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Local Headlines Archives for 2015-12

New state laws start in the new year

Several new state laws take effect with the start of a new year.  Among them is a hike in the minimum wage.  It's increasing from $9.15 an hour to $9.60 an hour.  Some tax changes also take effect.  They include an increase in the cigarette tax and luxury goods tax, a cap in the mill rate for motor vehicle taxes and military retirement pay becoming fully exempt from the state income tax. 


The Marginal income tax rate increase for certain higher income filers, and there will be a $20 million cap on the maximum amount of estate tax imposed on the estates of residents and nonresidents who die on or after January 1st. 


When it comes to election law changes: any petitioning, write-in and minor party candidates for municipal or district office must live within the district in which they seek to run. This already applies to major party candidates. 


Some health insurance laws are changing.  Carriers must disclose specified information including cost exclusions and restrictions on covered benefits such as prescription drugs. Certain policies must cover telehealth services to the same extent as in-person visits.  Certain policies must cover mental and nervous conditions. 


Several of the new laws concern changes for police under an Act Concerning Excessive Use of Force.  More minority police officers have to be hired and promoted to better reflect the makeup of the community they serve.  Grants for body cameras also become available.

Weston Volunteer Fire Department warns of smoke/CO detector scam

The Weston Volunteer Fire Department is warning residents about a scam that's once again circulating Connecticut.  They say scammers call residents and claim to be from federal, state or local agencies.  They then say that smoke or carbon monoxide detectors need to be inspected according to state statute. 


Once inside, they steal items or case the house for a later burglary. 


The Weston Volunteer Fire Department wants residents to know that there is no such state statute.  No one can randomly enter your home to make sure you have a working smoke or carbon monoxide detector. 


If you receive this type of call, or someone comes to your home with this claim, dial 911 and give a description of the suspect and their vehicle.

Topping off ceremony held for Greater Danbury Community Health Center

A topping off ceremony was held earlier this month for a construction project taking place on Main Street in Danbury.  The final beam for the future Greater Danbury Community Health Center was put into place.  Connecticut Institute for Communities celebrated with Verdi Construction the completion of the building's steel skeleton.  The beam was signed before being lifted into place at the top of the building.  An American flag and Christmas Tree were also placed on the beam. 


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


A pharmacy will also be on site.


Executive Director Jim Maloney says existing staff will basically double from about 60 employees, to more than 120. Maloney expects $6 million a year in payroll for physicians, APRNs, front desk staff, medical assistants, clerical staff, billing, finance, legal, HR and front desk staff.


The Center is on the site of the former police station, which was torn down when a new station was constructed for police at the other end of Main Street. 


The project is expected to be completed next fall.

Metro North has modified schedule, alcohol ban for New Years

Metro North is one of the better ways for revelers to get to Times Square or other festivities on New Year’s Eve, and to travel home afterwards. The MTA recommends that customers purchase their MetroCards or train tickets in advance.  Tickets will be collected at the gate before people board trains to return to Putnam and Fairfield Counties in the early morning hours of New Year's Day.


Metro-North will operate on a modified weekday schedule, with an extra getaway trains between noon and 4 pm today.  There will be extra New York City-bound service for the late afternoon and evening.  Alcohol is banned from Metro North trains between noon Thursday and noon on Friday.


To help revelers return from New Year’s Eve events, Metro-North will operate plenty of extra service from Grand Central after midnight to provide a safe ride home for everyone who has been busy ringing in the new year.


People can leisurely make their way back to Grand Central after midnight.

Newtown Police Commission to examine flagpole intersection

The Newtown Police Commission will look into the safety of the flagpole intersection in the new year.  At their meeting January 5th, the group is slated to discuss a traffic report prepared by Frederick P. Clark Associates.  The Newtown Bee reports that the traffic engineer from the firm will present their findings to the Police Commission about the specific traffic problems and possible public safety solutions. 


The intersection of Main Street, Church Hill Road and West Street has seen more than 50 collisions between 2012 and 2014.  Main Street and Church Hill Road are technically state roads, and the flagpole is a state-designated landmark.  The flagpole is unprotected in the middle of the intersection and some of the accidents have involved vehicles hitting the 100-foot pole. 


The Police Commission meeting on January 5th is at 6:30pm.

CityCenter decides not to hold 'First Night' event to ring in New Year

A decline in attendance and running in the red are two of the reasons cited by City Center Danbury for not holding a First Night celebration on New Years Eve.  The once popular family friendly event to ring in the new year has seen less interest at similar celebrations nationwide.  City Center has sponsored First Night since 2007, though it has been held in Danbury for 25 years.  In the past, there were events held at various venues around City Center including the Palace Theater, the Ice Arena, the Green and even the roof deck of the Patriot Parking Garage.

Municipal officials remind residents, businesses to clear sidewalks of snow and ice

Some sidewalk snow clearing is not the responsibility of cities and towns.  With the first storm of winter in the books for the season, municipalities are reminding residents and businesses about laws on the books to clear the sidewalk in front of their property.  Only some towns and cities in the state have transferer the liability to abutting property owners.  Danbury is among the cities that have such an ordinance.  Failure to clear a sidewalk within four hours of daylight after the storm stops could result in a $100 fine.  Wilton has set a fine of $99 if the sidewalks aren't taken care of within the first six hours of daylight following a storm.  In Bethel, the fine is $50.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission gives update to Selectmen

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has received an update from the Chair of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Kyle Lyddy provided an update on the recently selected site for a future memorial.  He said they decided early on that the location needed come before the design.


The group worked with the Newtown Police Commission, the town's Director of Planning & Land Use as well as the Newtown Conservation Commission to narrow down the sites from 30 down to one.  The three- to four-acres at the High Meadow at Fairfield Hills was chosen for its accessibility and infrastructure. 


Lyddy also told the Board that the Commission anticipated some initial concerns, including proximity to a paved walking trail.  The trail is frequently used, including by some of the 26 families who lost loved ones on 12-14, and they may not want to be exposed to the memorial.  Lyddy says when they put out requests for proposals for a memorial, applicants should provide sight line barriers between the trail and the memorial.


Working with the Newtown Parks and Rec Department, Lyddy says they want to make sure the memorial and the agency's Phase III trail upgrades will work together, not against each other.  He says that's layout, parking, and access ways.


The main source of concern though comes from the Conservation Commission.  They want to make sure that the ecology of the land is protected.  The improvements for handicap parking and an access road would be included in requests for proposals, and bidders would know that there is some land at the location that needs preserving.


Lyddy says there's been a misconception that the High Meadows was a predetermined selection.  There were about 30 locations that the site committee visited.  Those were narrowed down to 8 and then 3, before the High Meadows was chosen.

Danbury firefighters highlight cat rescue in report to City Council

An unusual rescue was highlighted in this month's report by the Danbury Fire Department to the City Council.  Squad-1 and Car 30 worked on Tower Place, where a small cat had been stuck in a very old, brick lined storm sewer for four days. With the help of a can of cat food, and the animal snare, the cat was tricked into being captured, and released into the custody of its owner.  The cat was determined to be unharmed.  It wasn't clear how the cat got stuck in the storm sewer.


Office cleaners, janitors reach contract agreement

Office cleaners and school janitors from Fairfield and Westchester Counties have a new contract following votes this weekend in Danbury, Stamford, Bridgeport and in White Plains.  The Hudson Valley-Fairfield County Contractors Association reached a four year deal with some 3,500 members.  The contract includes incremental wage increases, maintains affordable benefits, and keeps new hires at the same pay as their coworkers.  Negotiations between the SEIU division and the Contractors Association began on November 18th.

Newtown police receive reports of items stolen from unlocked cars

Newtown Police are reminding residents to keep their cars locked when they are not in use.  There were about 20 thefts reported this weekend in Newtown from unlocked cars.  The stolen items range from cash to cell phones and GPS devices.  Police say the thefts happened around South Main Street in the area of Dogwood Terrace and Apple Blossom Lane, as well as from the Toddy Hill Road and Taunton Hill Road areas.  In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office received about 20 reports of items stolen from unlocked parked cars.  There were also two unlocked cars reported stolen in Southeast during that time.

Danbury area schools participate in 'Poetry Out Loud' contest

A record 43 Connecticut high schools have registered to participate in the 11th annual Poetry Out Loud national recitation contest.  The Connecticut Office of the Arts, which stages the Poetry Out Loud program in partnership with Connecticut Humanities, encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.


Of the 43 schools, nine are new to the program this year.  Participating schools include Joel Barlow, and high schools in Bethel, New Milford, Newtown, and Ridgefield. 


Visiting poet-teachers are helping to prepare students for contests.  The winners advance to a state competition on March 15th. The Connecticut State Champion will advance to the National Finals in May. 

New Board member appointed to Ann's Place

Ann's Place has a new Board member.  Ann's Place provides support services to people living with cancer and to their loved ones at no charge.  Their newest board member is Jamie Eden, who is currently Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Boehringer Ingelheim.  He has more than two decades of Human Resources experience and is a member of the BI Cares Foundation Steering Committee.  The organization as it's known today came from a merger of I Can, and the Ann Olsen fund.  38-year old Ann Olsen was a BI employee who died in 1987 after a short battle with cancer.

Applications available soon for Danbury magnet school

Parents thinking about sending their child to a magnet school in Danbury can start applying soon.  The Danbury School District will start taking applications for the Academy for International Studies Magnet School on January 1st.  There will be a lottery held to chose students from Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown and Redding to attend the school.  The facility serves students from Kindergarten through 5th grade.  The school is located next to the Western Connecticut State University west side campus.  Links to the magnet school application can be found on the school district's website beginning on Friday.

Winter weather headed to Conn., Danbury using new road treatment product

There is a winter weather advisory in place for tonight and tomorrow.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is using a different product this year to keep the roads safe.


Boughton says the initial cost to use the straight salt material that's treated with a compound will be a little higher than the old sand and salt mixture, but in the long run it will save money on clean up costs from street sweeping. 

The product is effective at lower temperatures than sand and salt combined.


It's been used on Main Street for the past three years, and Boughton says it's worked great there.

Obit: Recently retired Danbury City Planner dies at age 69

Danbury's recently retired City Planning Director has died.  Dennis Elpern passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 69. 


He held a Master's Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.  Elpern became Danbury Planning Director in 1988 and retired on November 1st. 


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says Elpern's ideas and their realization over 27 years as planning director will stand as his memorial for many years to come.  Some of his legacy includes designing the green and Elmwood Park.


Friends will be received Tuesday from 4 to 7pm at Green Funeral Home on Main Street in Danbury.  Interment will occur at a later date.  Contributions in Elpern's memory are being directed to Regional Hospice and and Home Care of Western Connecticut, and to the Danbury Land Trust.

