Local Headlines Archives for 2015-09

Ridgefield officials urge residents to be prepared in case of emergency

Even if there's no direct hit along the East Coast from Hurricane Joaquin, the region could still feel its impact.  National Emergency Preparedness month has just wrapped up but the Ridgefield Community Emergency Response Team is reminding residents that it's not too late to put together a so-called "Grab and Go" bag. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says there's a lot of talk about how to prepare to shelter in place, but not about needing to evacuate in a hurry.

 

Marconi notes that this area is not immune to ice storms or severe winter weather.  A Grab and Go Bag has important papers, medications and survival essentials such as a first aid kit, electronics charges and bottled water.  The bags should also include a small regional map, a spare key, flashlight and some cash.

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Discussion in New Milford on artificial turf fields postponed to October

The New Milford Town Council has put off action on a decision about installing artificial turf on the high school's athletic fields.  New Milford's Finance Director asked for more time to consider the proposal since funding had not previously been discussed with him.  The discussed was put off until their meeting on October 12th.  The project still awaits Zoning Commission approval.  A special permit and site plan application has been submitted and the public hearing on that has been continued to their meeting on October 13th.

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Bethel to host workshop on future of downtown area

Bethel is starting a comprehensive study to plan the future development of the downtown area, including properties surrounding and adjacent to the Bethel Train Station.  The plan will be known as "Bethel Forward".  DPZ Partners, a leader in the field of urban planning and design, have been chosen to lead the effort. 

 

The revitalization project centers around the new Bethel Train Station at the northern end of Depot Street.  The area would be rezoned to permit new residential and commercial development.  The goal is to then redevelop and connect the area to downtown.

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the Planning and Zoning Department and Commission have worked on this for many years and it's finally coming to fruition in the planning stage.  He says the project has tremendous possibilities.

 

Like other communities, Knickerbocker says residents have been speaking out about a number of closed shops in the area, and property owners have said it's difficult to attract new retailers there.  This plan would connect downtown with an area within easy walking distance where people can live, which would provide a new customer base.

 

While it is pretty easy to walk from the train station to the downtown area because of the sidewalks already in place, this would go the next step.  There's been some commercial development recently in the corridor, but the Bethel Forward plan would look at what zoning laws should be applied there that would make it possible for new commercial, retail and residential to be developed.

 

Residents have several ways to weigh in on what should happen in the downtown area.  There is a survey online posted on the town's website.  A Community Voices Workshop will be held Thursday night at 6:30pm in the Municipal Center.  There will be another workshop on October 29th.  A community charette is planned for the week of November 16-20 as an intense and interactive design workshop.

 

Some of the questions in the online survey ask about what new businesses of activities would residents like to see downtown, what words come to mind when thinking about downtown Bethel and are there any specific improvements that should be made to downtown.  Another question asks about where residents usually shop for specific categories of goods and services.

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Gold Star Fathers Act sent to President for signature

Final legislative passage has been given to a bill introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and is awaiting the President's signature. 

 

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty applauded final passage of her bipartisan Gold Star Fathers Act. Currently, qualifying mothers of certain disabled or deceased veterans—known as “Gold Star Mothers”—are given preference when applying for certain federal civil service jobs. The veterans hiring preference that will no longer be used by their love one when applying for certain federal civil jobs currently can be used by Gold Star Mothers. 

 

This bill extends that benefit to Fathers.

 

Esty says mothers are not the only ones who grieve.  She says the loss of a child is felt just as strongly by veteran's fathers.  Esty notes that in many cases, not only have these parents undergone significant trauma emotionally, but they may have also lost a source of their financial stability or even have mounting medical bills from the care of their loved ones.

 

Esty says those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country deserve to know that their loved ones they leave behind will be cared for.

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Danbury Exchange Club to honor 'Firefighter of the Year' Thursday

The Danbury Exchange Club will honor its Firefighter of the Year Thursday.  This year's recipient of the Exchange Club Firefighter of the Year is Captain Joe Halas.  He joined the Danbury Fire Department in 1999 after serving in the Greenwich and Stratford Fire Departments. 

 

Halas has a bachelor's degree in Justice and Law Administration from West Conn.  He holds a number of Fire Service Certifications and is working on a degree in Fire Science.  Halas has earned several unit citations and awards of merit for rescues and life savings actions. 

 

The Fire Department says Captain Halas has led efforts to refinish areas of Fire Headquarters.  He has also shown tremendous initiative in completing a department-wide turnout gear study and replacement program.  He is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee on research and development for firefighter turnout gear for one of the leading manufacturers. 

 

His father, Danbury Firefighter Joseph Halas was killed in the line of duty in 1982. 

 

Joe Halas is a youth baseball coach, a member of the Mohawk Mountain Ski Patrol, organizes the Union's children's Christmas party and the annual children's fishing derbies.  He will be recognized by the Exchange Club Thursday at 6:30pm at Anthony's Lake Club.

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Masuk High School receives National Blue Ribbon designation

A local high school is among those that have been designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools.  The U.S. Department of Education announced the 2015 National Blue Ribbon School winners Tuesday.  They include Masuk High School in Monroe. 

 

The award is presented to schools with high academic performance or greatest progress in achievement gap closure. 

 

Masuk along with a Wolcott elementary school and Goodwin school in Storrs received the honors in the Exemplary High Performing Schools for high student achievement and graduation rates.  Connecticut Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell congratulated the winners on their strong collaboration among educators, parents and community partners in delivering the promise of a great education to students.

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Bethel appoints new Athletic Director

The Bethel Board of Education has appointed a new athletic director for Bethel High School.  The Board received more than 2 dozen applications for the position which was left vacant last month with the resignation of Frank Tatto.  He took an assistant principal position at Bunnell High School in Startford.  Mark Caron was appointed last night to fill the vacancy.  He most recently coached baseball at Fairfield Warde High School, where he was a chemistry teacher and director of student activities.

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Conn. Siting Council approves Codfish Hill Rd in Bethel

Despite strong opposition from neighbors, the Connecticut Siting Council has approved a cell tower for Codfish Hill Road in Bethel.  The 150-foot monopole by North Atlantic Towers was approved last Tuesday.  The original proposal from the Florida-based company was for a 170-foot tower, but they made the reduction during the open application period. 

 

Cellco, doing business as Verizon Wireless, will be allowed to build the tower at the Site 2 proposed location.  It's a 49-acre residentially zoned site which consists of woodlands, wetlands and old fields.  The site is more central on the parcel.  There are 10 homes within 1,000 feet of the site.  Site 2 would be visible year round from 139 acres, and seasonally visible from 264 acres. 

 

The proposed facility is to provide reliable wireless service in the eastern portion of Bethel and in the western section of Newtown.

 

Before construction can start, the company must submit plans for site clearing, landscaping, drainage and erosion controls--along with provisions for a Turtle Protection Program.  The wood turtle and box turtle make homes in that area. 

 

A monopine was considered, but the Siting Council determined that it would appear bulky and more prominent than a monopole, especially when viewed from areas where the tower extends well above the tree canopy.

 

The Siting Council said concerns neighbors raised about the tower’s potential negative impact “are not sufficient” to deny the application.

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Danbury to call on state lawmakers to reform education funding system

Danbury officials are gathering together to call on the state to fulfill their financial obligation to the schools.  The Danbury Board of Education, City Council, state lawmakers and others will be holding a public information session next Monday, October 5th, about the district being underfunded by some $30 million. 

 

Information provided by the schools says that funding to districts is being given out in lump sums now with the state having suspended the Education Cost Sharing Formula in 2013.  School officials say the grants are calculated in a way that higher mill rate towns get more money, and districts with lower costs for special need students or English Language Learners also receiving more funding. 

 

School officials say new funding proposed under the ECS formula, to be reinstated in 2016, cuts what Danbury is entitled to by 50 percent, or $30 million.

 

The state is being called on by Danbury officials to come up with a more fail-safe funding method for school districts based on students' learning needs.  They plan to discuss the possible request for a one-time Education Cost Sharing grant from the state to alleviate inequitable funding.

 

The School District says Danbury has the 7th lowest per student spending in Connecticut at $12,684, relying heavily on local funding.  Danbury contributes $9,061 per student, or 70 percent.  The schools say that's nearly twice that of a similar district.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella says the taxpayers need relief, and the state needs to help make sure every child is reaching his or her fullest potential. 

 

Monday's info session is being held at Broadview Middle School from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

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Danbury examines opportunity to refinance Richter Park Authority loans

Danbury is looking to save the Richter Park Authority money while also making some money for taxpayers.  Richter Park Authority currently has several loans at what Mayor Mark Boughton considers high interest rates given what the climate is today.

 

Danbury is being asked to provide a low interest loan to the Authority.  The loan would have to be repaid within 15 years.  Danbury would then collect 2.5 percent interest for taxpayers. 

 

Danbury's Finance Director says the Authority would improve their cash flow, reduce annual debt service cost and put more money in their operating budget based on savings from the lower interest rate. 

 

Richter Park has hiking, a golf course and a visual arts program.

 

A committee of the City Council is examining the issue.

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Coach Homes in Ridgefield moving toward closing date

A developer has made it through the approval process to start the first development at former Schlumberger site in Ridgefield.  The 10 acres of town owned land was approved for sale to Charter Group Partners LLC in February for $4.3 million. 

 

The Coach Homes off Sunset Lane includes 9 townhouses and three buildings with 45 one-level two bedroom apartments.  The 54 units of luxury housing would be for people aged 55 and older.  A small clubhouse is also proposed for the site.  According to the developer's website, the units are expected to sell in the $450,000 range. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says they are looking at a closing date of October 15th.  Charter Group partner Martin Handshy asked the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen for permission to get access to the site from now.  Handshy wants to move some constructions trailers there, mow the lawn, clean up the property and clear a treeline where he wants to put the silt fence.

 

The Ridgefield town attorney has drafted an agreement with Handshy's attorney that would have a bond in place, the necessary liability insurance and some assurances.  If for some reason the project were to halt, and Handshy were to pull out of the site, whatever he has done will not be a negative impact to the property so as to create a financial burden for the town.

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AT&T to add service in Washington, Conn.

Senator Richard Blumenthal is touting AT&Ts decision to bring cell service to the town of Washington, Connecticut.  He wrote to the company in July urging that they activate service as soon as possible because the town center and other areas of the community have long been cell spot dead zones.  Blumenthal says that creates communications barriers for emergency services, businesses and residents alike.  He called cell service something that's no longer an optional luxury, rather a basic necessity.

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Newtown Charter Revision Commission to hold public hearing

A Public Hearing will be held in Newtown on Wednesday night about proposed changes to the town's Charter.  The Charter Revision Commission told the Newtown Bee that only a couple of changes were made at their last meeting and one outstanding issue was resolved Friday. 

 

Changes are being recommended on filling open positions on appointed Boards and Commissions.  An issue about minority representation among alternates to local boards and commissions was being researched by the town's attorney. 

 

The Charter Revision Commission, with a goal of making the document more user-friendly, must submit a draft to the Legislative Council by mid-October.

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Group proposes creating 'Disc golf' course at Farrington Woods in Danbury

A sport called Disc Golf could be coming to Danbury.  A group of enthusiasts has approached the City about putting a course in at the Farrington Woods open space property on Danbury's westside.  Danbury Disc Golf, along with non-profit WEDGE, proposed to build an 18 hole course at no charge to the city.  They will raise all the necessary money.  The course would be maintained by volunteers.

 

The game is played like ball golf but instead of a club, a frisbee is thrown into a metal basket.  Disc golf player Matt Serfass, a Danbury resident, says this is a sport that all economic backgrounds can get into.  The basket is four feet tall, sunk into the ground, and the baskets can be removed.  The group also compared the game to bowling when it comes to the skills needed and the accessibility.  Petitioners said the game can be played by the young and old, there's little to no expense, and it can be played occassionally or on a league-type level.

 

He called Farrington Woods "underutilized" and said the 192 acre property would be perfect for a course. 

 

There are no disc golf courses within 20 miles of Danbury.  There are courses in Norwalk, Mt. Kisko and Hartford.  He says this will bring other players to the area, who will patronize local businesses.  They could talk with local businesses about sponsoring different holes on the course, which will give out-of-towners an idea of where to go after the game for food or drinks.

 

They've been talking with the Harambee Center about holding clinics there to teach kids about the sport.  He says this could help foster social, physical and emotional growth in kids.

 

The petitioners say the fairways won't cross or use a hiking trail.  They're not wide and are sculpted by nature.  In order to lay out the course, volunteers would walk the property several times to determine the best location.

 

Some concerns were raised by City Council members including if the game is considered passive recreation, because there are grants and restrictions on the proposed property.  Brush and tree removal is highly regulated and parking can be an issue.  Members were also concerned about liability if someone were to hurt themselves while playing.

 

No immediate action was taken by the committee at their meeting held last week.

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Ridgefield controlled deer hunt to get underway next month

This year's controlled deer hunt in Ridgefield will be getting underway soon.  72 deer were culled from the herd in Ridgefield last year through a controlled hunt.  The controlled hunt was started in 2006 as a way to try to reduce deer-borne ticks that spread Lyme Disease, to manage woodland destruction and lower the deer-car accidents. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has noticed a reduction in the number of deer-auto collisions, and a return of the understory.  He says it was devastating to the town's open space and that was a big reason the hunt was started.  Marconi says the deer were consuming and destroying the understory that supports other habitat.

 

Two parcels used last year, were removed from this year's inventory.  The Deer Management Implementation Committee says 12 open space properties in Ridgefield will be hunted from October 12th through January 12th.  Spectacle Swamp and the Scodon Drive/Phesant Lane have been removed from the hunt because few if any deer were taken on the properties.  It was recommended that there be at least a year of rest from hunting those parcels.  Three new sites were added: Stonecrest Open Space, Ridgebury Farms/Turner Hill and Prospect Ridge. They will be archery hunting only.  Prospect Ridge was approved for only weekday morning hunting.  The Prospect Ridge property lies between the Rail Trail and recreational sites such as soccer fields, the skating center, and the dog park. 

