That's how a local lawmaker summed up the state's new two-year budget.  On the day of the Special Session, Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan expressed frustration about budget talks being one-sided.  McLachlan was critical of the increased spending.  He says Connecticut needs to start living within its means.


The final deficit figure will be determined later this year, after the state's finances are audited.  Estimates are there's a $115 million deficit.  Any red ink will be covered by the state's Budget Reserve Fund.  The so-called Rainy Day Fund has an estimated $519 million saved up.


McLachlan, commercial real estate by trade, says he he got a lot of questions from constituents this session about why the General Assembly is not listening.

'Danbury Titans' newest team to play in the FHL

The newest member of the Federal Hockey League is going to be known as the Danbury Titans.  Owner Bruce Bennett made the announcement yesterday afternoon.  The Danbury man owns Bruce Bennett Nissan in Wilton and says he liked the name, but it's a coincidence that the Titan is a new vehicle for Nissan.  It's a diesel powered pick up truck.

Bennett has a 6 year lease with Eagle Ice Sports, owner of the Danbury Ice Arena.


Phil Esposito was the head coach of the Danbury Whalers, the last team to play at the Danbury Ice Arena.  The team is inactive after Eagle Ice Sports and Whalers ownership could not come to agreement on a new lease for the Danbury Ice Arena.  He will be the coach of the new Danbury team. 


There will be six teams in the Federal Hockey League including the recently announced Stateline Whalers in Brewster.

Lake Waramaug swim area remains closed through weekend

Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent remains closed to swimming due to increased bacteria in the water.  The area was closed Thursday.  Water retesting by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection showed results that still had elevated levels today. 


Another round of testing is scheduled for Monday to determine when it is safe to reopen.  Results are expected on Tuesday. 


After heavy rain, storm water runoff can increase the amount of bacteria in the water.

Putnam County Sheriff to step up patrols this weekend

Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies will be conducting periodic security checks of religious facilities, train stations, commuter parking lots, bus routes, shopping centers, and public parks.  Sheriff Donald Smith says the increased uniform presence is not because of a renewed safety threat, but rather part of the department's counter-terrorism strategy of continued vigilance.  Putnam County Sheriff's deputies will be out in force starting tomorrow morning, and ending Sunday night.

Area lawmaker accuses Malloy of 'playing chicken' with corporations

Comments from Governor Dannel Malloy on Tuesday after signing a new two-year state budget into law, has drawn the ire of a local lawmaker.  Malloy said that hospitals had their best year in Connecticut history last year, with more people who are appearing at hospitals with a level of health care coverage. 


Bethel state Representative Dan Carter disagreed.  He says the hospitals have worked to reduce costs, including consolidation.  But he says the state has increased their property taxes, decreased Medicaid funding for them, and reduced reimbursements they get for uncompensated care.  Carter says for Malloy to say that is irresponsible at best.


Carter also cited the newly adopted budget including the second largest tax increase in Connecticut's history.  It's behind only the increases included in the previous budget Governor Malloy signed into law.  Carter says a lot of companies will decide in the next three to four years if they're going to stay in Connecticut.


He called Malloy "out of touch with reality".  Carter also accused the Governor and others of playing chicken with major corporations in the state who threatened to relocated because of proposed business tax increases.  Carter says these companies didn't issue statements lightly during budget negotiations.


Carter says the administration will have to answer that next year, and come up with something to help people keep their jobs.

New taxes, new laws in place in Conn.

The start of the new fiscal year has ushered in new taxes and new laws in Connecticut. 


Car washes will now collect a sales tax.  The cigarette tax has gone up 25 cents, and in 2017 that will rise again.  Clothes and footwear costing less than 50 dollars used to be exempt from sales tax, but that’s no longer the case.  The state’s corporate tax structure is also changing. 


A three year rolling capital improvement plan for the state's technical high school system is being put in place.  That's an update from the current five year rolling plan mandate.  Renovations and repairs that each technical high school is expected to need, including to, athletic fields, heating and ventilation systems, and roofs are to be taken into account.  The state Board of Education must make recommendations for energy efficiency improvements to each school, and the specific equipment each technical high school is expected to need, based on the useful life of existing equipment and projections of changing technology.


The cost of textbooks for college students could soon be lowered.  The Board of Regents for Higher Education and The University of Connecticut are being ordered to establish an open-source textbook pilot program.  Digital open source textbooks are books made available on a web site to be used by students, faculty and members of the public on an unlimited basis at minimal or no cost.  The measure was approved by both the House and Senate unanimously. 


