Local Headlines Archives for 2016-05

APNewsBreak: License plate scanners nab thousands of drivers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The number of motorists pulled over by Connecticut State Police through the use of license plate scanners has skyrocketed in the past few years.

 

The high-tech cameras mounted on some cruisers can scan as many as 1,800 license plates a minute and instantly run them through databases.

 

Troopers stopped 383 drivers in 2013 from June to December, the first months the cameras were in use, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. Stops based on the scanners hit nearly 1,600 in 2014, then ballooned to nearly 6,800 last year. Troopers have stopped nearly 2,400 drivers so far this year after getting "hits" from the readers.

 

State police now have the cameras, officially known as license plate readers, or LPRs, mounted on 20 of the 400 cruisers assigned to patrol. The devices receive information about wanted people, missing people, stolen vehicles, unregistered vehicles and other violations from Department of Motor Vehicles and police databases, and they instantly alert troopers.

 

"Not only do LPRs allow troopers to monitor a higher volume of traffic for vehicles involved in incidents as serious as Amber Alerts, stolen cars and wanted persons, it allows them to do so in a safer and more efficient manner," said Col. Alaric Fox, the state police commander.

 

Like many other departments, however, state police do not fully track the outcomes of the traffic stops initiated by license plate readers.

 

State police records show only 35 arrests in 2014, 43 arrests last year and 25 arrests so far this year based on the readers. Officials say the real arrest numbers are probably much higher because troopers apparently don't always check boxes on reports indicating whether readers prompted traffic stops. There are no details on what the arrests were for, except for a few cases noted in police news releases.

 

On May 14, a trooper's license plate reader identified a car stolen from Colorado being driven on Interstate 84 in Danbury. The trooper arrested the driver for motor vehicle theft and drug possession. In January, a trooper's license plate reader detected a stolen car on Route 39 near the Danbury-New Fairfield line. Two men were arrested after leading the trooper on a chase and colliding with a parked car.

 

Police departments across the country are using the scanners, including many municipal departments in Connecticut. Civil liberities advocates say they have privacy concerns and are calling for government regulations, because the information could be used to track people's movements, it could be sold to private companies, and data retention policies vary widely from department to department.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut says state police have a model policy with short data retention period - 90 days, with an exception for license plates linked to crimes.

 

"There's a place for it, but there's not a need to keep this data for an extended period," said David McGuire, the state ACLU's legislative and policy director.

 

McGuire said he believes most drivers in the state have had their license plates scanned by state and local police. After a 2012 public records request, he said he found his name four times in a database kept by 10 departments in the Hartford area. The database included more than 3 million license plate scans.

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Connecticut town requests that Navy names ship after it

REDDING, Conn. (AP) - Officials have requested that the U.S. Navy name a new ship after a small Connecticut town with an estimated population of 9,000 residents.

The pitch for the request is to honor the Fairfield County town of Redding as it celebrates its 250th anniversary next year.

Redding Historical Society President Joe Bonomo thought of the idea after he saw a document presented to Congress on the ship-naming program.

Bonomo says he figured that the distinction would be a nice way to honor the town given its history in the Revolutionary War, even if the request is a longshot.

Expeditionary Fast Transport ships and Littoral Combat Ships are the two main types of ships that the Navy names after small American cities.

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WCSU to name Visual and Performing Arts Center lobby for Branson Ultrasonics

Western Connecticut State University is recognizing a local company for their long-standing commitment to the university.  The Visual and Performing Arts Center's lobby will be called the Branson Lobby, named for Branson Ultrasonics Corp., a business of Emerson, and its employees. 

 

When the Center was in the planning stages in 2003, Branson made a substantial financial commitment to the project. 

 

The 130,000-square-foot center opened in August of 2014 with three distinct wings.  Theatre Arts, Music and Visual Arts all connect in the newly named Branson Lobby.  The facility has been ranked No. 9 on a list of the 25 Most Amazing Campus Arts Centers in the country, complementing another survey that lists Western's Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts program as one of the 10 best in the nation.

A ceremony will be held on June 3rd at 4 pm at the facility on the Westside campus. The unveiling of the naming plaque by University President John Clark and Branson President Joe Dillon will be followed by a reception.   Clark said involvement by corporations and the people who live in the community sustains the university and its students.

 

Among Branson Ultrasonics' other contributions to WCSU are its support of student scholarships and a program that will result in student artwork permanently displayed in the company's Danbury headquarters.

 

Dillon said in a statement that a lot of the welding technology Branson creates is focused on the challenge of bringing disparate pieces together into a strong and unified whole.  He notes that the lobby not only connects the pieces of the center, but also brings together diverse people from the community - artists, musicians, students, instructors and audiences - to learn, to enjoy and to be challenged and enlightened.

 

Branson is marking its 70th year in business.

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Ridgefield officials break down costs, revenue of former Schlumberger site

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has been presented with an update from the Schlumberger Citizens Committee about what they propose for the remaining 30 acres of land purchased by the town in 2012 for $7 million.

 

15 of the acres were sold to two developers.  A 10 acre parcel was sold for $4.3 million for housing, and five acres on Old Quarry Road was sold for $1.5 million.

 

If no other revenue is raised from the site by selling buildings or acreage, Ridgefield will be left to bond about $1.6 million.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says big picture, that's a small price to pay for control of 45 acres in the center of the community.

 

He notes that the town is anticipating about $400,000 or $500,000 in a revenue increase as a result of the 54 units Coach Homes being constructed.  The age restricted housing off Sunset Lane is being built by Charter Group Partners.  The land used to serve as a parking lot for the Schlumberger facility.  Marconi says the town is hoping for a development on the five acre parcel that would generate revenue close to that.

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Danbury, Ridgefield, Easton Memorial Day parades canceled

The City’s annual Memorial Day observance on Monday began with solemn services at 6:30am at St Joseph Church. 

 

The parade, which was scheduled to start at 9:30 with floats, color guards, and bands, has been canceled.

 

The Ridgefield Memorial Day Parade has been canceled.  Organizers say they regret to have a cancelation, but their greatest concern was for those marching, parade spectators, and the safety of all involved. 

 

The Easton Memorial Day parade has also been canceled.

 

Governor Malloy has directed U-S and Connecticut flags to fly at half-staff until noon today in observation of Memorial Day.

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Brookfield residents advance capital budget to referendum

Brookfield residents have advanced the town's capital budget.  A $2.8 million bond request for town and school improvements detailed in the town's Capital Improvement Program was sent to a referendum Thursday night.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the vote is scheduled for July 19th. 

 

 

$1 million to fund the streetscape improvements in the Four Corners area was approved unanimously.  The town will apply for a $500,000 grant, but matching municipal funds are needed.

 

The project includes building sidewalks, installing streetlights, and creating turn lanes at the intersection of Federal and Station roads.  Town officials are looking into the cost of burying utility lines.  Eversource Energy has not yet provided an estimate to Brookfield on what the cost would be to not have above-ground wires.

 

The Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant requires $250,000 in local dollars.  A second STEAP grant of $500,000 was also awarded to Brookfield.  Nearly $800,000 from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program could be bolstered by $95,000 in additional LOCIP funding.

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Greater Danbury area towns mark Memorial Day

REDDING

Parade Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. rain or shine.


As in past years, formation will take place at the Redding Elementary School Memorial Auditorium, beginning at 11:30am. The ceremony will begin promptly at 12:00 Noon with parade step-off at 12:15pm. The parade will proceed to the Redding Green, for flag-raising and flower-placing ceremonies at the Memorial Stone and festivities should conclude by 1pm.

 

BROOKFIELD

The Strawberry Festival hosted by the Brookfield Historical Society will take place on Sunday, between 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. The festival is located outside the Brookfield Museum at the intersection of Routes 25 and 133 in Brookfield Center.

 

The parade starts around 1pm and ends near the museum parking lot where strawberry shortcake and soft drinks will be sold to support future public programs of the Society.  A ceremony will take place at the park at 2pm.

 

In the Museum, the sixth annual Brookfield War Memorial exhibit will be open to the public.  It is a moving display, which honors 44 former Brookfield residents who gave their lives while in the military, in service to the United States. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

 

MONROE

The parade will take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. Marchers will line up at Lower Elm Street and Route 111 and the parade will proceed to the New War Memorial located on the Town Hall Green where the memorial ceremony will be conducted.  There is no rain date for the parade. In case of rain, the Town of Monroe will still hold the memorial ceremony on Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m. in the Monroe Town Hall Council Chambers, 7 Fan Hill Road Monroe.

 

DANBURY

The City’s annual Memorial Day observance on Monday will begin with solemn services at 6:30am at St Joseph Church.  There are wreath laying ceremonies at 12 monuments around the City.  The parade starts at 9:30 and marches along Main Street with floats, color guards, and bands.  A skydiving display is planned about 10:45 am over the parade viewing stand in Rogers Park.

 

EASTON

The town of Easton and the Charles L. Ruman Post 160 of the American Legion invite all of Easton and the surrounding communities to honor our fallen service men and women at the annual Memorial Day parade on Monday.  The parade begins 9:30 a.m. at the town green across from the Easton Fire Department firehouse, travels down Center Street and ends with a ceremony at the Town Hall.  All local organizations are invited to participate and are asked to assemble at the town green at 9 o’clock.

 

NEW MILFORD

New Milford officials invite everyone in to join in remembering those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This year's ceremony and parade will be held on Monday at 10:00 a.m. in front of the New Milford Library. (In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to the VFW on Avery Road.)  The New Milford Veterans Committee organized this year's program.

 

WESTON
Annual Memorial Day Parade is at 10:45 am Monday.  Line-up will be on School Rd no later than 9:45 am.

 

RIDGEFIELD
The annual Memorial Day festivities will begin Monday with a ceremony at the Veteran's Monument in front of Jesse Lee United Methodist Church at 270 Main Street just before the 11:30 am step off of the parade.  The parade will head north on Main Street, ending in Ballard Park. After the parade, a ceremony will be held in the Ballard Park gazebo honoring the Grand Marshall, Col. Robert Law, and all those who gave their life for their country and our freedom.

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Kindergartener wants to become cop, raises funds to treat DPD to breakfast

A Kindergartener who wants to become a police officer when he gets older wanted to do something nice for Danbury Police Department.  When 5-year old Logan Almeida won a St. Joseph's School prize to be "Principal for the Day", he offered the students to "dress down" from their normal school uniform attire in exchange for a $1 donation to his fundraiser. 

 

The proceeds were going to buy breakfast for the Danbury Police Department.

 

On Friday, Logan, came in the police station Community Room with coffee, bagels and donuts for the department as a token of their appreciation for protecting the students and citizens of Danbury. Logan's class and his teachers will take a tour of the police station.

 

(Photos: Danbury Police)

 

Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio offered the following statement:

 

"On behalf of the Danbury Police Department, we would like to say thank you to Logan and his classmates at St. Joseph's School. Logan's generosity and thoughtfulness will resonate with the officers for a long time. The Danbury Police Department is always looking for highly qualified candidates, and is looking forward to receiving Logan's application in the future."

 

(Pictured: Logan, his sister Ariana, his mom Stephanie and his father Chris)

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Possible use for Philip Johnson building in Ridgefield under consideration

The Schlumberger Citizens Commission has made their recommendation to Ridgefield officials about the future use of 30 acres of town owned land.

 

The recommendation is that the site be turned into a cultural center.  Leasing out the former Schlumberger theater, creating an outdoor amphitheater and possibly turning the former Skydome Building into a warehouse for private collectors are parts of the proposal.

 

The Philip Johnson Building is being looked at by two men from New Canaan who own a modern era furniture distribution company, and have a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania.  They have eight to 10 employees in Connecticut.  The pair live in a Philip Johnson-designed home across from The Glass House, so Marconi says they're excited about the possibility of occupying a building designed by the same renowned architect. 

 

A special meeting has tentatively been scheduled for June 15th between the Board of Selectmen and Commission to discuss the plan in greater detail.

 

One area left unanswered is recovering the full investment made by the town for the property.  Ridgefield is about $1.5 million shy of getting back the $7 million purchase price.  Raising revenue from the site was one of the major sentiments that came out of public hearings on what residents wanted to see happen with the 45 acres.

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Danbury High School senior a finalist in The Atlantic and College Board contest

The Atlantic and College Board has named the winners of their 2nd annual writing contest recognizing the best high school essay writers.  This year, students were asked to analyze and interpret a meaningful work of art and understand the importance of revision. 

 

More than 2,000 entries were received about more than 700 different works of art from students in 43 different countries.  24 composition and art-history professors scored the essays, and then a smaller panel of representatives from The Atlantic and College Board picked the top three.

 

One of the finalists was Rahul Malayppan, a senior at Danbury High School, who plans to go to UC Berkeley in the fall. He wrote his essay on M.C. Escher’s Waterfall. As a finalist, Rahul will get a $2,500 prize and have his essay published on the College Board website in September.

 

Rahul received one-on-one editing guidance from The Atlantic's magazine editors.  Editors worked through their argument, gave coaching, guidance and feedback, and then students submitted revisions for final judging.

 

Rahul, along with the winner and another finalist are in Washington, DC this month for The Atlantic's Education Summit.

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Danbury School District to receive state bond money

The state Bond Commission has approved funding for school improvement projects at Alliance District Schools.  Danbury will receive $1.7 million in funding for general improvements. 

 

The building projects can include energy efficiency improvements to lighting, windows, doors, boilers, and heating and ventilation systems.  Other projects include upgrades to communications/technology systems various equipment, and installation or upgrade of security equipment.  Repairs to lockers, floors, ceilings, restrooms, entryways, driveways, parking areas, play areas, athletic fields, and roofs would also be funded.

 

 

Retiring state Representative Jan Giegler says making smart investments to the infrastructure will provide students with the best possible environment to study and learn and increases community value.

 

Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey says securing this money was the result of a collaborative effort to make sure Danbury students’ needs are being met.

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Lawmaker calls for police presence at Squantz Pond Memorial Day Weekend

A local lawmaker says State Police Troopers are not scheduled to police Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield this Memorial Day Weekend.  State Senator Mike McLachlan has written to State Police at the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection saying that if this is true, it's unacceptable. 

 

With the unofficial start of the summer season, it's one of the busiest times at Squantz Pond and can fill to capacity very quickly. 

