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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-06

Ridgefield Police open survey for citizen feedback

In order to gather feedback from those who have contact with the Ridgefield Police Department, Citizen Survey has been opened.  The Ridgefield Police Department is conducting a Citizen Survey in order to gain insight into the public's experiences with the department. 


This survey is done every three years to also give residents the chance to make suggestions to the Ridgefield Police Department. 


Respondents are asked to rank priorities of several areas including Burglary, Domestic Violence, Drugs, DUI, Larcenies, Motor Vehicle Violations, Underage Drinking, Vandalism.  Residents are also asked to rate initial contact with dispatch, officer response time, overall impression of the department and officer professionalism and courtesy as above average, average or poor. 


The survey is open until July 8th.

Red Cross makes appeal for summer blood donors

There are a couple of area blood drives coming up.  There is a blood drive at the North Salem firehouse from 2 to 6pm this afternoon, and a blood drive at Newtown Congregational Church next Tuesday. 


Summer typically is a tough time for the Red Cross to collect blood, mainly because of vacations.  In order to meet just the basic needs of area patients, the Red Cross has to collect 650 units of blood each day to supply the 31 hospitals in Connecticut. 


Blood donations are divided into three parts: red cells, plasma and platelets.  People undergoing chemotherapy need platelets, burn and shock victims need plasma, and incidents where trauma results in blood loss- red cells are needed. 


Red Cross officials say 44-percent of people are universal donors, meaning their O-positive blood type can be given to anyone.  The Red Cross is reminding potential donors there is no artificial substitute for blood, they are the only way to give the gift of life.

Route 133 in Bridgewater to be closed for fiber optic cable installation

Road work in Bridgewater next week will force a closure of Route 133.  The state Department of Transportation says Route 133 in Bridgewater will be closed beginning July 5th.  The closure is expected to be in place through the 19th in order for utility work to take place in advance of a project on their calendar next year. 


The project includes the upgrade of guide railings along Route 133 in the area of the Lake Lillinonah Bridge.  About 3,000 feet of the road will be fully reconstructed, while the remaining section of the road will be milled and paved.  Drainage will be upgrade throughout the area as well. 


The closure in July is needed so that 3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults can be replaced.  25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable will also be installed. 


Route 133 traffic will be detoured to Route 67 through New Milford following Route 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield and back to Route 133.

Newtown official makes call to action to combat opioid addiction crisis

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is working to bring together all related agencies and department to focus on a response to the opioid abuse crisis.  WestCOG has come up with some recommendations and actions to combat the crisis. 


Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says there is no denying that Connecticut, and the country is in the grips of a significant public health crisis, which shows no signs of abating.  Llodra says there were 13 fatal overdoses among Newtown residents from 2009 through 2014.  She says data will show even more such events from 2014 through today. 


The data was collected from the Connecticut Medical Examiner's Office.  In Danbury during that time, there were 37 fatal overdoses.  New Milford recorded 20 and there were 10 in Bethel.


Llodra says the opioid addiction crisis is robbing municipalities of young and not-so-young people who are imprisoned in a habit of drug use that threatens their lives and creates emotional pain for their loved ones.  She called for all residents to get informed, get involved and help propel the issue to public consciousness.

Budget cuts: Fewer life guards at Squantz Pond

There will be fewer lifeguards soon at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says their budget was reduced by about $10 million for the coming fiscal year, so they've had to take several steps to reduce costs. 


DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee says they can lower operating expenses through some efficiencies.  The moves now will result in about $1.8 million in savings. 


Among the changes being rolled out soon after Independence Day weekend is an adjustment in days and hours of operations and services at campgrounds, beaches and museums.  Squantz Pond and other inland parks will have life guard coverage between three and five days per week, including weekends, as opposed to the current seven day a week guard coverage. 


Putnam Park in Bethel/Redding will soon see the Visitors Center open only on weekends. 


At less visited sites, there will be less frequent lawn mowing and other maintenance work.  Klee says they are continuing to analyze park operations to identify more potential savings, and expect to take additional cost cutting steps in next Spring.

Connecticut delegation pledges to keep push for gun laws

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation say they're energized by the public's reaction to the recent House of Representatives sit-in and Senate filibuster, promising to not stop pushing for more restrictive gun laws.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson and Elizabeth Esty appeared at the Legislative Office Building on Friday to discuss the recent actions, all spurred by Connecticut delegation members.

While unable yet to pass legislation expanding background checks and denying gun sales to suspected terrorists, Murphy says five years from now this time will be viewed as a ``watershed moment'' in the gun debate. Murphy led last week's 15-hour filibuster.

The lawmakers are heartened by a compromise bill barring guns to some suspected terrorists clearing a procedural Senate vote on Thursday.

'Friends' advocacy group proposed for Danbury off-leash dog park

By the end of the summer, Danbury officials are hoping to have a four acre parcel of land open for dogs to run around off-leash. 