 

Linden Road will also only be archery hunting this year.

 

A flyover with the state showed about 45 deer per square mile, if not greater.  The goal is to get down to 20 or 25 deer per square mile, though Marconi says he doesn't know if the town will be able to achieve that.

 

The remaining sites approved by the selectmen were all properties hunted last year:

• Levy Park (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader) mornings only

• Laurel Lane (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader)

• Linden Lane (archery)

• Between Old Trolley and Shadow Lake (archery only)

• Reed park (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader)

• Keeler Court (archery)

• Ledges Open Space (archery, shotgun and muzzleloader)

• Shadow Lake (archery, shotgun, muzzleloader)

• Ridgefield Golf Course (archery, limited muzzleloader)

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Community Celebration marks reopening of Brookfield Town Park

A community celebration is being held this afternoon to mark the Grand Reopening of Brookfield Town Park Beach and Cadigan Park.  The sand area at the Town park is now three times larger.  A building housing changing rooms, restrooms and water for an outdoor shower opened earlier this summer.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley says celebration events included face painting, a balloon sculptor and games among other features. 

 

Members of the Cadigan family will be on hand for the ribbon cutting at 3pm.

 

Event overflow parking and shuttle bus transport will be available from Huckleberry Hill Elementary School beginning at 12:45 pm.

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Wilton firm reports impressive returns boost Yale's endowment to $25.6M

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Yale University reports that its endowment grew to a record $25.6 billion based on an 11.5 percent return for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The new endowment numbers mark a 7.1 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.

Harvard University's endowment is the nation's largest at $37.6 billion. The University of Texas is second, and Yale third.

Yale says it plans to spend $1.2 billion from the endowment during the current academic year, which represents about one-third of the Ivy League university's operating budget.

William Jarvis, managing director for the Commonfund Institute in Wilton, which serves as an investment manager for nonprofits, tells the New Haven Register that Yale's 11.5 percent return is among the best in the nation among colleges.

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Prescription drug, narcotic take back day being held across Conn.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is being held tomorrow at several local police stations.  People can bring unwanted outdated prescription drugs and illegal narcotics on a no questions asked basis. 

 

No needles will be accepted. 

 

The collection is from 10am to 2pm.  

 

The Danbury, Newtown, Weston Police stations will be collecting.  State Troopers Offices in New Fairfield, Sherman, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Woodbury and the Southbury barracks will have collection bins.  Easton Public Library and Kent Town Hall will also have collection bins.

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Bestselling author to appear at Wilton Library on release date of new novel

An internationally bestselling author is coming to Wilton Library on the day her new novel is released.  Karin Slaughter is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestseller Cop Town. 

 

Her new novel, Pretty Girls, is a bit a departure for the author. 

 

The chilling standalone psychological thriller delves into a buried history of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and forbidden truths.  Estranged sisters must come together to search, finally, for the horrifying details about two harrowing tragedies, perpetrated twenty years apart, that devastated their bond and even their attempts to lead separate lives.

 

The characters wrestle with genuine moral dilemmas and the parameters of their own humanity. 

 

Slaughter's appearance on Tuesday night at Wilton Library is her only stop in the Northeast on this book tour.

 

Entry to the event is $30, plus the Brown Paper Ticket fee.  The price includes two seats and one hardcover copy of Pretty Girls. A portion of the book sales will benefit Wilton Library.  Books will be distributed at check-in beginning at 6:30pm the night of the event.  Additional books will be available for purchase. There will be a Q&A and book signing after the talk, which begins at 7:30pm.

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Voluntary water conservation being called for in Conn.

Voluntary water conservation is being called for by the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  With the conservation advisory issued, Aquarion Water Company is asking its customers to voluntarily conserve water and stop non-essential outdoor water use. 

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Connecticut is currently experiencing conditions ranging from “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought” due to an extended dry spell. 

 

There's been below average rainfall and water demand has been 9.3 percent higher this season compared to the same period last year.  Using over 9 million gallons more per day, Aquarion’s reservoirs and wells are below normal capacity.

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400 WCSU students, faculty to participate in 'Day of Service'

Some 400 Western Connecticut State University students and faculty members will be out in the community today for the 2nd annual Day of Service.  There are 40 non-profit organizations and city agencies that will be helped.  Dean of Students Walter Cramer says many students arrive at Western understanding the value of volunteerism and more learn about it at the university.  But he says overall, the students then make it an ongoing part of their lives.

 

There were 22 agencies helped last year, the first year of this event.

 

Cramer says the goal of the event is to help the community, to recognize students and their commitment to community, and to create an awareness of the opportunity and the value of volunteerism as part of a college education.

 

After last year's success, Cramers says a lot of the students then went back to work with the organizations.  He said this was a good way for Western to make new connections in the city. 

 

Work includes raking, trimming, weeding, painting, cleaning offices, washing fire trucks, moving books, working with animals and picking up trash.

 

Among the places the WCSU volunteers will serve are:

Alternative Center of Excellence (ACE)

Ann’ Place

Born Learning Trail in Rogers Park

City Center Danbury

Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut

Danbury Ambulance

Danbury Area Computer Society

Danbury Board of Education

Danbury Museum and Historical Society

Danbury Music Centre

Danbury Office of Public Works

Danbury PAL

Danbury Public Library

Danbury Railway Museum

Danbury Youth Services

Department of Children and Families

Dorothy Day Center

Ellsworth School

Escape to the Arts

Harambee Center

Hayestown School

Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury

Ives Concert Park

Ives Trail Greenway

Jericho Partnership

Lake Kenosia Park

Musicals at Richter

New Street Fire House

Regional Hospice Center for Comfort Care and Healing

St. James Episcopal Church

Stadley Rough School

Taywile Park

TBICO

Western Connecticut State University Child Care Center

 

“Western Day of Service” has received a commitment of support from many groups and athletic teams from the university, including the women’s basketball team, men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse teams, women’s soccer team, men’s soccer team, men’s tennis team, WCSU Education Club, Latin American Student Organization, men’s baseball team, women’s softball team, women’s swimming and diving team, Honors Program, Accounting Society, Greek Council, Cheerleading Team, Commuter Student Association, Department of Social Work, Student Government Association, volleyball team, Educational Access & Achievement Program, Recreation Services, Sigma Delta Tau, WXCI, Office of Housing & Residence Life and Student Affairs.

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Son of missing Easton couple pleads not guilty to firearms charge

The son of a missing Easton couple has pleaded not guilty to a federal firearms charge.  27-year old Kyle Navin of Bridgeport was in court today on a charge of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. 

 

Another court date was set as October 15th with jury selection scheduled for November 9th. 

 

State Police searched Navin's home in their search for his parents, Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin, who haven't been seen since August 4th.  Their son was the last person to speak to either of them.  Navin was arrested September 8th and has been held in jail since then.  The charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

 

The arrest warrant affidavit, contained a portion of a text message conversation between Kyle Navin and his father on the last day anyone heard from the couple.  In one exchange, Jeffrey Navin accused his son of framing him for murdering Jeanette Navin. 

 

Jeffrey Navin owns Westport-based J&J Refuse.  Jeanette Navin is a longtime employee with the Weston public schools.  The couple recently moved from Weston to Easton. 

 

Navin is considered a person of interest in the case by police, but has not been charged in connection with the couple’s disappearance.

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Manhattan Short Film Festival to be shown in Danbury Friday

The Manhattan Short Film Festival, an international event, is coming to Danbury.  Founder Nicholas Mason will visit the Palace Theater on Friday night for the event.  He will then record the thoughts of select audience members for a documentary.  The video will be posted on manhattanshort.com.

 

Audience members will vote for their favorite film, and the global winner will be announced October 4th. 

 

The festival is shown in more than 250 cities worldwide.  The film fest started in 1998.  Mason says it grew significantly after 2001 because international media stationed at Union Square Park covering 9/11 saw the event.  The following year, the number of entries had doubled.

 

The films this year are "Listen" from Finland and Denmark; "Dad in Mum" from France; "Bear Story" from Chile; "Forever Over" from Germany; "Shok" from Kosovo and the United Kingdom; "Grounded" from France; "Sundown" from Turkey; "Patch" from Switzerland and Germany; "El Camino Solo" from the United States and "Bis Gleich" ("In a Bit") from Germany.

 

Local dates for the festival are The Palace Danbury, 165 Main St., on Sept. 25 at 8 p.m.; Bethel Cinema, 269 Greenwood Ave., on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m.; and the Bank Street Theater, 46 Bank St. in New Milford, on Oct. 4 at noon.

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Danbury looking into possible ban on dogs in parks

A committee of the Danbury City Council is looking into possibly banning dogs from certain parks.

 

Councilman Peter Nero has proposed an ordinance to prohibit certain dog breeds from public parks.  State legislation prohibits breed-specific laws.  Nero then proposed prohibiting dogs from Tarrywile Park.  The Executive Director of Tarrywile Park called for better enforcement of leash laws.  Nero said there are people who just don't want to play by the rules, especially in playgrounds. 

 

Ordinance 12-3, "dogs at large", is the City's leash law.  It says dogs must be on a leash in public places, except at the new off-leash dog park being built near the airport.  The fine for having a dog off leash is $50.

 

City Attorney Robin Edwards says Danbury also has a Vicious Dog Ordinance.  If a dog is declared vicious, it must be fenced in at all times.  The law is enforced by Dog Warden or Animal Control Officer.

 

The Ad Hoc committee discussed possibly having more signage about the leash law.  Another possibility discussed is not allowing dogs in the fenced area of the ball fields.  The Committee also may consider a recommendation adding people authorized to write summons.  Parks and Rec Director Nick Kaplanis says the park workers see violations all the time, but aren't authorized to issue fines.

 

Kaplanis says the last time he checked, there were 1,800 registered dogs in Danbury.  He's hoping the off leash dog park, once its built, will alleviate some of these issues.  Besides attacks by dogs, Kaplanis cited another issue for prohibiting dogs from parks.  When a dog does its business in the mulch area of a playground, it becomes unsanitary. 

 

Ad Hoc Committee member Fred Visconti said unfortunately signs are signs, people either don't read them or disregard them.

 

The group decided to continue the meeting to a future date for further discussion.

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Road closures in New Fairfield for emergency drill

An emergency evacuation drill will be held in New Fairfield Thursday.  The drill for all four schools will begin at 9am.  Gillotti and Barnum Roads and Route 39 will be closed for about an hour.

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Bethel Planning Commission denies permit for crematrium proposed for Clarke Business Park

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has denied an application from Mono-Crete seeking to build a crematorium in Clarke Business Park. 

 

The Commission also repealed a regulation approved last year that would have allowed crematorium facilities to be built with a special permit.  That effectively bans such facilities from Bethel as of October 1st. 

 

In their 4-3 ruling on the application from Shawn McLoughlin, the Commission said that he did not demonstrate that there wouldn't be harmful health effects and that it would not decrease property values.  They also said there would have been excessive excavation making the proposed location an ill-fit.

 

McLoughlin has filed a civil suit against the Commission and Connecticut Coining, based  out of Clarke Business Park.  McLoughlin is seeking to have the Court order the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission to deny an amendment and a moratorium application before them.  Those two applications stem from McLoughlin's proposal to build a crematorium on a parcel of land he owns in the industrial park. 

 

The complaint was filed in May.  A conference on the matter is scheduled in Danbury Superior Court for October 5th. 

 

In 2014, the Planning and Zoning Commission decided that the amendment requested by McLoughlin was appropriate and that he should proceed with an application.  The Commission approved the application in July with an effective date of August 15th.  McLoughlin then submitted a site plan and special permit application in on February 25, 2015.  

 

The day before, Connecticut Coining submitted an application to delete the adopted section of the ordinance which would have allowed the crematorium.  The application also called for a one year moratorium on accepting applications for crematories.  The Commission approved both the amendment and moratorium applications in May. 

 

McLoughlin's complaint says that the Commission's decision on the amendment and moratorium applications are illegal, arbitrary and capricious.  He says they constitutes an abuse of its discretion for a variety of reasons.

 

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Celebration of the life of Julia Wasserman to be held in Newtown

A celebration of Life service will be held in Newtown for former State Representative Julia Wasserman.  Wasserman died in August at the age of 91.  The celebration of her life will be held on Saturday from 2 to 5pm at the Fairfield Hills Campus.  There will be a program at 3pm. 

 

She served 18 years in the state House, and then was appointed to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. 

 

Prior to serving the state, she was a member of the Newtown Legislative Council, among other community positions.  Wasserman was born in German, but fled the Nazis as a girl and eventually moved to the United States in 1957.

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Bethel woman reappointed to state Commission on Aging

Danbury's Director of Elderly Services has been reappointed to the Connecticut Legislative Commission on Aging.  Susan Tomanio has served on the Commission since 2009.  In reappointing her, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano said that for the past 6 years Tomanio has served as an integral part of the Commission helping to advance "aging in place" policies that empower seniors to stay in their own homes as they age.  The Commission on Aging's charge has grown as the elderly population has grown.  There's a projected 57-percent increase in the 65-and-older population by the year 2040.

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Culling underway after woodchucks topple cemetery headstones

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (AP) An unusual hunt took place in a western Connecticut town after woodchucks damaged a cemetery's ancestral headstones.

Bow hunters gathered Tuesday at the Center Cemetery in New Milford, which has stones dating back to 1719.

Cemetery Superintendent Mike Sennello says woodchucks have dug under the foundations of some headstones. He says older stones are being toppled since they don't have a cement base under them one dating back 100 years.