'Buddy Bench' at Hayestown School dedicated to beloved teacher

A bench has been dedicated at a Danbury school in honor of a teacher who passed away this summer.  Students, faculty and staff at Hayestown Avenue School dedicated a so-called "buddy bench" in memory of Shawn Johnson at an assembly just before the December break last week


The bench is a tool designed to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground.  Kids are encouraged to include anyone who is sitting on the bench into their play time. 


(Photo Courtesy: Danbury Public Schools, Facebook)


Johnson’s family was at the school assembly. 


The 37-year old died in July.  He was a Newtown native who graduated from West Conn.  Johnson was an avid reader with an interest in history and science.  He had many pets and in his obituary, his family had asked that donations in his name be made to DAWS.

Sen. Murphy calls for mental health care parity

A bill to reform the country's mental health care system was discussed in Danbury this week by Senator Chris Murphy.  He met with mental health providers and advocates at Family & Children's Aid, following up on a dozen round table discussions he held across the state to get input on what should be included in the reform bill.


Murphy wants to break down the barriers between the mental and physical health systems.  He wants people to be able to see a behavioral health specialist just like a specialist for a heart condition or a broken leg. 


He is also calling for a new position to be created with the Department of Health and Human Services to deal solely with mental health. 


He wants more clinicians, psychiatrists and psychologists.  He says there are people waiting weeks and months when they're in crisis, which doesn't make sense.  Murphy the mental health care system is very fragmented and he wants to increase inpatient and outpatient slots. 


Some of the bill also involves more funding being set aside for early intervention and for research. 


Murphy says there is no inherent connection between mental illness and violence, in fact those who are mentally ill are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.  But he says the conversation about reforms has to be careful not to re-stigmatize a group of people who have been fighting for a long time to have the stigma removed.

Connecticut's Christmas Eve temperatures break record

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) An unusually warm Christmas Eve has led to a new weather record in Connecticut.

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts announced via Twitter on Thursday that temperatures at Bradley International Airport had reached 60 degrees at 12:08 p.m.

That broken the maximum temperature record for the day of 59 degrees at Bradley, set both in 1996 and 1990.

By 1 p.m., Danbury was considered one of the warmest spots in southern New England. Temperatures in the Hat City reached 68 degrees. Danbury joined Boston, Bedford and Norwood, Massachusetts.

The weather service said such high temperatures are more normal for this time of year in Florida.

20 car break-ins, 2 cars stolen over the past two weeks

In the last two weeks, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office has received about 20 reports of items stolen from parked cars.  The vehicles in Southeast and in Putnam Valley were left unlocked.  The items that were stolen include cash, credit cards, GPS devices and other electronics. 


There were also two cars reported stolen in Southeast last Monday and Tuesday.  The cars were left unlocked.  One was later found abandoned in Westchester County. 


Police are reminding people to lock their cars, including when they are parked at home.  Sheriff Donald Smith says thieves can be opportunistic , and items left visible in unlocked cars can be alluring.  At this time of year, especially, thieves know that people might leave Christmas presents or holiday shopping money in their cars.

Sen. Blumenthal urges seniors in Danbury to be cautious with charitable donations

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury on Wednesday to talk with seniors about scams and steps they can take to prevent from becoming victims this holiday season.  Blumenthal told a crowd at Elmwood Hall that the holiday season often sees an increase in scams and frauds against the elderly.  Blumenthal says the criminals make it easy for generous people to squander hard earned dollars on look-alike or sound-alike charities.  He says donors should be prudent, and ask for information in writing.  He also suggested not giving out social security or bank account information over the phone.

Matrix Center owner dies in LI car crash

The owner of the Matrix Center in Danbury died this weekend in a car crash on Long Island.  Port Jefferson Police say 48-year old Glen Nelson hit a telephone pole Sunday afternoon with his Lamborghini.  It was not immediately clear if speed was a factor in the crash.  Nelson founded the Matrix Group in 1993.  He purchased the old Union Carbide building in Danbury in 2009.  Sunday's accident happened two days before Nelson's 49th birthday.

More progress seen at site of new Sandy Hook School

The warm weather has helped move along the building of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School.


More progress is being reported on the project, which is scheduled to be completed next year and ready for use by the fall start of the school year.  Painting is being completed in Wing A, windows are being installed on Wing B, weatherproofing is being done on the exterior walls of Wings C and D and some road work is being done on Riverside Road.  Photos from last month at the site show that some bathrooms are being tiled and more drywall is up across the site.  Masonry work also continues. 


Abatement and Demolition Phases were completed in 2013. Site Work began last October; and Building began in February.



(Photos Courtesy:

Final day for Danbury Firefighters Union food drive

Wednesday is the final day to drop off canned food and non-perishable items at Danbury fire houses.   The Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 has been holding a collection at the career fire stations since November 10th.  Lt Chip Daly says they will gladly collect any last minute donations today.


All of the items then go toward holiday basket programs and food pantries.


The collection bins can be found at fire houses on New Street, Osborne Street, Eagle Road, South King Street and Kenosia Avenue Extension.  Donations are also being collected in the Fire Marshal's office at City Hall, and Sikorsky Federal Credit Union on Main Street.


Local 801 has been holding this food drive annually for more than 30 years.

Red Kettle Campaign donations down for Salvation Army

The Red Kettle Campaign in the Greater Danbury area is reporting that donations are down about 30-percent. 


Local Salvation Army Advisory Board chairman Geoff Herald says the decline will impact immediate social outreach efforts.  Herald says that's for things like heating assistance, clothing, rental assistance, and reaching out to families in dire financial need.  The program also supports the Right Place School Readiness Program and Family Center as well as youth camp.


Herald says the money raised not only helps during Christmas and Thanksgiving but also sustains vital programs and services throughout the year.


The Salvation Army says 82 cents of every dollar that is donated goes back to programs that serve the hungry, homeless, and frail.

Advocates tout legislation supporting social and emotional learning

Social and emotional learning are being touted by advocates for this type of teaching.  This month, Congress approved the Every Student Achieves Act, incorporating language advocated for by Senator Richard Blumenthal in honor of 6-year old Jesse Lewis who was killed at Sandy Hook School. 


Scarlet Lewis showed Blumenthal a message Jesse wrote on a chalkboard at their house days before he was killed.  The message said "nurturing healing love", something that Lewis says is in every definition of compassion across every culture.  She says this bill emphasizes safe school climates and promotes strategies that have been proven effective by research to improve academic success.


West Conn Professor Dr. Chris Kukk is also the Director of the Compassion, Creativity an Innovation Center.  He says neuroscience has shown over the last several decades how rationality, logic and learning are based on emotion.

The legislation allows funds to be used to help all students develop the essential skills for learning readiness and academic success—with training to help children learn how to recognize and manage emotions--among other goals.


Kukk notes that not every child learns his or her best in a sterile environment and needs more nurturing than others.  Kukk says the training would also be in achieving positive goals, demonstrating caring and concern for others, maintaining positive relationships, making responsible decisions and handling interpersonal situations effectively.

Newtown families split $1.5M from estate of gunman's mother

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) The families of more than a dozen victims of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, will split $1.5 million under settlements of lawsuits filed against the gunman's mother's estate.

A lawyer for several victims' families says the settlements were finalized Dec. 17 in documents filed in Bridgeport Superior Court.

The lawsuits said Nancy Lanza failed to properly secure her legally owned Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. Her son, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, used the rifle to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He killed his mother before the school shooting and killed himself afterward.

The families of 16 people who were killed will split $1.5 million from Nancy Lanza's homeowner's insurance.

Victims' families also are suing the maker of the Bushmaster rifle.

Danbury area state lawmakers help raise $41k for Salvation Army

Local lawmakers have helped out the Salvation Army by taking their turns ringing bells at the famed Red Kettles. 


Among the state lawmakers who rang bells as part of the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign was Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  He was outside Stop & Shop on South Main Street on Friday.  He said Newtown again showed its generosity and that each donation will help local Newtown families in need. 


The Red Kettle Campaign collects donations from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve.


Danbury area state Representatives Jan Giegler, Steve Harding, and Dan Carter along with Senator Mike McLachlan rang bells for the Salvation Army outside of Walmart and helped the GOP caucus raise $41,000.  


Funds help provide holiday dinners, clothing and toys for families in need. Funding sometimes stretches beyond the holiday season and donations can provide aid for families, seniors and the homeless throughout the year.

Sen. Murphy advocates for mental health care system reforms

A bill to reform the country's mental health care system has been introduced by Senator Chris Murphy.  He stopped in Danbury Monday to talk with mental health providers and advocates at Family & Children's Aid.  The organization provides behavioral and mental health treatment to more than 1,700 Danbury-area children and their families. 


Murphy was joined by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Danbury State Representative Bob Godfrey, Western Connecticut State University President John Clarke, Western Connecticut Health Network President Dr. John Murphy and FCA Board member Gene Eriquez.


He spoke to a crowd of about 200 people.



(Photos Courtesy: Sen. Murphy, Twitter)


Murphy previously held a dozen round tables across the state to get input on what should be included in the reform bill.  He says there's a lot of attention being paid to the mental health system because of the recent mass shootings, but notes that it's broken for everyone regardless of if they're connected to a mass shooting or not.


Murphy says a lot of people want to make sure the reform bill he's introduced is not just about what happens in the clinician's office.  He says good mental health means having a strong family, a roof overhead, and being able to stay employed.  He says a good mental health system recognizes there are all sort of supports around a family that makes their mental health more likely to succeed.


(Sen. Murphy, state Rep. Godfrey, Congresswoman Esty, Board member Gene Eriquez)



Murphy says he heard loud and clear Monday that this bill should empower places like Family & Children's Aid.

State bond money approved for housing project in New Preston

The state Bond Commission has approve funding for a project in New Preston.  When the state Bond Commission met earlier this month, $480,000 was approved for a housing development project and program.  The money is being provided as a grant-in-aid to Washington Community Housing Trust.  The $480,000 will help with renovation of a four bedroom farmhouse and construction of two additional units of affordable home ownership housing known as Vincent Farm on New Milford Turnpike in New Preston.  Washington Community Housing Trust will retain ownership of the land and grant 99 year leases to the homeowners.

Ridgefield Police Captain named Town Employee of 2015

The Ridgefield Employee of the Year is Police Captain Jeff Kreitz.  He was honored for his hard work and dedication to the community. 


Kreitz is the police spokesman and supervises the School Resource Officer Program, DARE, crime prevention and the Police Department's accreditation process. 


Among his credits in 2015, is re-starting the Citizen Police Academy and organizing a foot patrol of officers to talk with concerned residents after a string of burglaries and home break-ins.

Blue Buffalo to pay $32 million settlement

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Blue Buffalo Pet Products Inc. has agreed to a $32 million settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by customers who alleged the Connecticut-based company made false claims about ingredients in its products.


The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. The settlement was reached last week.


Blue Buffalo, in a news release, denied wrongdoing. In a statement, Blue Buffalo's chairman and founder, Bill Bishop, blamed "misconduct of a former ingredient supplier and a broker" for the mistake. He says the company works tirelessly to make pet food with the finest natural ingredients.