A ground breaking ceremony was held Tuesday for the fenced in park off Miry Brook Road.  City Council President Joe Cavo, who spearheaded the effort, says it took longer than expected to get to the ground breaking because the City had to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements, and craft an ordinance allowing for dogs to be off-leash. 


In order to pay for upkeep of the park, Cavo suggests setting up a Friends of the Dog Park group, and leave envelopes at an information stand. 


He also proposing having a park naming contest among City school children.

Regional councils of governments share grant money to find efficiencies

Nine regional councils of government are sharing in $4.3 million in grant money.  Governor Dannel Malloy says the goal is to help cities and towns reduce costs and burdens by providing support for their efforts to regionalize services and coordinate essential functions of government. 


The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, which spans from New Milford and Sherman down to Stamford, has received $254,782 for snow plow routing study and development.  The study would find the optimal route for snow plows, and that information would be disseminated to participating municipalities. 


A $200,000 grant has been approved for the Northwest Hills Council of Governments for a Technology and Business Model Study.  Four towns in the northern end of the WestCOG region will also benefit from the Rural Broadband and Mobile Enhancement study.  Those towns are Bridgewater, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman. 


The goal is to develop a technology and business model to provide high speed broadband and mobile coverage services.

Federal judge dismisses MGM's suit against Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by casino developer MGM Resorts International challenging the constitutionality of a Connecticut law creating a process for a possible third casino along the Massachusetts border.

In a ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Alvin Thompson agreed with Connecticut officials that MGM did not "adequately allege an injury" from the new law and therefore does not have legal standing to sue.

MGM, which plans to open a $950 million casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, calls the ruling incorrect and says it will seek an expedited appeal.

Connecticut's Office of the Attorney General says it's prepared to defend the case against an appeal of the suit, which was originally filed in August 2015. The Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is also challenging the casino law in a separate lawsuit being partly financed by MGM.

Kennedy Jr. cancels Danbury Democratic fundraising appearance

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee announced a fundraiser this week featuring State Senator Ted Kennedy Junior, but Republican Town Committee Chairman Jack Knapp called yesterday for Kennedy to cancel the July fundraiser while Democratic Party Chairman Gene Eriquez remains under investigation for domestic violence. 


Kennedy responded that he will cancel his appearance, saying that there is no place for violence against women.  Eriquez previously stepped aside from his role as chairman while nominations were being made for state legislative races. 


Knapp said in an emailed statement that he finds it outlandish that Eriquez is still the chairman of the Democratic Party while he is under investigation. 


Eriquez is due in court on Tuesday.

Public hearing closed on Dorothy Day House cease and desist order appeal

A Danbury Board is trying to make a decision based on speculation about approvals made more than 30 years ago.  The Zoning Board of Appeals closed the public hearing last night about a cease and desist order issued to Dorothy Day Hospitality House, to bring the emergency shelter into compliance with zoning regulations. 


The Board did not make an immediate decision on whether to uphold the order issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  Members accepted briefs from Attorney Neil Marcus, and the attorney representing the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  All parties agreed to stop the clock so that the briefs could be analyzed. 


In response to neighbor complaints about quality of life issues raised this winter, Dorothy Day submitted a request to the Planning Commission to renew the permit from 1984.


Marcus made several arguments about why the Danbury Planning Commission issued one-year renewable permits back in 1983 and 1984.  He said one reason Dorothy Day stopped applying was because there were several retirements in the Planning Department at that time and no one gave them notice in subsequent years that they had to apply.  Marcus also said in the years that followed, the City Fire Marshals and the City Health Department visited every year for inspections, which led them to believe that there was a valid permit.  Marcus believes the one-year renewable conditions were put on the permit back in 1983 because there were concerns about the emergency shelter being co-ed.  There was no precedent at that time to know what Dorothy Day was talking about when they said they wanted to open an emergency shelter for the homeless.


Part of the ambiguity, since the issue dates back more than three decades, is that there are vague and sparse records.


Marcus has filed a mandamus brief with the Superior Court which would in essence make the Danbury Planning Commission hear Dorothy Day’s arguments, because the present day Planning Commission has said on-year renewable permits are not within their jurisdiction. 


Attorney Dan Casagrande told the Zoning Board of Appeals in his brief that the Zoning Enforcement Officer has been trying to work with Dorothy Day and doesn’t want to see them suddenly closed.  The Zoning Enforcement Officer has asked, several times, that Dorothy Day apply to the Planning Commission for a Special Exception Use to allow the emergency shelter to remain open under a valid permit.  Casagrande also said that the reason the City Shelter on New Street received a permit that didn’t have a time restriction was because zoning laws had been changed before it opened in 1991.  Had Dorothy Day applied for a new permit each year as required, he says they could have been grandfathered in.


Zoning Board of Appeals member Herb Krate said that there can only be speculation about what the Boards and Commissions of 1983 were thinking.  But he said they could assume there was a one-year renewable restriction put on the permit because there was some apprehension about the impact a shelter would have on the community.


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.