People who were born and adopted in Connecticut and are at least 18 will now have a chance to see their birth certificate. To be eligible, the adoption has to have been finalized after October 1st 1983.  The bill was voted on in 2014.  There were five votes opposed in the Senate , including Mike McLachlan of Danbury, Toni Boucher of Wilton and then-state Senator John McKinney.

Cell tower going up in Ridgebury

A cell tower is being erected in Ridgefield.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Ridgebury cell tower was being brought to the site off Ledges Road Tuesday in pieces, but the truck was too big for the access road.  Workers transferred the equipment to a smaller truck to be brought in to the site. 


Residents initially rejected the town purchasing open space land and building the tower, but the deal went through with a private buyer. 


The cell tower will help improve police, fire and town emergency radio equipment, upgrades that were approved by Ridgefield voters in May for $3.7 million.

Storms Cause Outages And Flooding

A power outage hit 99 Per cent of Ridgefield customers this morning , but officials say it shouldn’t be a repeat of last week.

Deputy Emergency Manager Dick Aarons said the outage was mostly caused by Eversource Energy  transmission problems.

The outages started at 5:30 a.m. and peaked at 10,630 by 6:15, but that number quickly dropped to 6,600 by 6:30.

Last week’s storm did massive damage in Ridgefield  and full recovery of power took from Tuesday to Friday morning around 4 a.m.


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there was flooding in the city in the usual  places  that tend to flood.



Bridge replacement at Weston-Redding town line

Roadwork being done at the Redding-Weston town line will likely effect traffic.  Route 57 in Weston near its intersection with Route 53 will be closed to traffic beginning today for a bridge replacement.  Most traffic will be diverted down Cobbs Mill in Weston, while trucks will be turned around in Redding.  Alternate ways around the closure are Route 7 or Route 53.  A Redding Police officer will be posted at Route 57 near the Weston town line to turn around all truck traffic.

Brookfield lawmaker critical of 'Second Chance Society' bill

The Second Chance Society legislation, proposed by Governor Malloy and approved by lawmakers in special session this week, is being criticized by a local lawmaker.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, an attorney, opposed the measure, saying that substance abuse treatment on a second arrest is already practiced.  He says by the time someone gets an actual conviction on a drug possession crime, they've gone through three, four, or five diversionary programs.


Harding says there's a drug education program, a community service labor program--which can be used twice--and a treatment program where someone can once again walk out of court without anything on their record.


Harding says this could have an indirect impact on drug sale laws, if not a direct effect.  He gave the example of a plea negotiation for someone charged with sale or intent to sell, gets convicted of possession of narcotics, and walking out with a misdemeanor conviction.


Harding says laws should be created to deter people from using drugs rather than pardoning it.


He says there are many other aggravating factors for those in jail on a simple drug possession conviction.


Connecticut officials and policy experts say the state's drug laws will transform from some of the most draconian in the country to some of the most lenient this fall. That's when most drug possession crimes will become misdemeanors instead of felonies.  The changes include eliminating a mandatory two-year prison term for possessing drugs within 1,500 feet of a school.

State officials estimate the new law will save Connecticut about $19 million in prison costs over the next two years by decreasing the prison population.

Danbury legislator calls for Special Transportation Fund 'lockbox'

A local lawmaker is speaking out about funding taken from the Special Transportation Fund in the newly adopted state budget.  Danbury Republican State Senator Mike McLachlan says some of his constituents are upset because they don't feel elected officials are in touch with reality.


He wants a lockbox on the Special Transportation Fund. 


Language in the bill expands how much money can be spent from the Fund for items other than fixing roads.  McLachlan says under the bill, boating enforcement is now considered transportation.  While part of Candlewood Lake is in his district, McLachlan says that should not come out of the Special Transportation Fund. 


Governor Dannel Malloy signed the revised state budget into law, acknowledging he'd like to see at least one more change.  He says the state ultimately needs to amend its constitution to ensure revenues collected in Connecticut's Special Transportation Fund are spent on transportation matters, not other programs.

A bill passed during Monday's special legislative session included such a provision, but only in state statute.

Malloy, who has proposed a 30-year, $100 billion overhaul of state transportation infrastructure, said Monday's vote was the ``first step'' toward a constitutional amendment. That process typically can take two years, but Malloy contends the question could appear on the 2016 ballot.


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