 

McLachlan says State Police need to ensure the safety of all beach goers and swimmers.  If there is no law enforcement present, McLachlan says the park should be closed.  If the park remains open with none, he says the local 911 system will be clogged whenever there is a security issue.

 

Environmental Conservation Officers will be at the parks and visible this weekend.

 

A few years back, DEEP put more controls on parking to try to control crowds in the wake of several drowning deaths.  When the 250 car limit is reached, visitors are turned away.  DEEP has been working with the town and state to make sure it's handled in an orderly fashion.

 

Spokesman Dennis Schain says their jurisdiction stops at the end of the park, so they aren't in charge of traffic or law and order outside Squantz Pond.  He says State Police have been available to address that in the past, and are aware of this need.

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Power restored to thousands following substation fire

NEW YORK (AP) Power has been restored to nearly all of the customers who were left in the dark following a fire at a substation in upstate New York.

NYSEG says nearly 60,000 people lost power Thursday night.

The bulk of the outages were in Putnam County, where more than 35,000 customers lost power. Another 14,000 customers were without power in Westchester County. Dutchess County had more than 9,000 without power.

The fire broke out at a substation in Carmel, which affected other substations.

A spokesman for the utility says they conducted switching operations to bypass the substations.

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Report: Police departments need mental health programs

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A U.S. Justice Department report prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre urges police chiefs around the country to put mental health programs in place in to help officers cope with on-the-job trauma, including the aftermath of mass shootings.

 

The report, offered as a best practices guide, was prepared with help from officials including retired Newtown police chief Michael Kehoe, who led the response to the 2012 school shooting and worried over the following weeks that some of his officers might kill themselves.

 

Most police departments train to respond to mass shootings, but few prepare officers for the psychological fallout, says the report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

 

The 140-page report emphasizes how to prepare for mass shootings, but it says taking steps such as choosing trusted mental health service providers, creating peer support programs, and designating mental health incident commanders also will help officers cope with more common events such as car crashes, suicides and domestic violence.

 

Law enforcement experts say it has been a struggle to create conditions in which officers feel comfortable coming forward for help.

 

"Are we there yet? No. That's why this report is so significant because it raises awareness," said Jim Baker, director of advocacy for the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Kehoe wrote in the report that many chiefs are unaware of the impact that mass casualty events will have on their communities and officers. In Newtown, a gunman fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators inside Sandy Hook Elementary before killing himself as police arrived on Dec. 14, 2012.

 

Kehoe's wife, Lori Kehoe, a former hospice nurse, said that a few weeks after the school shooting, her normally cool, calm and collected husband became unnerved worrying that some of his officers would kill themselves, which didn't happen.

 

The suicide rate for police officers is higher than the general public's, according to The Badge of Life, a group of current and retired officers working to prevent police suicides. Studies show there are about 125 to 150 officer suicides a year and more than 200,000 officers are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or some other form of emotional stress, the group says.

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Bethel Police Station architect, construction manager selected

The bid process for the planned Bethel Police Station is complete, an architect and construction manager have been hired.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the companies are mobilized and ready to go as soon as the contracts are signed.  As soon as the Town Attorney signs off on the contract, in a week or so, other town officials will be able to sign it.

 

The first phase is engineering drawings, which the town expects to start soon. 

 

Bethel officials proposed the new police station in 2004, but then the project sat dormant until 2013.  Knickerbocker says this has been a long haul to get the plans off the drawing board and toward reality.

 

It's anticipated that an 18 month construction process will be needed from ground breaking to completion.  Bethel is aiming for a ribbon cutting in the Spring of 2018.

 

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.  

 

The $13.49 million project for the corner of Judd Avenue and Dodgingtown Road went through some changes after an initial vote last year failed.  Material for the building, and a smaller parking lot are among the changes in the final plan.  The land is not in the educational park, and was set aside decades ago for future town use

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.

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Newtown officials outline small reductions made to municipal budget

Before the Newtown budget was sent to residents for a vote in April, the Legislative Council cut the municipal spending plan for the coming fiscal year by approximately $100,000.  They identified $40,000 in cuts, but then left the balance up to the First Selectman and Finance Director. 

 

During a Board of Selectmen meeting this month, the cuts were outlined.  First Selectman Pat Llodra says there were 20 small reductions made across the board to come up with the $61,000 cut needed. 

 

Selectman Herb Rosenthal, a former First Selectman, said by not detailing the cuts themselves, the Legislative Council violated the town's Charter.  Llodra said it was a process issues, but that the intent was likely respectful.  She then asked all department heads to identify areas where there could be savings so that something that's more burdensome was not imposed.

 

Among the reductions are small amounts from the town clerk, emergency management, library, health district and other line items.  The largest reduction was $15,000 taken from the town repair and maintenance services budget.  A $3,000 reduction from the Fire Commission came from savings in heating oil costs.

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Special Town Meeting in Brookfield about 4 Corners funding

There is a special town meeting in Brookfield tonight.  Residents are being called on to attend and vote on appropriating $1 million to fund the streetscape improvements in the Four Corners area.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the town wants to apply for a $500,000 grant, but matching municipal funds are needed, bringing the request to $1 million.

 

The project includes building sidewalks, installing streetlights, and creating turn lanes at the intersection of Federal and Station roads.  Town officials are looking into the cost of burying utility lines.  Eversource Energy has not yet provided an estimate to Brookfield on what the cost would be to not have above-ground wires.

 

The Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant requires $250,000 in local dollars.  A second STEAP grant of $500,000 was also awarded to Brookfield.  Nearly $800,000 from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program could be bolstered by $95,000 in additional LOCIP funding.

 

Residents can also discuss a $2.8 million dollar bond request for town and school improvements detailed in the town's Capital Improvement Program.  Dunn says they are looking to send that resolution to a referendum vote on July 19th. 

 

Tonight's special town meeting is at 5pm at Brookfield Town Hall.

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DOT plans projects on Route 53, I-84

A couple of construction projects are planned by the state Department of Transportation. 

 

Route 53 in Redding will be closed for a bridge replacement project starting in mid-June.  Route 53 will be closed at Umpawaug Road from June 13th through the end of August. 

 

The DOT is also developing plans for lighting replacement along Route 7 in Danbury and Brookfield as well as Interstate-84 in Danbury and Bethel.  The project involves replacement of existing light poles, foundations, and underground circuitry.  The project is aimed at improving the operation and reduce the maintenance requirements of the roadway lighting systems.  Final design plans are expected to be completed by October. 

 

Federal funding will pay for 80-percent of the project.

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Early work on Plumtrees Road bridge replacement ahead of schedule

Work is moving quickly in Bethel on the Plumtrees Road bridge replacement, now that it’s underway.  The $2.4 million project is being paid for mainly with federal funding.  The busy and narrow intersection is being turned into an “x” shape where it meets Walnut Hill Road and Whittlesey Drive.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says dedicated right and left turn arrows to help move traffic along.

 

Brush and tree cutting started in March and ground was broken last month.  The current bridge will remain open during construction because a bypass is being built.  The north bridge abutment and culvert system is currently under construction, part of a temporary bypass so that later in the summer the old bridge can be demolished and replaced.  There have been no weather delays so Knickerbocker says the work is a little ahead of schedule.  But he says it’s early in the process and they can’t count on it staying that way.

 

Plans call for adding sidewalks to Plumtrees Road for students who walk to the Educational Park. 

 

A number of state and federal agencies had to weigh in on the design plans because of ecological concerns in the area, which added significant time to the planned redesign.  The box turtle, which has delayed several other road projects in the region, meant that Bethel had to change the slope of the design. 

 

When the bridge replacement is finished, Knickerbocker says the realigned intersection will be less congested, safer for pedestrian crossings and wide enough for trucks and school buses to make turns without taking up both lanes.

 

The project is slated for completion in October 2017.

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Local lawmakers propose alternative to 'Motor Voter' agreement

The Secretary of the State came under fire last week from a local lawmaker over an agreement with the Department of Motor Vehicles to streamline the state’s motor-voter registration system, even though a similar bill was not voted on by the legislature this session.  State Senators are now proposing an alternate plan.  But Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says the functions set out in the Memorandum Of Understanding are administrative.

 

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires the DMV to give people the opportunity to register to vote simultaneously when they carry out a transaction with the agency. The state is also required to send the voter registration to the appropriate official at the local level.  The federal government monitors compliance and Connecticut’s DMV has ranked near the bottom.

 

To comply with federal motor voter laws, Senate Republicans proposed an alternate plan to 'automatic motor-voter' registration, which they say will not add burdens on the DMV.  They are instead suggesting that the DMV and Secretary of the State work together to enforce the current motor voter registration system with new protocols.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says the DMV is required to offer a voter registration form to everyone and send these forms to town registrars, but this does not always happen. He says often times the applications get filled out and sit in a bin at the DMV instead of getting mailed to the town registrar.

 

They are calling for the DMV to mail all completed voter registration applications to the Secretary of the State’s office directly. The Secretary’s office could then input the information into the Secretary’s online system, which will remove the burden from the DMV.  They say this puts the onus on the Secretary of the State’s Office, which is the more appropriate agency to manage compliance with national motor voter laws.

 

Merrill argued that the paper option would increase wait times at the DMV and cost the public more money for printing, postage and labor. 

 

Merrill said in a written statement that it is important that everyone understand the facts before reacting prematurely to a proposal that will modernize voter registration but is still two years away from being operational.  She also issued a FAQ sheet about motor-voter registration.

 

Merrill says the U.S. Department of Justice recently threatened a lawsuit to improve performance.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the DMV cannot even handle its own job currently.  At a time when their computer system is unfinished and the state’s budget is already strapped, Boucher said more technical burdens is not a smart move.  Boucher says there are ways to comply with the law and encourage voter registration utilizing available resources and not spending millions of dollars and years working on a new system that is likely to cause more problems.

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New Police Chief appointment named by Danbury Mayor

A new Police Chief has been appointed in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton has selected Stratford Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour to take over for the retiring Danbury Chief Al Baker.  Ridenhour is a 28-year law enforcement veteran.  He started with the Waterbury Police Department before being hired as Deputy Chief in Stratford, where he was eventually promoted to Chief in 2012. 

 

Boughton says Chief Ridenhour has worked successfully to improve labor relations, increase staffing, rotate assignments, increase leadership training for supervisors, expand the department’s use of technology, and most importantly, increase police outreach to the community.

 

Boughton says Ridenhour shined throughout the rigorous hiring process.  He continued the announcement by saying it's his firm belief that as Chief Ridenhour takes the helm of one of the best departments in the country, Danbury will benefit from out-of-the-box thinking and continued great service from Danbury's finest.

 

The Mayor’s appointment is subject to City Council approval.

 

Chief Ridenhour holds a Certificate in Criminal Justice Education from the University of Virginia, a Bachelor’s Degree from Charter Oak State College, and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College.  A graduate of both the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar (LEEDS) in Quantico, VA, he currently serves as the CPCA representative to the State of Connecticut’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (REDCJS), and is also an Executive Board member of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).

 

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the next Chief of the Danbury Police Department. I would like to thank Mayor Boughton for this tremendous opportunity to serve such a growing and diverse community. I look forward to working with the mayor, the men and women of this great department, and the entire Danbury community,” said Ridenhour.

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New Milford residents reject Board of Ed budget, approve municipal spending plan

New Milford voters will have to cast ballots a second time for a budget for the coming fiscal year.  There was low voter turnout yesterday, and the Board of Education portion of the spending plan was rejected by 18 votes.  Even though the municipal budget was approved, both have to be voted on again.  The Town Council will have to meet to discuss revisions. 

 

The proposal voted on yesterday included $62.2 million for the Board of Education, a $1 million increase over the current year. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach proposed a municipal budget with no spending increase, but the Board of Finance added $448,000, bringing the proposal to 36-point-6 million.  The state budget ended up sending about $500,000 less to New Milford than projected. 

 

The municipal budget, and $1.6 million for capital projects, gained approval by an approximate 200 vote margin.

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Black bear found dead in Roxbury had been shot

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Environmental officials in Connecticut have determined that a black bear found dead last week in Roxbury had been shot.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Tuesday its investigation revealed that the bear's carcass was likely dumped on the Roxbury Land Trust property. A necropsy confirmed the male adult bear was shot.

The bear was found adjacent to Upper County Road at about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The DEEP says it is still trying to determine where the bear was shot and by whom.

In Connecticut, black bears are protected species, and bear hunting is illegal. Officials say a bear can only be killed if it's acting in a threatening manner or poses harm to a person.

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Schlumberger Citizens Committee to present recommendations to Ridgefield officials

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is getting an update tonight from the Schlumberger Citizens Committee about what they proposed for the remaining 30 acres of land purchased by the town several years ago.  15 of the acres were sold to two developers for housing developments.  The group has been working for months to come up with viable ideas. 

 

More than 1,400 people responded to the online survey.  A majority of respondents said they want to keep the property as open space or to increase cultural offerings.  The recommendation is that the site be turned into a cultural center with an outdoor amphitheater, leasing out the former Schlumberger theater and converting the Philip Johnson building into a museum.  The former Skydome Building could be used as a warehouse for private collectors.

 

Concerns for the site included traffic. Many of the comments suggested the housing is not a desirable use for the rest of the site.

 

The survey then came up with specific uses within general topics. When asked about Active Open Space, athletic fields was tops. Walking trails garnered the highest response for Passive Open Space while an outdoor stage was the preferred Civic and Cultural use. If there were to be commercial development, nearly half said it should be niche retail. Single family housing earned the highest support if the property would be developed for housing.

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City Council committee recommends Richter Park cell tower approval

A committee of the Danbury City Council has reviewed a tentative lease agreement between the Richter Park Authority and Bay Communication to place a cell tower on their 180-acre property. The Richter Park Authority wants to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan.

 

The Richter Park Authority is submitting three locations to the Connecticut Siting Council, with a preference of the lot located by the maintenance area.  The City Planning Director had some questions, but didn't see anything in the agreement that looks to be standing in the way of approval on the City's end.

 

The proposed lease is for 30 years--a 10 year license with options to renew.

 

The proposal for the monopole structure has an estimated height of 150 feet.  It would not be disguised as a tree, and would look like a pole.  Typically lighting is not needed, unless the pole is over 199 feet.

 

If the entire City Council advances the agreement, there will need to be a public hearing and approval by the Connecticut Siting Council.  The Connecticut Siting Council also needs to approve the lease.

 

The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range. Richter House also needs a new roof and other maintenance work. The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed.