St. Louis-based Nestle Purina PetCare also filed suit against Blue Buffalo last year over advertising claims. Purina officials say their case against Blue Buffalo continues.

Groundbreaking held for Miller-Driscoll School renovations

Ground has been broken on the Miller-Driscoll school renovations in Wilton.  Shovels went in the ground on Friday.  There was a brief speech made by First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice.  Turner Construction is in charge of the project which was approved by a narrow margin of victory.  The $50 million price tag would cover the planning, design, construction, renovation, and furnishing of the Miller-Driscoll School. The project has the unanimous support of the Boards of Education, Finance and Selectmen.

Shoppers encouraged to be aware of surroundings at ATMs

With last minute Christmas shoppers out this week, area police departments are reminding people to be aware of their surroundings.  This is especially true at ATMs. 


Bethel Police are searching for a man who placed a card skimming device on an ATM this summer.  The man's DNA was linked to a device placed on an ATM in Manhattan around the same time and the suspect was caught on tape.  Police do not believe anyone's data was stolen because the device stored the information locally and it was intercepted by police.



Suspect placing skimming device

Bethel Police are looking to identify this man. He is a suspect in the placement of a device in Bethel, CT. His DNA was matched to a device placed in NYC. Here is the footage...

Posted by Bethel Police Department on Tuesday, December 15, 2015




Bethel Police spokesman Lt Michael Libertini says it's tough to tell if there's a skimming device on an ATM because the criminals often match the color, shape and size of the card reader.


It's usually a two part device.  The skimmer captures the information off of the magnetic strip of the debit card.  Then there is a camera that would record you entering your pin number.


National bank chains say typical ATM skimmer devices are smaller than a deck of cards and fit over existing car readers.  The cameras can be hidden in brochure boxes attached to the side of ATMs or placed in plastic bars that would go above the screen on ATMs.  Some criminals install fake pin pads over the actual keyboard to capture the pin directly, bypassing the need for a camera.

Esty introduces bill to support Families of Fallen Heroes

A bill has been introduced by a local lawmaker to honor families who lost loved ones while serving this country in uniform.  5th District Congress woman Elizabeth Esty says the "Support the Families of Fallen Heroes Act" follows enactment of a new law to bring equity to parents of fallen heroes.  Esty previously introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act. 


During a veterans event, a constituent suggested that fallen soldiers be recognized on postage stamps.


Esty says those brave enough to knowingly put their lives on the line deserve to know that their loved ones they leave behind will be supported.


Esty says the Families of the Fallen Support program provides critical support services for these families and revenue from the postage stamp would be put toward the program.  It's jointly administered by the United Service Organizations and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. The program supports families at Dover Air Base when they witness the return of their fallen loved ones.


The organization also offers peer-based support groups and camps for children to connect with others coping with a similar loss.

Former 'Waterworks' building in Danbury purchased to become nursery school

Connecticut Institute For Communities had completed the purchase of the former “Waterworks” Danbury Cadillac/Oldsmobile building located on Park Avenue.  The purchase price of $880,000 was offset by an $800,000 state grant.  The building will be turned into a comprehensive community Nursery School/Early Learning Center for pre-school children ages 3 to 5.


Over the next year, the building will be remodeled, with seven early learning classrooms.  The building will be able to accommodate 140 children.  There will also be a multi-purpose activity room, a warming kitchen so breakfast and lunch can be served, a nurse’s office, parent advisor’s office, and support space. The new facility will also have an exterior playscape, and on-site parking for staff, parents, and visitors.


CIFC President Jim Maloney says they worked with neighbors to revise the zoning rules to be able to renovate the building.  The outside will be remodeled to look as residential as possible so that it won't look like a commercial building any more.  But he says that will depend on market demand.


Maloney says it will be a mix of HeadStart, state-funded school readiness and potentially some private nursery school slots.


The physical rehabilitation work will be privately financed by CIFC. The estimated cost is about $1 million.  It is anticipated that the work will be completed in about a year.

United Way's Imagination Library 'Reading Star' is a Danbury child

United Way of Western Connecticut recently sponsored a local contest to promote Imagination Library.  The program is for preschool children and their families.  It provides the gift of a free, specially selected book each month to children under age 5.


The United Way asked parents to submit a photo of their child reading to themselves or with their family. Votes were taken online, and the Reading Star this year received a personal oil portrait donated by famed artist Ed Little of Bridgewater.  The contest received more than 10,000 votes from around the world for the 46 entrants.  Aaron Panda of Danbury was selected as this year’s Reading Star winner.



Imagination Library currently serves little more than 4,000 children in the Greater Danbury area.  The United Way has mailed 231,591 age appropriate books since 2009 to nearly 10,000 children in the area.


Imagination Library relies on funding partners to cover the costs of purchasing and mailing the books to the children enrolled in the program. Grant funding has been provided by Connecticut Community Foundation, New Canaan Community Foundation, Pitney Bowes, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Procter and Gamble (Duracell), and Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Tri-State Area.

Hospital workers reject bid to break from union

Surgical and radiological technologists, licensed practical nurses and respiratory therapists at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals this week voted to retain their union representation and resume contract negotiations with their employer.  A group of about 80 employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to break the union.


The employees were upset because they still don't have a contract.


The union, formed at Danbury and New Milford Hospitals in 2014, is made up of approximately 260 caregivers.  AFT Connecticut represents the registered nurses at both acute care facilities.


The contract negotiating committee of techs and therapists want Western Connecticut Health Network managers to address critical issues such as chronic understaffing and the need to advocate for patients.  After the vote, the negotiating committee pledged to redouble efforts to secure a fair, first collective bargaining agreement.


AFT Connecticut Executive Director John Brady is a registered nurse at a hospital in the state.

Danbury Mayor touts work by municipalities, business and unions on economic driver ideas

26 policy proposals were agreed to by groups often at odds at the state capital.  The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Connecticut AFL-CIO recently held a summit where the diverse groups found out they have more in common than they thought. 


Summit attendees asked officials to hold another forum so they could pick up where left off, because they feel agreement can be reached on many more items. 


A steering committee with municipal officials from Danbury, Newtown, Ridgefield and elsewhere was involved in coming up with common ideas for Connecticut's economic future.


The five areas of focus included state revenue and governance, education and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure, regional solutions and quality of life matters.  Participants agreed that the  budget implementation process should be reformed, making it more transparent.  They also want a constitutional transportation funding lockbox amendment and for the state's tax structure to be reformed.

Esty to honor fallen soldiers with medal ceremony in New Fairfield

Military medals will be presented posthumously to the families of two army veterans who have family living in New Fairfield. 


5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will present the medals to the families of John Rossi and Francis Moriarty during a ceremony tomorrow.  Rossi was a World War II army veteran and Moriarty served in Korea.  Neither were previously recognized for their longstanding military careers.


Rossi's family will be accepting several medals on his behalf: the Army of Good Conduct Medal; the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Expert Rifle Badge and; the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal.


Moriarty's family will be accepting the following medals on his behalf: the National Defense Service Medal; the Korean Service Medal with a Bronze Service Star; the United Nations Service Medal and; the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal.

Police warn of rash of thefts from unlocked cars, stolen vehicles

New York State Police from the Brewster barracks and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office have received an increased reports of stolen vehicles and valuables stolen from cars.  Police say the crimes involve unlocked cars or cars with their keys inside.  Police are reminding residents to keep their cars locked at all times. 


Meanwhile New York State Police this week arrested three people, including a Carmel woman for felony burglary, criminal possession of stolen property, possession of burglar tools and unlawful possession of radio devices.  22-year old James Evans and 23-year old Anamile Gomez, both of Wappingers Falls were charged, along with 20-year old Stephanie Ilardi of Carmel. 



(Evans, Gomez, Ilardi)


Evans was released after posting bond, and Gomez and Ilardi were both released under the supervision of Probation. They were scheduled for future court appearances. 


The burglaries were done at vacant homes in the Wappinger area.

Esty calls for end to ban on federal research about gun violence

A local lawmaker plans to offer an amendment to a bill being voted on Friday to strike the federal ban on Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health research into gun violence.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says ending the “Dickey Amendment” is supported by 68 medical and public health organizations, as well as former Representative Jay Dickey, who authored the current language.


Esty says no other topic is off-limits for federal research.  She says Dickey has said that the ban was a mistake.


The Dickey Amendment was written in 1996 and in essence blocked the CDC from gaining a better understanding of how to prevent gun violence. Esty’s amendment strikes the federal ban on CDC and NIH research into gun violence.  Amendments are not being entertained so Esty says she will keep trying after Congress returns from recess.


She says gun violence must be treated as an epidemic.  She says studies have been done it with cars and smoking, and it must be done with guns.


Esty is Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Bethel Police say bond money for new building approved in referendum

Bethel Police have tweeted that residents approved funding to build a new police station.

The $13.4 million bond referendum Thursday is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.


Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.


The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.


The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  


Knickerbocker says the new building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.

Polls open in Bethel for Police Station funding vote

There is a referendum in Bethel today about funding for a proposed police station.

The $13.4 million bond proposal is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.


Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.


The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.


The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  


For those who say it still could be renovated, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it would be at a cost two or two and a half times the amount that's currently being proposed.  That's if the town could get permits from federal government.  The FEMA flood plain bisects the building.


Knickerbocker says the new proposed building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.

Dye water testing of sewer lines underway in Ridgefield

Sewer testing started this week in Ridgefield.  In an effort to identify and mitigate possible sources of storm water or groundwater entering the village sewer district system, dye water testing is being done.  The effort will last four to six weeks, weather permitting.  The testing is being done Mondays through Thursdays from 8am to 4pm. 


The test involves putting dyed water into yard and roof drains.  The sanitary sewers and storm drains in the street will be opened and inspected for the biodegradable, non-toxic dye. 


The testing is being done by the Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority's engineering consultant and a subcontractor.  They will carry photo ID and a letter of authorization from the WPCA.  Their vehicles will also be marked. 


Testing will only be done when a property owner is present, and the work is all done outside.

Candlewood Lake Authority asking area towns to chip in for replacement Marine Patrol boat

A 13-year old marine patrol boat owned by the Candlewood Lake Authority needs to be replaced.  The CLA is asking the five towns that surround the lake to help pay for a new vessel.  The cost is estimated at about $52,000.  The old boat was taken in for repairs this summer, but by October it was deemed unsafe for use and taken out of service.  This leaves the marine patrol with one working boat. 


CLA Executive Director Larry Marsicano says the boat they are looking to purchase has a 10-year hull warranty with an estimated useful life of 20 years. 


CLA, through the town of Sherman, has applied for a grant from the Intertown Capital Equipment Purchasing Incentive Program.  The grant, plus matching funds from the towns, would pay for about 60-percent of the cost.  The balance is available in the CLA Capital Equipment Reserve Fund.  Marsicano says Brookfield, New Fairfield and New Milford have approved applying for the grant.  Sherman and Danbury plan to get approval within the next month. 