Danbury approves funding for volunteer firefighter pager system

Fire Chief TJ Wiedl requested additional funding from the city for a volunteer firefighters pager system.  He says the pagers are necessary due to infrastructure changes to the City's radio system.  The $40,000 will come from the City's Contingency Account.  After this allocation, the fund is left with about $184,000.  Wiedl told the City Council that the pagers have a five year service contract.  He was asked if the radios are damaged due to negligence, who is responsible.  Wiedl said the individual companies are going to assign the pagers, and they will be handled like any other equipment.

Concert held in Ridgefield in honor of Orlando shooting victims

A concert entitled "Our Reply to Violence" was held in Ridgefield last night as a way to help heal, honor and remember the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.  The event at the Ridgefield Playhouse featured The Ridgefield Chorale, The Ridgefield Symphony, Debbie Gravitte and former Yankee Bernie Williams among others.  The concert was named "Our Reply to Violence" based on a quote from Leonard Bernstein following the assassination of JFK.  He said that sorrow and rage would not inflame retribution, rather inflame art and that while music will never again be quite the same, the reply to violence is to make music more intensely, more beautifully and more devotedly than ever before.

Gun issue brings respect, criticism of Connecticut lawmakers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's congressional delegation is becoming known for its united stance on gun control measures.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy's 15-hour filibuster last week marked a high point for what's become a signature cause for him and others in the state's Democratic delegation. It was an effort to press for votes on two gun control measures.

All of Connecticut's members of the U.S. House participated Wednesday in a sit-in, demanding a vote on gun violence legislation.

But some Republicans and gun rights advocates aren't impressed.

State Rep. Dan Carter, a Republican challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November, says the group focused so much on the gun issue following shootings in Newtown, Orlando, Florida, and elsewhere that it has neglected other issues, such as fighting terrorism or overall violence in society.

Eureka water tank nearing completion

The Eureka water tank in Bethel is nearly completed.  The tank is scheduled to be ready to be filled for pressure testing by mid-July, and is expected to deliver water to Bethel in the fall. 


It is located on Long Ridge Road in Danbury on property the town of Bethel has owned since the 1800s. 


First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the tank is going up fast, even ahead of schedule.  Knickerbocker says this 750,000 gallon tank has been badly needed for decades.  It will provide better water pressure and volume needed for fire suppression.  It will also allow for further expansion of Clarke Business Park.


The final dome panel has been placed.  About 20 curved panels comprise the side walls of the tank.  They will be closed together with concrete and steel reinforcement.  A steel cable wraps around the outside of the structure and more concrete is placed over that.


(Photo: Matt Knickerbocker, Twitter)

Local lawmaker avoids primary in U.S. Senate race

A local lawmaker says it's full speed ahead, now that there won't be a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.  Bethel state Representative Dan Carter entered the race on April 4, and won his party's endorsement May 9.  Former Olympian August Wolf, who entered the race a year ago, announced Tuesday that he did not gather enough petition signatures to force a primary. 


Carter says his campaign has had a lot of momentum since winning the GOP nomination by about 86 percent.  Wolf phoned Carter to tell him that he would be suspending his campaign prior to publicly making the announcement.  Carter says the party itself has been unified since the convention. 


Carter says he believed all along he would have clear sailing without a primary, which he says would have been draining on limited GOP financial resources better used in the general campaign.  Carter says no matter who the Republican nominee was, they were going to have an uphill battle because neither had a ton of money. 


He says the thought of a primary lingering over him didn't help, so his campaign is excited to move forward.

Public hearing tonight on proposed lease with Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will hold a Public Hearing at 7:30 tonight in Town Hall, to consider the Lease Agreement for the Teen Barn at 6 Governor Street.  The Lease is between the town and the Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield.  The premises known as “The Barn”, would be leased for five years.  According to the proposed lease agreement, the rent for the original term and any renewal is$1 per year.

Danbury officials break ground at off-leash dog park site

A ground breaking ceremony has been held for the off leash dog park planned in Danbury.  The fenced in park will be on four acres of land off Miry Brook Road, by Danbury Municipal Airport.


The park will be for daytime use only and have limited parking. No one will be staffing the park.  A sign will be posted saying that aggressive dogs are not allowed.  The only restriction is that dogs are licensed. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says this has long been needed in Danbury, and is one of the top requests of residents.



Plans call for about an acre set aside for small dogs, and across a gravel path another 1.3 acres for large breed dogs.  This will be the largest off-leash dog park in the Greater Danbury area, with the exception of Southbury.


An environmentally sensitive area will be protected with fencing.  City Council President Joe Cavo says navigation into and out of the airport will also be preserved by turning the property into a dog park.  The land was purchased years ago with an Federal Aviation Administration grant.  There was a farm on the property, but Danbury bought the land to take down trees and buildings so there would be a better approach to the airport.




Just under $200,000 is needed to create the park.  That funding was approved in the 2005/2006 Open Space Recreation Bond.


City officials are hoping to officially open the park at the end of summer or early fall.