 

In making the case for approval, Mayor Mark Boughton previously noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding. He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue. But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.

 

Members of the Authority say Danbury hasn't given money to Richter Park since 1986, with the exception of a loan.  Richter had a loan with an interest rate from a bank of over 5%, and is now instead paying the City 2% interest.  The other exception was capital improvement money to fix the roof.

 

The granddaughter of the woman who donated the land to the City in 1968 has granted a partial waiver on the deed restrictions imposed on the City to allow for construction of a cell tower. The deed restricted use of the property to recreational purposes only.

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Bethel Democrat to seek state office in different district

A Bethel Democrat will be running for state Representative in the 107th District, following a failed bid at his party's nomination in the 2nd District.  26-year old Thomas Burke lost the nomination to 24-year old Raghib Allie-Brennan. 

 

Burke's parents have a house in the 2nd District, which covers part of Bethel, Redding, Danbury and Newtown.  The 107th District includes Brookfield and the Stony Hill section of Bethel.  Burke says he plans to move to the district this summer, and that his family has a home on Wooster Street.  He is currently studying at Yale University and living on campus. 

 

The Marine veteran says instead of dividing the party by forcing a Democratic primary in the 2nd state house District, he was offered the chance to run for the 107th.  He will challenge 1st term Republican Stephen Harding, a 28-year old attorney. 

 

Even though Burke received enough support during the nominating caucus to automatically qualify for a primary, there was a question on if he was eligible to be a candidate.  Burke recently switched his party affiliation and there is state statute dictating time frames for eligibility.

 

Allie-Brennan will be running against Republican Will Duff for the open seat being vacated by Dan Carter, who is challenging U-S Senator Richard Blumenthal.

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More progress seen at site of new Sandy Hook School

New photos show progress on the construction of the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown. 

 

 

Site walls and sidewalks are being installed, wood siding has been put up and a glass installation is in place.  Finishes were being installed in the gym, kitchen and various other locations in the building. 

 

 

 

More exterior work is also coming together.  The building will have one long so-called main street corridor. There will be three wings off of it for different grade level classrooms. 

 

 

 

 

 

The facility is slated to open in time for the start of the new school year in the fall.  Consigli Construction broke ground in October for the new 87,000 square-foot Sandy Hook School.

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Ridgefield, Lewisboro Police team up for enforcement campaign

A so-called Border to Border Buckle Up detail has been conducted along Route 35.  The Ridgefield and Lewisboro Police Departments patrolled the area yesterday, the first day of a Buckle Up campaign. 

 

As a result of the enforcement efforts, 47 Uniform Traffic Tickets were issued, including 12 for not wearing a seat belt, 9 operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone, and 26 other Vehicle and Traffic Law violations. 

 

Two Unlawful Possession of Marijuana arrests were made during the detail as well.

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Clean Start Program launched in Danbury

The Clean Start Program has begun in Danbury.  It's an initiative that was proposed by Mayor Mark Boughton in December as a way to put homeless people to work for the City.  The program provides homeless people with gift cards for supervised litter collection. 

 

Danbury has teamed up with Jericho Partnership for the effort. 

 

Boughton says the participants in the program are working to make themselves better and be on track to re-enter the workforce.  He notes that if someone excels in the program, and received the right kinds of services, they could be moved into a paying job like a part-time recreation maintenance worker.  Boughton hopes by cleaning up the city, participants will also clean up their lives. 

 

Homeless people who volunteer in the program are given mentoring and paid with a $35 gift card after each half-day shift.  As long as they want to show up in the morning, Boughton says the City will find a way to keep them employed so they can pull themselves out of despair and give them dignity again. 

 

In the latest Point in Time Count, chronic homelessness in Danbury had dropped 30-percent from the year before.  Chronic homelessness among veterans in Danbury has been completely eliminated.

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New Milford Democrats nominate Board of Ed chair for state Senate

A number of Greater Danbury area state lawmakers are retiring leaving open races in November.  Among them is Republican Clark Chapin of New Milford who has decided not to seek re-election in the 30th Senate District.  The district includes New Milford, Brookfield, Kent, Canaan, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Cornwall, Morris, Warren, Goshen and Litchfield, as well as part of Torrington, Winchester and Lakeville.

 

Litchfield Republican state Representative Craig Miner is seeking the position.  Democrat David Lawson has been nominated by the Democrats at their caucus Monday night. 

 

Lawson, a high school teacher, is chairman of the New Milford Board of Education.  He says there are a number of issues in the northwest corner, and he wants to be their advocate in Hartford. 

 

Lawson cited the economy.  He wants to see vocational technical opportunities expanded.  He also wants to make college affordable, stop unfunded mandates on municipalities and redo the Education Cost Sharing formula.  Protecting waterways and preserving farms were also mentioned as priorities.

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Danbury Republicans nominate candidates for state House positions

With the Connecticut General Assembly in adjournment, now is the time for campaigning to begin for state lawmakers.  Danbury Republicans have nominated candidates for a couple of state House positions.  Danbury's 109th and 110th Districts are currently represented by Democrats, David Arconti and Bob Godfrey respectively.  They will be challenged by Veasna Roeun and Emanuela Palmares. 

 

State Senator Mike McLachlan is seeking reelection.  Danbury Democrats last night also nominated Ken Gucker to challenge McLachlan for state Senate.

 

Michael Ferguson previously announced his candidacy for the 138th District.  It's an open seat with incumbent Republican Jan Giegler having been elected as Danbury Town Clerk. 

 

Registrar of Voters and Justices of the Peace were also nominated.

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Danbury GOP to nominate candidates for 109th, 110th state House districts

Danbury Republicans will be nominating candidates tonight for the November election.  Among the positions is the 110th District, currently held by Democrat Bob Godfrey.  Republican Emanuela Palmares is looking to unseat the 14-term Deputy House Leader.  Republicans will also nominate a candidate for the 109th District, Registrar of Voters and Justices of the Peace.  The nomination caucus will be held at 7 o'clock tonight at Danbury City Hall in Council Chambers.

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Police plan 2-week 'buckle up' enforcement campaign

Redding Police and other law enforcement agencies are launching their annual ``buckle up'' campaign.  State troopers, will be joining local law enforcement officers to make sure motorists are using their seatbelts as the summer travel season gears up.

The two-week, zero-tolerance enforcement campaign starts today and lasts through June 5th.  Redding Police will be looking for drivers and passengers who aren't buckled in properly. 

 

Chief Douglas Fuchs says belt use rate in Redding has gone down, according to state researchers who have been tasked to make those observations.  Fuchs says it's such an easy way to help prevent injuries and save lives.

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Lawmaker critical of agreement between DMV, Secretary of the State

A local lawmaker has issued a scathing letter to the Secretary of the State over an agreement that could lead to automatic voter registration by August 2018.

 

Eligible citizens in Connecticut will eventually be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles for license or state-issued identification services.  Officials from the DMV and the Secretary of the State's Office announced last week that they reached an agreement, but that a plan still must be developed.

 

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says Connecticut is the first state to introduce automatic voter registration through this type of agreement, saying it will enhance voting rights and opportunity.  Merrill had pushed for similar legislation this year in the General Assembly but it ultimately did not pass.

 

New Fairfield state Representative Richard Smith, a ranking member of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, says he was surprised to read that a Memorandum of Agreement had been entered into between the Secretary of the State and the DMV.  He says that was in direct defiance of the action of the Legislature.  He said surprise is a gross understatement. 

 

Naturally people are frustrated with the DMV, and steps are being taken to ease wait times and other issues.  But Smith says to add more work right now seems to be ludicrous.  Smith says he is not in favor of the Agreement, nor a unilateral action. 

 

He said in a letter to Merrill:

 

"I am not sure what makes you feel you are above the protocol of the legislative process.  If you are allowed to act at your own whim without oversight and approval by the Legislature, why have the Committee process at all."

 

Smith called for a copy of the Agreement for review and comment, along with how much it would cost to implement the system.

 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities submitted testimony during a public hearing about the bill.  CCM said while the group understands the intent of the proposal, the requirements may become difficult to implement by local registrar of voters. 

 

Currently, the DMV collects voter registration information, however CCM says there hasn't been a reliable mechanism to provide local officials with this information.  In particular, local registrar of voters do not have the technology to implement this type of system.  If implemented, it would likely require new technology to be purchased.  CCM says that could be an added expense on cities and towns.

 

A 1993 federal act, known as the motor-voter law, encourages voter registration at DMVs.

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Final interviews held for Danbury Police Chief candidates

The final four police chief candidates in Danbury were interviewed on Thursday.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the selection of a new chief will be made over the coming days.  Five internal candidates and three from outside the Danbury Police Department applied for the job. 

 

Chief Al Baker's retirement was announced at the end of January.  Baker planned to leave June 10th, but Boughton says he has agreed to make himself available for a few weeks after that to help with the transition. 

 

The candidates have just completed a rigorous testing process.  Boughton says it will be a tough decision because there was a strong pool of candidates.  He says they all have strong credentials in law enforcement and are highly qualified. 

 

A new Police Chief will be on the City Council's June agenda for ratification.  The Chief is required to be or become a Danbury resident, living in the City for the duration of their term as Chief. 

 

Boughton says they are looking for a results-oriented administrator who stays calm under pressure and thinks critically and strategically.  Experience in policy review and development including such things as "use of force" and discipline was also on the list of qualifications.  A strong background in labor relations and negotiations was recommended.  The salary is $120,000 to $130, 000 annually, commensurate with experience.

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New York senators continue to question pipeline expansion

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York's U.S. senators are urging the federal government to halt the expansion of a gas pipeline project that runs beside a nuclear power plant.

Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand want the Algonquin pipeline project halted until independent health and safety reviews are completed. The two Democrats say the project poses a threat to the quality of life in the region and doesn't come with any long-term benefit to the communities it would affect.

Both senators are asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to approve any proposal until a thorough, independent review of the project's potential impacts is completed.

The project would nearly double the size of the current natural gas transmission line on a route that travels through Rockland, Putnam and Westchester counties in southeastern New York.

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New Fairfield Education Association calls for School Superintendent resignation

70-percent of New Fairfield public school teachers cast a vote of no confidence in the Superintendent.

 

New Fairfield Education Association President Keith Conway announced the results of last week's vote at Thursday's Board of Education meeting.  160 teachers voted no-confidence against Superintendent Dr. Alicia Roy.  25 teachers voted in favor of Roy, and 42 did not vote.  Conway called for Roy's resignation.  An online petition by parents has 530 signatures, also expressing no-confidence in Roy.

 

Conway says they took such a drastic measure because teachers and parents have been coming to Board meetings for months to talk about specific performance issues, with little to no response from the Board.

 

Conway called Roy tone-deaf.  He said she doesn't have the respect for her staff to come to a faculty meeting to have an open and honest discussion.  The Association stopped meeting with Roy.  He says that's because while she may listen, she doesn't hear.

 

During the Superintendent's report time of the meeting, Roy addressed the crowd.  Roy said the teachers are truly remarkable, which is why this action is so devastating to her personally.

 

She pledged to work harder to regain the trust of the teachers, and said she knows improving their relationship will require increased communication, flexibility and listening on her part.  Roy also said she felt bullied these past few months by people's relentless negativity.

 

One of the items on the Board of Education's agenda was the Superintendent's evaluation.  The Board approved Roy's evaluation, but didn't discuss it.

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WCSU Graduate, Undergraduate commencement ceremonies Sunday

The Western Connecticut State University Class of 2016 will be addressed by two fellow graduates at this year’s commencement exercises.  This is the first year in recent history that the graduating classes will be addressed by a member of their own.  Nicole Mair will address the undergraduate class while Dr Monica Sousa will be the keynote speaker for the graduate class. 

 

Mair, who is graduating with her twin sister, Colleen, played rugby while at Western and was a competitor with the Roger Sherman Debate Society.  Mair will receive a bachelor’s degree in Economics.

 

Sousa, an assistant professor of nursing at Western, will receive a degree in Educational Leadership in Nursing at Sunday’s commencement.  Sousa has taught at Western for the past six years and worked in the healthcare industry for more than a decade.  Sousa also created the Alumni Nursing Society.  The alumni society organizing community activities, networking events and connects with the undergrads.  Sousa started as nursing faculty member at Western six years ago. 

 

Commencement will be held Sunday at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.

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Ridgefield Democrats select candidate for 111th House district race

Ridgefield state Representative John Frey has announced that he will seek a 10th term in office.  The Republican has held the 111th District seat for the past 18 years. 

 

Ridgefield Democrats have nominated Joe Dowdell to challenge the long-term incumbent.  Dowdell is an electrical engineer who has a special interest and expertise in issues surrounding renewable energy.  According to a post on the Ridgefield Dems website, Dowdell wants to improve the ease of voter registration and streamlining the voting process.

 

Dowdell grew up in Minnesota, where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Electrical Engineering.  Dowdell is a volunteer with the Bernie Sanders campaign, and was elected to the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee in 2016.

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Route 7 bridge rehabilitation project planned in Ridgefield

A new bridge rehabilitation project is planned in Ridgefield by the state Department of Transportation.  The bridge on Route 7 just north of Route 102 will be reconstructed.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the work will only be done on weekends, with motorists diverted onto 102, onto 35 and back to 7. 

 

The project is slated to start in June and be completed by the fall.  The DOT says the reason the work is only being done on weekends is so that it doesn't interfere with the Route 35 bridge replacement project. 

 

That work started last fall, but has stalled because of old sewer lines that were found and unstable soil.  The project end date has been pushed back a year to May 2018.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection needs to issue a revised permit for the project, which is expected to start again in the summer. 

 

There will be alternating one lane traffic through the area of Fox Hill Condos when the weekday midday work does re-start.

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Grand opening of Danbury business to benefit Caroline Previdi Foundation

Bounce! Trampoline Sports, a new concept in recreation, fitness and fun, will be celebrating the Grand Opening of its facility in Danbury on Saturday.  Proceeds from the Grand Opening will be donated to the Caroline Previdi Foundation, created in memory of a first grader killed at Sandy Hook School.

 

Lisa and Rob Cannon, of Weston, say Bounce! will offer fitness classes, open jump time, trampoline dodgeball, slam dunk basketball, foam pit jumping, and trampoline training classes taught by qualified instructors. Groups are welcome for fundraising, team building and parties.