If the grant from the state Office of Policy and Management is not approved, CLA will ask the five towns to each chip in $9,500.


Marsicano says they would like to order the boat before the end of the year so that it will be delivered before the boating season.

HeadStart classrooms to be added in Danbury at the War Memorial

A portion of the Danbury War Memorial will be leased to the Connecticut Institute for Communities in order to accommodate three new HeadStart classrooms.  Councilman Jack Knapp says this would provide some needed rental money to the War Memorial to bolster their bottom line.


About 60 pre-school aged kids would fill the three classrooms.  There would also be an approximate 4,500 square foot playground area outside for early childhood program.  It's near baseball fields at Rogers Park.  Danbury owns the land where the playground would go and the lease was approved by the City Council earlier this month.


The lease would be for about 90-percent of fair market value, which is approximately $1,800 per month, per classroom.

School threats prompt proposals for tougher penalties

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Lawmakers in states around the U.S. are proposing stiffer penalties for people who make threats on schools at a time of fears over terrorism and mass shootings.

As demonstrated by Tuesday's shutdown of schools in Los Angeles, threats can cause large, costly disruptions and traumatize students even in cases that might involve hoaxes.

Michael Dorn is the executive director of the school safety nonprofit group Safe Havens International. He says there have been proposals in states across the U.S. in increase punishments, including those where school threats already can be prosecuted as felonies.

Connecticut state Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, said Tuesday that he intends to reintroduce a bill that would that would beef up the state's threatening laws. His son was locked down at his high school in October after a threat.

FuelCell Energy secures $30 million in long-term financing

A Danbury-based company has secured millions of dollars in financing for project agreements with utilities.  FuelCell Energy has secured $30 million from PNC Energy Capital, a full service capital provider to the renewable energy and demand side management segments of the energy industry.


Company officials say this facility provides long term financing for projects being developed under power purchase agreements.  The first project to close under this structure will be a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant which provides both electricity and heat to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. 


The power plant will generate about 30 percent of the facility power needs.

Danbury Mayor elected as President of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

Members of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities have selected Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as the group's next President.  CCM is the state’s largest, nonpartisan organization of municipal leaders, with 158 member municipalities. The organization advocates at the state level for issues affecting local taxpayers.  Each year CCM elects a new slate of officers to guide the large public policy decisions and advocacy that goes on within CCM. 


(Photo Courtesy: Mayor Boughton, Twitter)


Boughton says he was fortunate enough to be nominated and elected to the one-year term.  He says he is looking forward to helping shape the new legislative session as it impacts cities and towns across the state.


Boughton says there are some very large, global decisions that have to be made right now as it relates to the way cities and towns do business.  CCM wants to be part of those discussions.  He says it makes no sense to leave them out of the talks.


Boughton says too often decisions are made in a vacuum, and nobody's really thought about the impact on cities and towns.  CCM wants to work out how best to make sure everyone is represented. 


Those re-elected to CCM's Board include Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, and Leo Paul of Litchfield.  Former First Selectman of Newtown Herb Rosenthal is a past president of CCM, who continues to serve on the board.

'Merry Christmas' banner removed from Woodbury town green

A "Merry Christmas" banner has been removed from the Town Green in Woodbury.  The sign was put up by a neighbor several weeks ago.  First Selectman Bill Butterly told WFSB-TV that the green is technically owned by the state Department of Transportation.  The DOT only allows signs that are transportation related, and removes those that are safety concerns or prompt complaints. 


Butterly said someone took exception to the banner.  The person said they are non-Christian and that the sign offended them. 


Some neighbors held what they called a Merry Christmas Removal protest on Sunday on the town green.  They held signs in support of Christmas.

Monroe Police Officer fighting brain cancer

The Monroe Police Department is rallying around one of their own.  Officer Andrew Wall has been on the force for almost 20 years and has been battling brain cancer.  Wall had a tumor removed from the right side of his brain, and while the surgery was successful the biopsy confirmed the tumor was malignant. 


Friends from the Monroe Police Department have set up a Go Fund Me page for Wall's family.  He has a wife and 10-year old son.  The medical bills and cost of living have mounted as treatment continues.  Wall is receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Yale New Haven Hospital which is hindering his ability to return to work.


The page says that as a patrol officer, Officer Wall responded to over 9,000 calls for service and served as a Field Training Officer for new officers.  As a detective he conducted countless investigations and led the charge against illegal narcotic use and sales in Monroe.  Wall also served as Union President for the Monroe Police Union. 


His list of commendations include: six special recognition certificates, three meritorious service ribbons, two distinguished service ribbons and a medal of valor. Officer Wall was also nominated for Officer of the Year in 2009.

Brookfield's new First Selectman settling in

Brookfield's new First Selectman has sent out his first email communication to town residents.  Democrat Steve Dunn thanked them for the opportunity and outlining what lies ahead for Brookfield.  In the next few months the development of the Town Center will be discussed.  Over 500 housing units have already been approved and are in various stages of being built.  The Plan of Development calls for a vibrant commercial destination.  Dunn says Brookfield will be finalizing plans with the state Department of Transportation and will be having a presentation soon.  He's been meeting with town employees and also started work on next year's budget.

Connecticut's new 959 area code being introduced

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) The new 959 area code is now being used in Connecticut.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority announced Tuesday the new code is being introduced in the calling region served by the 860 area code. The new code was needed because the supply of telephone numbers in the 860 area code is being exhausted because of continuing demand for telephone numbers.

PURA has been working with the telecommunications industry since mid-2013 to oversee an orderly implementation of the new 959 area code.

For most customers, the new code will have minimal impact. Existing phone numbers, including the current area code, will not change. Customers requesting new service, an additional line or possibly moving their service may be assigned a 959 phone number.

The new overlay of area codes won't affect prices.

Clergy member reflects on Sandy Hook anniversary

An interfaith service at Trinity Church in Newtown for prayer and comfort was held Monday night to honor the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook School.  Newtown Congregational Church Reverend Matthew Crebbin offered these thoughts on the third anniversary.  He said it's important not to forget and not to let go of the reality that it still continues to be a significant event for many in the community.


Crebbin says the town is not pretending that nothing happened, or that it's "business as usual" because for many people in the community, it's not business as usual.  He called it an ongoing journey. 


Crebbin says it's important to pause and to recognize that the entire town is on a journey that was launched by what happened three years ago.  Crebbin called the anniversary a time to stop and remember.

Sandy Hook Advisory Committee chairman weighs in on 12/14 anniversary

It's been about 9 months since the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Committee issued its final report with suggestions of how to improve emergency response, mental health and school security.  Chairman Scott Jackson reflected on the anniversary of the shootings.  He said it was such a significant event that everybody, every single person, had to take a moment to think about what else could be done.  He says the schools across the country are safer now than they were on 12/14/12.


Jackson says every day there are shootings.  As a culture and a nation, the right set of protections haven't been able to be put together to keep people safe.  Jackson says he's frustrated that more hasn't be done in the interim.


Jackson says Connecticut is commonly viewed as a fairly progressive state, and the impact of the tragedy is so great here, that there's been more of an effort to move forward in a cohesive approach to recommendations.

Newtown quietly marks 3rd anniversary of school shooting

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Flags are flying at half-staff across Connecticut in honor of the 26 people killed three years ago in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.


Monday is the anniversary of the attack in which a gunman killed 20 first-grade children and six educators after shooting his way into the school on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012. The shooter also fatally shot his mother inside their home and killed himself after the rampage.


Houses of worship are holding memorial services, but the town is not planning any events to mark the anniversary. An interfaith community service at a Newtown church Monday evening is expected to include prayers, music and the lighting of candles.


Local groups are offering counseling and support services for residents who might want to use them Monday.

States expanded gun rights after Sandy Hook school massacre

OWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- The 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which a mentally troubled young man killed 26 children and educators, served as a rallying cry for gun-control advocates across the nation.


But in the three years since, many states have moved in the opposite direction, embracing the National Rifle Association's axiom that more "good guys with guns" are needed to deter mass shootings.


In Kansas, gun owners can now carry concealed weapons without obtaining a license. In Texas, those with permits will soon be able to carry openly in holsters and bring concealed weapons into some college classrooms. And in Arkansas, gun enthusiasts may be able to carry weapons into polling places next year when they vote for president.


Dozens of new state laws have made it easier to obtain guns and carry them in more public places and made it harder for local governments to enact restrictions, according to a review of state legislation by The Associated Press. The number of guns manufactured and sold and the number of permits to carry concealed weapons have also increased, data show.


The trend has been discouraging to some gun-control advocates, even as other states have adopted stricter background checks. Other gun-control supporters say their movement is emboldened by the recent rise of Everytown for Gun Safety, a well-funded group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is becoming influential in some state capitols.


The debate over gun rights moved to states after Congress rejected a bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the Internet. The arguments are expected to intensify next year as legislatures convene in the wake of the mass shooting of county government employees in San Bernardino, California, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism.


Recent mass shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, a community college in Oregon and a church in South Carolina have also reignited passions on both sides.


"Most of our churches are just wide open," said Mississippi Republican Rep. Andy Gipson, who plans to file a bill next year allowing congregations to designate people who could carry guns.


The pro-gun legislation reflects a growing public sentiment that "gun-free zones are magnets for bad guys," said David Kopel, a gun policy expert at the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Colorado. He said that concept was not popular after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, but the frequency of mass shootings since then has made the idea of having a trained, law-abiding gun owner present more appealing.


"We've gone from, 'You can't even say that out loud' to it being an evenly divided issue, with the pro-gun side having an advantage on that," he said. "I would expect that we will see continued movement on that in the coming year."


Even before the Dec. 2 shooting at the office holiday party in San Bernardino, gun purchases and permit applications were on the rise.


On the day after Thanksgiving this year, U.S. gun sales approached a single-day record. More than 185,000 federal background checks were initiated, the most in the 17-year history of the program, according to FBI data.


"Everybody is swamped," said Mike Conway, a salesman at Bullseye Sport in Riverside, California, near San Bernadino, which has run out of most guns. "A lot of first-time buyers. A lot of people that realize that they have to be responsible for their own safety."


From 2007 to 2014, the number of concealed-carry handgun permits in states nearly tripled, from 4.7 million to 12.8 million, according to a recent report by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a group whose research is often cited by gun-rights supporters. Meanwhile, several states have passed laws shielding the identities of permit holders to protect privacy and prevent potential harassment.


Instead of limiting access to firearms after Sandy Hook, states such as Indiana and Mississippi passed laws to beef up the presence of police officers in schools. Kansas adopted a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in many public buildings. Georgia and Arkansas, among others, allowed concealed weapons in bars and some churches. Tennessee made clear that permit holders can carry concealed weapons in vehicles and parks.