Access Health CT enrollment fair in Danbury

Up to 14,000 Husky A parents will no longer qualify for that Medicaid plan as of August 1st due to state budget cuts.  Enrollment fairs are planned across the state to help people find new health insurance so there is no gap in coverage.  Access Health CT manager Manny Cebert says representatives will be at the Danbury Women's Center on West Street this afternoon.  Some may qualify for federal subsidies on the exchange and some may re-qualify for other programs.  The enrollment fair is from 1 to 5pm.

Wolf suspends US Senate campaign, can't wage primary

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Republican Senate hopeful August Wolf says he's suspending his campaign.

Wolf said in a statement Tuesday his campaign fell short of collecting the 8,079 signatures the former Olympian needed to challenge Bethel state Rep. Dan Carter in Connecticut's Aug. 9 primary. Carter will now face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November's general election.

Wolf has blamed ``arm-twisting'' by ``party-insiders'' for his loss of the GOP's endorsement at the recent state convention. He says his campaign's defeat ``will continue to discourage outsiders from taking the plunge'' and getting involved in politics.

Wolf, a former shot putter who placed fourth at the 1984 Summer Olympics, first filed paperwork to run for the Senate in May 2015. His campaign has faced staffing and other challenges.

Wolf says he'll support Carter, including with fundraising.

Senate candidate calls for inquiries into Justice Department release of Orlando 911 calls

A local lawmaker is raising questions about the investigation and response to the shootings at the Orlando nightclub earlier this month.  Republican Senate candidate Dan Carter of Bethel is looking to unseat Richard Blumenthal in November.  He says while Americans have come to expect very little from their government, they expect more than is being done. 


He says the Department of Justice should have released a full and unedited transcript of the 911 calls made by the gunman. 


Carter said the bills voted on yesterday would not have prevented the attack, the Boston Marathon bombing or the San Bernadino attacks.  He called Senator Chris Murphy's 15 hour filibuster theatrics that distracted from the truth, rather than finding solutions. 


Carter called on Blumenthal to ask for inquiries and come up with solutions.

Congressional candidate critical of FBI lapses leading up to Orlando massacre

A Republican running for Congress in Connecticut is speaking out about the shootings at the Orlando nightclub.  5th District candidate Clay Cope says this terrorist attack has left the country filled with questions and anxiety about how this tragedy occurred and why it was not prevented, given the fact that the FBI knew about the shooter. 


Cope says there were numerous warning signs from family and work associates, and yet a State Department investigation was cut short. 


While he is saddened and angry about the senseless loss of life, Cope says he had nagging questions about the effectiveness of the country's approach to national and personal security.  Cope says the victims cannot speak for themselves now, and he wants to know if the right course of action is being pursued to prevent future incidents.

Hatter Monument unveiled in Danbury

Hatter’s Monument on the Heritage Plaza outside of Danbury City Hall has been unveiled.  The monument was commissioned by the City to serve as a memorial to Danbury’s rich history.  The Hatter’s Monument Committee commissioned local artist David Boyajian to design the sculpture.  The 14-foot bronze and steel sculpture depicts a hatter at work.


Boyajian is an adjunct professor of art at Western Connecticut State University.  He says the monument captures the visual and poetic narrative of Danbury’s prominent role in the 20th century American hat making industry.


Mayor Mark Boughton says the hatting industry, which began in the 18th century, remained strong in Danbury up until the 1980’s.  In the early 1900s, nearly a quarter of the hats sold in the United States were made in Danbury.


Danbury Museum & Historical Society Executive Director Brigid Guertin says the piece is an open, flowing design that presents viewers with an opportunity to glance at the past or walk right up to it.  She says this will serve as both a memory of the past, and as an inspiration for future generations.  The Museum is hoping to work it into the visual curriculum for students studying local history.  She says this is also a great introduction to Danbury's history for visitors.


Vigil to be held in Danbury to honor Orlando nightclub shooting victims

A vigil is being held in Danbury tonight to honor those killed at the nightclub in Orlando.  The vigil is taking place at First Congregational Church on Deer Hill Avenue at 7pm.  The Association of Religious Communities and The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury are also organizing the service. 


Both churches fly the rainbow flag, though the one in front of the Universalist Church has been burned and stolen in the past.  First Congregational Church Reverend Pat Kriss says the Interfaith Vigil seeks to support the LGBTQ community targeted by the attack at the Pulse nightclub, to honor those killed, to reaffirm support of the Muslim community and to decry hate and violence. 


Kriss says this tragedy in Florida has brought back many emotions of her.  She says unfortunately, she was one of the pastors who had to bury a teacher who was killed at Sandy Hook School.  Over the past week she's been thinking about that, and about the bomb sniffing dogs who were brought into the church in advance of the service. 


Mayor Mark Boughton and 5th Congressional District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will deliver remarks.  Leaders in the LGBTQ and religious communities will also deliver statements and prayers. 


Representatives from Triangle Community Center will also be in attendance.