 

Caroline's mother, Sandy Previdi, says they were thrilled to be selected as the charity of choice for the grand opening.  Their mission is to make sure that children whose families may not be able to afford to send them for extracurricular activities will be able to get involved, be more social, and participate in physical activities to help them be the best they can be.  She says Bounce! is the ideal partner to move that mission forward.

 

Caroline Previdi's positive and enthusiastic approach to life as well as her concern for others inspired her family and friends to create a Foundation in her honor.  Caroline was an expressive and happy little girl who embraced a wide array of activities like soccer, dance, art, and swim team.  In addition to her activities, she found great joy in helping other children.  It is the goal of the Foundation to provide support to children who lack the financial resources to be involved in extracurricular activities.

 

Some of the innovations at their facility include trampoline Bungee jumps where kids are harnessed in and have a chance to bounce high into the air, dual Bounce! Xtreme Ninja Obstacle Courses with timed challenges, three foam pits in the main jump area, multiple party rooms of all sizes. 

 

A parent lounge includes the ability to watch your favorite TV shows through a cell phone app.  There is also a large lofted area that overlooks the facility and houses tables with 40 charging stations as well as an arcade with state-of-the-art games.

 

Bounce! Trampoline Sports in Danbury will also house an enormous ‘5 and under’ section called Bounce! Jr. This separate area keeps smaller children away from the main court and ensures a less crowded experience for both parents and toddlers. The Bounce! Jr. Zone has its own foam pit and trampoline courts with fun obstacles for the younger set.

 

Bounce is located at 21 Prindle Lane in Danbury.

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Danbury Police host annual awards ceremony, memorial service

Danbury Police held their 32nd annual awards ceremony and memorial service Thursday morning.  A memorial wreath was placed, there was a 21-gun salute followed by the playing of Taps and Amazing Grace.  Awards were then presented by Mayor Mark Boughton, Chief Al Baker and Deputy Chief Shaun McColgan.  The Chief's Achievement Award was presented to Officer Michael Reo.  He was also selected as the Danbury Exchange Club's Officer of the Year for 2016.

 

Members of the Police Department were presented with Exceptional Police Service Awards, Life Saving Medals, Unit Citations and Meritorious Citations for 14 incidents from the past year. 

 

A string of residential burglaries were brought to an abrupt end with the arrest of a suspect in November 2014.  Officers Roger Hancock , Robert Perun and Ted Zalenski were presented with Exceptional Police Service Awards for their patrol work in monitoring the downtown area.  They observed the suspect walk into a pawn shop with a wooden jewelry box and other items.  Detectives Adam Marcus, Paul Carroccio, Ethan Mable and Justin Williams were presented with Unit Citations for investigating the home break in connected to the suspect that night.

 

Officer David Williams was presented with the Exceptional Police Service Award for his patience and professionalism in stopping a man from committing suicide.  Williams responded to a Scuppo Road apartment in April 2015 on a report of a man barricaded in his bedroom and found the man cutting his arm .  Williams pushed the door open, but the man leaned out the window as he threatened to jump.  The Fire Department ladder truck bucket was remotely raised, pushing the window shut.  The man peacefully surrendered after 30 minutes of dialog with Williams.

 

Two officers and a retired Officer were recognized for their restrain and diligence in dealing with a stressful situation involving a man who said that he wanted to die in a "suicide by cop" situation in June 2015.  Officers Bryan Reed and Dayleth Scantling responded to a woman's 911 call that her son took a number of pills while drinking.  The man was found in the driveway holding a knife and a machete.  He also told police there was a gun in his car, and made several movements like he was grabbing for it.  The man said he wanted to talk with retired Officer James Pacific, a family friend.  Pacific arrived and the situation came to an end.  Reed and Scantling were presented with Exceptional Police Service Awards, while Pacific received a Civilian Award.

 

In July, police were called to Sil Cam Drive on a report of the same man fighting with his mother, who didn't know if his two guns were real or not.  With no trained negotiator on scene, Sgt. Matthew Casazza and Officer Alexander Relyea were aided by Officer Rui Fernandes in convincing the man to give up peacefully.  Officer Christine Galgano searched for additional firearms.  When presented with the Exceptional Police Service Awards, officials said that even though the gun ended up being fake, they would have been justified in shooting the man after he pointed it at them at least twice.

 

Officer Andrew Katkocin was presented with a Meritorious Citation for an investigation into a hit and run accident involving a pedestrian on Main Street in June.  The victim came to the police station a few days after being hit, and told Katkocin that his cousin hit him on purpose after previously threatening to hit him with a pipe.  The suspect had a lengthy criminal history, across the country.  An arrest warrant was granted.  Katkocin led a team to serve the warrant, and took the suspect by surprise before he could flee or resist.

 

Unit Citation were presented for an investigation into a stabbing at Kennedy Fried Chicken.  An officer worker DUI enforcement saw a man matching the suspect description and confronted the man by himself.  Other officers arrived and noticed blood on the suspect's shoes.  Their investigation revealed that the victim instigated the fight by punching the suspect, breaking his jaw.  Both were arrested.  Officers Melissa Morrill  and Lance Brevard and Sgt. Matthew Casazza recovered the knife, aided by anonymous information.  Officers Michelle Cattuti, Christine Galgano and Ryan Howley also investigated.

 

Exceptional Police Service Awards were presented to Officers Hector Rodriguez and Travis Weber for racing into a burning home and helping several adults to safety.  One woman said her infant was still inside.  Both raced back in and got the baby out safely.

 

An Exceptional Police Service Award was presented to Sgt. Ethan Mable for helping a woman in cardiac arrest who was unconscious .  Despite his and others efforts, the woman did not survive.

 

Detectives Paul Carroccio and Adam Marcus were investigating burglaries in the downtown area in October.  Detectives Justin Williams and Kevin Zaloski were looking into one particular case.  Officers Robert Perun and Ted Zalenski notified them that they detained a man matching their suspect's description.  The suspect admitted to several burglaries and to severely injuring a parking lot attendant in the process.  Additional suspects were then identified.  The Detectives received Meritorious Citations while the Officers received Unit Citations. 

 

Detective James Lalli was presented with the Life Saving Medal for assisting a 13-year old boy.  A woman called 911 to report that her stepson hanged himself.  Lalli found the boy with a belt around his neck, got the boy down and checked his vital signs.  The boy alter was reported in good condition at Danbury Hospital. 

 

Officer David Williams was also presented with the Life Saving Medal for his role in reviving an unconscious man.  Williams responded to a reported overdose at a Spring Street home and found a woman attempted to perform CPR incorrectly.  He took over, and a doctor later noted that giving chest compressions presumably shocked the victim's body into breathing again.

 

The Life Saving Medal was also presented to Officer Drew Carlson for performing CPR on an unresponsive woman in the basement of a home.  Carlson took over CPR from a man who was on scene, and the woman started breathing.  She regain consciousness and informed EMTs that she had snorted heroin.

 

Officer Ted Zalenski was presented with the Exceptional Police Service Award for an incident with a suicidal man.  In December, officers reported to the home of a man armed with a box cutter who refused to open the door.  The man yelled that he'd rather kill himself than ho back to jail.  Zalenski was familiar with the man, and kicked the door open.  The man had a suicide note in his hand, and Zalenski convinced him to drop the knife.

 

Just this March, two officers entered a dangerous situation without regard for their own safety and saved the life of a man who was attempting to commit suicide.  Officers Gary Bardelli and Matthew Malone were presented with the Life Saving Medal for a well being check.  They heard a motor running in a garage and saw a man slumped over a motorcycle.  They forced the door open and carried the unconscious man outside where he began breathing .  Even after 20 minutes after the incident, the home had very high levels of carbon monoxide and that when the officers entered the garage, the levels would have been life threatening.

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Danbury, New Milford Hospital President resigns

The President of Danbury and New Milford Hospitals has resigned.  Dan DeBarba was also the Executive Vice President of Western Connecticut Health Network.  He will be leaving at the end of the month to join a large health system in New York.  Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr James Murphy said in an email statement that this is a great opportunity matching Dan's experience and talents.  Murphy said that DeBarba played an instrumental role planning for the affiliation with Norwalk Hospital, and led a successful integration in 2014.  DeBarba was CEO of Norwalk Hospital.

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Savings Bank of Danbury appoints new President, CEO

A new President and CEO of Savings Bank of Danbury has been appointed.  Martin Morgado has been with the bank for the past 15 years, and worked in Danbury at another local bank for 25 years.  Morgado was elected on Tuesday as President and CEO.  He says he received a lot of well wishes from employees, the Board of Directors and others in the community.  He says technology is a very important part of what they do, and they try to stay in the forefront of.

 

Hal Wibling became interim President in mid-December when former bank President Kathleen Romagnano resigned and moved on.  He ran the bank for 20 years prior to that, having retired only three years before taking on the interim position.  Wibling has now returned to his role as Chairman, and says he's excited to be retired once again.

 

Wibling says Morgado was a logical choice as the news President and CEO.  He was appointed Chief Operating Officer earlier this year, and Wibling says he performed exceptionally well.

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Possible contested Democratic race in 2nd state House District

There could be a Democratic primary to select a candidate to run for the 2nd District state House seat.  It's an open race because incumbent Republican Dan Carter is running for U-S Senate.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Danbury, Newtown and Redding. 

 

Republicans selected Will Duff Monday night to be their candidate.  Duff is a former Selectman and Board of Education member. 

 

Democrats nominated 24-year old Raghib Allie-Brennan on Monday night, but 26-year old Thomas Burke could force a primary.  Allie-Brennan was a member of the Bethel Inland Wetlands Commission, before interning for Congresswoman Esty.  He also worked on First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker’s re-election campaign. 

 

Burke switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in March and while he gained enough support for an automatic primary, there is a question of when a state statute takes effect.  The primary would be held in August, past the three month period people must wait to participate or vote in a caucus or primary.  But the statute also says that privileges accompanying enrollment in a party can't come before three months from the date of switching affiliation. 

 

There is a question about whether a nomination is a privilege that accompanies party enrollment and if the support Burke received is valid to hold an automatic primary.

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Danbury students launch weather balloons

Danbury students have sent weather balloons into the skies that made it all the way to the Rhode Island border.  100 students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program launched two weather balloons yesterday.  The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math students designed and built two payloads for each of the balloons with sensors that took atmospheric pressure and temperature readings recorded on computer chips. 

 

School officials say the balloons were tracked somewhere along the Connecticut border with Rhode Island, making it further than last year when the balloons became stuck in a tree in Seymour.  The balloons were in flight for about two and a half hours.

 

The launch was done from the field behind Danbury High School. 

 

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Danbury officials approve changes to sewer and water ordinances

Two changes have been approved to water and sewer connection charges in Danbury.  The City Council has approved language clarifying what is charged and what classification each property is.  The properties are classified as residential, commercial, industrial and apartments.  It will bring apartments that are five units or more into the non-residential classification. 

 

According to the assessor's land use code, these multi-family properties are classified as non-residential.  It's been deemed that residential should have a lower residential rate.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter says that's because there's more usage and additional administrative work so they will pay a higher classification rate. 

 

Danbury has 9,500 sewer customers and about two percent of customers properties have to be reclassified.  A recent audit found that 164 customers that have to be reclassified.

 

Public Utilities Superintendent David Day and he had been hoping to present the second change for years.  The other change sets up an administrative process if a rate payer has an issue with the calculation of sewer use charges.  It allows Day, the Director of Finance and the Director of Public Works to look at issue and make administrative decision.  Pinter says the rate payer will continue to have appeal rights.  The administrative decision is not a final decision, but allows for more in-house administrative review not currently in place.

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Danbury Democrats make nominations for state House seats

Nominations were made last night by the Danbury Democratic Town Committee, but what wasn't said loomed over the proceedings.  Chairman Gene Eriquez opened the nominations and left the meeting early last night and plans to issue a statement tonight at the next nomination meeting.  The former Mayor was arrested early Sunday morning on assault and other charges stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his wife. 

 

Eriquez was arraigned Monday in Danbury Superior Court and ordered not to have contact with his wife until at least after his next court date at the end of June. 

 

Nominations were made for the 138th and 2nd House district seats.  Candidates will be nominated tonight for Danbury's other House seats.

 

Jeff Tomchik of Danbury was nominated by the Democrats to run for the 138th District, a position being vacated by Jan Giegler.  She was elected in November as Danbury Town Clerk and will be retiring from the legislature.  Democrats also nominated Raghib Allie-Brennan of Bethel to run for the 2nd District seat.  The other open race in Danbury is a contested one due to the retirement of Republican Dan Carter, who is running for U.S Senate.

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Brookfield residents approve budget, bond remediation project

Brookfield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The $23 million municipal spending plan was approved approximately 1,500 to 800 while the $40.4 million education budget was approved along a similar split. 

 

The budget represents a 2.72 percent tax increase.

 

Residents also authorized $1.9 million in bond money.  It's part of the $3.3 million bond fund discrepancy discovered in December.  The money is for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but apparently never were between 2000 and 2012.

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Democrats, Republicans nominate candidates for 135th state House race

The race has been set for the 135th state House District contest in November.  The position is being vacated by Redding Republican John Shaban, who is running for Congress.  The district also includes Easton and Weston. 

 

Easton First Selectman Adam Dunsby has been nominated by the Republicans to be their candidate.  He is currently serving his second term leading the town.  It's a part time position, and Dunsby says he plans to continue serving locally if elected to Hartford--another part time position. 

 

He will be challenged by Bonnie Troy of Weston.  She is a member of the Green Party, but has been cross endorsed by the Democrats.

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Newtown memorial site rejected by open space advocates

With sweeping views of Newtown's rolling hills, a field at the town's highest point emerged early on as the first choice for planners of a permanent memorial to honor the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Open space advocates, however, objected to construction on the pristine area known as the High Meadow. As more community members have spoken out, the planning commission, which includes parents of the some of the massacre victims, agreed recently to go back and consider other options.

 

It was a setback for the commission whose chairman says he never expected the project would be easy.

 

"We know that we're not going to please everybody," chairman Kyle Lyddy said Tuesday. "This continues to be a very emotional process for commission members, for community members. There is still a long way to go. I would encourage people to be patient with us."

 

The 12-member commission, assembled in October 2013, is tasked with choosing a design and location for the memorial honoring the 20 children and six educators gunned down inside the schoolhouse on Dec. 14, 2012.