Several states also passed reciprocity agreements recognizing gun permits approved by other states, reduced permitting fees and loosened requirements. Wisconsin, for instance, eliminated a 48-hour waiting period to buy handguns.


And then there are new laws designed to thwart gun-control measures. States have prohibited authorities from seizing guns during emergencies, moved to ban the use of taxpayer funding for government gun buyback programs and banned the destruction of firearms seized by law enforcement. Some Republican-controlled states have pre-empted local governments' ability to pass stricter firearms laws by declaring that it's a matter for the state.


Everytown President John Feinblatt said many of the measures that expanded gun rights were passed when the NRA faced little opposition in statehouses, but that is starting to change. He said his group succeeded this year in opposing bills in several states that would have allowed concealed weapons on college campuses and permitted people to carry without obtaining permits.


Since Sandy Hook, six states have expanded background checks, and two more such measures are expected to be on statewide ballots next year in Nevada and Maine, Feinblatt said. His group, he added, isn't concerned with how many guns exist, but wants rules in place to make sure they aren't sold or transferred to criminals and the mentally ill.


"If more responsible gun owners want more guns and they are doing it the right way, that's not going to affect public safety," he said.


Eric Fleegler, a doctor at Boston Children's Hospital who has studied state gun laws, said he worries that the expansion of gun rights could cause more fights to escalate into deadly confrontations, more people to commit suicide and more kids to die from gun accidents.


"In a country with 330 million people and 310 million guns," he said, "the suggestion that the problem is we don't have enough guns available just doesn't seem to hold much weight."

Sen. Murphy recalls stories of Newtown child

Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor on Thursday to speak about what the day means to people in Connecticut and about the challenge it presents to lawmakers.


He first talked about one of the first graders who was killed on 12-14, Daniel Barden.  Murphy called him a really special kid.  He's gotten to know Daniel's parents well over these last three years and in turn gotten to know Daniel really well.  Murphy also said that because he has a 7-year old son at home he feels closer than ever before to the families like the Bardens who are still grieving. 


Murphy says Daniel had a sense of uncanny empathy that now, as a father of a 7-year old, knows is frankly not normally visited upon children that age. 


Daniel loved helping people in big and small ways.  He was so naturally outward in his sympathy for others.  That's shown in a story that his father likes to tell about the challenge of going to the supermarket with Daniel.  When they would leave, Daniel always liked to hold the door open for his family, but then he wouldn't stop holding the door open because he wanted to hold it open for all of the other people also leaving the grocery store.


Murphy then talked about Daniel's mother and how she developed, as grief counselors would call it, defensive mechanism.  She would sometimes pretend that Daniel was at a friend's house for a couple of hours to give herself the strength to do simple household chores like cooking dinner or answering emails.


Murphy says it's hard to describe for his colleagues the grief that still drowns Sandy Hook parents and the community at large.  He noted that for many in the community, grief is now mixed with anger and bewilderment that Congress hasn't acted on gun safety legislation.

Newtown shooting anniversary is on school day for first time

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre will be the first to fall on a school day — one that Newtown officials will endeavor to make as normal as possible for many students.


The principals at the high school and middle school will note the day’s significance in remarks over public address systems before the daily moments of silence, but staff at lower-grade schools only will offer parents, if requested, talking points on how to discuss the shootings with their children. At the Sandy Hook school, the superintendent says, it will be a “full day of school, quality teaching and quality learning.”


Despite efforts to embrace normalcy, students and the town are a long way from recovering from that the murders of 20 first-grade children and six educators.


“The expectation that it becomes easier is not realistic,” said First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, the town’s top elected official. “This is a reality that we’re still struggling with, and a struggle to develop a sense of positivity about the future. It takes time for a community to recover.”


Demand for mental health in the schools remains high. Last month, a foundation run by the PTA at Sandy Hook Elementary School awarded the school district a two-year, $500,000 grant to continue in-school mental health programs for students who were in Sandy Hook School the day of the shooting and those who lost brothers or sisters that day.


“Newtown needs only Newtown on this day,” said Superintendent of Schools Joseph Erardi, who became superintendent last year. “There are supports that we have put together. There is a peace that we put together for that day.”


The superintendent is urging school officials nationwide to review their safety plans, and people to remember Newtown is still healing.


The gunman killed his mother inside their Newtown home and later shot his way into the school where he carried out the rampage before killing himself.


The school was demolished, and a new Sandy Hook school is set to open in the fall of 2016 at the same site. In the meantime, Sandy Hook students are taking classes in a building in the neighboring town of Monroe.


Town officials again have not organized any public remembrances because they want the anniversary to be low-key, a tack being taken by the schools.


The biggest event will be the annual interfaith community service at the Trinity Episcopal Church on Monday evening. It will include prayers, music and time for lighting candles, but not a lot of speeches, said the Rev. Matthew Crebbin, pastor of Newtown Congregational Church and coordinator of the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association.


“It’s more a day of reading the sacred text, prayers. People can light candles,” Crebbin said. “We know that anniversaries can be very challenging times for people. For some it has waned, but for others the anniversary is a retraumatizing time.”

Absentee ballot session Saturday in Bethel on Police Station proposal

Special hours are being held today by the Bethel Town Clerk for absentee voting.  The ballots are available for residents who will not be able to vote on Thursday in the police station bonding referendum.  The hours today for absentee voting is 9am until Noon.  The referendum on Thursday is 6am to 8pm.  Residents are being asked to consider about $13.5 million to construct a new police station on  the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.

Changes coming to Danbury Economic Development Office

Some reorganization is being done by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton during his eighth term in office. 


Chief of Staff Wayne Shepperd will be retiring at the end of the month.  Boughton thanked his friend for his hard work over the years.  Pending approval by the City Council, Dean Esposito will assume the role of Chief of Staff.  Esposito ran against Boughton for Mayor in 2005.  But Boughton says they have never stopped being friends and has always been a trusted advisor to the office.


The Office of Economic Development will also be changed in the coming year.  It's most recent Director, Bruce Toumala, left ot pursue other career opportunities. 


The focus and the name of the department will be changed to the Office of Business Advocate.  Boughton says that's a more appropriate description of the mission.  The Office will focus on small and medium sized businesses who might have a challenge with permitting or that might need coaching on developing a solid business plan.  Boughton says that will be a more effective approach to making Danbury a one-stop shop for businesses.


Boughton says these changes and others will create a savings of over $20,000 in the City budget.

Danbury Mayor delivers 'State of the City' address to business leaders

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce held its annual Leaders Luncheon Friday.  During the meeting, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton gave his State of the City Address.  He highlighted some development happened in the City and also introduced some new initiatives.  He pointed out that Danbury has a 3.9 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of any city in the state.  Over three dozen small and medium size businesses opened in Danbury in 2015. 


When it comes to development in Danbury, Boughton noted that the old GE building is being renovated by Praxair as their new headquarters, and nearby a new 114-room hotel is being developed.  An industrial space on Prindle Lane on Danbury's westside is being developed into an entertainment center and mail processing facility. 


Boughton announced today that the City has been selected to host a Technology Center.  He says it's a $200 million  investment in Danbury.  The Lotus Technology Center will consist of two data storage facilities, a fuel cell research facility and a small clean natural gas plant which will generate 200 megawatts of power that will power over a million homes in the Greater Danbury area.  The natural gas power generation facility that will operate about 25 days a year to help with peak load demands in the Greater Danbury area.


A full­time Main Street Enforcement Officer  has been hired for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team.  The UNIT focused on quality of ­life issues in Danbury.  This Spring, Boughton says the Danbury Police foot patrol on Main Street will be reinstated on a permanent basis to provide a stronger security presence.


One initiative proposed by Boughton on Friday is called Clean Start.  It is aimed at helping the homeless.  He notes that some people are already at work collecting cans and scrap metal for recycling, so he wants them to perform various projects around the City including litter control.  The chronically homeless will work with a local non­profit using specialized equipment donated by Winters Brothers.  At the end of each day they will be given a gift card.  The homeless will also be put in touch with support services to help them get on their feet.


Another initiative proposed by Boughton has been dubbed Lean and Green.  Danbury will explore alternate energy source.  He wants the City and the Schools to work together to explore solar power, natural gas a fuel cell technology in an effort to reduce emissions and cut costs.


Boughton says that talks are continuing to bring free WiFi to the Main Street corridor.  A vendor has been selected, and the project is on track to begin in March.  He is also proposing a public-private partnership with Frontier Communication known as Connect Hat City.  He wants to offer every household in Danbury $15 a month high speed fiber optic internet, without bundling in other services.  Boughton says the digital divide is real, and with this low cost option more people will have access to the internet.  He says that will help to close the achievement gap for Danbury students.


A Main Street Restoration Fund has also been proposed.  Boughton wants to set this up to provide low interest loans for storefronts in the Main Street area to be able to leverage that money for improvements.

Murphy notes approaching Sandy Hook anniversary on Senate floor

Senator Chris Murphy once again took to the Senate floor to criticize his colleagues for not taking action on gun safety legislation, three years after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.  Murphy said it's hard to describe for his colleagues the grief that still drowns Sandy Hook parents and the community.


On December 14th, the gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School armed with a weapon that was designed for the military.  Murphy said the gun was designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible, and the 30-round magazines were not designed for hunting or for sport shooting, but to destroy as much life as quickly as possible.  Murphy also noted that the gunman left lower round magazines at home. 


Murphy said the design of the weapons worked to a tee.  In approximately four minutes, he discharged 154 rounds.  Murphy said the young man killed with ruthless efficiency.  Murphy then listed the names of the 6 educators and the 20 children who were shot and killed.


There are a handful of kids that aren't on that list who were in teacher Victoria Soto's classroom.  Murphy says they were able to escape, likely as investigators believe, when the gunman had to reload his weapon.


Murphy says there are still searing questions.  He wonders what would have happened if the gunman didn't have an assault rifle, and if he would have had the perverse courage to walk into that school if not aided by the security of having a high powered killing machine.  Murphy also posed the question of if the gunman had smaller cartridges, would someone have been able to stop him when he fumbled with another reload.


Murphy acknowledged that the facts of what happened at Sandy Hook are hard to hear over and over, but that they're important.  Murphy says they should have educated Congress and the country on ways to come together to make another mass shooting less likely.  He says Sandy Hook was ignored, and it happened again and again.  He then repeated his call for his colleagues to do something to honor those children and adults killed on 12-14.

Connecticut to ban gun sales by those on no-fly list

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed Thursday to use an executive order to ban gun sales to those on federal no-fly watch lists.


The Democratic governor said that his order would make Connecticut the first state to do so and that state officials are working with the federal government to get access to the lists.


"If you cannot fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to purchase a firearm while on that watch list as well," Malloy told reporters at the Capitol. "This is basic common sense. The American people get it."


The legislature and Malloy previously enacted gun limits that expanded the state's assault weapons ban and barred the possession and sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines following the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting deaths of 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Malloy said the executive order would deny the issuing of gun permits, which may be appealed to a firearm review board.