The cemetery closed Tuesday to allow hunters to try to eliminate about 15 woodchucks from the cemetery. Rifles cannot be used within 500 feet of the road or homes, so hunters must use bows and arrows.

Sennello says he's tried baiting and trapping the woodchucks, but that they're ``trap-shy.''

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WCHN CEO calls on General Assembly to intervene on state budget cuts

Western Connecticut Health Network has seen $84 million in state funding cuts over two years, including last week's $6.8 million reduction according to Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan.  He says they were asked by Connecticut hospital executives to intervene and prevent $63.4 million in new cuts to state Medicaid payments to their health care facilities.

 

Malloy's budget director said recent stock market losses have cut into state revenues.  McLachlan says the executive order basically cuts the legislature out of the budget making process.

 

Senate and House Republicans joined hospital officials on Tuesday in calling for a special legislative session to address the state's budget situation.  Western Connecticut Health Network CEO Dr John Murphy was among the Connecticut hospital executives at the state capital calling on the General Assembly to intervene. 

 

Jennifer Jackson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, on Tuesday said the reduction will lead to a $130 million decline in federal reimbursement. Coupled with the cuts already in the new state budget, Jackson predicted there will be employee layoffs.

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New head of CT VA tours Danbury to learn about local veteran issues

The new Commissioner of the state Department of Veteran Affairs made several stops in Danbury on Tuesday.  He first visited with veterans at Regional Hospice and Home Care. 

 

Commissioner Sean Connolly says their mission is to serve those who have served.

 

Connolly says the benefit of being at the Hospice Center is seeing Veterans taking care of Veterans.  The families benefit from the Center as well.  He says often times family and caregivers are forgotten about.  At the VA campus in Rocky Hill, there is a Health Care Center, which is a long term care, chronic disease hospital.  Connolly says some people compare it to a nursing home, but notes that it's more than that.

 

Connolly says there are Offices of Advocacy  in each of the state's five Congressional Districts.  About 10,000 calls a year are made to the Office of Advocacy and Assistance Office, which includes Veteran Service Officers across the state.

 

He also stopped at the Vet Center on North Street, which is part of the federal VA organization.

 

On the federal VA side, Connolly says Connecticut does well meeting needs of vets for appointments at hospitals.  It's still tough he says, but compared to the rest of the nation Connecticut fares well. 

 

There are over 20,000 post-9/11 veterans returning to Connecticut coming home with wounds you can see, and with wounds that you can't see.  The federal government has post-9/11 GI bill which offers educational assistance to veterans, Connecticut offers benefits at state schools as well.

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Danbury Hosptial to lose nearly $7 million in state budget cuts

Danbury Hospital will be losing out on $6.88 million in cuts now that the state budget has been reduced by $102 million due to stock market volatility.  Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says these cuts will adversely impact the delivery and quality of health care services in the Greater Danbury area.  He says there were other routes the Governor's office could have taken to cut the budget, though didn't offer any specifics.  He is calling for a special legislative session to figure out how this money could be restored.

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Grant awarded to Danbury Farmer's Market to boost SNAP benefits

An $8,000 grant has been awarded to the Danbury Farmer's Market Community Collaborative. The money from Connecticut-based non-profit Wholesome Wave will help partially defray the cost of operating nutrition incentive programs.  It will also double the value of government nutrition benefits such as SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.  The Danbury Farmer's Market is held every Friday at Kennedy Park through the end of October.  Wholesome Wave partners with farmers markets and others to implement programs that benefit consumers in under-served communities.

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Early College Opportunity program begins at Danbury High School

The Early College Opportunity Program has officially been launched by Danbury High School.  The first 100 freshmen to participate in the "school within a school" program will earn a high school diploma and an Associate Degree. 

 

Program Director Sarah Roy says Danbury High School has partnered with Naugatuck Valley Community College.

 

Freshmen will begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can start incorporating college-level courses.  There is no cost to complete the program while at DHS, through there is some attendance at NVCC required after graduation.

 

The students are paired with an industry mentor from New Oak Capital or Pitney Bowes. They will have in-person and over-the-internet meetings. 

 

Students will discuss concepts learned during “Workplace Learning,” a class period during their day. The students can also see strategies in action during one-on-one meetings with their mentor in the workplace.

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Safety experts question classroom barricade devices

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) School security and fire safety experts are questioning a nationwide push allowing schools to buy portable barricade devices in the event of an active shooter in a building.

Those opposed to the devices say they're complicated to install under stress and could lead to dangerous unintended consequences including blocking authorities from an attacker inside a classroom.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals says such devices run counter to recommendations made after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio are among states that have updated their fire or building codes in recent years to allow the devices.

Daniel Hogan is co-founder of Arkansas-based Ulockit Security. He says schools today are dealing with ``a different evil'' that requires extra protection.

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Community Health Center in Danbury awarded $256,000 federal grant

Danbury-based Connecticut Institute for Communities has received a federal grant worth nearly $256,000 for this fiscal year.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the facility in Danbury and others will be able to continue successfully delivering high-quality care to those most in need because of this funding. 

 

The Expanded Services Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is part of a larger pool of money from the Affordable Care Act to expand and improve primary care services.  Overall, Connecticut is receiving $6.2 million in funding.

 

Esty says Community Health Centers have been on the cutting edge of providing cost-effective preventive care for people.  She says preventive care saves dollars, and saves lives.  She adds that this grant will allow the center to increase access to comprehensive services such as medical, oral, behavioral, pharmacy, and vision care to new patients.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says by increasing access to regular and preventative care, some of the worst health outcomes down the road can be prevented.

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Grand reopening scheduled for New Fairfield library

A Grand Reopening date has been set for New Fairfield Free Public Library.  The renovations are nearing completion and will be celebrated on October 17th.  A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in April.  The changes are aimed at bringing the Library into compliance with the American Disabilities Act. 

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman says all of the bing things are done, just the finishing touches are left. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: Susan Chapman, Twitter)

 

The library has remained open during the renovation.

 

New flooring, lighting and a program room are completed.  Energy-efficiency improvements are also being made.  The elevator is up and running, having passed inspected last week. 

 

 

The new Children's Library has already been reopened, it was temporarily located in the upper level community room.

 

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Rusted water tank in Bethel demolished

The Hickok water tank is no more.  The structure on Hickok Avenue in Bethel, which hasn't been used in decades because of an engineering and design flaw, was dismantled last week.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says contractors were removing the last pieces of steal that comprised the subfloor of the tank, basically holding it in place.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Matt Knickerbocker, Twitter)

 

Knickerbocker says it could take another week to regrade the lot and remove pipes that might be sticking up from the ground that went into the electrical pumps and monitoring system.  He expects no remnants of the rusted tank in about a week.

 

Knickerbocker says the work went faster than he expected.  Three to four weeks was allocated, but the tank was largely gone in three days.

 

Hickok tank demolition, day 4

 

The town-owned land will be allowed to return to a natural meadow.

 

That nearly 13 acre property is a steep and environmentally sensitive piece of land that Knickerbocker says the town wanted to save from development.  Now that the tank is gone, a nearby property purchased last spring could be turned into an area for passive recreation.

 

Clearing out the steel scraps

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Local lawmaker speaks out against Republican bill blocking Planned Parenthood funds

A divided House has voted to cut off Planned Parenthood's federal funds for a year as Republicans expressed outrage over abortion and the organization's procurement of fetal tissue for research.

The House approved the measure Friday by a nearly party-line 241-187 vote.

The bill has little chance of enactment. Senate Democrats have enough votes to block it, and it faces a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

Republicans want to move against Planned Parenthood after organization officials were secretly recorded describing how they obtain fetal tissue. Those videos have helped mushroom the longtime fight over abortion into a prominent issue for next year's elections.

Abortion opponents say the tapes show Planned Parenthood illegally profited from tissue sales. Planned Parenthood says it's acted legally and says the tapes were deceptively edited.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says no federal tax dollars go toward abortion, and none have since 1976.

 

As a college freshman, Esty volunteered for Planned Parenthood.  She says she saw the impact on young women from a rural town with no access to family planning services.  She says too many got pregnant, dropped out of school and never pursued their dreams.

 

Esty says 1 in 5 American women has sought medical care from Planned Parenthood.  Whether it's cervical cancer, breast cancer, or ovarian cancer everybody knows someone who has sought preventative care or cancer screening from the organization.  Speaking on the House floor, she told her colleagues it could be there mother, neighbor, daughter or wife who benefitted from the services.

 

Esty says more access to quality health care is needed not less.  She says Congress needs to stop trying to restrict access to life saving cancer screenings, birth control and well-woman exams.  She says they need to stop fighting 40 year old battles on womens rights.

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19 applications in for 3 new medical marijuana dispensaries in southern Conn.

19 applicants have submitted an application to open a medical marijuana dispensary facility in Connecticut.  Yesterday afternoon was the deadline.  The state’s Medical Marijuana Program is looking to expand, adding three new locations in Fairfield and  New Haven Counties by early 2016.

 

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris says he is pleased with the number of applications received.

 

The Department will begin a confidential application review process, which will continue until license award determinations have been made.  The license awards will be publicly announced.

 

There are currently six dispensaries in the state: Bethel, Branford, Bristol, Hartford, South Windsor and Uncasville.

 

A patient may only register for a medical marijuana certificate if he or she is a Connecticut resident being treated for a debilitating medical condition by a Connecticut-licensed physician.

 

Debilitating Medical Conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive Status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Damage to the Nervous Tissue of the Spinal Cord with Objective Neurological Indication of Intractable Spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Cachexia
  • Wasting Syndrome
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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New Fairfield Day marks town's 275th anniversary

The 3rd annual New Fairfield Day is being held today, and the event is marking the town’s 275th anniversary.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says the free event is wide ranging. 

 

As part of the celebration, the New Fairfield Fire Department will be holding Fire Prevention Day.  The Public Works Department will bring equipment out for a Touch-A-Truck event.  Other activities will be scattered around the center of town. 

 

Some local businesses will have specials running throughout the day to mark the occasion. 

 

Organizations in New Fairfield will have booths set up for an information fair where residents can learn about the different groups in town.  Historic houses will be open to the public, the Senior Center will be hosting a sample of their programming and the Farmers Market will be set up at Memorial Field.  Veterans groups will also have a display.

 

Amber Alert IDs for children can be made at the Community Room.  The Senior Center will have an art and quilt show as well.  The info fair and Fire Prevention Day events are taking place in the Stop & Shop parking lot.  Activities run by scouts will be at the creamery house.  The Komlo Preserve will also be open.  New Fairfield baseball will hold a baseball clinic at Memorial Field, a band will also be playing there.

 

Activities will be held throughout the center of town from 11 am to 2 pm.

 

Consolidated PTO made scarecrows, which are set up around town.  Chapman says kids have been looking for the ones they helped with.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Susan Chapman; Twitter)

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Malloy to cut budget by $103 million in wake of stock losses

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office has announced the administration will make $102 million in new cuts to the state's $20 billion budget.

Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, says recent losses in the stock market have cut into anticipated state income and corporate tax revenue, making the cutbacks necessary.

The 2015-16 budget anticipated a 7.1 percent growth in state revenues, but Barnes says the administration now believes that figure will be closer to 4.4 percent.

The governor is ordering $99.2 million in cuts to Executive Branch agencies. He is also asking legislative leaders to reduce spending in that branch by $420,000 and is asking the Judicial Branch to reduce spending by $3.1 million.

The administration says it is not planning any job cuts.

 

$1.6 million from the Connecticut State University system and $194,000 from the Transform CSU plan were cut.  The CSU system includes Western Connecticut State University.  $1.6 million from the 12 Community Colleges was also cut.

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Interim Wilton Police Chief appointed to the position full time

The Acting Police Chief in Wilton has been confirmed to the position in more than just an interim manner.  The Wilton Board of Selectman has approved Chief Robert Crosby to be sworn in as full time chief.  Crosby took over as interim Wilton police Chief when Michael Lombardo left in January for the same position in Trumbull. 

 

Crosby is a Bethel resident, holds a BA from West Conn, and has been with the Wilton Police Department for little more than three decades. 

 

One of his primary goals for the Department is to purchase body cameras for the officers.  Earlier this year, the Wilton Board of Finance approved a $12,000 grant for the purchase. 

 

He will officially be sworn in on Tuesday evening at Wilton Library.

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Slow No-Wake regulations for Candlewood amended

Revised Slow-No-Wake regulations for Candlewood Lake  have been approved by the state legislature's Regulation Review Committee.  New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith says these new regulations increase the existing no-wake zones in Squantz Pond and Lattins Cove to over double their original size. 

 

Residents began to petition the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last June when the smaller, 1,000 foot no-wake zones proved to be ineffective for reducing wake cast by watercraft entering and leaving launch sites. 

 

In order to change the no-wake zone buoys, which are mapped, existing regulations had to be amended.

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Planning meetings continue about the future of Branchville

A series of workshops continues today in Ridgefield about the future of Branchville.  The Branchville section of town along Route 7 has been referred to as a second center of town. 

 

A study is being done by a transportation planning firm and a small committee including First Selectman Rudy Marconi, Ridgefield's Planning Director and Town Engineer among others.  They are working to determine the type of development should take place in that section of town. 

 

Today is the final day for residents to answer an online survey on the matter.  An open house is scheduled for 10am to 4pm.  That will be followed by a presentation from 4pm to 5pm.

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3 day film fest to be held in Newtown this weekend

A three-day film fest is being held in Newtown to benefit the Sandy Hook Foundation.  While the events are free, the organizers are seeking donations.  Director of Communications Alana Davis says there will be 27 short films, four feature films and related activities.  Some of the filmmakers are Newtown residents and natives.

 

The films will be screened at Edmond Town Hall. 