 

The plan originally envisioned by the commission had a memorial occupying less than an acre of the 800-acre parcel on the Fairfield Hills campus, which also includes the town government's offices. The views were part of the appeal, Lyddy said, and it fit the commission's criteria as a serene, out of-the-way destination.

 

Critics argued that building a memorial could take away from the beauty of the area, which includes popular walking trails, and violate the town's pledge to maintain the field as open space.

 

"Via a map filed on the Newtown Land Records, the town agreed to perpetually preserve, protect, limit, conserve and maintain the entirety of this property. Read: no development," wrote Ann Astarita, a former chair of the Newtown Conservation Commission, in a January letter to The Newtown Bee.

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, a supporter of the High Meadow site, urged the commission to consider alternatives.

 

"The concern was being expressed, and the volume was becoming greater than was reasonable to continue the pursuit for that area," Llodra said.

 

Lyddy said the original location has not been ruled out but the commission has begun working with the town to find another fitting site where a memorial would bring minimal disruptions.

 

"We're trying to make it work for the community," he said.

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Bethel opens bid process for two infrastructure projects

Bethel is looking for buds for a couple of infrastructure improvement projects. 

 

One is the Hoyts Hill Municipal Pump Station upgrade.  The work involves the demolition of the existing structures, installation of the new equipment and construction of the new electrical building. 

 

The other project is construction and development of two Municipal Water Supply Wells at a Maple Avenue site.  The work involves construction, installation and development of two gravel packed wells, electrical, process equipment and piping upgrades and connection to existing electrical and water distribution system, demolition of existing equipment, piping and excavation, backfill site work and restoration work. 

 

Bids will be accepted through June 16th for both projects.

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DEEP honors Boating Officer who patrols Candlewood Lake

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has recognized  Environmental Conservation Police Officers for their work over the past year.

 

The Boating Officer of the Year Award from DEEP is presented annually to an officer of the Division whose efforts in boating safety and boating safety enforcement are deemed to have contributed significantly to the safety of recreational boaters in Connecticut.

 

Officer Alexander Johnston is a three year veteran of the force. Prior to joining the Division he worked as an Emergency Dispatcher for DEEP, as a seasonal worker for both the Wildlife and Parks Divisions, as a Lake Patrol Officer for the Candlewood Lake Authority, and as a National Parks Service Law Enforcement Ranger on Lake Roosevelt and the Colombia River in the state of Washington.  He was recently appointed to the Division’s Boating Accident Reconstruction Unit.

 

During Connecticut’s 2015 Boating Season, DEEP officials say Officer Johnston displayed outstanding initiative in boating enforcement and led the Division in boating enforcement patrol hours, citations, as well as calls for service in regards to boating activities. He investigated multiple vessel accidents and had three BUI cases during 2015, the most arrests for Boating Under the Influence in the Division.

 

Officer Johnston spent many hours during the season patrolling and protecting on Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in Connecticut.  The lake attracts many tourists from neighboring states.

 

Officer Johnston’s proactive boating enforcement resulted in increased compliance to safety regulations, fewer critical boating incidents during the season, and increased overall public safety.

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Conference committee formed to craft bill addressing opioid addiction epidemic

Two members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation have been appointed to serve on the conference committee charged with crafting legislation to address the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Congressman Joe Courtney were appointed Tuesday by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

 

Last week, the House passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill combining several different initiatives to help prevent and treat addiction to heroin and prescription drugs. The Senate passed its own version of that legislation in March. The conference committee will be charged with combining the House and Senate bills into a single piece of legislation that can be sent to the President.

 

Esty says she wants to help people avoid becoming addicted to drugs in the first place, and to provide municipalities with the resources they need to fight this epidemic.

 

Esty and Courtney both serve on the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.

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State DOT announces repaving project for Lake Ave. in Danbury

Some relief is coming soon for Danbury drivers on a pot-hole riddled road.  Motorists who drive on Lake Avenue have to take it slow because of the number of and size of potholes, particularly by the highway ramps. 

 

The state Department of Transportation has announced their schedule for a milling and paving project in the area.  A nearly two mile stretch of Lake Avenue from just East of the I-84 overpass to Driftway Road will be milled starting on Sunday the 22nd. 

 

The night work will continue for about a week.  No closure will be required during the work from 8pm to 5am during the week. 

 

The paving will begin Sunday June 5th, and is also expected to take a week.

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WCSU announces commencement speakers

The Western Connecticut State University Class of 2016 will be addressed by two fellow graduates at this year’s commencement exercises.  This is the first year in recent history that the graduating classes will be addressed by a member of their own. 

 

Nicole Mair will address the undergraduate class while Dr Monica Sousa will be the keynote speaker for the graduate class.  Sousa, an assistant professor of nursing at Western, will receive a degree in Educational Leadership in Nursing at Sunday’s commencement.  Sousa has taught at Western for the past six years and worked in the healthcare industry for more than a decade. 

 

Mair will receive a bachelor’s degree in Economics.  Mair, who is graduating with her twin sister, Colleen, played rugby while at Western and was a competitor with the Roger Sherman Debate Society.  Commencement will be held Sunday at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.

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CT Rides Week encourages green transit

This is CT Rides Week.  Commuters are being asked to  try a green ride this week, whether it's car pooling, walking, biking or taking a bus or train.  C-T Rides project manager Russel McDermott says there are rewards and prizes for people who pledge to take a greener trip.

 

Over 40 organizations are taking part in CT Rides week.  Among them are Danbury-based Cartus and Belimo Air Controls, New Milford-based Marrakech Inc., and HARTransit. 

 

There are more than 100 partners including the City of Danbury and the towns of Brookfield, Monroe, New Milford and Redding.  Danbury Public Schools, Newtown High School and West Conn are also partners in CT Rides week.

 

This is also Bike to Work Week.  There are events in Danbury and Bethel.  On Wednesday, there is a kickoff at the Pulse Point on Kennedy Avenue in Danbury from 7am to 9am and again from 3pm to 5pm.  There is a breakfast on Friday at the Bethel Train Station from 7am to 9am.

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Easton PTA, police participate in opiate addiction forum

Easton Police will be represented at a forum tonight hosted by the Easton PTA about drug addiction and opiates.  A panel including Easton Police Chief Tim Shaw, State Senator Tony Hwang, counselors and local Drug Enforcement Administration representatives will lead the discussion.  Officials says most first time abusers of painkillers usually obtain them from their own prescription, from a friend or relative.  There were 304 opiate-related overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2012.  Last year there were 673.  The forum tonight is at Helen Keller Middle School's media center at 7pm.

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Municipal officials to study state budget

Many towns in the Greater Danbury region have already approved budgets, and now they're learning about what state funding they'll get in the coming fiscal year.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, speaking as President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said towns are wary of some of the concepts.

 

One is the sharing of operations between Boards of Education and cities and towns.  Boughton says they want to have more conversations about control of back office costs.  The budget implementer bill approved by the state Senate included a measure to consolidate human resources, finance and technology divisions through Regional Education Service Centers.

 

Boughton says there are other concepts in the budget that CCM thinks lawmaker haven't fully thought through.  He says there hasn't been thought given to how the concepts will play out and what the unintended consequences will be. 

 

A state study would look at increasing representation on Councils of Governments for cities over 50,000 people.  The budget implementation bill includes a program called CTNext, a new subsidiary of the state's quasi-public venture capital agency is created to help entrepreneurs.  The bill also allows municipalities to impose a local surcharge on the admission charged at various facilities.

 

No real mandate relief for cities and towns was included in the state budget.  Boughton said they aren't looking for a hand out.  He notes that it's not a municipality's money or even the legislature's money, but the taxpayer's money.  He is calling for a conversation about how best to spend that money to deliver the services everyone wants to see.

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Brookfield budget, remedial bond project vote Tuesday

Brookfield residents are voting on a budget tomorrow.  The school side is $40.4 million.  The municipal budget is proposed at $23 million. 

 

There is also a question on the ballot about authorizing $1.9 million in bonding. The money is for capital projects that were supposed to be bonded but apparently never were between 2000 and 2012. It's part of the $3.3 million bond fund discrepancy discovered in December. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says he hopes there will be good voter turnout, because the town meeting went well.  He says there weren't a lot of issues brought up, and one of the shortest meetings he's attended.  He's concerned that people won't come out to vote if they like the budget because they assume it will be approved.

 

The proposed budget represents a 2.72 percent tax increase. 

 

Polls are open tomorrow from 6am to 8pm.

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New Fairfield budget vote today

New Fairfield residents are voting today on a budget proposal for next year with a .53 percent increase in the tax rate.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says it represents nearly a 1 percent increase in spending over the current year.  The municipal budget was increased about $376,000. 

 

The biggest driver is the increase for state police from last year.  The state shifted more of the cost for resident state troopers to the towns last year, after municipalities adopted their own budgets.  Chapman says they've had to play catch up to cover those costs. 

 

The $10.95 million town spending plan maintains road paving and capital projects.  The school budget went up by $134,000, bringing the proposal to $41.49 million.

 

Residents can vote at Meeting House Hill School from 8 am to 8 pm.

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State funding approved for Danbury High School upgrades

17 school construction grants and reauthorization of seven previously approved school projects have been approved by the Senate in special session.  Funding for Danbury High School was included in the bill for capital improvements, transportation and school building projects. 

 

The measure includes $31.7 million to reimburse the City for construction of a new Freshman Academy, which is projected to cost over $50 million to build. 

 

The DHS 2020 project includes construction of a theater, two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the exiting cafeteria.  Various other upgrades to the building's existing infrastructure are also planned. 

 

Danbury state Representative David Arconti says the City will now be eligible for almost 20-percent greater reimbursement for associated costs of replacing the school roof, an amount which is expected to save the City over $8 million.

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House narrowly approves revised state budget plan

A revised state budget that attempts to fix a projected $960 million deficit has passed the House and now heads to the governor's desk.  The tax-and-spending deal cleared the House 74-70 yesterday, with eight Democrats joining the minority Republicans in opposition.

 

Kent state Representative Roberta Willis, a retiring Democrat, acknowledged there are many things in the budget that people on both sides of the aisle don't like.  She said there's no way to solve this deficit problem in a pleasant way.

 

Willis took issue with GOP claims that the Democratic-controlled legislature is to blame for the current crisis, for "destroying business" with recent tax increases and other policies and for making the state a place that people and businesses want to flee.

 

Danbury state Representative Jan Giegler, a retiring Republican, said she could not support this budget because it did not address the long-term solutions Connecticut needs in order to regain a solid fiscal footing, unfairly penalizes the most vulnerable populations and uses gimmicks that created the perpetual budget deficits the state has been battling for years.

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Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive today

The 24th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is the nation’s largest one-day collection.

 

The availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food, is limited or uncertain for 1 in 6 Americans, many of whom are in households with at least one person working.

 

The drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May because hunger-relief advocates says food supplies collected during winter holiday drives have dwindled. The drive also comes just before many school systems end their academic years, and that often can mean a suspension in subsidized meals for many students.

 

Western Connecticut coordinator Dennis Sideropolis says last year, Greater Danbury area residents donated 76,000 pounds of non-perishable food items.

 

Last year’s drive collected approximately 71 million pounds of non-perishable food that was left in bags next to postal customers’ mailboxes across the country.  It was the 12th consecutive year that letter carriers have collected more than 70 million pounds of food, and it brought the drive’s grand total to more than 1.4 billion pounds of food collected.

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CityCenter farmers market to move to Saturdays

An expanded farmers market will be hosted by CityCenter Danbury, beginning next month.  The market is being moved from Friday afternoons to Saturdays.  It will feature more vendors and live entertainment.

 

Executive Director PJ Prunty says some residents requested a weekend date because they couldn't get to the farmers market during a work day.  He is hoping this move will expand the reach of the market and make it more accessible to downtown residents. 

 

Prunty says the developer of the Kennedy Flats apartment complex, across the from the farmers market, is providing a one year grant.  The funding from Greystar Developers will be used to pay for performances by students in the Western Connecticut State University music department.

 

Vendors offering typical produce found at farmers markets will be joined this season by those offering handcrafted soaps, organic dog treats and other items.

 

The farmers market will be held on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm starting on June 25th.

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Lawmaker touts bill to combat opioid addiction

The House of Representatives has passed a bill nearly unanimously, which includes an amendment co-authored by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  The bill establishes a new inter-agency task force to update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication to guard against the risk of opioid addiction.

 

The amendment, which the House adopted unanimously, calls on the task force to issue updated recommendations on standards for physician education on strategies to manage patients’ pain without putting them at risk of opioid addiction.  It also calls on the task force to issue new guidelines for consumer education programs on the risks of opioid addiction.

 

A joint House-Senate committee is expected to combine all opioid legislation approved by the two chambers into one comprehensive bill that will be sent to the President’s desk.

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Hearing tonight on cease and desist order issued to Dorothy Day House

There is a public hearing in Danbury Thursday night about a cease and desist order issued to the Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  The soup kitchen and emergency shelter hasn't had a permit to operate at their Spring Street facility for more than three decades.  The cease and desist order was issued by the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer at the end of February.  

 

Attorneys for Dorothy Day are fighting the order before the Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night. 

 

The public hearing is at 7pm at Danbury City Hall.

 

In 1983, the Planning Commission gave Dorothy Day permission to operate for a year, and then granted a one year renewal.  They stopped updating the permit in 1985. 

 

After it was discovered this winter in response to neighbor complaints about quality of life issues, Dorothy Day submitted a request to the Planning Commission to renew the permit from 1984.  The Planning Commission doesn't have jurisdiction to renew the permit.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer asked the operator to submit an application to be granted a "special exception use" for the shelter in order to come into compliance with zoning regulations.  When that didn't happen, a cease and desist order was issued in an effort to bring the homeless shelter into compliance.

 

The CityCenter Board of Commissioners sent a letter to Danbury officials in February outlining information they received from the Police Department.  Over one year, there were 693 police visits and 145 ambulance responses to Spring Street.  Of those figures, more than 450  police responses were directly to Dorothy Day.  The calls were for altercations, fights, intoxication, prostitution, larceny, and drugs among others. 

 

Of the 693 police calls, 58 resulted in arrests.  CityCenter Executive Director PJ Prunty cited a state statute about abatement of a public nuisance .  It applies if there are three or more arrests per year at a specific location.  Prunty said it's staggering that 3,000 square feet can have such a drain on quality of life and on public services.