Hearing set on gun maker's bid to dismiss Newtown lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A judge did not immediately rule on whether to dismiss a lawsuit against the maker of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill 20 children and six adults in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre- a weapon similar to the one used this month in the shooting at a Florida nightclub.


The families of nine children and adults killed at the Newtown school and a teacher who survived are suing Remington Arms, the Madison, North Carolina-based parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which made the XM15-E2S rifle used in the shooting. They say the company knew its AR-15-style rifle was meant for the military and was too dangerous to sell to civilians.


Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis, who rejected a similar request by Remington to dismiss the lawsuit in April, heard arguments Monday morning.


Debate over whether military-style rifles should be legal has intensified following the shooting at an gay nightclub in Orlando by a gunman with a similar rifle, made by Sig Sauer, that left 49 people dead and dozens of others injured. Also Monday, the U.S. is expected to vote on gun control measures a week after the Orlando shooting.


Mathew Soto, brother of Victoria Soto, a teacher who died in the Newtown shooting, said Monday outside the Bridgeport courthouse that the Orlando shooting brought back horrible feelings from the day his sister was killed.


"Because our country cannot come together on the issues of assault rifles, these mass shootings will continue to happen," he said. "Our actions here are meant to bring about change. ... We are Newtown. We are Orlando."


Although the Orlando shooting probably won't be admissible in the Connecticut case, it likely will be on the minds of jurors in a potential trial, said W. John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University. AR-15-style rifles have been used in other mass shootings.


In Newtown, gunman Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster rifle legally purchased by his mother to kill the 26 victims. He killed his mother before going to the school, where he fatally shot himself as police arrived.


Lawyers for Remington continue to argue the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.


The Remington attorneys disagree with the victims' families' lawyers, who say an exemption in the federal law 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.


The families' lawsuit alleges Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and the common law of "negligent entrustment," which was designed for cases such as when a gun store sells to someone who is obviously intoxicated and threatening to kill someone.


In addition to Remington Arms, the defendants also include Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the now-closed East Windsor store where Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza, purchased the Bushmaster rifle in 2010.

When mass shooters die, some feel better off with no trial

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Through his death in a gun battle with police, the Orlando nightclub gunman deprived his victims' families of the chance for a trial that could have helped to channel grief, offer a sense of justice or provide answers for the bloodshed.


But some touched by other mass shootings in which the killers have died say they are grateful to be spared the extended, emotionally grueling legal proceedings of the kind that have added to publicity for killers like the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter.


In Newtown, where the gunman took his own life after killing 26 people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, Scarlett Lewis said his survival only would have made it more difficult as she grieved for her murdered 6-year-old son, Jesse.


"I've always felt grateful that our shooter killed himself because you don't have to deal with that, you don't have to deal with the media coverage of a trial and all that pain," Lewis said.


The man who killed 12 people when he opened fire inside a suburban Denver movie theater in July 2012 pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, subjecting the victims' families to a four-month trial that ended with his conviction on 165 counts. He was sentenced in August to life in prison without parole.


One of the family members who regularly attended the trial, Tom Sullivan, said there were difficult moments, including an encounter with the defendant's parents at a courthouse cafeteria. But he said he was glad to hear the accounts of witnesses who described the final hours of the life of his son, Alex.


"I'm thankful we had a trial. I'm thankful I got to hear all the stories," Sullivan said. "We got a lot of answers to questions that we wouldn't have gotten."


For Caren Teves, the trial was "agony."


She attended the trial every day except for the birthday of her slain son, also named Alex, out of a sense of duty to him and the other victims. It was such an ordeal she would have preferred if the shooter didn't make it out of the theater alive.


"It was agonizing to just sit there every day and seeing that individual sit there pretty much smugly," she said. "It was very difficult."


Studies indicate killers survive in roughly half of U.S. mass shootings. Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama, said his review of 185 shootings between 1966 and 2010 in which a person targeted victims in a confined, populated area found that of the shooters who died, about 80 percent killed themselves and 20 percent were killed by police.


Chavis Crosby, of Statesville, North Carolina, his emotions still raw from the deaths last weekend of 49 victims in Orlando, including his brother, said the shooter did not deserve to live on for a trial.


"Me personally, as far as the killer, I'm glad he didn't make it out neither," said Crosby, who lost his 25-year-old brother Tevin Eugene Crosby. "He took all those lives. He deserves the same thing."


The Orlando attack has some parallels to the December 2015 shooting by a married couple in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people. In each case, the killers pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and died in shootouts with police. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that others could be charged in the continuing investigation into the Orlando shooting.


Jennifer Thalasinos, whose husband was killed in San Bernardino, said it has been easier knowing there would not be a trial for the killers.


"I don't need an explanation to why they did it. They did it because they were evil and full of hate and hated America," said Thalasinos, who gleaned from a coroner's report that it was the male shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook, who killed her husband, Nicholas. "The fact I don't have to look at his face or deal with him is great."