 

Davis says there will be movie studio for people to dress up like their favorite stars, character making and panels.  They have partnered with the Newtown Arts Festival (Sept 19&20) to bring an array of entertainment and activities.  Some of the filmmakers are Newtown residents and natives.

 

All weekend long:
Movie Star Studio
Edmond Town Hall
Dress up and pose like a movie star with our costumes and props.


Saturday Sept 19:

3pm Poster Making!
Gymnasium, Edmond Town Hall
Design your own poster for NFF. The best design has a chance of being made into our official poster for next years festival.


4pm Meet the Programmers
Alexandria Room, Edmond Town Hall
A panel discussion about what went in to the planning and implementation of the Newtown Film Festival.


Sunday Sept 20:

2:30pm Flip Book Making
Gymnasium, Edmond Town Hall
Learn about the beginnings of animation by creating your own flip book.


3pm: Character Making
Gymnasium, Edmond Town Hall
Learn about what makes a good character, and build your own.


7pm: Closing Night Ceremony
Alexandria Room, Edmond Town Hall
To bring a close to the festival, guests can mingle and find out the audience award winning films.

 

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NLRB rules against Danbury, New Milford Hospitals in union fight

The National Labor Relations Board has found that Western Connecticut Health Network interfered with employee free choice when it came to a June vote by some workers to unionize. 

 

The NLRB has recommended that the results of a June union election among some workers at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals be invalidated.   A new vote was recommended among approximately 800 nursing assistants, service, maintenance, and environmental workers at both hospitals.  The original vote in June was 346 in favor of unionizing, 390 against.  Workers had said inadequate staffing, pay and better treatment were top concerns in the drive to unionize.

 

The Hearing Officer cites evidence of unlawful interference with employees' free choice by management of the non-profit network that operates both facilities.  The report is based on testimony provided in July by impacted workers who told the Hearing Board about illegal, anti-union conduct by managers and outside consultants retained by the Western Connecticut Health Network. 

 

Two days before the union election, the network management acknowledged the criminal records of outside consultants retained to conduct a "union-busting" campaign.

 

There is an appeals process that allows Western Connecticut Health Network to respond.

 

AFT Connecticut already represents 985 registered nurses, medical technicians, clinicians and licensed practical nurses at both acute care facilities.

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National Shooting Sports Foundation awarded grant from DOJ

Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation has been awarded a $2.4 million, two year federal grant.  The Department of Justice money will go toward the Project ChildSafe Program, which encourages responsible firearm storage.  According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, since it's creation, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 37 million free firearm safety kits.  In a written statement, the President of the organization said that these types of programs work because proper storage of firearms when not in use is the number one way to help prevent firearm accidents, misuse and theft.

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Farmers Insurance opens new Danbury 'Territory Office'

Farmers Insurance has opened a new Territory Office in Danbury.  A Grand OPening and Ribbon Cutting was held yesterday afternoon at the office.  Farmers says they will employing 25 full time workers at the Danbury facility.  In a written statement, the Connecticut State Director of Farmers said that the Office is meant to support the growth and development of agents, and to serve as a resource for career professionals in the state to prosper and succeed as Agency Owners.  The insurance company has made an effort to grow along the eastern seaboard since 2011.

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Railroads won't meet Positive Train Control installation deadline

Few railroads will have implemented Positive Train Control technology within the timeframe that Congress mandated years ago.  That was a finding in a report issued yesterday by the Government Accountability Office on the December 31st deadline. 

 

The technology provides a system for preventing train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments and incursions into established work zone limits.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says a blanket extension would only undermine and disincentivize railroads from complying.  He instead is calling for deadline extensions to be granted based on need and upon proof that all efforts are being made to install the technology as quickly as possible.

 

Blumenthal says many of the railroads who will not meet the deadline are now threatening to stop service and shut down the economy if the deadline isn’t pushed back.  He will be at a hearing today with the nominee to run the Federal Railroad Administration. 

 

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.

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Drivers passing stopped school buses an issue in CT, NY

School has been back in session for several weeks now and area police and school bus drivers are noticing a disturbing driving practice.  Motorists are passing stopped school buses picking up and dropping off kids.  In Connecticut, drivers face a $465 fine for illegally passing a school bus. 

 

The problem is also happening in New York.  Carmel bus driver Paula Nazzaro says they put on their flashing lights well in advance of stopping.

 

Nazzaro says it happens on school grounds too.  She says rarely is it teens who violate that law, it's mostly experienced drivers committing the traffic violation.

 

The Newstimes reports that in New Milford, 442 tickets have been issued by police since Spring, with a majority on Danbury Road.  Some All-Star transportation buses have exterior cameras that record passing vehicles, and the images are shared with police.  New Milford Police Chief Shawn Boyle said that he wants to meet with the state Department of Transportation about a grant for patrols.

 

All-Star terminal manager Jeff Woods said in the published report that some people don’t realize drivers have to stop in all four lanes of a four-lane road like Danbury Road, but most of it in his opinion is people ignoring the rules.

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Bethel GOP chose Will Duff as First Selectman candidate

Bethel Republicans have chosen petitioning candidate Will Duff as the First Selectman candidate for November. 

 

The vote was 318 for Duff and 279 for GOP endorsed candidate Pat Rist.  There was a 20% voter turnout for the Primary Wednesday.  Duff will now face Democratic incumbent First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker in a rematch of the 2013 race.

 

Duff says the Republican Party made a choice, and now is the time to move forward.  He says he feels the party still stands united.

 

Duff says responsibility and self-discipline are needed in town government.  He served two years as a Selectman, is a member of the Board of Education, a small business owner and a retired State Marshall.  Duff also previously served on the Bethel Board of Assessment Appeals. 

 

Duff says he has a track record of trying to make government smaller.  He also called for an increase in government transparency.  He is also calling for lower taxes.  Duff says he wants to make Bethel more affordable again, because having the highest property tax rate in the region benefits nobody and chases away business.

 

As a former Selectman, Duff says he was a proven leader and helped write the area's first ethics code.  He notes that the last time he was on the Board of Selectmen was the last year Bethel saw a tax freeze.

 

Duff wants to grow the town's economic and commercial base.

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DOT gives verbal approval to Brookfield to keep current traffic light posts

A $50,000 difference of opinion between Brookfield and state Department of Transportation has been resolved so the town can move forward with a streetscape project at the Four Corners intersection of Routes 202 and 25. 

 

Three tall metal poles on concrete foundations that hold up the traffic lights were put up four years ago, but the DOT has since changed their design standards.  Town Economic Development Commission Vice Chair Greg Dembowski told Brookfield Patch that they have a verbal agreement from the DOT that the town doesn't have to install new poles. 

 

The DOT recently provided a variance to the standards for a state road on three other issues.  An encroachment permit is required by the DOT before Brookfield can go out to bid.

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Region 9 Board of Ed votes down use of Breathalyzer at prom, homecoming

Breathalyzer tests will not be done on Joel Barlow High School students attending various events this year.  The Region 9 Board of Education took up the matter at their meeting last night.  The use of a breathalyzer test at the Homecoming Dance, Prom and Senior Banquet was going to be implemented this year.  But the matter drew a split vote, with four of the eight members saying no. 

 

The Redding Pilot reports the issue was brought to the Board by Barlow's administrator because of the severity of alcohol-related events increasing and affecting dances over the last four years. 

 

School officials cited 14 students being punished for drug or alcohol use at these specific events.  Last year, some students had to be transported to the hospital during prom.

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Republican primary in Bethel First Selectman race

There is a Primary in Bethel today.  Republicans are choosing a First Selectman candidate.  Polls close at 8pm.

 

Party endorsed candidate Pat Rist is the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.  She touted the P&Z for adding $18 million to the Grand List.  She also served as chair of the Route 6 development.  Rist holds a Bachelor of Science in Management and an MBA.  She is employed by Oracle Corp. as an operation manager. 

 

Rist says that first and foremost, she wants to bring transparency and open-mindedness to town government.  Rist says if she wins the primary, and is elected in November she wants to meet with all department heads within 90 days of taking office. 

 

When it comes to the budget writing process, she would take several factors into consideration including if Bethel can afford what's proposed and what are the ramifications if funding is postponed or rejected.  Rist says smart development and sustainable growth is key to controlling the mill rate and taxes.

 

Rist says the one thing that she's heard repeatedly as a concern from residents while out campaigning is taxes.

 

GOP Party Chairman Will Duff forced the primary by gathering enough petition signatures to appear on the ballot.  Duff says responsibility and self-discipline are needed in town government.  He served two years as a Selectman, is a member of the Board of Education, a small business owner and a retired State Marshall.  Duff also previously served on the Bethel Board of Assessment Appeals. 

 

Duff says he has a track record of trying to make government smaller.  He also called for an increase in government transparency.  He is also calling for lower taxes.  Duff says he wants to make Bethel more affordable again, because having the highest property tax rate in the region benefits nobody and chases away business.

 

As a former Selectman, Duff says he was a proven leader and helped write the area's first ethics code.  He notes that the last time he was on the Board of Selectmen was the last year Bethel saw a tax freeze.

 

Duff wants to grow the town's economic and commercial base.

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Newtown to spend down undesignated Sandy Hook funds

The remaining donation money in the Sandy Hook Special Revenue Fund has now been allocated.  The Newtown Board of Selectmen met on Thursday to discuss the $17,500.  The undesignated funding came into the town after 12-14.

 

A parent group supporting the Newtown High School marching band would receive the money, as long as it's approved by the Board of Finance and the Legislative Council.  The Council is set to meet tonight. 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra said during the Selectmen meeting last week that it's a meritorious request.  She noted that now nearly three years out from the tragedy, the town should spend down the remaining money. 

 

The request was first considered in July when the Newtown High School Band and Guard Parent Board asked if the town could maintain and insure a box truck the group was looking to purchase for use during weekly road trips.  Currently, the parent group rents a U-Haul to take equipment to regional competitions. 

 

There was a proposal that donations controlled by the Board of Education, totalling about $7,500 be combined with the $17,500 to meet the $25,000 request.  But some Board of Ed members didn't know about the two small funds, and denied the allocation from their accounts.

 

Llodra says the Board of Ed had a lot of good discussion about the issue, but because they didn't know about some of this funding she understands they weren't ready to take action.  She notes that there was never any question about the merit of the request. 

 

Llodra says overall, there's about $133,000 that the Board of Ed controls and that magnitude might allow them to do something bigger and more persuasive to their charge.  A Selectman said that this request at least brought to the Board of Ed's attention their undesignated funds which previously were not on their radar, for good or for bad.

 

Parent Board President Scott Reiss says they don't have the balance in reserve, so they are tooking to do a seller finance approach.  He says they have discussed that in concept with the seller, who seems amiable to it.

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State Tax Panel to hold information gathering session

The State Tax Panel is holding a public hearing Wednesday to come up with recommendations for making taxes on the state and local levels more fair, equitable and stable.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says this is residents opportunity to speak out about taxes so that recommendations can be sent to the legislature.

 

McLachlan says he's already hearing from constituents with ideas for the General Assembly to take up when the new session starts in February.  He says many of the ideas are about repealing increases over the last four years. 

 

This is the first major tax study in more than two decades. 

 

McLachlan says the state's sales tax is likely to come up.  He expects people will also talk about the estate tax, personal income tax, property tax and business taxes.  The hearing at the state capital is from 4pm to 8pm.

 

You can email your thoughts to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov and use the subject line “Testimony” .

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Danbury High School earns top award from state Dept. of Education

Danbury High School has earned a top award in the state for computer information systems.  The state Department of Education has recognized DHS for teaching students about computer informations systems with 100 percent of students meeting or exceeding goals.  The assessment was based on testing done in April and May through an annual mandate in federal legislation about career and technical education at nearly every high school statewide. 

 

Danbury also ranked number 2 overall in the Connecticut Statewide Career and Technical Education Assessment for schools with 100 of more students being tested.  There were 286 students tested at DHS in 11 of the 21 areas of concentration.  Of that number, 200 met or exceeded the goals. 

 

Danbury High School's other outstanding scores included 66 of 70 students in medical careers meeting or exceeding the goal, and 18 of 24 students meeting or exceeding the goal in early childhood education. 

 

DHS will be honored for these achievements at the Connecticut Career and Technical Education Conference luncheon on October 15th.

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Subway: Co-founder of sandwich chain DeLuca dead at 67

NEW YORK (AP) Subway says its co-founder Fred DeLuca died Monday evening after being diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, He was 67.

DeLuca's death came weeks after the company celebrated its 50th anniversary.

DeLuca decided to open a sandwich shop to help pay for college after graduating high school. The idea came from a family friend, Peter Buck of Danbury, who was his co-founder and provided the $1,000 to start the business.

Subway, based in Milford, Connecticut, said in July 2013 that DeLuca was diagnosed with leukemia. It said that DeLuca was in regular contact with his management team, but on a reduced basis as he received treatment.

DeLuca is survived by his wife, sister and son, according to Subway.

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Local organization among 20 to receive federal grants to battle substance abuse

20 municipalities in the state, including Bethel, are receiving federal grants to prevent youth substance use.  In announcing the funding Monday, Governor Dannel Malloy said the federal grants support Second Chance initiatives to reduce crime, improve public safety, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. 

 

Bethel is receiving $125,000 for Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse.  The total $2.7 million comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

 

It will provide local community coalitions with substance use prevention funding.  Malloy says these Drug-Free Communities grants will help strengthen collaboration among communities, local, state, and non-profit agencies to prevent and reduce substance use among youth. Malloy says that will prevent crime.

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Proposed cell tower gets public hearing in Danbury

A public hearing is being held in Danbury by the Connecticut Siting Council Tuesday.  The hearing is on an application from Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless for construction of a cell tower on Great Pasture Road.  The Siting Council will gather evidence on the need for a facility, and if there would be environmental effects resulting from construction, maintenance and operation of a tower, ground equipment and access road. 