 

Spring Street residents are asking Danbury officials to relocate Dorothy Day to a non-residential area.  They, along with CityCenter advocates, are calling for Dorothy Day to work with the Continuum of Care and have police or private security monitor and control client behavior.  They say Dorothy Day has severely out grown the location, as well as creating an out of control situation.

 

In a 2014 letter, Ernesto Rodriguez wrote on behalf of the Spring Street Neighborhood Association that the "No Questions Asked" policy attracts negative elements of society to Spring Street, including drug dealers, prostitutes and people suffering from mental health and addiction problems.

 

In response to a presentation from the Neighborhood Association, the City Center Board of Commissioners wrote that there is a blindness cloaked in the mission of the Dorothy Day Hospitality House to shelter the poor and feed the hungry.  The Board noted that the clients actions impacts the well being of residents in the downtown area.

 

CityCenter officials said it is necessary to talk about the blatant drug use, alcohol abuse, prostitution, loitering, polluting and other illegal behavior coming through the doors of the Dorothy Day House.

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Energy savings realized in Ridgefield

In 2015, Ridgefield saved energy, money and reduced carbon emissions through Energy efficiency fund programs.

 

Annual savings in Ridgefield amounted to $150,612.  Lifetime savings total more than $2.38 million.  More than 563,000 kilowatt hours in electricity were saved annually, and more than 17,000 gallons of fuel oil and propane were saved.

 

In 2015, residential energy efficiency resulted in approximately $481 million saved over the lifetime of the installed measures.  Nearly 39,000 homes weatherized including critical services provided to more than 20,000 low-income households.

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Local lawmakers selected as delegates to GOP National Convention

The Connecticut delegates to the Republican National Convention in July have been selected.  Donald Trump won the Connecticut primary carrying 165 of the 169 municipalities, earning 25 delegates.  Ridgefield State Representative John Frey, a member of the Republican National Committee, is a superdelegate. 

 

There are 10 statewide delegates and three from each of the congressional districts.  Among them will be Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan.  McLachlan's great-grandfather was a delegate at the 1924 Republican convention, also held in Cleveland. 

 

Linda McMahon, a two time U-S Senate candidate, is a delegate from the 4th District.

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Conn. makes progress in ending chronic homelessness

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness reports encouraging news on state progress in finding housing for those in need.  Homelessness in Connecticut is down nearly 4-percent compared to 2015, and has declined 13-percent since 2007.  The Point in Time Count, conducted on January 26th, found only 45 veterans in emergency shelters, less than half the number identified in 2015, most of whom are engaged in VA services and on their way to housing. 

 

According to the Point in Time Count, in the Greater Danbury area there were 98 single adults in emergency shelters and transitional housing.  There were 16 children in families and 11 adults in those families.  There were four Unsheltered Persons in the Greater Danbury area.  Four Veterans in Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing and 16 Unsheltered Veterans were counted in the Greater Danbury area.

 

In the Greater Danbury area, there were 11 families in Emergency Shelters and Transitional Housing.  There were 20 chronically homeless single adults in shelters. 

 

Adult survivors of domestic violence in Emergency Shelter or Transitional Housing in the Greater Danbury area totalled 16.

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Region 12 budget approved in Tuesday vote

While two of the three towns in the Region 12 school district did not approve the budget, it did pass overall.  There were a total of 402 votes cast Tuesday in favor and 373 against.  The approximately $21-million budget was approved in Roxbury, but not in Washington and Bridgewater.  The town of Washington will shoulder a larger share of the budget this coming fiscal year because their student population increased.  Roxbury followed by Bridgewater comprise the rest of the student population.  The budget represents a slight spending decrease from the current year.

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Ridgefield residents narrowly approve school budget

Ridgefield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year, along with all capital projects on the ballot.  There was about a 17-percent voter turnout Tuesday.  The $46.7 million municipal budget was approved by more than a thousand votes. 

 

The $90.4 million school budget was only approved by 16 votes, two shy of a mandatory recount. 

 

The Board of Finance set the mill rate for the coming fiscal year at 26.69, a 2.63 percent increase over the current year. 

 

Highway Department equipment, East Ridge Middle School roof repairs and the school portion of the public safety radio system were among the funding questions also gaining approval by Ridgefield residents during the referendum yesterday.

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Wolf says he'll petition to get on GOP Senate primary ballot

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Former Olympian August Wolf says he'll petition his way onto the Aug. 9 Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate after he says his chance to automatically qualify for the primary was "stolen" from him.

 

Wolf announced Wednesday he'll collect enough signatures to challenge the party's nominee, Bethel state Rep. Dan Carter. Wolf needs 8,079 signatures by June 7.

 

The GOP nominated Carter on Monday to challenge one-term Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

 

Wolf, a former shot putter who placed fourth at the 1984 Summer Olympics, says his year-old campaign thought it had more delegate support. Wolf initially received enough votes to automatically wage a primary, but votes were switched to Carter. Wolf blames arm-twisting by party-insiders.

 

Carter adviser Dick Foley says the process was "the same it's been for 30 years."

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Municipalities push to be part of state budget process

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says they need to be part of the state budget strategy sessions to help cope with the deficit which refuses to disappear.  Mayors and Selectmen claim lawmakers keep saying they have crafted a deficit mitigation plan that won't raise taxes, but CCM President Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says it could impact property taxes.

 

Boughton says some of the concepts discussed recently are detrimental to cities and towns and will force them to raise taxes to cover services.

 

Boughton says municipalities should be an equal partner in talks with the governor and lawmakers as they discuss how to restructure state spending to end the continuing deficit threat.  Boughton, says they have been locked out of the process for too long.

 

Municipal officials will tackle the problem on their own in the coming months.  CCM plans to develop its own state budget and present recommendations to the legislature.  They want to reexamine the relationship between state and local government, and then come up with a series of steps the legislature needs to take.

 

Boughton says unfunded mandates are a continual discussion, and not one gets repealed.  He says CCM would be happy at this point if the state just stopped passing new mandates.

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Conn. GOP nominates Congressional candidates

Despite not receiving any delegate support at the Republican nominating convention last night, John Pistone says he is moving forward with his campaign for the 5th Congressional District seat.  The Brookfield resident said in an email statement that he will run as an Independent Conservative candidate. 

 

He also said that by nominating Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope as the Republican candidate, the GOP moved more to the left and "tossed conservative principles and values under the bus".  Pistone cited that Cope is openly gay. 

 

They are looking to challenge Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty. 

 

Redding Representative John Shaban will again be the GOP challenger to Democratic incumbent 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.

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Late-comer candidate Rep. Carter wins GOP Senate nomination

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - State Rep. Dan Carter has won the Republican Party's nomination for the U.S. Senate, and will face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November.

The Bethel Republican garnered his party's official backing just weeks after entering the race.

He easily defeated former Olympian August Wolf, who entered the race a year ago, and former fashion executive Jack Orchulli.

Orchulli urged the 1,182 delegates on hand Monday night to rally around Carter, a two-term state representative, saying unity was the Republican Party's best chance to defeat Blumenthal.

Carter entered the race on April 4, backed by his fellow Republican legislators in the General Assembly. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides nominated Carter, and praised her colleague for his military service.

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Ridgefield residents voting on budget

The $139 million budget proposed for the coming fiscal year includes about $90 million for the schools, a $46.7 million municipal budget and $1.9 million for road and infrastructure improvements. 

 

Also on the ballot are larger capital projects.  One question is about $2 million for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of Phase 1 of the Branchville Transit Oriented Development Study, $548,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of a Prospect Ridge parking area and $150,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of sidewalk improvements, provided that state grants be awarded to cover the first two projects.

 

The next question asks for approval of $187,000 for the design and acquisition of a highway Mack truck, $138,000 for the design and acquisition of a mowing tractor for Town roads, $83,000 for the design and acquisition of a backhoe, and $225,000 for refurbishment of Engine #3. 

 

A question also asks about appropriating $62,500 for the design and acquisition of Venus Building windows, $46,000 for the design and acquisition of Highway Garage 1 floor repairs, and $87,000 for the design and acquisition of East Ridge Middle School roof repairs.

 

The last question asks about $355,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of school energy conservation measures, which is expected to result in $92,405 of incentive savings.  It's also seeking approval of $435,886 for school portion of the public safety radio system.

 

The vote is at Yannity Gym from 6am to 8pm.

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Quasi-public retirement savings program bill fate uncertain

Governor Malloy says he will veto a bill creating a quasi-public entity that would offer private sector employees a chance to get into a retirement savings program unless changes are made.  The bill was approved in the Senate only after Lt Governor Nancy Wyman cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of it. 

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith says businesses can no longer thrive here.

 

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo doesn't think this would hurt private sector companies that offer these plans.

 

The House voted 76 to 63 in favor.  Danbury Representative David Arconti, Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey and Kent Representative Roberta Willis voted in favor of the bill. 

 

Among those opposed were Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky, Bethel Representative Dan Carter, Ridgefield Representative John Frey, Danbury Representative Jan Giegler, Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, Redding Representative John Shaban, Smith and Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski. 

 

New Milford Representative Cecilia Buck-Taylor did not vote.

 

All Greater Danbury area state Senators voted against the bill.

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Lawmakers, doctors urge Gov. to sign 3D mammography bill

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, along with doctors, are urging Governor Malloy to sign into law a bill that would allow more women to get high-tech 3D mammograms .  The state Insurance Department and insurers claim going to 3D mammograms will be costly.  But backers say initial equipment costs will be outweighed by the ability to dramatically reduce false positives and increased ability to detect the most dangerous breast cancers.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan pointed out that one of the manufacturers of 3D mammography equipment is Danbury-based Hologic.

 

The Senate approved the bill unanimously.  The bill passed the House 139-3.

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Region 9 Board of Ed votes to have students bring laptops to school

The Region 9 Board of Education has voted to go forward with a plan that will have students at Joel Barlow High School bring their own laptop to school. 

 

The Redding Pilot reports that computers could be purchased through a school discount program for about the same cost as they are now spending for a Texas Instrument graphing calculator.  Students could bring their own computer in if they already own one. 

 

The plan, which will be implemented over the next few years, calls for having some extra laptops in the classroom for use by students without one.  The lone no vote came from Cathy Gombos who said this could unintentionally create a class system with some students having high end laptops and others having none.

 

Some board members say this will better help students prepare for college. 

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5th District GOP candidates spar over three decade old arrest

There is a controversy brewing as Connecticut Republicans get ready to nominate congressional candidates tonight.  The campaign manager for Newtown resident Bill Stevens reached out to Clay Cope's campaign to say they had information about the Sherman First Selectman's arrest some 30 years ago. 

 

But Cope says it was his brother Tim who was arrested, and stole his identity among other aliases.  Clay Cope says his brother is an addict who turned to criminal activity to support his drug habit.  Cope says he parted ways with his brother after that incident, and doesn't know what has happened to him.

 

Cope says Stevens has become so desperate to win an election that he is spreading untruths.  Cope continued by saying that there is no place for smear tactics and character assassination in politics.  Cope said in his statement that while Stevens claims to be an outsider to politics, his mastery of such vile tactics suggest otherwise.

 

Stevens' campaign said the criminal record is public information and was brought up as a courtesy. 

 

Also seeking the GOP nomination tonight is John Pistone of Brookfield.

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Connecticut GOP to choose US Senate, House candidates

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Republicans will be nominating a candidate to oppose Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in November.

The state party's convention will be held Monday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

Vying for delegates will be former Olympian August Wolf, Bethel state Rep. Dan Carter and former fashion industry executive Jack Orchulli. Orchulli was the party's U.S. Senate candidate in 2004, when he unsuccessfully challenged then-U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd.

All three candidates are less known statewide than Blumenthal, a veteran politician. State GOP Chairman J.R. Romano says the unpredictability of this year's election season and the dissatisfaction with state Democratic leaders could help a Republican candidate defeat the one-term U.S. Senator.

Republicans will also be choosing candidates for the five congressional races. Those seats are currently held by Democrats.

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Newtown students recognized by U.S. Senate for academic achievements

Pancakes and Politics.  It's an event that Senator Chris Murphy hosts when he is back in the state, similar to a Congress on Your Corner.  It's an informal discussion about what is going on in Washington and what's happening in the community that he needs to know about. 

 

Murphy was in Newtown on Friday for an event at Edmond Town Hall where more than 100 people participated.  

 

During the breakfast, Murphy recognized 14 students from Newtown Middle School and Newtown High School for their academic and community achievements.

 

Newtown Middle School

1.       Luke Sposato

2.       Steven Vournazos

3.       Robert Gaffney

4.       Miles Dievert

5.       Aliya Hafiz

6.       Kylie Giroux

7.       Sofiya Hafiz

8.       Lianna Perazzo

 

Newtown High School

1.       Anthony Falbo

2.       Megan Kelleher

3.       Kevin Arther

4.       Rilind Abazi

5.       Dylan Lew

6.       Abigail Kohler

7.       Sarah Bender

8.       Kayla DiSibio

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State Senators honor retiring New Milford lawmaker

With the regular legislative session over, a couple of long time state lawmakers from the Greater Danbury area have said good-bye to life at the state capital.  Among the retiring lawmakers is Republican Clark Chapin of the 30th Senate District.  During the final day in session on Wednesday, Chapin's fellow Senators went around the circle and spoke highly of his four years of service in that chamber.  Prior to that, Chapin served 12 years in the House representing New Milford.

 

Senate President Martin Looney, a Democrat, says Chapin was a valuable ally who supported good policy that crossed partisan lines, and always worked to do the best thing for the state and its residents.  He noted that Chapin had a distinguished career in local politics prior to being elected to the General Assembly.  He was a member of the advisory board of a community culinary school, Friends of the Sullivan Farm advisory board, a coach with youth baseball and softball, and former Vice President of New Milford Youth Baseball and Softball. 

 

Looney says Chapin is someone who is closely connected to the fabric of his community and has earned several awards for his work in Hartford.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher remarked that she got to know Chapin when they both served in the House.  She says what makes the long hours work is the personal relationships formed among one another.  Boucher recalled that while he always is stoic, he is actually deeply caring and has a soft heart.  She thanked him for all of his work over the last nearly two decades.

 

Danbury Senator Michael McLachlan also delivered comments on Chapin's retirement, calling him "his friend to the North".  Chapin represents a district on Candlewood Lake's Eastern shore while McLachlan's district lies to the West.  McLachlan remarked that Chapin has done a fine job for the residents of Western Connecticut.