President Barack Obama has called on Congress to approve legislation to keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns. Gun rights advocates oppose the proposal because they say it violates the rights of people who have not been convicted of a crime.


Malloy said he is responding to the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead. He said the Republican-led Congress has failed to act.


State officials will determine the "appropriate lists" to be included, whether they are no-fly lists or "some kind of combination of those who should not have weapons," Malloy said.

Caroling flash mob serenades Ridgefield boy with cancer

A 12-year old Ridgefield boy with cancer has received a wish through a local Make-A-Wish granter.  The Ridgefield Press reports that Amy Nash arranged for a Christmas caroling flash mob to show up at the home of 12-year old Justin Cowen.  Hundreds of cars arrived at his home Tuesday evening for about half an hour of caroling.  Ridgefield Police and Fire Departments helped with traffic along New Road.  Some friends of the family also brought gifts for the boy.

In remembrance of Newtown victims, 26 acts of kindness

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) Some schools in Connecticut and elsewhere around the country are performing 26 acts of kindness as a way to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

It was nearly three years ago when a gunman shot his way into the school and gunned down 20 children and six educators.

At Pleasant Valley Elementary School in South Windsor, Connecticut, students are writing their good deeds on slips of paper on a hallway wall. Principal Tiffany Caouette says most students have no knowledge of the tragedy. For now, she said, it's simply important for children to know they are doing something good for somebody else.

In the aftermath of shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, people took to social media to promote the idea of doing 26 acts of kindness to celebrate the lives of the victims.

Esty stands silent in face of new refusal by House to address gun violence

A local lawmaker is calling on her Congressional colleagues to spend more time with the families and loved ones of gun violence victims.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says that's because in the three years since Sandy Hook, the majority of the House hasn’t allowed a single vote on gun safety legislation.


Esty says it's become habit that after every new tragic mass shooting for the House to merely acknowledge a moment of silence, and then go back to business as usual.  She said again that the time has passed for moments of silence and now is the time for hours of action.


Esty asked for unanimous consent that the House bring up H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act.  The Speaker said they were not in session for that.  Esty said she would therefore stand quietly for the remainder of her time to protest the "appalling silence of this House’s refusal to meaningfully prevent gun violence.”


Esty is Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Local lawmakers vote against Transportation Lockbox proposal

State lawmakers have approved a mid-year budget-trimming plan, with provisions of the plan including possibly closing some facilities for the disabled. The plan also trims some business taxes. Governor Dannel Malloy did not get a proposal for a constitutional ``lock-box'' to keep transportation revenues from being spent on other programs. 


Danbury Democratic State Representative Bob Godfrey, who serves as Deputy House Speaker, says the lock box is a set up for putting tolls on the state borders.  He said the loopholes in the legislation are big enough to drive a truck through.


Danbury Republican state Representative Jan Giegler voted against the lock box.  She says allowing money to be diverted before it can get to the fund or altering what those funds can be used for goes against the very concept of a lock box.  


Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolisnky voted against the transportation funding lock box proposal saying that the enabling legislation intended to create the program came with a $35-million raid of special transportation fund dollars.  He says it was full of irresponsible holes, leaving a colander incapable of holding water or dollars.


Southbury Republican State Representative Arthur O'Neill says the lock box is worse than nothing because it is so deceptive and misleading.  He says it provides cover to those who want to do other things with the money.


New Milford Board of Ed elects new chairman

A new chairman has been elected for the New Milford Board of Education.  Democrat David Lawson was selected for the position during their first meeting since last month's election.  There are six Democrats and three Republicans seated on the Board of Education.  New Milford Superintendent of Schools Dr JeanAnn Paddyfote plans to retire in January.  Deputy Superintendent Joshua Smith will serve as interim superintendent.

Local lawmaker critical of budget deficit mitigation plan

State Senate Republicans have voiced disappointment with the proposed deficit-cutting plan, saying it doesn't go far enough to fix Connecticut's perpetual budget problems.  Danbury state Senator says since he took office in January 2009, deficits seem to be all he's dealt with.


McLachlan recalled a Finance Committee meeting where Ridgefield Representative John Frey said that Fairfield-based GE was thinking about leaving the state.  He called it an earth-shattering day for people at the state capital.  He says many people wondered what they were doing there that would make GE want to run away.


McLachlan says another of those warning was presented Tuesday by Greenwich Senator Frantz, who said that the wealthy were also thinking about leaving the state in droves.


The Senate was the first chamber to act, voting unanimously for a resolution that would protect transportation funds deposited into a so-called lock box.  It fell 14 votes short of the 114 needed in the House.  It's now up to the 2017 General Assembly to put the question on the 2018 ballot.

3rd annual National Vigil for gun violence victims to be held in D.C.

A national vigil is being held to honor victims of gun violence from across the country and to help give a voice to survivors of gun violence.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says this is the 3rd annual national vigil. 


Vigils are also planned at hundreds of locations around the nation between December 10th and 14th. 


Locally, there will be an educational activity with discussion held by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury.  A vigil will be held by the Newtown Episcopal Church.  In North Salem, New York--the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus is asking supporters to sign a pledge card to take action to end gun violence.

Sen. Murphy calls for vote on bill to ban those on no-fly list from buying guns

A motion to bring a bill preventing people on the no-fly list from being able to purchase guns was brought to the Senate floor on Tuesday by Senator Chris Murphy.  It wasn't brought up for a vote because he objected to an amendment offered by a Republican member of the Senate.  Murphy also took the time to respond to criticism that Democrats are cashing in on a tragedy.  He said that notion is "ridiculous and insulting".


"There's been a mass shooting every single day in this country on average.  If you had to wait 24 hours or 48 hours to talk about strategies like preventing terrorists from buying guns that would keep this country safe after a mass shooting, then you'd never talk about them."


Murphy also used the opportunity to fire off his own criticism of opponents.


"Those who oppose this are more concerned with protecting the rights of potential terrorists than they are protecting this country."


Murphy called the measure a temporary inconvenience for the small number of people who are on the terrorist watch list, but shouldn't be.  He says they have a means to get off that list.  They would only have to wait a couple of more days or weeks to be able to buy a weapon.


Murphy says the list is made up of people that have given the FBI or other law enforcement to believe they are affiliated with a terrorist organization.  He says those people may not have committed a crime yet, but had communications or affiliations with terrorist organizations.


"While today it's become partisan, Republicans are standing almost in lockstep against a bill to stop terrorists from getting guns, historically it's been bipartisan.  This was initially proposed by President Bush and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  Let's make it bipartisan again."


Murphy said he was disappointed that the bill wasn't able to be voted on on Tuesday.  But he said he would be back in the days, weeks and months to come to continue to ask for a vote on legislation that would make sure potential terrorists can't get their hands on dangerous, life-ending weapons.

Report: Connecticut boosted mental health funding in 3 years

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A new national report shows Connecticut is one of 11 states that have increased funding for mental health care every year since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Some mental health care providers in Connecticut say the boost in state funding doesn't tell the whole story.

The figures were included the 3rd annual survey of state mental health care legislation from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Heather Gates, CEO of Community Health Resources, says the overall spending on mental health in Connecticut is skewed because the state has a dual system of more expensive state-operated programs and those run by not-for-profits.

The report comes as lawmakers return for a special session Tuesday to fix the state deficit and replenish earlier cuts to mental health agencies.

Town Meeting to be held about proposed Bethel Police Station plans

A Town Meeting is being held in Bethel Tuesday night about funding for a proposed police station.  The $13.4 million bond proposal is for a new building the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the recommendation is for a referendum on the 17th.  Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project last December and the plan was slightly scaled back.  The cuts came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.


Officials have described the current police station as cramped and overcrowded, providing less than a third of the space the department needs.  The firing range can't be used as intended because it's currently being used for storage.


The current building was designed and constructed in the 1960 when the requirements and mission of police agencies was different than it is today in a post-9/11 world.  There are new departments that must be supported that didn't exist in the 1960s.


The building can't be renovated and expanded because it sits on a flood plain.  They've had problems with sewage backups that have occurred due to the flooding.  


For those who say it still could be renovated, Knickerbocker says it would be at a cost two or two and a half times the amount that's currently being proposed.  That's if the town could get permits from federal government.  The FEMA flood plain bisects the building.


Knickerbocker says the new proposed building will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed. 


The town meeting is being held at 7:30pm the General Purpose Room of the Bethel Municipal Center.

Jimmy Greene's album 'Beautiful Life' nominated for Grammy Award

A Newtown man has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.  Jimmy Greene, an assistant professor at West Conn, has been nominated in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category for his latest recording "Beautiful Life".  The album is a remembrance and celebration of the life of his daughter Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, who was among the first-grade victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 


The saxophonist was also nominated for Best Arrangement,  Instruments and Vocals for his reworking of "When I Come Home" featuring Javier Colon.  Colon, a Connecticut native, won the inaugural season of The Voice. 


"I'm extremely humbled and honored.  It's a tremendous honor in the music industry to be nominated for a Grammy Award," said Greene.


"There's literally hundreds of amazing examples of people's work in each category that gets submitted, to be chosen as one of five nominees in two different categories is a huge honor."


But there is a bit of sadness involved, Greene said he wished his daughter was still here. 


"I'm very glad that the world gets to hear her voice.  Her voice is prominent on the recording, they can know a little bit about her life.  After the world getting to know quite a bit about how she died, I'm happy that people are getting to hear how she lived" said Greene.



The album cover is a photograph of Ana and her brother Isaiah taken at their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the family lived prior to moving to Newtown in 2012.



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


Greene recently held a concert fundraiser at the new WCSU School of Visual and Performing Arts Center to benefit the Ana Grace Project.

Budget plan includes eventual closure of juvenile prison

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Senate Democratic leaders say a mid-year, budget-cutting plan up for a vote Tuesday begins the process of closing the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown and the Southbury Training School.

While the proposal includes $350 million in cuts to cover the shortfall in this year's $20 billion budget, lawmakers said Monday it also restores some reductions already made by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to hospitals and social service agencies.

The plan also calls for creating through a separate bill a so-called ``lock-box'' to prevent transportation revenue from being spent on other programs. Ultimately, it will require voters to approve an amendment to Connecticut's constitution.

Lawmakers are returning Tuesday for a special session.

The Middletown facility is a juvenile detention center and the Southbury Training School serves people with profound developmental disabilities.

Grant awarded to Danbury Food Collaborative

The Walmart Foundation State Giving Team has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Danbury Food Collaborative for a second time in consecutive years. Spearheaded by United Way of Western Connecticut, Danbury’s food pantries, soup kitchens, and nonprofits formed the DFC in 2013.  They are working together to improve access to food, quality of food and sustainability of food for residents in the Greater Danbury Area.