 

Cellco is seeking a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need.

 

A 3pm hearing will provide applicants and intervenors an opportunity to cross-examine positions.  The 7pm session is for the public to make brief statements.  If necessary, cross-examination will continue after all statements have been heard.  Both sessions will be held in Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

 

A public field review will be done at the proposed site beginning at 2pm.  Weather permitting, the applicant will fly a balloon simulating the height of the proposed facility. 

 

Any person who wants to file a written statement can do so up to 30 days after the close of the hearing, and the statement will become part of the record.  A verbatim transcript of the hearing sessions will be sent to the Danbury City Clerk and Bethel town Clerk for review by the public.

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UPDATED: Legal wrangling slows lawsuit over Newtown school shooting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Newtown and its schools are putting up a stiff fight against a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, questioning whether the lawsuit was filed on time and objecting to information requests by the parents' attorney.

 

The legal wrangling has slowed the case in Danbury Superior Court.

 

Donald Papcsy, the lawyer for the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, said some of Newtown's court filings have been unusual and could result in what he called unnecessary, additional legal costs for the families. The lawsuit alleges security measures at the school weren't adequate when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012.

 

One of Newtown's attorneys, John Cannavino Jr., sought to subpoena a state marshal for a deposition to see whether the lawsuit was filed before the two-year statute of limitations expired. He has also filed objections to discovery requests for information by Papcsy, calling several of them vague, confusing and overbroad.

 

A judge on Monday rejected a deposition of the marshal, saying a simple court document like an affidavit stating when Papcsy gave the lawsuit to the marshal would suffice. Judge Sheila Ozalis also set a hearing for next month on Papcsy's discovery requests for information.

 

Cannavino and Newtown school officials, including Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. and school board members, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.

 

Papcsy said he gave the lawsuit to the state marshal, Nicholas Nikola, a day or two before Dec. 14, 2014, to serve on Newtown officials, satisfying statute of limitations requirements for filing. Nikola served the lawsuit to the defendants on Jan. 9, but didn't indicate on a form when he received the lawsuit from the plaintiffs.

 

Papcsy objected to the attempt to subpoena Nikola for a deposition, saying it was unnecessary and expensive.

 

"In 16 years I've never had a marshal be deposed," Papcsy said. "It's dragging these people who lost their children through what we believe to be unnecesary fishing expeditions for things that could be resolved in a proper and easier way."

 

Papcsy also said he has been stymied in getting information through the discovery process from the town, saying none of his requests for information has been answered.

 

"It just doesn't seem the town of Newtown wants to be very forthcoming with its residents," he said.

 

According to Papcsy, a lawyer for Newtown indicated that the town's insurer is overseeing defense of the lawsuit. But the defense has not disclosed who the insurer is, Papcsy said. Officials with the town's risk insurer, the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, declined to comment through a spokesman.

 

No other school shooting victims' families have sued the town.

 

The families of more than a dozen victims, including Jesse's and Noah's parents, are suing the estate of the gunman's mother for allegedly failing to secure her legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that her son used to shoot the children.  The families would split $1.5 million under proposed settlements of that case.

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Voter registration deadline upcoming for Wednesday primaries

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Voters are facing a Tuesday deadline to register to cast ballots in the Connecticut municipal primaries that will be held Wednesday.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says voters who aren't already registered have until noon Tuesday to register, and it must be done in person with town clerks or registrars.

Primaries are scheduled in 23 cities and towns across the state Wednesday, including Bethel. They aren't being held on a traditional Tuesday because of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana.

 

Registered Republicans in Bethel will be voting for a First Selectman candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Matt Knickerbocker in November.  The GOP endorsed candidate is Pat Rist, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.  Will Duff, the First Selectman candidate two years ago. 

State law prevents a primary from being held on a day when a religion forbids secular activity.

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Danbury schools adopt Sandy Hook anti-violence programs

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) Danbury schools are introducing new anti-violence programs developed by the Sandy Hook Promise organization.

 

One initiative beginning this coming week is ``Say Something.'' It teaches students to recognize warning signs that peers may be about to hurt themselves or others, and to tell a trusted adult. Coming later is, ``Start with Hello.'' It teaches students how to reach out to isolated peers.

Danbury Superintendent Sal Pascarella, president of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, told WLAD-AM last month that he is advocating for the programs statewide.

Sandy Hook Promise was started by Nicole Hockley and other parents whose children died in the 2012 Newtown school massacre.

The organization based its programs on national research. Advocates will monitor its effectiveness by surveying Danbury students.

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DOT holding up permit for Brookfield streetscape project

Even though several issues have been resolved, Brookfield and state Department of Transportation remain at a stalemate on a $50,000 item before the town can move forward with a streetscape project at the Four Corners intersection of Routes 202 and 25.  An encroachment permit is required by the DOT before Brookfield can go out to bid. 

 

The DOT recently provided a variance to the standards for a state road on the four issues.  One is the turning radius and geometry at the intersection of Routes 202 and 25.  Others were the shoulder width in a couple of areas and the crossing at the Craft Center at Tuck's Road. 

 

The DOT has changed its mind on the variance for something called span pole design.

 

There are three tall metal poles on concrete foundations that hold up the traffic lights.  They were put up four years ago.  The DOT has changed their design standards since then, and wants Brookfield to put up new poles.  Replacing the span poles would cost about $50,000. 

 

Brookfield Economic Development Commission Vice Chair Greg Dembowski told the Board of Selectmen that they are in discussions now with the DOT to urge them to be more reasonable.  The road is actually becoming more narrow, so there will be less load on the poles.

 

Little more than $798,000 in state grant money from LOCIP funding is paying for the improvements.  Combined with other grant money, $1.1 million for Phase 1 of the project has been secured.

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Danbury to celebrate launch of Early College Opportunity Program

Danbury High School is officially launching its Early College Opportunity program next week.  Danbury School administrators, students, faculty and lawmakers will gather at Danbury High School next Monday to cut the ribbon on the program, which began at the start of the school year. 

 

100 incoming freshman were selected for the program through a lottery.  The students will be the first group to earn an Associate Degree in Information Technology in either computer programming or business analysis, simultaneously with their high school diploma. 

 

The Associate Degree is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College, and the students will have mentors from Pitney Bowes.  NewOak Capital LLC is the lead industry partner in the program aimed at preparing students for the workforce or to continue their education.

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Danbury Youth Services awarded $20,000 grant

A $20,000 grant has been awarded to Danbury Youth Services.  The Fairfield County Community Foundation is awarding the grant funding to Danbury Youth Services for its out-of-school positive youth development programming. 

 

Among the programs that will be supported at the Girls as Leaders Club, Boys Leadership Society and Youth Employment Services. 

 

Danbury Youth Services also highlighted their Earn A Bike Program.  Participants learn social skills that encourage healthy decision making while developing the technical skills needed to repair a bike as well as the safety needed to use a bike on the road.  The 10 week program often has a wait list. 

 

Together, these programs serve more than 150 Danbury kids in Kindergarten through High School.

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Pocket park design nearly complete, project could start next month

The design phase for Danbury's new pocket park is in the finishing stages.  The park is designed to commemorate police officers and firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty serving the City.  The land, next to the police station, was bought for $120,000. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton expects shovels in the ground by the middle of next month.  Actual construction will last only about a month.  But due to timing, the park itself won't be opened until next April or May.  He says they will likely start the water feature before winter so people can get a peek, but then it will be shut off and winterized.  Boughton says the 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.  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.

 

Boughton says the pocket park would be a nice green space for the neighborhood while revitalizing that part of Main Street.

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Ridgefield Police, Fire Departments host Safety Day

The Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Association and the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department will be holding their 2nd Annual Safety Day in the parking lot of East Ridge Middle School on Sunday.  This event is family oriented and admission is free.

Events:
- At 11:30am the Eagle One Helicopter will be landing on the ball field for a demonstration
- At 12:30pm there will be a K-9 demonstration by Officer Murray and K-9 Loki
- Fire safety trailer
- Fire and Police vehicles will be on display throughout the event
- Crash simulator
- Information Tables: R.V.N.A, B.L.A.S.T. (Lyme Disease Prevention), Ridgefield Prevention Council, Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, Ridgefield Fire Department, C.E.R.T, Gun Safety, CT S.A.R.T (State Animal Response Team), and more
- Try on Police/Fire equipment
- Child car seat inspection/installation station.  Please call police headquarters at 203-438-6531 to set up an appointment to get your child car seat inspected/installed during this event by 09-06-2015

At 3:00pm, at the East Ridge ball field, the Police Department will once again challenge the Fire Department in a friendly game of softball.  The winner of this game will hoist the Mayor’s Cup.

In the event of foul weather Safety Day will be cancelled.  A cancellation notice will be posted on the Ridgefield Police Facebook page if needed.

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OBIT: Eugene 'Rusty' O'Meara, six-term Kent First Selectman

A longtime Kent First Selectman has died.  Eugene O'Meara passed away Wednesday at his home at the age of 84.  O'Meara, nicknamed Rusty, served as First Selectman from 1969 until 1981.  He founded the Kent Village Housing for the Elderly, started the town's Capital Fund and launched the town's sewer treatment plant. 

 

In the private sector, O'Meara formed a high tech startup that made specialized machines for pharmaceutical research applications.  He sold the company in 1995 and retired. 

 

A funeral service is being held this morning at 11am at Sacred Heart Church on Bridge Street in Kent.  A reception will follow at the parish house of St Andrew's Church .  Burial will be private.

 

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Kent Community Fund, PO Box 262, Kent 06757.

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Longtime Ridgefield resident Tom Belote remembered

A lifelong Ridgefield resident was remembered by friends last night during calling hours at Kane Funeral Home.  Tom Belote died Sunday, at Yale New Haven Hospital at the age of 68.  Belote was active in town serving on the Boards of the Ridgefield Community Center, the Land Conservancy and the town's controlled deer hunt. 

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he was saddened by the loss.  They grew up together, played on the same football team, had the same group of friends and a friendship that survived many many years. 

 

Marconi says he was always ready to pitch in.  He called Belote someone who gave back to the community and wanted to make it better.  An attorney, Belote provided legal advice to the Police Commission, Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, American Legion, and other organizations.  Belote was a volunteer with the Ridgefield Historical Society and was the attorney for the Ridgefield Housing Authority in its early years.

 

He taught for a year at Branchville School to earn money for law school.  From law school, Belote was appointed an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.   He was simultaneously appointed a special assistant to the U.S. attorney general, working on counter-terrorism and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States.

 

A celebration of his life will be scheduled at a later date.

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Housing complex going up on Main Street in Danbury

Drivers in downtown Danbury have noticed buildings going up recently on a long vacant property along Main Street.  The Greystar Development will have more than 370 units in three buildings.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the housing development at Kennedy Avenue continues to move along.

 

A seven year tax deferral for the project was approved by the City Council, though Greystar will continue to pay taxes on the 9.5 acre property.

 

The project was first announced in 2005.  Boughton says this represent a $70 million investment in Danbury's Main Street.

 

The developer expects to have the first residents moving in by January 2016. 

 

The property was sold to Virginia-based Greystar Development by BRT, which came under fire from several City Council members when they built the Crosby Street apartments using a tax break meant to bring people downtown, and turned it into student housing for West Conn.  Boughton was asked at the time of the deferal approval if that's a concern here.  He says the cost of the apartment would probably prohibit that. Boughton says West Conn students certainly have a role to play in the economy of Danbury, but Greystar is not marketing this development to them.

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Dickie Moore, child star of the 1930s, dies at age 89

NEW YORK (AP) Dick ``Dickie'' Moore, a saucer-eyed child star of the 1930s who appeared in ``Our Gang'' comedies, gave Shirley Temple her first screen kiss and was featured in many major Hollywood productions, has died. He was 89.

Helaine Feldman, a senior staff member at Dick Moore Associates Inc., confirmed that Moore died Monday in a Connecticut hospital.

 

Moore was a Wilton resident.

While not as famous as Temple or Mickey Rooney, Moore was a veteran of dozens of films, many of them top-drawer productions directed by such greats as Cecil B. DeMille (''The Squaw Man''), Ernst Lubitsch (''Heaven Can Wait'') and Josef von Sternberg (''Blonde Venus'').

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9/11 memorial trees to symbolize strength after tragedy

NEW YORK (AP) Three communities struck with tragedy will receive seedlings from the September 11 Memorial Museum's Survivor Tree Program.

The group will announce Saturday that the seedlings will be sent to Newtown, Connecticut, Joplin, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain.

9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels says the trees convey a shared strength in the face of tragedy.

The memorial tree program was started in 2013.

A Connecticut-based tree company partners with students at John Bowne High School in Queens to grow the trees.

They've previously been sent to parts of Queens after Superstorm Sandy, Boston in memory of the victims killed in the marathon bombing and Prescott, Arizona, to honor 19 firefighters who were killed in 2013.

 

The charred trunk of the pear tree was pulled from the rubble of the WTC site

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Coach Homes in Ridgefield gain two more approvals

Another hurdle has been cleared by the developer looking to build town houses on part of the Ridgefield-owned Schlumberger site.  The Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Boards have each voted in favor of the Coach Homes development.  The proposal for the 10 acres of land off Sunset Lane calls for 54 units of luxury housing for adults over the age of 55.  The $4.3 million sale was overwhelmingly approved by Ridgefield residents in February.  The sale must still be finalized, and permit approval is still needed.

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Business review of state taxation likely at conference

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The dispute between Connecticut businesses and elected officials this year over tax increases will be on the agenda of a conference examining the state of the economy.

James Baxter, who heads U.S. development at Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address Friday at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association's Connecticut Economy conference in Hartford.