 

Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, said that Chapin taught him lessons while he was campaigning even before being elected to the House.  When they were then in the House, he learned from Chapin about understanding the implications of the bills being enacted and having a high standard of service.  He said working on legislation with Chapin was like a test of knowledge and preparation, noting that he expected best from his colleagues.

 

Several other state Senators commended Chapin for his work for the environment.  He was the ranking member of the Environment Committee.  But Senator Mae Flexor also highlighted Chapin's work to combat domestic violence.

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'Wingman Program' implemented at New Fairfield Middle School

A program borne out of the shootings at Sandy Hook School is being implemented in New Fairfield.  Nicole and Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed on 12-14, were at New Fairfield Middle School this afternoon to talk with students in the Wingman program.  It's a student-led leadership program founded by the Hockleys to foster empathy among students and positive school communities. 

 

It's in five middle schools in Connecticut currently, and is expected to be expanded to elementary schools soon.

 

They were joined by Senator Chris Murphy to see first hand how the program is working.  He says this program also aims to teach kids about resiliency, respect for others and gratitude.

 

Murphy says schools used to just be in the business of teaching the basic academics, but that in today's society they also also have to be teaching social and emotional skills.  He says this not only makes for a healthier school environment, but makes sure that kids like Dylan, who had autism, aren't excluded if they have a learning disability.  Murphy says later in life kids will be better employees and better leaders. 

 

Murphy said the uniqueness of the Wingman program is that it puts the students in charge.  There is a priority list of skills to teach, but it's all student led and initiated with eighth graders making lesson plans.

 

He called the program a model for the nation.

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Parents of Newtown victim honored for brain-health advocacy

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Since their daughter was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel have created a foundation in her honor, funded research to help understand the underpinnings of violence and spoken on brain health around the country.

 

On Saturday, the two are being honored for their advocacy by the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine.

 

"The brain is just another organ and you don't have to be a neuroscientist to recognize that it can be healthy, it can be unhealthy, and that you need to feel comfortable advocating for your own brain health and the brain health of your loved ones," Richman said. "We feel that the failure to do that led in large part to the tragedy at Sandy Hook."

 

The couple's 6-year-old daughter, Avielle, was among 20 children and six educators killed inside the Newtown school by a troubled, socially isolated gunman with a semi-automatic rifle on Dec. 14, 2012. The gunman also fatally shot his mother and killed himself after carrying out the rampage.

 

The Avielle Foundation was created within months of the tragedy with the goal of reducing violence.

 

For Richman, the work has become a full-time pursuit. He left his job as a researcher at the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to dedicate himself to the foundation. Last year, he also received an appointment as a lecturer in psychiatry at Yale's medical school.

 

Richman and Hensel, a medical writer with her own company, still live in Newtown and are raising an 18-month-old daughter, Imogen Joy.

 

Their foundation is providing grants for projects on topics including the effects that abuse, neglect and adversity have on the brain and the links between behavior and biochemistry. The foundation also helped launch a scientific journal, Violence and Gender, that focuses on understanding and preventing acts of violence. And it has focused on communicating its insights through ways such as talks with Congress, the Girl Scouts and other groups.

 

Richman said he has been encouraged by developments such as the 2013 White House launch of the BRAIN Initiative, to improve understanding of the human mind. But the field needs more study, he said.

 

"We don't feel we've gone far enough yet getting out the message that there are biochemical, tangible explanations for behaviors," he said.

 

Richman and Hensel will be the featured speakers at an annual neuroscience symposium Saturday, when they will receive the Yale Mental Health Research Advocacy Award. Other winners over the past 25 years have included television personality Dick Cavett, who openly discussed his struggles with depression, and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who has written of his diagnoses of bipolar and anxiety disasters.

 

John Krystal, chairman of the psychiatry department at the Yale University School of Medicine who is also an adviser to the Avielle Foundation, said Richman and Hensel have played an important role in raising awareness of big gaps in the understanding of causes and treatments for violent behavior.

 

"It's extremely commendable what they've done," he said.

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Danbury based company partners with Exxon in carbon capture project

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is partnering with Exxon Mobil Corporation on a project to pursue novel technology in power plant carbon dioxide capture.  Using fuel cells to capture carbon dioxide from power plants results in reduced emissions and increased power generation.  Power plant exhaust is directed to the fuel cell, replacing air that is normally used in combination with natural gas during the fuel cell power generation process. 

 

This technology could substantially reduce costs and lead to a more economical pathway toward large-scale application globally. 

 

Exxon Mobil officials said they sought industry leaders in this kind of technology to test its application in pilot stages to help confirm what their researchers saw in the lab over the last two years, leading to this agreement with Danbury-based FuelCell Energy.

 

Vijay Swarup, vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Company says their scientists saw the potential for this technology for use at natural gas power plants to enhance the viability of carbon capture and sequestration while at the same time generating additional electricity.

 

Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy, Inc., said Carbon capture with carbonate fuel cells is a potential game-changer for affordably and efficiently concentrating carbon dioxide for large-scale gas and coal-fired power plants.

 

The scope of the agreement between ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy will initially focus for about one to two years on how to further increase efficiency in separating and concentrating carbon dioxide from the exhaust of natural gas-fueled power turbines. Depending on reaching several milestones, the second phase will more comprehensively test the technology for another one to two years in a small-scale pilot project prior to integration at a larger-scale pilot facility.

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State reports increased bear attacks on bee hives, livestock

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) State officials say Connecticut has seen an increasing number of bear attacks on livestock and bee hives.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued a release Thursday saying there have been more than a dozen reports this year of bears attacking livestock and killing goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.

The attacks have occurred in Barkhamsted, Winchester, Morris, Bethlehem, Watertown, Thomaston, Campville, and Roxbury.

The department says bears are also being more aggressive in getting into bee hives.

The department recommends that livestock owners and bee keepers use well-maintained electric fences with barbed wire to keep the bears away.

There were 4,488 sightings of black bears across Connecticut during 2015.

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Maxwell drops bid for GOP 5th District nomination

There is one less Republican seeking the GOP nomination in the 5th Congressional District race. 

 

Matt Maxwell of Newtown has decided to bow out of the contest and is backing Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope in his bid.  Maxwell said in the announcement via email that he will remain active in Connecticut politics working to grow the party.  He called on supporters to continue to champion for Constitutional principles, attend Republican Town Committee meetings and actively campaign for candidates they believe in. 

 

Among those also seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty, are Bill Stevens of Newtown and John Pistone of Brookfield.

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Sen. Chapin bids farewell to 16 years in General Assembly

The State Senate honored retiring Republican Clark Chapin of New Milford on the last day in session Wednesday.  He served two two-year terms representing the 30th District and 12 years before that in the House.  Chapin says 16 years has flown by.  He and his wife, former New Milford Mayor Pat Murphy, have been on the ballot 20 times.  He noted campaigns are fun for a while, but he is looking forward to not campaigning this fall. 

 

He said comments from his colleagues were very humbling, and he appreciated them.  His predecessor in the 30th District was Andrew Roraback, who had a perfect voting record.  Chapin says those were big shoes to fill, but he kept that streak going for his four years in the Senate.  He only missed two days in the House.

 

Chapin says he hopes the next chapter of his life matches the pleasure he has had in public service.  He has two adult sons who have been supportive and forgiving of times when he couldn't be at events because he was in session. 

 

He said he's tried to approach the job with a good balance of work ethic and humor. 

 

When the serious issue of potentially dangerous animals was debated several years ago, then Attorney General Richard Blumenthal advocated for the bill.  Some animals would have been grandfathered in, and amnesty period to turn in those animals.  Chapin says he and Representative Craig Miner found time for levity, and drafted an amendment allowing for the animals to be dropped off at the Attorney General's office.  Blumenthal reciprocated that humor in a letter to Chapin noting that some have equated attorneys in his office to sharks and snakes, so that drop off would have been fitting.

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Judge denies Bushmaster request for delay in wrongful death case

A Superior Court Judge in Connecticut has denied a request by Bushmaster Firearms for a temporary stay of discovery in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by some of the families of those killed at Sandy Hook School.  The judge, who allowed the suit to move forward, said in a statement Thursday that given an April 2018 trial date, a delay in exchanging evidence would translate into a delay of the trial.  The Judge continued by pointing out that the lawsuit was filed in 2015.

 

The judge ruled in April that a federal law protecting gun makers from lawsuits does not prevent lawyers for the families of Sandy Hook victims from arguing that the AR-15 is a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians.

 

A lawyer for the families had argued there is an exception in federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others.

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Clean City Danbury Day is Saturday

Winters Brothers is partnering with Danbury for the annual Clean City Danbury Day on Saturday from 8 am to 12 pm. The clean-up program brings residents and and businesses together to help clean streets, neighborhoods, parks and waterways. Winters Brothers is supplying free hauling and disposal for waste material collected during the community cleanup.

 

Winters Brothers is also providing a free, one-day paper confidential shredding program for Danbury residents.  Residents can bring their sensitive documents that require shredding to their Recycling Center at 307 White Street in Danbury.

 

Volunteers will be picking up litter in a neighborhood, park or waterway, volunteering at a special designated dumpster location to assist residents and cleaning up abandoned property or lots of debris and unwanted items.  Almost 1,000 volunteers have signed up.

 

This is the 13th year for the Clean City Danbury program.

 

Dumpsters will be located at five locations:

1. City Hall (155 Deer Hill Avenue)

2. Rogers Park (by tennis courts)

3. WCSU West Side Campus (43 Lake Avenue Ext)

4. Public Works Building (53 Newtown Rd.)

5. P.A.L. Building (35 Hayestown Rd.)

 

No commercial waste or commercial vehicles will be allowed to dump for free. Additionally, Winters Bros. cannot accept the following items at the drop off centers:

NO ELECTRONICS (There is a free year-round electronic drop off center at Winters Bros. Recycling Center, 307 White St. in Danbury)

NO Hazardous Wastes (The City sponsors a Hazardous Waste Day in September)

NO Grass clippings or yard debris

NO Construction debris

 

Scrap metal and tires can be brought to the dumpster locations but cannot be placed into the roll off containers with the regular trash. Appliances that contain Freon (refrigerators and air conditioning units) must be kept separate from other garbage.

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Bill aimed at protecting state lands clears legislature

An effort to give the public greater say about transfers of state-owned land in Connecticut has cleared the General Assembly.  But the proposal did not pass the Senate or House of Representatives Wednesday with enough support to place a proposed constitutional amendment before voters this fall. Proponents needed a three-quarters majority.

Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, says the vote was still a ``huge victory.'' The bill must now pass next year by another simple majority to appear on the 2017 ballot.

Under the proposal, voters will be asked to support amending the state constitution to require a public hearing and two-thirds vote of the legislature before the ownership of state-owned land can be transferred.

Proponents say state-owned parks and forests are currently at risk.

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says public lands are always under pressure from developers, but should not be sold off.  She says it would be disappointing and a detriment for many generations to come if the assets are sold off.

 

New Fairfield state Representative Richard Smith says he's in favor of protecting open space, but that this bill goes too far.  He says the safeguards are in place with a committee process and public hearing process, the full chamber also has to sign off on any conveyance bill.

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Bethel, Danbury among voting locations to be audited by state

10-percent of polling places used during the presidential primary last month have been randomly selected for an audit.  State statute calls for a review of results to ensure the integrity of the vote and to promote confidence in the process.  There were 723 polling places that used optical scan machines, so the Secretary of the State chose 73 primary and 10 alternate locations. 

 

Among those to be audited are machines from Park Avenue School in Danbury, Center Fire House in Southbury and from the Bethel Municipal Center.  The results of audits will be analyzed, and then be made available to the public.

 

The audit can start no earlier than May 11th and will be complete by June 3rd.

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NY Air National Guard 105th Airlift Wing gets new commander

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - A New York Air National Guard unit based in the Hudson Valley is getting a new commander.

National Guard officials say Col. Howard Wagner will take over command of the 105th Airlift Wing on May 15. The 105th, based at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, operates nine C-17 Globemaster aircraft that support U.S. Air Force missions and respond to New York state emergencies.

The unit's current commander, Brig. Gen. Timothy LaBarge, has been named chief of staff of the Air Guard at the National Guard headquarters in suburban Albany.

Wagner, currently the wing's vice commander, joined the Air Force in 1982. He flew more than two dozen combat reconnaissance missions during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Wagner lives in Redding, Connecticut.

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Rally held at Henry Abbott Technical High School

The Danbury community held a rally yesterday in support of quality education for all children.

 

Parents, students, educators, administrators and civic leaders held a "walk-in" at three events in Connecticut; part of coordinated national day of action at approximately 2,000 schools in 87 cities.  Assembled outside main entrance to Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, the group "walked-in" to the together.  More than 500 people turned out for the event.

 

The event was meant to demonstrate success at the technical high school, as part of the growing educational justice movement. The goal was to highlight the benefits of fairly-funded public schools for all children and send a message that there are better choices than cuts to education services. 

 

AFT Connecticut Communications Coordinator Matt O'Connor says all students deserve quality education, and ways to provide that were discussed during the event.

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Danbury to host two events for National Day of Prayer

Danbury is hosting two events for The National Day of Prayer today.  It's an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. 

 

It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Truman as a day to foster unity for America.  Days of prayer have been called for since 1775, when the Continental Congress designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. 

 

Individuals of all denominations are encouraged to attend.

 

The first ceremony is at 11am at Danbury City Hall.  There is another at 6:30pm.  The later event has been organized by Councilman Elmer Palma.  Opening remarks will be delivered by Mayor Mark Boughton.  Councilman Tom Saadi will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  Prayers, speeches and singing will follow.

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State files motion to dismiss Schaghticoke lawsuit

A federal court has been asked by Connecticut officials to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.  Chief Richard Velky says they are challenging the state law enacted last year allowing the two federally recognized tribes to open a third casino, jointly, on non-tribal land. 

 

The Schaghticokes claim the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. and state constitutions.  MGM, which is building a casino in nearby Massachusetts is providing financial support for the Schaghticoke's suit.  That company has also filed a similar lawsuit.  The state's motion, filed Monday according to the New London Day, is now pending. 

 

The Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans are seeking to open a casino to compete with the MGM one opening in Springfield, though no site has been selected.