A DFC survey of its clients showed that many of the food programs do not have enough fresh, healthy food for their clients due to both a lack of access to fresh food and a lack of refrigeration.  “Project Healthy Food” is providing refrigerators for DFC food programs and fresh food for residents in need.  The DFC then partnered with Community Plates, which rescues fresh food from restaurants and grocery stores in the city, and significantly increased it fresh food offerings.


Without adequate refrigeration, food programs can be limited to dry and packaged “middle grocery aisle” food items. Special Events Manager Stacy Schulman says research has shown that a diet lacking fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, etc., can lead to severe health problems over time.


14 refrigeration units have been purchased to date.  The balance of funds from the grant will be used to buy fresh and healthy food.


The DFC serves more than 8,600 households annually by providing over 230,000 meals to residents in need.  The DFC is comprised of fourteen nonprofit agencies:


Association of Religious Communities


Danbury Farmer’s Market


Catholic Charities of Fairfield County


Hillside Food Outreach


City of Danbury


Hispanic Center/Multicultural Center


Community Action Agency of Western CT


Interfaith AIDS Ministry


Community Plates


Jericho Partnership, Inc.


Connecticut Food Bank


The Salvation Army, Danbury Corps.


Daily Bread: An Ecumenical Food Pantry


United Way of Western Connecticut

Retired Danbury Police Sgt laid to rest

Retired Police Detective Sergeant Adam Fernand passed away unexpectedly on December 1st at Yale New Haven Hospital, following a brief illness.  He had liver and kidney disease.  He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Valerie Sforza Fernand, and his children, Ava, 15, and Kyle, 14.


Adam's distinguished career as a Danbury Police Officer lasted 29 years, as he rose from the ranks of rookie officer at age 21 to Detective Sergeant, retiring in July of 2014. During his tenure on the police force, he was Team Leader of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team, as well as part of the Tactical Narcotics Team. He was the recipient of numerous awards and citations as he served the city.


A funeral mass will held Saturday, December 5th, 10 AM, at St. Edwards the Confessor, 21 Brush Hill, New Fairfield.


In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Fernand Family Fund, at


Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio said in a statement that Fernand was a dedicated Police Officer, friend and mentor to the men and women of the Danbury Police Department.  Carroccio continued by saying that Fernand's dedication to the department was only superseded by his devotion to his family. 


"He will be sadly missed, but will always be in our hearts."

Danbury appoints new Planning Director

Danbury has a new Planning Director.  Deputy Director Sharon Calitro has been promoted to the position by Mayor Mark Boughton.  She has a Master of Science Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University.  She is also a certified Planner with the American Institute.  As Deputy Planning Director, Calitro has been commended for several accomplishments in the City. 


She helped develop significant zoning amendments and plans that have been adopted by the city, developed regulations adopted by the Planning Commission for the City's Aquifer Protection Area and managing the related program.  She completed a revision of the City's Capital Improvement Program, managed completion of several grants from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation for projects at the Palace Theater and Hearthstone Castle, and established the City's first GIS system. 


Calitro was also credited with completing several downtown planning projects including the design and implementation of improvements at Elmwood Park, along White Street, at Palace Walk and along North Main Street.


The Department has a lot of different proposals for the redevelopment of downtown Danbury, and a number of public projects on the horizon.  That includes the expansion of Danbury High School along with road and traffic improvements.  The Department also manages ongoing planning projects proposed by developers.  Boughton says Calitro has the skill set to be able to deliver on a full spectrum of work.


Boughton says Calitro brings a different view to the post and will likely run the Department differently than the previous director, who had been with the City for almost 20 years.

Immaculate High School Girls Cross Country team honored by Danbury

December 2nd 2015 was Immaculate High School Girls Cross Country Team Day in Danbury.  The team went 13 and 0 for the season.  Mayor Mark Boughton recognized the girls and their coaches during the City Council meeting this week.


Boughton said he was proud to honor the Mustang Girls for their outstanding performance and achievement throughout the 2015 season.  The were in  the top three finishers in the Class S Championship.


The team dedicated their undefeated season to Sam Crews, who was the grounds foreman at Tarrywile Park, across from Immaculate.  Crews died in a car accident April 30th.  Their t-shirts said they were part of Sam's Crew.

Esty outlines gun control measures she wants Congress to vote on

As the thirrd anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook approaches, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty offered praise to the first responders who went to the site of the mass shooting in California this week.  She said they acted with humanity, speed and effectiveness.  She says they will endure their own form of trauma.  She notes they are a group that is often forgotten because they are doing their jobs and saving lives.


Esty says over 2,000 people on the terrorist watch list have been permitted to buy weapons in the last 15 years. 


She wants the partisan and cultural war to end.  Esty says people are dying on the streets of America, whether it's San Bernardino or every single day in cities, homes, churches, and playgrounds


Esty then urged her colleague in the U-S House to take action on gun control measures before they go on break for the holidays.  She specifically wants legislative leaders to call legislation for a vote that would close a loophole in the background checks law that exempts those purchased at gun shows.  She also wants to make sure people on the nation's terrorist watch list can't buy weapons.

Connecticut federal delegation wants action on gun measures

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Members of Connecticut's Democratic congressional delegation expressed frustration Friday that efforts to combat gun violence have been stymied since the 2012 deadly Newtown school shooting, pointing blame at many of their colleagues in Washington, D.C.


Sen. Chris Murphy called it "disgusting" that Congress has been unwilling to accept any of the options he contends could help stem mass shootings, pointing to Thursday's mostly party-line Senate vote against expanding background checks for more gun purchases. It was the same proposal the Senate rejected in early 2013, months after 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.


Since Wednesday's deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the federal lawmakers have urged their colleagues to take action next week, before Congress' holiday break, to address mass shootings.


"We don't have to accept this as inevitable. We don't have to live in fear every single day," Murphy said. "But Congress has to get off their a-- and start working on behalf of the American people to stop this mass slaughter."


Murphy received national attention on Thursday when he expressed his frustration through Twitter, sending the message, "Your 'thoughts' should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your 'prayers' should be for forgiveness if you do nothing - again." Murphy said his message was retweeted 22,000 times.


Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, accused Murphy of "prayer-shaming," saying the senator's tweet was offensive.


"What Senator Murphy and his friends are saying is that unless you support their preferred public policy remedy - gun control - your prayers are meaningless platitudes and you are complicit in the murders that are committed. Such assertions are disgusting."


Murphy was joined Friday for a news conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson. All appeared exasperated by the lack of congressional action.


Blumenthal said Thursday's vote proved that the Congress is "hostage to the gun lobby" and "complicit in failing to act."


In a message sent out on Twitter, the National Rifle Association said it "won't accept the blame for murderers nor apologize for fighting for our right to defend against them."

Sen. Murphy calls for action to curb gun violence

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation are criticizing colleagues in Washington, D.C., and expressing frustration that gun control efforts have been stymied since the 2012 deadly Newtown school shooting.  Murphy was joined Friday by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Reps. Elizabeth Esty and John Larson in expressing frustration with the lack of support for curbing firearms.


Below is the full text of Murphy's speech during the press conference.


Make sure that the 20 million people coming to this country every year get a higher security screening to make sure they have no connection to terrorists.  Change gun laws to make sure that criminals are not getting guns, or that individuals that are thinking about mass slaughter don't have a military style assault weapon or a 30 round clip with which to kill more people.  Keep terrorists from buying guns.  Fix the mental health system, a common element of many of these mass shootings, to make sure the people contemplating this kind of violence have access to mental health services that can prevent them from taking that drastic step.


We have a broad array of options with which to work from, and what is so disgusting is the Congress is accepting none of them.


We don't have to accept this as inevitable.  We don't have to live in fear every single day.  But Congress has to get off their ass and start working on behalf of the American people to stop this mass slaughter.  We're just not doing it right now.


Sympathies are important.  Prayers are important. But members of Congress don't get elected in order to send out sympathy tweets, we get elected to change laws to make people safer.


Use that one week [before Congress adjourns for the holidays] to show the American people that we are capable of doing something, anything, to try to cut down on these mass shootings.


When the bill in the wake of Sandy Hook to make background checks nearly universal [failed] that was a really low day.  But Thursday was comparable.  Thursday was just as bad in many respects as the day that the Sandy Hook background checks bill failed, because on Thursday we thought we would get 100 Senators to stand together and say that terrorists shouldn't be able to buy guns.  We couldn't even get a majority of the Senate because of the power of the gun lobby and because of this malaise that's fallen over congress that nothing can be done.


Something can be done.  Something has to be done.  We are here to say that we are not giving up.  I will offer my mental health bill next year, we will continue to press on these changes.  We will go out and build a national movement around changes to these laws.  The status quo is unacceptable.

Road closures, parking ban for The Ram Pasture tree lighting in Newtown

Several roads in Newtown will be closed for a period of time tonight for the annual Ram Pasture tree lighting.  Newtown Police says there will also be a three hour parking ban in effect near the ceremony and related activities. 


The tree is near the corner of Elm Drive and Hawley Road.  The event starts at 6:30, with a tree lighting at 7pm. 


Elm will be closed between Route 302 and Borough Lane.  Barricades, traffic cones and "no parking" signs will be put up on the affected areas.  The no-parking zone includes Elm Drive, Hawley Road, and parts of South Main and Sugar streets.

Bethel Police to host tour of department to highlight shortcomings of building

Bethel Police are holding an open house this afternoon.  The Department will be hosting guided tours of their current police station every 30 minutes in an effort to show residents what they say are the shortcomings of the building.  Residents could vote later this month on a proposed $13 million bond package to build a new Police Department. 


Plans and renditions of the proposed facility will be on hand. 


The tours are from 4pm to 7pm.  An informational session will also be held at the police station at 6pm.  The Chief will take questions from residents about the proposed building. 


The current Bethel Police Department is located on Plumtrees Road.

State Police K9 gets protective vest

Another Connecticut State Police Dog has received a bullet and stab protective vest.  The K9 named Union has been outfitted with a vest which will be embroidered with the sentiment “In Dogs We Trust, the DeGroat Family.”   A charitable donation was made by the Stafford family through the non-profit Vested Interest in K9s Incorporated. 


Union has been  assigned to Trooper Christopher Porrini for two years and is currently working at Troop A in Southbury.  The three-year-year-old German Shepard  is trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles and obedience. Union is also trained in narcotics detection.


The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 partners. Each vest has an average weight of 4-5 pounds and requires a donation of little more than $1,000. 


It comes with a five-year warranty.

Senate rejects more gun background checks after CA attack

WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate has voted anew against expanding background checks for more gun purchases, rejecting the proposal a day after the latest U.S. mass shooting left 14 people dead in California.

Thursday's 50-47 vote underscored that political gridlock over curbing firearms remains formidable in Washington, amid a rash of highly publicized U.S. shootings and last month's terror attack in Paris.

The measure was co-authored by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.

It would require background checks for all gun purchases online and at gun shows. Currently, the checks are only required for transactions from licensed gun dealers.

It's the same proposal the Senate rejected in the months after the December 2012 slayings of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut.