The pharmaceutical company was among several businesses in June that criticized the state budget as relying too heavily on tax increases. Boehringer Ingelheim said the tax proposals were ``short-sighted'' and would stifle innovation.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature rolled back nearly $224 million of $1.5 billion in tax increases planned over two years.

CBIA is set to release the results of a survey that includes business reaction to the state budget.

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Greater Danbury area towns to mark 14th anniversary of 9/11

The state's official ceremony to honor and celebrate the lives of those killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was held last night at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.  The names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut were read aloud. 

 

 

A memorial service is being held in Newtown at 8am today.  It's being hosted at the Route 302 home of Howard Lasher, in front of the American Flag mural painted across 6 trees on his property at 68 Dodgingtown Road.  An Invocation will be made by Reverend Matthew Crebbin and the National Anthem will be sung by Amber Cardinal.  Brief remarks will be offered by Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  There will be a moment of silence at 8:46am.  Connecticut folk artist David Merrill, who painted the mural, and retired Army Col. Kevin McMahon, of the Wounded Warrior Project, will deliver remarks.  There will be a reading of the names, a placing of roses, rifle salute and Taps.  A closing benediction will be offered by Rabbi Eric Polokoff.

 

 

The fourteenth anniversary 9/11 is being marked in New Milford with a morning ceremony at Patriot's Way Plaza in the New Milford Railroad Station Parking area.  Residents are gathering around the 9/11 Monument at 8am. The service will commence at 8:46am. Bells will toll, a flag folding ceremony will follow.  First responders EMT, Police and Fire Departments will present the flag.  The National Anthem will be sung by Ray Plue.  An Invocation will be offered, followed by brief remarks from local and state officials.  God Bless America will be sung by the St. Francis Xavier Choir.  Piper Patrick Maguire will play Amazing Grace.

 

Wilton Firefighters Local 2233 and the Wilton Fire Department will host their annual remembrance ceremony at Wilton Fire Headquarters on Danbury Road to pay tribute.  The ceremony will begin at 10am by the 9/11 Memorial Monument in front of the fire station.  Members from all of Wilton’s emergency services will participate in the ceremony.  Tributes to those lost, prayers from local clergy, and songs performed by members of the Wilton Police and Fire Departments are all part of the ceremony.

 

Danbury is hosting a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at 6pm.  The ceremony takes place at Elmwood Park on Main Street.  That is the site of the City's 9/11 monument.  World-renowned glass artist Henry Richardson of Massachusetts designed a glass tower for the Memorial.  The twelve-foot tower of glass is mounted on a pentagon of Connecticut granite.  All Connecticut victims’ names of the 9/11 tragedy are etched into one panel of the tower. Danbury residents’ names are highlighted at eye-level. The glass tower is lighted from dusk to dawn.

 

 

Ridgefield is hosting a memorial service at the Ridgefield Parks & Recreation Center.  The ceremony is scheduled for 6:30pm at the September 11th Memorial Monument.  A 10-foot steel beam from the Twin Towers stands atop a pentagon-shaped base that reads, “Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on. May we never forget.”  The rusted and jagged steel beam from the World Trade Center was transformed into a work of art by sculptor Chris Curnan, and dedicated in 2011.  Eight people with ties to Ridgefield died on 9/11.

 

Brookfield is also holding a service to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.  The Service is being held at the Rotary Memorial Garden.  The service will also honor the service and sacrifice of those who defend homeland security.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley notes that a prayer for the safety of first responders will also be offered.  In announcing the ceremony, Tinsley said "Let us never forget those who lost their lives that day in a terrible act of terrorism against out nation."  The brief ceremony will begin at 7pm.

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FEMA awards Brookfield grant for Meadowbrook Manor flood mitigation work

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded $1.3 million to Brookfield to address longtime flooding in the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood.

 

The neighborhood has experienced persistent flooding from Lime Kiln Brook for more than five decades, in some cases so severe that contaminated septic water has flooded dining rooms, kitchens and living areas.

 

The $1.3 million federal award will help create a new flood-relief storm sewer to augment the current drainage system and provide relief during high intensity storms. The brook will be diverted in order to alleviate flooding conditions in the 128-home neighborhood.  Back-to-back 100-year level floods in 2011 prompted the mitigation plan. 

 

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy along with 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty applaud FEMA and Brookfield for this wise investment. They say the flooding has created a serious public health and safety hazard in the neighborhood that can only be addressed by new, improved engineering.

 

The FEMA award will fund 75 percent of the $1.7 million project, with the remainder of the cost to be covered by the town. $2 million in funding for the project was approved by Brookfield residents during a May referendum.  The town will now only have to pay a portion of the project cost.

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Historic house in Danbury rehabilitated for use by Library

A two centuries old building was the focus of a renovation Thursday in Danbury.  Honeywell and Rebuilding Together partnered to refurbish the historic McLean house on Main Street.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the building was in dire need of repair.  Danbury is investing some money appropriated in a budget a couple of years ago to bring the building up to code.  Boughton says he hopes to be able to turn it over in a couple of months to the Friends of the Danbury Library.

 

After the renovations are complete the building will become the home to the offices of the Danbury Library.  Friends of the Danbury Library can store books there and will be able to hold small book fairs at the building in the future.

 

The WIC program moved across the street to the old jail, and that freed up this building for renovation and occupancy by another group.

 

More than 40 Honeywell volunteers from the company’s New York City and Rocky Hill, Conn., locations helped complete work that included adding a new heating and cooling system, a lighting retrofit, installing new flooring, renovating the bathrooms, installing a privacy fence, and painting the interior and exterior of the building.

 

Boughton says the work performed by volunteers of the Honeywell and Rebuilding Together initiative will make a meaningful impact on the city's revitalization efforts for the McLean house.

 

The McLean house was built in 1810 during the Revolutionary War era. The renovation taking place will be the first major work done on the building since the city of Danbury took ownership in 1979.

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Portions of New Fairfield Library closed as renovations progress

Parts of New Fairfield Library is closed for a few days as work continues on renovations and improvements.  The Children's Library is open normal hours today, and only open 1pm to 5pm tomorrow.  The rest of the Library was closed yesterday so that carpet could be installed. 

 

(Photo Courtesy: First Selectman Susan Chapman, Twitter)

 

A new elevator was installed, automatic doors are being added to the entry way and there is new wiring for computers and phones.  Among the ADA compliant work being done is hallway widening and work in the bathrooms.  The building is also being made more energy efficient.  

 

About half of the $1.1 million dollar project was paid for through state grant money, the town contributed $300,000 and the library raised the balance.  Work is expected to be finished later this month.

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Brookfield could be off the hook for $2 million in bonding with new grant possibility

Brookfield tax payers could be off the hook for a $2 million flood mitigation project.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley made a site visit to the Meadowbrook Manor neighborhood two weeks ago with representatives of FEMA and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  He said at the Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday night that the town is back on the list of eligibility for grant money.

 

Tinsley says officials approved of the fact that the project is going to be bid-ready.  The core drillings are being done now, but the town hasn't technically broken ground on the project.

 

A brook will be diverted in order to alleviate flooding conditions in the 128-home neighborhood.  Back-to-back 100-year level floods in 2011 prompted the mitigation plan. 

 

Funding for the project was approved by Brookfield residents during a May referendum.  Brookfield officials could hear in the next 30 to 45 days whether grant funding will be approved.  If it is approved, the town wouldn't have to go forward with the $2 million in borrowing.

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Second contractor error found at Brookfield Town Park Beach

A second contractor error has been found Brookfield Town Park Beach.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley said at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday that the entrance gate needs to be relocated.  It was improperly drawn, and installed as shown.

 

The sand area is three times larger than it was.  The town plans to remove and replace the sand because what was put in has an excessive clay content, and retains more water than is ideal.  It's going to be about 50 truck loads of sand, so the service road will not be finished until that's done.  Tinsley says they don't want to put the road in and immediately ruin it. 

 

The town will not have to pay for either fix, they are being done at the cost of the contractor.

 

A footing drain will also be installed.  Tinsley says power is finally hooked up at the Cadigan side of the park.  The building that houses the restrooms should open within the next week.

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Still River Greenway project ahead of schedule

Construction of the Still River Greenway project in Brookfield ahead of schedule.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley said at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday that with dry weather, there is an outside chance that the project could be finished before winter.   It's supposed to be a 270 day project.  But Tinsley says it's more likely that the project will be shut down for the winter and re-started in late April or early May. 

 

The road bed is in from where the trail starts up to where a bridge will go across the river by the police station. 

 

The $2.8 million dollar project is an 8,500 foot multi-use trail.  80% of the project will be funded by the state.  The pedestrian trail will run from Route 133 at Junction Road stretching to Route 202 at the Four Corners.

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State to host annual 9/11 ceremony Thursday

The state's official ceremony to honor and celebrate the lives of those killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is being held on Thursday, September 10.  The ceremony will take place at 5:30pm at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.  As has become tradition, family members of those who lost their lives in the attacks will participate in the ceremony, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.  The state’s official memorial to the victims of the attacks is located on a peninsula at the state park, where residents gathered on that day in 2001 as they observed the devastation of the attacks on Lower Manhattan across Long Island Sound.  The site was also used as a staging area for Connecticut’s relief efforts to New York City. 

 

A memorial service is being held in Newtown at 8am on Friday, September 11.  It's being hosted at the Route 302 home of Howard Lasher, in front of the American Flag mural painted across 6 trees on his property at 68 Dodgingtown Road.  An Invocation will be made by Reverend Matthew Crebbin and the National Anthem will be sung by Amber Cardinal.  Brief remarks will be offered by Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  There will be a moment of silence at 8:46am.  Connecticut folk artist David Merrill, who painted the mural, and retired Army Col. Kevin McMahon, of the Wounded Warrior Project, will deliver remarks.  There will be a reading of the names, a placing of roses, rifle salute and Taps.  A closing benediction will be offered by Rabbi Eric Polokoff.

 

The fourteenth anniversary 9/11 is being marked in New Milford with a Friday morning ceremony at Patriot's Way Plaza in the New Milford Railroad Station Parking area.  Residents are gathering around the 9/11 Monument at 8am. The service will commence at 8:46am. Bells will toll, a flag folding ceremony will follow.  First responders EMT, Police and Fire Departments will present the flag.  The National Anthem will be sung by Ray Plue.  An Invocation will be offered, followed by brief remarks from local and state officials.  God Bless America will be sung by the St. Francis Xavier Choir.  Piper Patrick Maguire will play Amazing Grace.

 

Danbury is hosting a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Friday, September 11th at 6pm.  The ceremony takes place at Elmwood Park on Main Street.  That is the site of the City's 9/11 monument.  World-renowned glass artist Henry Richardson of Massachusetts designed a glass tower for the Memorial.  The twelve-foot tower of glass is mounted on a pentagon of Connecticut granite.  All Connecticut victims’ names of the 9/11 tragedy are etched into one panel of the tower. Danbury residents’ names are highlighted at eye-level. The glass tower is lighted from dusk to dawn.

 

Ridgefield is hosting a memorial service on Friday, September 11th at the Ridgefield Parks & Recreation Center.  The ceremony is scheduled for 6:30pm at the September 11th Memorial Monument.  A 10-foot steel beam from the Twin Towers stands atop a pentagon-shaped base that reads, “Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on. May we never forget.”  The rusted and jagged steel beam from the World Trade Center was transformed into a work of art by sculptor Chris Curnan, and dedicated in 2011.  Eight people with ties to Ridgefield died on 9/11.

 

Brookfield is holding a service on Friday to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.  The Service is being held at the Rotary Memorial Garden.  The service will also honor the service and sacrifice of those who defend homeland security.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley notes that a prayer for the safety of first responders will also be offered.  In announcing the ceremony, Tinsley said "Let us never forget those who lost their lives that day in a terrible act of terrorism against out nation."  The brief ceremony will begin at 7pm.

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Conn. Congresswomen host manufacturing field hearing

A "Make It In America" Field Hearing has been held by Congresswomen Elizabeth Esty and Rosa DeLauro to learn from Connecticut state officials and manufacturers what Congress can capitalize on past successes, address future challenges. 

 

Esty called manufacturers a large part of the state's economic backbone.  There are almost 5,000 manufacturing companies in the state employing over 76,000 people.  Esty says Congress must continue to foster an "innovation economy".  She wants to create a predictable tax code that encourages companies to return jobs to the U.S., and levels the playing field for small businesses.

 

The Congresswomen were told that the image of manufacturing needs to be improved.  One man said it's know for the four Ds: dark, dirty, dingy and dangerous. 

 

Despite efforts in Connecticut to get more young people interested, there are still thousands of open positions because workers don't have the skills needed to fill them.

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Bridge replacement work to start Friday on Route 35 in Ridgefield

Bridge replacement construction is expected to start later this week in Ridgefield.  The state Department of Transportation will begin work Friday to replace the bridge on Route 35 near the south entrance of Fox Hill condos. 

 

A temporary roadway and bridge will be constructed as the first phase of the project, and work will last about two months.  Ridgefield Police cautioned drivers that there will be delays on Route 35 between 9am and 3pm during the week because only one lane of alternating traffic will get by. 

 

The temporary bridge is being built so that traffic can continue to move in both directions during the two year, second phase of the project.  The next phase of the project will be to replace the existing superstructure.  That work will take place from mid-November, and is not expected to be completed until May 2017.

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Redding, Wilton receive federal funds to buy bulletproof vests for police

41 municipalities in Connecticut will share in $289,000 to purchase bulletproof vests.  The state's Congressional delegation announced the funding from the Department of Justice today. 

 

The money will enable towns to buy 769 bulletproof vests.  Among those using the money are Bridgewater, Monroe, Redding, Seymour and Wilton. 