 

Velky issued the following statement Monday night:

 

“Today's motion to dismiss is just the latest instance in a long history of the state’s denial of fairness and justice to the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.  Rather than address STN’s complaint on the merits, the state raises a series of procedural technicalities, all of which lack merit.  The idea that a state-recognized tribe lacks standing to challenge a law that specifically excludes it in favor of two other named tribes is contrary to fundamental principles of fairness, equal protection and the right of everyone to have their day in court.  We look forward to ours."

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Connecticut lawmakers attempting to pass budget on last day

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut lawmakers are attempting to pass a last-minute Democratic budget for the new fiscal year that would finally fix the state's projected $960 million deficit.

 

The General Assembly has until midnight Wednesday to pass the approximate $19 billion compromise that was reached between Democratic lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy late Tuesday.

 

It's unclear whether the legislature's minority Republicans will attempt to run out the clock with a lengthy debate. They were not part of the final negotiations and are unhappy with the last-minute push.

 

Republicans are also voicing concern about the decline in estimated revenues included in the budget plan. Republican Sen. Michael McLahlan of Danbury says the drop in income taxes represents an "atomic bomb."

 

Wednesday is the final day of the legislative session.

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Capital items approved, budget vote set at Ridgefield Annual Town Meeting

Capital items have been approved in Ridgefield during the Annual Town Meeting.  Some of the items include guard rail replacements, equipment such as a plow with sander and rotary mowers, Wellness Center improvements and work on the golf course.  Tennis and basketball court repairs at Ridgefield High School, police department equipment, fire department cardiac monitors and park and field safety improvements were also approved. 

 

Ridgefield residents also set the date for the budget referendum last night.  The $139 million budget proposed for the coming fiscal year includes about $90 million for the schools, a $46.7 million municipal budget and $1.9 million for road and infrastructure improvements.  There was a failed motion to cut the education portion of the budget by $5 million. 

 

The vote will be held May 10th at Yannity Gym from 6am to 8pm.

 

Also on the ballot are larger capital projects.  One question is about $2 million for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of Phase 1 of the Branchville Transit Oriented Development Study, $548,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of a Prospect Ridge parking area and $150,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of sidewalk improvements, provided that state grants be awarded to cover the first two projects.

 

The next question asks for approval of $187,000 for the design and acquisition of a highway Mack truck, $138,000 for the design and acquisition of a mowing tractor for Town roads, $83,000 for the design and acquisition of a backhoe, and $225,000 for refurbishment of Engine #3. 

 

A question also asks about appropriating $62,500 for the design and acquisition of Venus Building windows, $46,000 for the design and acquisition of Highway Garage 1 floor repairs, and $87,000 for the design and acquisition of East Ridge Middle School roof repairs.

 

The last question asks about $355,000 for the planning, design, acquisition and construction of school energy conservation measures, which is expected to result in $92,405 of incentive savings.  It's also seeking approval of $435,886 for school portion of the public safety radio system.

 

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Easton, Redding residents approve budgets

Easton residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Region 9 budget was also approved in both Redding and Easton.  About 12-percent of registered voters cast ballots in Easton yesterday for the $43.7 million budget.  It's a 1.84 percent increase in spending over the current year.  The $47.7 million dollar school and municipal budget in Redding was approved on a vote of 576 to 310.  That figure includes the town's share of the Region 9 budget.  The Redding Board of Finance will meet next week to set the mill rate.

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Danbury City Council approves $244 million budget

The Danbury City Council has approved a $244 million budget.  The vote was 15 to 6, with all six Democrats voting in opposition.

 

Danbury has deferred hiring 45 positions, saving $500,000 in the coming fiscal year's budget.  Mayor Mark Boughton says each department will be given an efficiency and savings goal, senior staff could get raises if the goal is met.  Currently, Danbury has $23 million in the Fund Balance.  The new budget reduces the use of the fund balance from $1.8 million to $750,000.  No one time revenues are used to balance the budget.


There is a 2.95 percent increase in sewer and water rates so that infrastructure improvements can be made to both systems.  Danbury is also preparing for state and federal mandated upgrades for phosphorus removal.  Boughton says it's a $65 million to $70 million expenditure for needed upgrades to the sewage plant.


A home valued at $275,000 will see an increase of less than $8 a month with the new mill rate.  Boughton touted Danbury having the lowest unemployment rate in the state, being the safest city in Connecticut and having among the lowest property tax rates in the state.


Despite the cost cutting in municipal spending, Danbury is increasing the City's contribution to the school.  Boughton says that's because of a significant positive trend in student test scores over the years.  He points to $55 million being spent at Danbury High School in the coming months for renovating the auto shop, constructing new front to the school, making roof repairs and building an addition to serve as the new Freshman Academy.


Boughton says the City is making difficult choices now, in order to avoid drastic measures later which are currently seen in other municipalities.

 

The City Council unanimously approved $3 million in capital projects.  The largest appropriation is $750,000 for the school roof replacement program. 

 

$500,000 is being allocated for the Still River project, including for the removal of vegetation, dredging and river wall repair.  $450,000 for paving, drainage and road improvements along with $100,000 for sidewalk and street improvements was approved. 

 

Other projects include HVAC replacement at the schools and various city buildings, money toward property revaluation and replacing highway department equipment. 

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IMS Health and Quintiles merging in $9 billion stock deal

NEW YORK (AP) - Health care data company IMS Health and Quintiles, which helps drug companies with clinical trial research, say they are merging in an all-stock deal worth nearly $9 billion.

The combined company will be called Quintiles IMS Holdings Inc. and will have a market value of nearly $18 billion, based on the companies' stock prices Monday.

The new company will keep two headquarters, one at Danbury, Connecticut, where IMS Health is based, and another in Durham, North Carolina, where Quintiles has its offices.

 

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Overnight fire rips through vacant Monroe home

A vacant house in Monroe was destroyed by fire overnight.  The fire on Downs Road started shortly after midnight.  There was no one home at the time, and the house was reportedly under construction.  Firefighters were able to put out the blaze by about 2:30am.  A cause of the blaze was not immediately known.  There were no reported injuries to firefighters.

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850 cell phone violations found in Danbury during enforcement campaign

A month long distract driving law enforcement campaign has wrapped up.  Danbury Police were among the departments participating in the state wide visibility program, and received a grant to pay for part of the effort.  Police were on the look out for drivers using a cell phone while behind the wheel. 

 

In Danbury, there were 851 cell phone violations found during the month.  A majority of those, 90-percent, were for texting.  The balance was general cell phone usage.  There were 143 other infractions written during the campaign.  39 motor vehicle arrests were also made during that time. 

 

Under Connecticut’s cell phone law, fines are $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for each additional offense.

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Nearly 60lbs unwanted prescription meds collected in Ridgefield during take back event

During National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, the Ridgefield Police Department collected a total of 59.5 pounds of unwanted, unused medications.  The take back event is anonymous, with no questions asked.  Police Departments across the state participated in the event.  The Ridgefield Police Station has a drop box available 24-7.  The Ridgefield Prevention Council also took part in the event over the weekend.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  Usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

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Daryl Hall drops plans for outdoor stage at New York venue

PAWLING, N.Y. (AP) Musician Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates has dropped plans to host outdoor concerts at his music venue and restaurant in upstate New York.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was unable to obtain the required approvals in time from the Dutchess County town of Pawling, on the Connecticut border, 65 miles north of New York City.

Hall's business, Daryl's House, had announced in February that it planned to build an outdoor stage on its lawn that could accommodate 1,000 concertgoers.

The club's marketing director says the future of the backyard stage is now uncertain.

More than a dozen concerts initially scheduled for the outdoor stage starting in late May will now be held at four different venues, including Daryl's House and concert halls in Poughkeepsie, Peekskill and New Haven, Connecticut.

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I-84 westbound exit 6 off ramp to remain one lane for a few more weeks

Danbury drivers will need to wait a while longer for the I-84 exit 6 westbound off ramp to go back to being two lanes. 

 

Although the State Department of Transportation said they were working to speed up the widening project to take only three weeks because of safety concerns, there have been delays.  The two lanes should be paved within a couple of weeks, putting the re-opening at mid-May.  District Engineer John Dunham says the off ramp will have more capacity at that time.  The DOT will then reevaluate and adjust the traffic signal timings throughout the interchange. 

 

Dunham said at the start of April that the DOT was working with the contractor to expedite the off ramp work, bringing in additional fill material at a higher cost.  The original plan would have taken 3 months to get the ramp back to two lanes.

 

The new traffic pattern on North Street- Padanaram Road where there are lane closures, is expected to be in place until October.  After that, the DOT says there will be further modifications. 

 

The entire widening project is not slated for completion until the summer of 2017.  When it is finished, there will be two lanes in each direction and scattered dedicated turning lanes.

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Redding budget referendum today

Redding residents are voting on a budget today.  A $47.6 million budget has been proposed in Redding.  It includes little more than $21 million for the schools.  The figure also includes Redding's share of the Region 9 school budget for Joel Barlow High School.  The entire $23.3 million Region 9 budget is also a separate question on the ballot.  The cost is split between Redding and Easton based on school population percentage.  A capital item is also listed on the ballot.  It's nearly $5.5 million for HVAC systems at two of the schools.  Polls are open until 8pm.

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City officials consider appointment to Danbury Museum & Historical Society Board

The President of Western Connecticut State University has been nominated to serve as a member of the Danbury Museum Board of Directors.  The City Council will consider the appointment of Dr John Clark to the Danbury Museum Board of Directors tonight at their monthly meeting.  The term runs through May 2019.  In the nomination letter, Mayor Mark Boughton says Clark offers his experience as an administrator in higher education, having also served in the State and City University of New York systems.  Boughton says Clark has a wealth of experience arranging financial support for higher education and health care institutions.  He also has a deep interest in history that has influenced his life and career.

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Fire extinguished at Bethel condo complex

A fire at the Plumtrees Heights condo complex in Bethel over the weekend has left several units uninhabitable.  One was damaged by the blaze, the others have no power because the electricity had to be cut.  The fire was reported Saturday around 10am on the outside of an end unit on Eagle Rock Hill. 

 

(Bethel Fire Department, Facebook)

 

Fire officials say the crews were able to prevent the fire from extending further into the unit, which suffered smoke, heat and water damage.  The American Red Cross is providing assistance to the displaced residents.  There were no reported injuries. 

 

Mutual Aid was provided to the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Departments by Danbury.  West Redding and Brookfield Fire Departments provided standby coverage.

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Public hearing, annual town meeting to be held in Brookfield

A public hearing is being held in Brookfield tonight.  The Board of Selectmen will be taking public comment on the proposed snow and ice removal ordinance and assessment of benefits for sidewalk improvements. 

 

The proposed ordinance is about snow removal requirements and enforcement of those requirements.  It gives the Board of Selectmen the ability to create a benefit assessment for abutting property owners for certain improvements in the Town Center District, or any other property owner for lands abutting or fronting a sidewalk.  The sidewalk needs to be kept in safe condition and repair. 

 

The public hearing is at 7pm at Brookfield Town Hall in meeting room 133.

 

The Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield is set for tomorrow night.  The Board of Finance's final budget recommendation for the coming fiscal year will be reviewed.  A recommended May 17th referendum date will be presented. 

 

There is about a 2.5 percent tax increase proposed in the Brookfield budget for the coming year.  The Board of Education portion of the budget is $40.4 million, and includes a new math program, elimination of pay-to-play and a filling several teaching and administrative positions left vacant since the recession.  The $22.8 million municipal budget proposal includes hiring a community development specialist and a purchasing agent and buying portable classrooms for Huckleberry Hill Elementary School. 

 

The annual town meeting is at 7pm tomorrow at the Brookfield High School auditorium.

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Family Guy creator to sing with Boston Pops opening night

BOSTON (AP) Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is helping the Boston Pops kick off its spring concert series.

The 42-year-old actor and filmmaker will be the orchestra's opening night guest on Friday. He'll be singing a selection of popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s, according to the ensemble.

The New England native is no stranger to the orchestra: He also appeared with them over the summer.

MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded in 1885, the Boston Pops consists of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and generally plays popular music.

The following week, composer John Williams is slated to lead the orchestra in selections from ``Star Wars,'' ``Jaws,'' ``Indiana Jones'' and other movies he's scored.

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Richter Park Authority reaches tentative agreement for cell tower

The Richter Park Authority in Danbury has reached a tentative agreement to place a communications tower on the 180-acre property.  The Richter Park Authority is looking to have Bay Communications place a 150-foot cell tower near the golf course to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan. 

 

The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range.  Richter House also needs a new roof and other maintenance work.  The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed. 

 

The proposed lease is for 30 years--a 10 year license with options to renew.  A committee of the City Council will consider the tentative agreement. 

 

In making the case for approval, Mayor Mark Boughton previously noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding. He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue.  But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.

 

Boughton said there aren't enough golf revenues to improve the park, and they don't want to raise fees because that would chase more people away leaving the Authority with less money. 

 

The granddaughter of the woman who donated the land to the City in 1968 has granted a partial waiver on the deed restrictions imposed on the City to allow for construction of a cell tower.  The deed restricted use of the property to recreational purposes only.

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Lease approved in Danbury for Candlewood Lake Concession Stand

The Danbury City Council has approved a lease for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand.  Greater Danbury area residents may be looking ahead to summer recreation now that it's May.  The City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement at their most recent meeting for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand. 

 

It's a five year lease with Luis Bautista, who was the leasee over the previous five years.  Parks and Recreation Department Director Nick Kaplanis told the Council that Bautista proved to be a reliable partner with the City, and that his experience in the food service industry and background is well suited to operate this entity. 

 

The value of the total lease is $8,550.

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Ridley-Lowell to host 'economic terminology' seminar

Do you have questions about economic terminology?  A public service lecture is being provided in Danbury tonight by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute.  Some of the topics to be covered include how the city calculates mill rate, what is bonded money, and what is a tax deferral.  City Councilman Andrew Wetmore, who is also Ridley-Lowell’s admissions representative, will lead the discussion. 

 

Wetmore says he's been surprised by how many people don’t understand what the Probate Court does, what inflation and deflation mean, or what bankruptcy is. Everyday economic terms regarding government, taxes, investing and borrowing, he said, are often misunderstood.

 

The lecture is not intended to provide financial advice, but to provide a better understanding of basic language used in economics and how it applies to the average person.

 

The free lecture is from 5:45 to 7:30 pm.

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