Mandy Pifer, whose boyfriend, Shannon Johnson, was killed in the shooting, said she feels safer knowing Farook is dead. Still, she would have liked to see his reaction in court when her boyfriend's name was mentioned.


"I don't think Shannon was a specific target at all," she said, "but I like to think Syed felt a little bad about shooting someone who was nothing but kind to him."


Pifer said she also finds herself looking forward to the trial of Enrique Marquez Jr., a longtime friend of Farook who bought the rifles used in the attack and has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.


There is a desire, she said, to see somebody held responsible.

DUI penalties increased when children are in car

A local lawmaker is touting a bill signed into law by the Governor recently.  Criminal penalties of driving under the influence with a child in the car are increased under An Act Concerning Child Endangerment. 


The bill also applies while driving a school bus or student transportation vehicle. The increased penalties will be enforced through longer mandatory minimum and maximum prison terms, as well as changes to probation requirements. 


Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding, a co-sponsor of the bill, says these increased penalties should have been implemented years ago.  He says this bill will help secure the safety of the youngest community members. 


The bill takes effect October 1st.

Ground to be broken this week for Danbury dog park

A ground breaking ceremony will be held this week for the off leash dog park in Danbury.  The fenced in park will be on four acres of land off Miry Brook Road, by Danbury Municipal Airport.  The only restriction is that dogs are licensed.  The park will be for daytime use only and have limited parking. No one will be staffing the park.  A sign will be posted saying that aggressive dogs are not allowed.  Plan calls for cleaning out the undergrowth and planting grass seed.  The ground breaking is set for Tuesday.

Prevention Council to host discussion about opioid abuse

A panel discussion on opioid abuse is being held this week in Roxbury.  The Prevention Council of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington is hosting the panel discussion Thursday.  Among the topics that will be discussed are symptoms of abuse, prevention methods and treatment options.  Recent changes in state law about opioid prescriptions will also be discussed. 


An EMT, a recovery expert and a treatment professional will be on the panel, which will also feature recovering addicts and a DEA agent. 


Deaths in Connecticut from heroin and opioid overdose doubled in the past three years, according to data from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office. 


The talk is being held at Roxbury Town Hall at 7pm Thursday.

Mayor: If state isn't bankrupt, grant coming to Richter House

The Danbury City Council has given final approval on paperwork to send to the state in order to accept a $1 million grant for infrastructure improvements at Richter House. The state Bond Commission already approved the funding.  Officials say it should take the Office of Policy and Management about eight months to cut the check.  Mayor Mark Boughton quipped, that is if the state isn't bankrupt by then.


The heat, the plumbing and handicap accessibility all need improvement.  Danbury has set aside $500,000 in the City's Capital Budget for renovations to the first floor of the 1920 building. 


The phases have been broken up in a way that they are self-contained, and they won't have to worry about having unfinished areas of the building.  The City will have to go out and look for funding for Phase Two and Phase Three.


The second floor will be turned into a meeting room, but Boughton says a lot of utility work is needed there.

Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission looks down the road

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is considering another parcel of land on the Fairfield Hills campus as a place to honor the 26 educators and children killed on 12-14. 


After objections from open space advocates over the possibility of locating a memorial at the High Meadows, the Commission could be looking a little further down the road.  The Newtown Bee reports that there is a site half a mile away near the intersection of Wasserman Way and Nunnawauk Road under consideration. 


The parcel was set aside for future town use and already has a small parking lot for those who use the land for passive recreation.  The state would have to sign off on that site though if it is to be used for anything other than agriculture or open space. 


The Commission is still drafting design guidelines, but a consultant has suggested designs be no higher than 6-feet at its highest point.

Brookfield schools hire new Finance Director

Brookfield Schools have hired another new Director of Business Operations.  Ken Post of Bethel has been tapped to fill the role.  Post holds a Master's Degree in Education, held a similar position in Wilton and has budgeting experience.  He is the 5th business director since 2014.  The Brookfield Board of Education has been working to get its finances in order after years of mismanagement which led to the firing of then-Superintendent Anthony Bivonah and larceny charges against former Finance Director Art Colley.

Newly appointed Police Chief to attend 'Saturdays with the Mayor' this weekend

There will be a guest at this month's Saturdays with the Mayor event in Danbury.  During the last gathering before the summer break, Mayor Mark Boughton will be joined by the newly appointed Chief of Police, Patrick Ridenhour. 


Boughton says these gatherings provide the opportunity for residents to stop in to the Mayor’s office with any questions or comments regarding the city.  He says having Chief Ridenhour in attendance on Saturday will create a unique opportunity for residents to get to know him and learn more about his community-oriented approach to law enforcement.


Ridenhour officially takes on the position of Chief July 11th.


The meeting is in the Mayor's Office on the third floor of City Hall off Deer Hill Avenue.  It's from 10am to 12pm.

Helicopters spotted over Danbury belong to Army

If you saw several helicopters flying over Danbury Thursday, it was the Army.  The helicopters were out between 1pm and 2:30pm.  The U.S. Army Reserve Training Center is located on the Lee Farm property off Wooster Heights Road.  The facility consolidated training activities from centers and armories in Danbury, Fairfield, Naugatuck, Norwalk and Waterbury.