 

The delegation said in a statement that bulletproof vets are a life-saving line of defense that should be available to all law enforcement officers.  They continued by saying that funding should never be a barrier to keeping First Responders safe.  The Bulletproof Vest Partnership program was created in 1999.

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Regional Hospice to host Thrifts-2-Gifts sale

Danbury-based Regional Hospice and Home Care has come up with a unique way to raise money as non-profits continue to do more with less.  Hospice President and CEO Cynthia Roy says they are hosting a Thrifts-2-Gifts sale this weekend.  They are looking for items that people want to donate Thursday and Friday.

 

All of the proceeds from the sale on Saturday will benefit patients and families receiving end-of-life care at the Center for Comfort Care & Healing. 

 

Acceptable items include working or gently used: area rugs, collectibles, strollers, children’s bicycles, designer clothing and shoes, framed art and photo frames, furniture, home and garden decor, housewares and mirrors, jewelry and fashion accessories, lamps, lawn equipment, linens for bed and kitchen, luggage, skis and boots, small appliances, sporting equipment and vintage items.

 

A complete list of acceptable/not acceptable items can be found online at their events page.  If someone has a large item that would like to donate, contact Hospice via email, events@regionalhospicect.org and send a photograph.  Roy says they can arrange pick up and delivery of the item.

 

Drop-off dates for donations are Thursday, September 10th and Friday, September 11th from 9 am to 2 pm and 5 to 6 pm at the Center for Comfort Care & Healing, 30 Milestone Road in Danbury. 

 

The Thrifts-to-Gifts Fall Sale will take place at the Center on Milestone Road, on Saturday September 12th from 10am to 4pm.

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Sandy Hook Fund to cap some mental health assistance payouts

The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation plans to start capping payouts for out-of-pocket costs for mental health and other alternative post-traumatic treatments.  The Newtown Bee reports that while the immediate victims of 12-14 will continue to be served on an "as needed" basis within current limitations, the cap will be put in place for local families who initially applied for or are currently receiving compensation from the fund. 

 

A letter was sent to that group of people saying that change in the financial support is necessary based on recommendations by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund Distribution Committee. 

 

The changes take effect on January 1st.

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Greater Danbury area towns to mark 14th anniversary of 9/11

The state's official ceremony to honor and celebrate the lives of those killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is being held on Thursday, September 10.  The ceremony will take place at 5:30pm at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.  As has become tradition, family members of those who lost their lives in the attacks will participate in the ceremony, and the names of the 161 victims with ties to Connecticut will be read aloud.  The state’s official memorial to the victims of the attacks is located on a peninsula at the state park, where residents gathered on that day in 2001 as they observed the devastation of the attacks on Lower Manhattan across Long Island Sound.  The site was also used as a staging area for Connecticut’s relief efforts to New York City. 

 

A memorial service is being held in Newtown at 8am on Friday, September 11.  It's being hosted at the Route 302 home of Howard Lasher, in front of the American Flag mural painted across 6 trees on his property at 68 Dodgingtown Road.  An Invocation will be made by Reverend Matthew Crebbin and the National Anthem will be sung by Amber Cardinal.  Brief remarks will be offered by Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  There will be a moment of silence at 8:46am.  Connecticut folk artist David Merrill, who painted the mural, and retired Army Col. Kevin McMahon, of the Wounded Warrior Project, will deliver remarks.  There will be a reading of the names, a placing of roses, rifle salute and Taps.  A closing benediction will be offered by Rabbi Eric Polokoff.

 

The fourteenth anniversary 9/11 is being marked in New Milford with a Friday morning ceremony at Patriot's Way Plaza in the New Milford Railroad Station Parking area.  Residents are gathering around the 9/11 Monument at 8am. The service will commence at 8:46am. Bells will toll, a flag folding ceremony will follow.  First responders EMT, Police and Fire Departments will present the flag.  The National Anthem will be sung by Ray Plue.  An Invocation will be offered, followed by brief remarks from local and state officials.  God Bless America will be sung by the St. Francis Xavier Choir.  Piper Patrick Maguire will play Amazing Grace.

 

Danbury is hosting a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Friday, September 11th at 6pm.  The ceremony takes place at Elmwood Park on Main Street.  That is the site of the City's 9/11 monument.  World-renowned glass artist Henry Richardson of Massachusetts designed a glass tower for the Memorial.  The twelve-foot tower of glass is mounted on a pentagon of Connecticut granite.  All Connecticut victims’ names of the 9/11 tragedy are etched into one panel of the tower. Danbury residents’ names are highlighted at eye-level. The glass tower is lighted from dusk to dawn.

 

Ridgefield is hosting a memorial service on Friday, September 11th at the Ridgefield Parks & Recreation Center.  The ceremony is scheduled for 6:30pm at the September 11th Memorial Monument.  A 10-foot steel beam from the Twin Towers stands atop a pentagon-shaped base that reads, “Dedicated to those who fell and those who carry on. May we never forget.”  The rusted and jagged steel beam from the World Trade Center was transformed into a work of art by sculptor Chris Curnan, and dedicated in 2011.  Eight people with ties to Ridgefield died on 9/11.

 

Brookfield is holding a service on Friday to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.  The Service is being held at the Rotary Memorial Garden.  The service will also honor the service and sacrifice of those who defend homeland security.  First Selectman Bill Tinsley notes that a prayer for the safety of first responders will also be offered.  In announcing the ceremony, Tinsley said "Let us never forget those who lost their lives that day in a terrible act of terrorism against out nation."  The brief ceremony will begin at 7pm.

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OBIT: Tom Belote, 86 of Ridgefield

A longtime Ridgefield resident who led the town's effort to control the deer population has died.  Tom Belote died Sunday at the age of 68 at Yale New Haven Hospital.  Belote served on the Ridgefield committee to study the deer population, and led the controlled hunt program over the past decade. 

 

He was an attorney who once served as an assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  He was a special assistant to the U-S Attorney General, working on counter-terrorism and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States. 

 

He served on the boards of the Ridgefield Community Center, and the Land Conservancy of Ridgefield, and often provided legal advice to the Police Commission, Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, American Legion, and other organizations.

 

Friends may call Friday, Sept. 11, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Kane Funeral Home, 25 Catoonah Street. A celebration of his life will be scheduled at a later date.

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DMV wait times remain, not as long as last month

Despite a warning from the head of Connecticut's Department of Motor Vehicles about lengthy waits today after the closure for Labor Day, lines at the Danbury branch aren't as long as they have been in recent weeks.  Commissioner Andres Ayala says progress is being made to tackle a customer backlog after a major computer upgrade was completed several weeks ago.  But he says people are still visiting the Danbury branch and others despite more registration-related services that are available online.  Most services at DMV branches were shut in August for a week as the agency upgraded its system.

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Brush fire under control at State Forest in New Fairfield

Fire crews remain at Pootatuck State Forest in New Fairfield three days after a brush fire was first reported to keep control of the situation.  The fire is contained, but there are still some hot spots that fire fighters are keeping an eye on. 

 

Depending on the direction of the wind, it might still be smokey in the area.

 

The brush fire was first spotted Saturday afternoon by the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol returning from a routine flight.  The blaze spanned about 28 acres.  The fire was within the forest and didn't get close to structures. 

 

Aerial photo of contained brush fire

(Photo Courtesy: Susan Chapman, Twitter)

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman says firefighters had contained the blaze Saturday at about 10 acres, but when they went back in Sunday morning to put out hot spots, they found that the blaze reignited and grew to nearly three times in size.

 

New Fairfield firefighters continue to provide water assistance to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection fire crews who are putting out hot spots. 

 

Volunteer firefighters providing water

(Photo Courtesy: Susan Chapman, Twitter)

 

Chapman thanked fire fighters who came from as far away as 75 miles to work during the long, hot weekend.  She says the local crews have done a fantastic job, and is thankful for the support they received from the surrounding towns.  Chapman says the dry weather contributed to the brush fire and did not make fighting the fire easier.

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Organization dedicated to ending hunger awarded grant funding

The Fairfield County Community Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to a food rescue organization.  Connecticut-based Community Plates, a national food rescue organization, will use the grant to expand their program in Fairfield County. 

 

The organization's goal is an innovation and collaborative solution to ending hunger. 

 

Volunteers with the organization collect fresh food from grocery stores and restaurants who have agreed to donate, and then deliver that food.  In Danbury, the rescued food is sent to 10 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. 

 

Since 2011, in Fairfield County alone, Community Plates has rescued and delivered more than 6 million meals, saving 9.5 million pounds of food from landfill.  Community Plates officials say conservatively, this has an estimated value of over $10.4 million.

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Danbury considers naming new soccer field opened in August

Danbury may name the new oversized soccer field opened last month near the Westside Middle School.  Mayor Mark Boughton said in an update to the City Council last week that they may be presented with a request in the coming months. 

 

Lights at the field were donated by Danbury Youth Soccer Club.  They are now burned in, so they won't be illuminated during the day any more.  Mayor Mark Boughton says with the type of bulb being used, they had to be on during the day for a while in order for them to work at night. 

 

The Parks and Rec Department is in the process of booking the field.  Boughton notes that Danbury Youth Soccer has it locked up a lot of the week, but it is available to other leagues and other sports.  The oversized soccer field is also lined for field hockey, lacrosse and football.  

 

Lights extend the use of the field to 9pm.

 

The $1.3 million field was paid for with surplus money from the school bond project that came in about $5 million under budget.  It's being used by students at WMS and the recently renovated Mill Ridge School.  It's also a replacement for the field that was on 13 acres of land off Old Ridgebury Road sold by the City last fall to Subway co-founder Peter Buck.  Boughton says Buck has been very generous in letting the City use the field as long as people want.

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54th annual Newtown Labor Day Parade marches on

The 54th annual Newtown Labor Day Parade theme today is Celebrating the Fine Arts of Newtown.  It will showcase the artists and creative organizations in town. 

 

This year's Grand Marshal will be Ruth Newquist.  She is an award winning artists known for her land and cityscapes in watercolor and oils.  In addition to honoring Newquist, the SCAN organization is being highlighted.  It stands for Society of Creative Arts Newtown.  It was started over 40 years ago to promote, encourage and instruct both local and regional artists. 

 

Parade participants are lining up by 9:30am, with local roads along the route closed at that time.  The parade steps off at 10am.  Spectators are asked to line the route by 9am.  Parking is available at Hawley School, at Caraluzzis and Big Y on Queen Street.

 

Road closures are as follows:

-Route 25/Mt Pleasant Road at Reservoir Road

-Main Street access from Academy Lane, Currituck Road, Hanover, School House Hill and West Street

-Church Hill Road at The Boulevard

-Rouet 302 at Elm Drive

-Route 25 at Wasserman Way and at Elizabeth Street (Detour for Route 25 north will be Wasserman Way)

-Queen Street at Elizabeth Street

 

The following roads will have "No Parking" signs put up for the morning and will be considered tow away zones:

-The Boulevard (from Churhc Hull Road to Schoou House Hill Road)

School House Hill Road (from the Boulevard to Main Street)

Hanover Road (from Main Street to Hall Lane)

-Meadow Road and Elizabeth Street (one side only)

 

Governor Malloy, Lt Governor Wyman, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Senators Blumenthal nd Murphy along with Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will be marching.  The state delegation including State Senator Tony Hwang and Representatives Mitch Bolinsky and Dan Carter will also attend.

 

For the past two years the committee has had a fair staged in front of Newtown Middle School for food vendors and artisans.  They encourage spectators to visit before or after the parade.  Area nonprofit organizations are also on hand to provide information on the services they provide, and to recruit volunteers.

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Danbury UNIT cracks down on errant shopping carts

The issue of shopping carts straying from store parking lots in Danbury has been discussed by the City Council. 

 

The talks stemmed from A&P Supermarket on Padanaram Road being sent a notice of violation from the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team for dozens of shopping carts in UNIT's possession.  They were collected off of the streetside, sidewalks and various properties.  The notice says that the carts will be discarded unless the UNIT hears from A&P to arrange for the carts to be retrieved. 

 

The inventory continues to grow with no response from the store. 

 

(March 2013 photo from UNIT)

 

 

Danbury adopted a shopping cart ordinance several years ago when a number of carts were found in public parks and city streets.  Shopping carts taken off city streets and elsewhere are stored at the Public Works Department, and can be picked up after paying a storage and retrieval fee.  The storage fee is $2 per week, not exceeding $50.  There is a $10 retrieval fee per cart.  After six months and the appropriate postings, the carts can be auctioned off. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says new shopping carts cost about $300 a piece.

 

One City Council member asked why UNIT doesn't just drop the carts back off at the stores where they came from.  Boughton says that would just encourage the stores not to police their equipment and create a blight on the city.

 

Boughton says A&P is usually a good operation, there's one store that's a bigger offender.  He says it's been a bit of a cat and mouse game over the last five or six years.  One owner cut the chain off the carts in the middle of the night, and took them back without paying the fee.

 

He commended PriceRite for having carts where the wheels lock.  He's asked other operators to do the same thing.

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Danbury looks to crackdown on homeowners charging at house parties

Increased traffic, excessive street parking and bright outdoor lights have become a nuisance in certain Danbury neighborhoods this summer. 

 

A Neighborhood Preservation Zone to regulate certain outdoor activity that's detrimental to quality of life and to property values is being considered in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton says some people are having weekend-long parties, drawing hundred of people, charging admission and selling food, alcohol and cigarettes.  He says police and other authorities have gone to try to talk with the homeowners, but they don't listen and don't care.  Boughton says this type of Zone will protect everyone's right of quiet enjoyment of their property.

 

Outdoor Group Activity would be defined as any sporting or group event of 10 or more people in a residential neighborhood.