Lights installed along Main St. Danbury for 'Light the Lights'

Danbury's annual tree lighting event this year will be different than in past years.  The old oak tree by Library Plaza is no longer the focal point.  City Center Danbury Executive Director PJ Prunty says there will be two Christmas trees on either end of Main Street which will be lit, and several strings of lights along the roadway.  The trees are at Kennedy Park and at Library Plaza.


Last month, Danbury officials authorized spending $65,000 to purchase new lights to emulate the look of Main Street from the 1950s.  The lights have been strung from buildings on one side, across to the other.  The lights start at the intersection with White Street and continue to the intersection with Bank Street.



The  LED lights will save the City money because they will be on a timer system.  They are commercial grade lights with a useful life of 15 years.  They've been installed over the course of the past week by Rizzo Electric. 


(Photo: Danbury Museum & Historical Society)


Prunty says it's been a collective effort between City Center, Public Works, the Police Department, property owners and others.


There will be a lighted fire truck parade in Danbury this year for Danbury's Light the Lights celebration.  The firetruck parade will move down Deer Hill Avenue to West Street, then on Main Street to Rogers Park.  Carolers from St. Peter's Church Children's Chorus and St. Joseph's Church Children Chorus will perform.  Santa will be at Library Plaza to take photos with children.  The event on Saturday December 5th is from 5pm to 7pm.

Malloy tells group he's meeting with GE officials on Friday

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is meeting with General Electric Co. officials to discuss how Connecticut can persuade the corporate giant to remain in the state.

Malloy told the Greenwich Retired Men's Association Wednesday morning that a meeting is scheduled for Friday. Later in the day, the governor would not confirm the meeting, saying he did ``not want to be pulled into a discussion about my calendar and my schedule in advance.''

Malloy would only say GE has been ``true to its word,'' by agreeing to have the discussions.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt recently said the conglomerate will ``always have a big presence in Connecticut,'' though confirmed it's still seeking a new headquarters site.

GE criticized recent state tax increases. Some were eventually scaled back, while other changes are being considered.

Danbury Mayor to reprise cameo in Danbury Music Centre's 'Nutcracker'

A Christmas tradition in Danbury is back for its 48th year, with a cameo by Mayor Mark Boughton.  The Danbury Music Centre's annual production of Nutcracker will for the first time have four performances on the weekend of December 11th, with an added matinee Saturday. 


Boughton quipped at the City Council meeting Tuesday night that a new bustier and a new wig have been purchased for Mother Ginger, the role he takes on during select performances. 


(Photos Courtesy: Sherryl Hauck)


Tickets are currently on sale for the Nutcracker at Danbury High School being performed December 11th, 12th and 13th.


(Photos Courtesy: Sherryl Hauck)

Esty advocated on House floor for gun safety legislation hours before CA shooting

On Wednesday afternoon, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took to the House floor to call for a vote on common sense gun safety legislation.  Just hours later, police in San Bernardino, California responded to reports of an active shooter at a social services facility.   Esty lamented that on Tuesday they had to yet again to remember the victims of gun violence, this time those in Colorado.


Esty had said that it is time for moments of silence to end and a time for action to begin.  She called for a Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention to be established.


Esty serves as Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  She called gun violence a public health crisis that deserves action from the House now.


Esty says the House on Tuesday also blocked action to prevent those on the terrorist watch list from acquiring deadly weapons to kill Americans.

Danbury City Hall collecting donations for a number of causes

Danbury City Hall is collecting donations for a number of causes, including Operation ELF. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the statewide collection benefits military families.  Operation Elf is seeking donations of children's toys and gift cards, as well as fuel oil, snow removal and home maintenance services.  Operation Elf has expanded their mission this year to also include helping the families of those members not currently deployed, but experiencing financial hardship.  The donations must be made by December 12.


A giving tree is set up in the atrium, where monetary donations will be used to purchase undergarments for the Danbury Shelter.  That is up through the 17th.  


The Fire Marshal's Office on the first floor of City Hall is one of many drop off sites of the Danbury Firefighter's Union canned and non-perishable food drive.  That collection runs through December 23.

Former New Milford school to be winterized, cost unknown

Winterizing John Pettibone Elementary School in New Milford is on the top of the agenda for the town's new Mayor.  Democrat David Gronbach's first day in office was yesterday.  The next Town Council meeting is set for December 14th.  The Newstimes reports that Gronbach has promised to have the building sufficiently heated so that there won't be any damaged from burst pipes and other winter woes. 


But there was no money included in the town budget for this effort.  The Public Works Department is getting an estimate on what it would cost. 


When it was decided that the school would close, then-Mayor Pat Murphy asked the Board of Education to transfer the balance of the Pettibone School budget to the town for maintenance.  The Board voted against the transfer.

Interfaith gathering planned for Dec. 14 in Newtown

An interfaith service is planned in Newtown for December 14th.  On the third anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School, leaders from all of Newtown's religious communities will come together for a service of prayer and comfort.  The gathering is being sponsored by the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association.  It will take place at Newtown Meeting House on Main Street on December 14th at 7pm.  Parking will be made available at nearby Trinity Church and Newtown Congregational Church.

Bethel Police Station proposal hearing held, department reaccredited

A Public Hearing has been held in Bethel about funding for a proposed police station.  It's a $13.49 million bond proposal for the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the cuts after the failed vote in December came mostly from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.


Knickerbocker says the facility will blend with the neighborhood and will be barely visible from the road.  He notes that it will not impact the education park, but police would be next door to provide additional security if needed.  He says the land is not in the educational park.  The property was set aside decades ago for future town use, not school use.


On December 8, a formal Town Meeting will be held.  A vote could then be taken December 17.


The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has renewed the voluntary accreditation for the Bethel Police Department for four more years.  A visit was made in August to assess the department's policies, management, operation and support services.

More than 200 trees to be cut down at Putnam Memorial State Park

Visitors to Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding this winter may see a lumberjack taking down ash trees.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says this is being done as a proactive approach to protect the forest area from destruction by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. 


More than 200 trees will be chopped down at Putnam Park, removed and then processed into lumber and firewood.  DEEP Director of Forestry Chris Martin says the destructive insect has already been found in some nearby towns, including in Sherman and the Naugatuck Valley in 2013. 


The Emerald Ash Border was first found in the United State sin the 1990s and destroyed the ash tree population in the midwest. 


Martin says DEEP will allow the resulting open space to grow naturally over the next decade.  During the tree removal process, some part of the park may be closed to protect visitors.  Signs will be posted at the park entrance when the work will be done. 


Martin says it's not wise to keep standing dead trees amongst where people will be recreating, so on occasion DEEP will preemptively remove trees at a minimal cost.


Martin says landowners who have ash trees and think they are being destroyed by this pest, should seek advice from a licensed arborist or professional forester certified through DEEP before cutting them down.  When entering into contract, Martin urged homeowners to have assurances and documentation in place so expectations are met about what's being cut down and that it's done safely.

Danbury examines spending $50k for statue recognizing City's hatting history

There have been some delays in moving forward a project recognizing Danbury's hatting past.  A monument has been designed showing a hatter and his tools, but no location has been determined, and the price tag is estimated at between $125,000 and $140,000. 



A $50,000 grant has been promised by a bank in Danbury, but requires matching city funds.  The remaining cost would be covered through a fundraising campaign. 


An ad hoc committee of the City Council will study the request.


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


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


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

NTSB releases preliminary report on North Salem plane crash

A preliminary accident report has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board about the plane crash in North Salem that killed two people on board a small aircraft bound for Danbury Municipal Airport.  The preliminary report says the flight made a stop after taking off from Mississippi, eventually departing a small airport in West Virginia on November 19th. 


The plane was descending, but then climbed and headed westbound away from the airport before disappearing off radar.  Debris from the small airplane has been retrieved from a North Salem reservoir.  A New York City Department of Environmental Protection spokesman says divers and helicopters spotted the plane's debris in the Titicus Reservoir, though not all of the aircraft has been recovered.


The NTSB preliminary report says the airplane will be placed in a secure facility for further examination once it is recovered from the water.  Visibility was about 1.25-miles, and there was light rain and mist at the time of the accident.


Eric Horsa of Ridgefield identified the pilot as his father, Val Horsa, of South Salem.  Horsa said his father and stepmother, Taew, were on board.  The couple owned Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Danbury.


The pilot had slightly under 2,000 hours total air time. 


Friends will be received on Wednesday, December 9 from 4pm to 8pm at Kane Funeral Home on Catoonah Street in Ridgefield. Funeral services and interment will be held at a later date.

Newtown officials sworn in to office in weekend ceremony

Newtown officials have been sworn in to new terms in office.  A ceremony was held Sunday at Edmond Town Hall.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, presided over the swearing in ceremony.  Among those taking the oath of office were the Legislative Council, the Police Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Boards of Finance, Education, Selectmen and Assessment Appeals.  First Selectman Pat Llodra also was sworn in for a new term, which started today.  She ran unopposed last month for a 4th term.

Resiliency Center of Newtown announces events for 12-14

Ahead of the third anniversary of 12/14, The Resiliency Center of Newtown has announced a series of events scheduled for Monday December 14th.  The non-profit was founded by a community member and offers long-term healing to anyone impacted by the events of 12/14, providing the resources so that every individual reaches their full potential.  The Newtown Bee reports that there will be healing mediation, terrarium building, chocolate making and a therapy dog on hand on December 14th.  Crisis counseling will also be available.

Danbury Mayor, City Council sworn in for new terms in office

A swearing in ceremony has been held in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton was sworn in to an unprecedented 8th term leading the City.  The City Council was also sworn in for another term.  All incumbents won reelection last month.  Two people have retired from public service and two new members elected in November were sworn in Monday night to replace them.


Boughton called Peter Nero professional and friendly, saying that Nero cared about not just one issue but everything effecting the City.


Boughton says Mike Haddad was an active member of Danbury Youth Baseball, and helped build a first class field at Rogers Park.  Haddad is moving out of state, but promised to come back during baseball season to help out.


The two new members of the City Council replacing Nero and Haddad are John Esposito and Michael Esposito.

Public Hearing on proposed Bethel Police Station

A Public Hearing is being held in Bethel tonight about funding for a proposed police station.  The Bethel Board of Selectmen will take public comment on the $13.49 million dollar bond proposal.  The Police Station is proposed for the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road. 


Voters rejected a $14.1 million dollar project during a December referendum and the plan was slightly scaled back.


The cuts mostly come from changes in material for the building, and a smaller parking lot.  The proposal is still for a 24,000 square foot building.  An option to further lower the price tag of the project would be to not include a shooting range, which could save $600,000.  But several people at the meeting spoke against that cut. 


Tonight's public hearing is at 7pm in the Municipal Center General Purpose Room. 


On December 8, a formal Town Meeting will be held.  A vote will be taken then to move the item to a machine vote.  The referendum will be recommended for December 17.


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