Danbury opens spray park at Kenosia Park

The latest spray park in Danbury will officially open Saturday morning.  The ribbon was cut Thursday on the 5,800 square foot concrete spray park at Kenosia Park on Danbury's west side. 



It will be open 7 days a week from 10am to 2pm.  Recreation Director Nick Kaplanis says the Rogers Park and Highland Avenue spray parks are very popular, so they hope some kids will take advantage of this new facility.  An attendant is on duty whenever the spray parks are open.



Mayor Mark Boughton say the water comes from the city public water system, is not reused and goes into the sanitary sewer system to be cleaned.  There is always clean water coming out of the sprays.  Boughton is hoping for a lot of use this summer as kids got out of school June 9th. 



Picnic benches were added to the area around the spray park.  The water elements are hooked up to a computer that's been programmed with 12 sequences of 45 seconds each.  The equipment is on a timed system so it shuts down when no one is at the park. 


The architect was JJA Sports of Massachusetts.  The contractor was Childscapes, Inc.  The cost was $170,000.  Much of it came from the Open Space Recreation Bond.


Designs started in 2008, but the City ran into permitting issues with the state.  The property technically is owned by a water company.  Lake Kenosia is considered a reservoir, and the state would not allow additional recreational opportunities there. Several years ago the state Department of Public Health asked that the City stop allowing swimming at the lake off the public beaches.  The equipment was purchased in 2008, anticipating a permit.


Even though ground was broken in the fall, the work was finished before winter and then weatherized for this summer's opening.  Childscapes President Tim Pesko says the project took about three weeks from start to finish because Danbury had all of the equipment on hand.  An inch and a half water line was run from the street to the park, and split into each of the elements on the splashpad.  The underground plumbing and drains were put in and then the concrete slabs were poured.

Carter critical of Sens. Murphy, Blumenthal filibuster effort

A local lawmaker is critical of Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal's nearly 15 hour stand on the Senate floor yesterday calling for a vote on gun control reforms. 


Bethel Representative Dan Carter, who is running against Blumenthal in November, said they were using the terrorist attack in Orlando to raise "blood money to fund their egotistical agendas".  Carter said this is not the first time that Blumenthal and Connecticut Democrats have used a national tragedy and fear mongering to raise campaign cash.  He cited a campaign fundraising email from Blumenthal using the shooting at Sandy Hook School just four months later. 


Carter said their filibuster wasn't about gun control, terrorism or the LBGTQ community, but rather about fear mongering and fundraising.  Carter instead called for finding out how people are being radicalized, falling through the cracks at the FBI and getting a firearm permit for his job.

Ridgefield selects new Town Planner

Ridgefield has selected a new Town Planner.  Betty Brosius will be retiring at the end of the month.  Joanne Meder has been selected to replace Brosius, and has been on the job for a couple of weeks.  She officially takes on the position July 1st.  The Ridgefield Press reports that Meder has a masters degree in city and regional planning from Harvard University and a bachelors degree from Cornell in environmental design and urban studies.  She has her own consulting firm and previously worked for Frederick P. Clark Associates, which has done work for Ridgefield in the past.

Dem senator wages filibuster, claims progress on gun control

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Democratic senator who mourned the loss of 20 children in his home state waged a roughly 15-hour filibuster into early Thursday, asserting as he yielded the floor that Republican leaders had committed to hold votes on expanded gun background checks and a ban on gun sales to suspected terrorists.


With a compromise on the gun issue still improbable, Sen. Chris Murphy stood on the Senate floor for most of Wednesday and into Thursday. Speaking in the wake of the mass shooting early Sunday at a Florida nightclub, Murphy said he would remain there "until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together." He concluded the filibuster at 2:11 a.m. EDT Thursday.


Although Murphy, D-Conn., talked optimistically about his cause, it is unlikely the amendments Democrats are seeking will pass the Republican-run Senate.


Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., acknowledged as much hours later, saying nothing will change as long as "Republicans continue to take their orders from the National Rifle Association."


Murphy spent much of the time speaking about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. He finished his filibuster by talking about one of the young boys who died there.


When Murphy had stood on the floor for more than nine hours, his own young sons, ages 4 and 7, briefly appeared in the Senate gallery.


"I hope you'll understand some day why we're doing this," Murphy said, addressing his oldest son. "Trying and trying and trying to do the right thing is ultimately just as important as getting the outcome in the end."


Democrats have revived the gun debate after 49 people were killed at a nightclub in Orlando, the worst such incident in modern U.S. history. The fight pits strong proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms against those arguing for greater restrictions on the ability to obtain weapons.


Murphy's call for the two votes came as presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the NRA to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch lists or no-fly lists from buying guns. The same day, Trump told a rally in Georgia: "I'm going to save your Second Amendment."