 

If there are two or more written or verified complaints found of an Outdoor Group Activity creating a nuisance , UNIT can issue warnings or citations.  The Police Department could also be authorized to issue summons and fines.  A $250 fine could also be levied against the home owner.

 

There is already a committee of the City Council looking into noise and nuisance activity laws in Danbury.

 

Boughton says a lot of municipal leaders across Connecticut are talking about quality of life issues.  The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities plans to launch an initiative that looks at loud parties, excessive noise, motorscooters in the street and the like.  He says there was a productive meeting two weeks about proposing legislation to the General Assembly that would give towns the needed tools to combat these problems.

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Sales tax on State Park parking fees discussed by DEEP, legislature

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is looking to come up with a possible alternative to charging the state's sales tax on parking fees at state parks, which has created longer entry lines.  Spokesman Dennis Schain says they've been discussing with the Governor's office and the legislature the approach that was taken on requiring the sales tax. 

 

Whether it's rounding so that it's easier to make change or finding other ways to generate revenue for park maintenance, everything is on the table.

 

25 of the 109 state parks and forests charge for parking, during the summer months.

 

Schain says they are hoping to come up with alternatives because more complicated change is slowing down entry to the parks.  Without sales tax, the parking fee is a whole dollar amount.

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Newtown Youth and Family Services 5k road race today

The 10th Annual Newtown Road Race is being held this morning.  It's a benefit event for Newtown Youth and Family Services.  Executive Director Candace Bohr says the proceeds from the 5K and from a Kids Run will go toward financial assistance and programming costs.

 

On-site registration for the event at Dickinson Park starts at 7:30.  The race begins at 8am.  Walnut Hill Community Church is sponsoring a mobile Peach Wave yogurt truck.  There will also be fitness consultations by The Edge of Danbury and smoothies from Robeks of Danbury.

 

Newtown Youth and Family Services is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau.  The organization provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

 

Several roads  will be closed off from 7am until 10am for the event.  Roads/routes affected include: Route 302, Elm Dr., Deep Brook Rd., Juniper Rd., Birch Rise Dr., Nettleton Ave., Baldwin Rd.  A map of the course in its entirety can be found on the NYFS website.

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WCSU Visual and Paerforming Arts Center recognized as 'Best in Connecticut'

Connecticut Magazine has recognized The Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University with the “Best of Connecticut” award.  The 18th annual compilation of “all the things we think make our state such a special place” was released this week.   The Center was named “Best Performing Arts Venue: College.”  The $97 million 130,000-square-foot Visual & Performing Arts Center is located on the Westside Campus in Danbury.

 

(Photo: WCSU)

 

Connecticut Magazine wrote that walking into the theater or concert hall alone should result in a standing ovation.  The main theater and separate acoustically designed musical hall were described as breathtaking.

 

 

 

Interim Dean Jamie Begian says the Center represents a tremendous investment by the state to offer a top-flight place of learning for young people, a place where important dreams are dreamed and then realized.

 

Earlier this year, a list published by Web-based search engine Collegedegreesearch.net, which helps students determine their best college options, named The Visual and Performing Arts Center as number 9 on a nationwide list of “The 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers.”

 

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Body of missing GW student found in waters off South Africa

The body of a 19-year old Redding man who drowned while travelling South Africa has been found in the water according to local media SABC News.  Nicholas Upton, a junior at George Washington University, had not been seen since swimming in the East Cape Province on Sunday and being pulled away by a riptide. 

 

Upton was studying abroad in South Africa and was traveling during a break from classes with 11 other students.  The Joel Barlow High School graduate was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and the university's rowing team. 

 

Rescuers called off the search on Tuesday and his parents travelled to South Africa to conduct their own search.  A Go Fund Me account created on Tuesday raised more than $83,000 to help his parents with their travels.

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Ridgefield, Prospector sign settlement agreement over charitable status

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has approved a settlement agreement with The Prospector Theater.  The item about the organization's tax status was on the Board's agenda Wednesday night.  The Ridgefield Press reports that both sides have signed the legal settlement where the town is recognizing The Prospector as a charitable-instructional institution going forward. 

 

The Prospector has agreed to make $36,000 payments in lieu of taxes to the town each year, adjusted for the mill rate.  The Press reports that that figure is about a quarter of their annual tax bill. 

 

The settlement stems from a lawsuit by the Prospector against the town over the Tax Assessor saying the organization was 55-percent charitable and 45-percent commercial.

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Computer signal system completed on Metro North's Danbury Branch

An improvement project on the Danbury Branch of Metro North over a decade in the works has been officially closed out by the state Department of Transportation.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the problem-plagued effort to have a computerized control signal is finally in place and working properly. 

 

Most of the work on the project was completed two years ago, but engineers have to put a "stop-and-warn" procedure in place because of issues with the crossing gates at intersections along the branch line.

 

But she says physical roadblocks weren't the only issue.  Funding was also a challenge.  She says state funding had been diverted for other uses or taken to close a budget deficit.  Because officials waited so long, it was just a month before federal funding would be lost that they pulled together and made sure the project got put in place.

 

Previously, someone would have to get out of the rail car and pull a lever to allow trains to pass each other.  She called that 1800s-style technology something from pioneer days.

 

Boucher says the upgrade means that more trains can be added, and they can move faster down the tracks.  She adds that this is the first step toward electrifying the rail line.

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Conn., NY Police to step up patrols this holiday weekend

Connecticut State Police are setting up roving DUI patrols and checkpoints during this Labor Day weekend.  Roving patrols will be done on I-84 and Route 7 in the Greater Brookfield and Danbury areas today through Monday. 

 

Labor Day is one of the busiest weekends of the year on the roads.  Troopers will be concentrating their enforcement efforts on drunk driving, speeding, seatbelt violations, and distracted driving.  Trooper Kelly Grant says there are no second chances for first time DWI offenders.  An Ignition Interlock Device can be installed on your vehicle if you are arrested for DWI.

 

Putnam County Sheriff deputies will be conducting sobriety checkpoints along area roadways as well.  Sheriff Donald Smith says the announcement of the planned checkpoints is aimed at deterring intoxicated or impaired driving and is part of a statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown effort. 

 

Labor Day celebrations include end-of-summer gatherings of friends for picnics and backyard barbecues, which can result in increased instances of persons drinking and then driving.  Smith says they are encouraging all residents who plan to drink, to make appropriate plans now to have a designated driver or use a taxi.

 

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Local lawmaker concerned over CT presentation to GE

A local lawmaker is taking the Governor to task over his recent presentation to General Electric.

 

Ridgefield state Representative John Frey says a dozen states have made offers or presentations to Fairfield-based General Electric to move their headquarters.  Frey told the Hartford Courant that Governor Malloy's presentation was "the least persuasive, the least interesting and the least prepared".  Frey continued by saying that Connecticut's presentation was not well received, in part, because it features a picture of a jet engine built by competitor Pratt and Whitney. 

 

Malloy's spokesman told the Courant that Frey was not in the room and probably has a second-hand account. 

 

GE threatened to move when lawmakers approved massive tax increases in June.

 

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Region 12 recognizes lawmaker for work on Agriscience STEM Academy

The state Board of Education has met to discuss a new STEM Agriscience Academy at Shepaug Valley High School.  The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math academy in Region 12 would be the 20th of its kind in the state.  But it needs districtwide approval in a vote to be held November 10th. 

 

The $39.4 million design would be constructed by Torrington-based O&G Industries. 

 

At the start of the Region 12 Board of Education meeting Monday, members recognized Representative Arthur O'Neill for introducing, and getting passed, a measure that provides additional time for the District to submit an application for a grant covering 95% of the cost. 

 

 

O’Neill noted that with the measure Region 12 could expect to grow an additional 50-60 students per year, and expand by a total of 200-240 students studying agriscience over the next four-year period. 

 

Nearby Agriscience STEM Academy facilities have reached their capacity.  A new STEM academy could enroll students from Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Sherman and Washington.  Sending districts would pay tuition and provide transportation for the students they select.

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Bethel nonprofit helps vets prepare for job interviews

More than two dozen veterans were helped yesterday by a Bethel-based nonprofit.  Save-A-Suit provides the veterans with a suit and gives them tips for job interviews.  Fox Connecticut reports than 30 veterans from West Haven, where the Connecticut VA is based, came into the Bethel facility yesterday and were able to get suits thanks to donations.  Aspen Dental also brought the mouth mobile in to give free dental checkups to the veterans.  The Bethel-based groups has been in operation nearly 5 years and says they help about 500 veterans a year.

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Online survey launched in Ridgefield about Schlumberger property

In addition to a series of workshops, open houses and public input sessions about the future of the Ridgefield-owned Schlumberger property, an online survey has been crafted.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the 9-member Schlumberger Citizens Committee is working diligently to gather as much public input as possible.

 

Ridgefield residents have until the 25th to take the survey.  

 

The Citizens Committee has brought on consulting firm Milone and MacBroom.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the firm has done work in Ridgefield before.  They are helping to organize a series of public input sessions.  The committee urged all Ridgefielders to participate in what they called a critical first step in planning for the future of this important parcel of town-owned land.

 

30-acres of land located near the center of Ridgefield is still in the town's control.  The former Schlumberger site was purchased by Ridgefield several years ago and portions have been sold to developers.

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Newtown Labor Day Parade to be held Monday

The 54th annual Newtown Labor Day Parade is coming up on Monday.  This year's theme is Celebrating the Fine Arts of Newtown, and will showcase the artists and creative organizations in town.  This year's Grand Marshal will be Ruth Newquist.  She is an award winning artists known for her land and cityscapes in watercolor and oils. 

 

In addition to honoring Newquist, the SCAN organization is being highlighted.  It stands for Society of Creative Arts Newtown.  It was started over 40 years ago to promote, encourage and instruct both local and regional artists. 

 

Parade participants are lining up by 9:30 Monday morning, with local roads along the route closed at that time.  The parade steps off at 10am.  Spectators are asked to line the route by 9am on Monday.  Parking is available at Hawley School, at Caraluzzi's and Big Y on Queen Street.

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Sales tax now applied to parking fee at Squantz Pond State Park

As of this weekend, tax is being charged on the parking fee at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.  The 6.35 percent sales tax requirement was tucked into the state budget signed by Governor Malloy June 30th.  The three shoreline parks started collecting the sales tax around the 4th of July.  Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Spokesman Dennis Schain says they've been slowly adding to the number of parks where tax is collected.

 

25 of the 109 state parks and forests charge for parking, including Kettletown in Southbury and Kent Falls.  The tax revenue will be placed into a general fund, not necessarily going back to the parks. 

 

Fees had been based on round numbers, and staff member didn't used to need coins.  He says DEEP has made arrangements with the banks they deal with to make certain there is plenty of change on hand.  Schain says it's a little more difficult now to make change, but hasn't added too much time to the wait to get into parks.

 

Schain says parks are open year round, but for the most part fees will stop after next weekend.

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Danbury gas supplier buys TX-based GASCO

A Danbury-based gas supplier has purchased a Texas based company.  Tech Air, a distributor of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related welding supplies, has completed their acquisition of Texas-based Gas & Alloy Supply Corporation.  GASCO will become part of Tech Air of Texas, Incorporated. 

 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

 

Tech Air Texas President Jeff Palmer said in a statement that the combination of GASCO and another existing business in nearby Arlington will be a benefit for the employees and customers of both companies. 

 

This is Tech Air’s 15th add-on acquisition since CI Capital Partners acquired the company in partnership with Tech Air’s management in 2010.  Tech Air now operates through 31 branch and fill plant locations.

 

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Funding approved in Ridgefield for remediation work at final Schlumberger building to come down

Remediation work continues at the former Schlumberger site in Ridgefield.  A Town Meeting held recently gave approval to using up to $150,000 for the remediation and demolition of the final building being taken down.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the money is in an account associated with Schlumberger, and came from insurance money from a flood that happened on the property last winter. 

 

The flood damaged the carpeting in the buildings and did other damage.  He says about $250,000 reimbursement came to the town from the insurance company. 

 

In the past, when other buildings were torn down, there were two major areas of concern found.  One is glue dabs used to hold panels in place contain asbestos.  Some of the foundations inside the walls also need remediation.

 

Three buildings on the site, including the Philip Johnson Building, will remain on the property.

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Upcoming Connecticut primary planned for a Wednesday

Connecticut's upcoming municipal primary will be held on a Wednesday, instead of on a traditional Tuesday.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill reminded voters Monday that Sept. 16 will be Primary Day this year because of the occurrence of Labor Day on Sept. 7 and the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana on the following Tuesday.

State law requires that if a primary falls on the Tuesday after Labor Day, it must be changed to the following Tuesday. However, the following Tuesday marks the second day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. State law prevents a primary from being held on a day when a religion forbids secular activity.

Primaries are scheduled in 23 cities and towns across the state. Voters have until Sept. 15 at noon to register for primaries. 

 

Bethel Republicans will be at the polls to elect a First Selectman candidate.  The party-endorsed candidate is Planning & Zoning Chair Pat Rist.  Republican Town Committee Chairman Will Dufff, a former Selectman and the First Selectman candidate two years ago, collected enough petition signatures to force a primary.  Either Duff or Rist will then face off against three-term Democratic incumbent First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker.

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No DUI arrests made Friday at sobriety checkpoint in Danbury

State Police report there were no DUI arrests made on Friday night at a sobriety check point set up on Lake Avenue in Danbury.  State Police spokeswoman Trooper Kelly Grant says police did cite 16 motorists for not wearing a seat belt and issued a half a dozen other infractions for various motor vehicle violations. 

 

There were also roving DUI patrols on I-84 and Route 7 in the Greater Danbury and Brookfield areas last weekend. 

 

Newtown Police held a DUI check point on Friday night and made one drunk driving arrest.  Three drivers received tickets for other violations and several warnings were issued.

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