Murphy was joined by more than 30 Democratic colleagues on the floor, many of whom angrily told stories of mass shootings in their own states and called for action.


"The next time someone uses a gun to kill one of us, a gun that we could have kept out of the hands of a terrorist, then members of this Congress will have blood on our hands," said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.


Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., asked: "Where is our spine?"


Attempts at compromise appeared to collapse within hours of surfacing in the Senate Wednesday, underscoring the extreme difficulty of resolving the divisive issue five months from November's election. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had been involved in talks with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there was no resolution.


Murphy, 42, began speaking at 11:21 a.m., and was showing few signs of fatigue when the filibuster ended. By Senate rules, he had to stand at his desk the entire time to maintain control of the floor.


Tourists and staff filled the galleries past midnight, and Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Cory Booker of New Jersey stayed with Murphy on the floor for most of the debate. Like Murphy, Booker did not sit down for the full 15 hours.


It's been nearly a decade since Congress made any significant changes to federal gun laws. In April 2007, Congress passed a law to strengthen the instant background check system after a gunman at Virginia Tech who killed 32 people was able to purchase his weapons because his mental health history was not in the instant background check database.


Murphy is seeking a vote on legislation from Feinstein that would let the government bar sales of guns and explosives to people it suspects of being terrorists. Feinstein offered a similar version of the amendment in December, a day after an extremist couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, but the Republican-run Senate rejected the proposal on a near party-line vote.


The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was added to a government watch list of individuals known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activities in 2013, when he was investigated for inflammatory statements to co-workers. But he was pulled from that database when that investigation was closed 10 months later.


In a statement, the NRA reiterated its support for an alternate bill from Cornyn that would let the government delay firearms sales to suspected terrorists for up to 72 hours. Prosecutors would have to persuade a judge to block the transaction permanently, a bar Democrats and gun control activists say is too high.


Cornyn and other Republicans argue that Feinstein's bill would deny due process to people who may be on the terror list erroneously.

Ribbon cutting planned at Lake Kenosia Spray Park

A ribbon is being cut at Thursday morning for the Kenosia Park Spray Park in Danbury.  The sprayscape at Kenosia Park is an interactive water park where kids hit a button or the spray is activated from the ground by touch, so there's minimal water usage. 


Designs started in 2008, but the City ran into permitting issues with the state.  The property technically is owned by a water company.  Lake Kenosia is considered a reservoir, and the state would not allow additional recreational opportunities there. Several years ago the state Department of Public Health asked that the City stop allowing swimming at the lake off the public beaches. 


The equipment was purchased in 2008, anticipating a permit.

Danbury to unveil Hat City statue Monday

A statue dedicated to Danbury's hatting history will be unveiled on Monday afternoon.  The statue depicting a hatter in his studio is located at the Heritage Plaza outside of City Hall. 


City officials say even though the hatting industry in Danbury has completely vanished, its impact on the City’s history will last forever.  By 1800, Danbury was producing more hats than any place else in the United States. By 1887, some 30 factories were manufacturing five million hats a year.  Costly labor disputes, changing fashion trends, and less profit resulted in many factories closing or moving, and the last hat factory in Danbury closed in the 1980’s. 


The unveiling is at 4pm Monday.

State Police K9 to be outfitted with bullet protective vest

Another Connecticut State Police K-9 is receiving a bullet and stab protective vest through a charitable donation.  Tobi, who is assigned to Troop L in Litchfield, will receive the vest in 8 to 10 weeks.  It was sponsored by Stacy's Pet Porium of Litchfield.  The vest comes from Vested Interest in K9s charity. 


Tobi has been assigned to Trooper Bruce Lachance since September.  Tobi will turn two in August. 


The German shepherd is trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles and obedience.


Sen. Murphy leads filibuster for gun violence prevention amendment

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has launched a filibuster on the Senate floor urging action on gun control measures.  Just before taking the floor this morning at about 11:20am, Murphy tweeted that he was prepared to stand and talk about the need to prevent gun violence for as long as he can because he has had enough. 


(Photo: C-SPAN)


Murphy keeps referring back to the deadliest mass shooting in the country's history this weekend in Orlando, and also the shooting at Sandy Hook School which claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.


"For those of us that represent Connecticut, the failure of this body to do anything, anything at all in the face of that continued slaughter isn't just painful to us, it's unconscionable," Murphy said.


Murphy said he cannot look into the eyes of those children's relatives and tell them that Congress has done nothing since.


Murphy is allowing questions from his colleagues while not yielding the floor.  U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Charles Schumer of New York and Bill Nelson of Florida are among those offering questions to prolong discussion. 


The questions and Murphy's filibuster come during debate over a spending bill he wants to offer gun violence prevention measures to.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty delivered a care package to Murphy.  Congressmen Jim Himes and Joe Courtney made their way to the Senate chamber to show their support.


(Photo: Esty, Twitter)


(Photo:Himes, Twitter)

New Milford residents approve budget on second try

New Milford residents have approved a budget on the second try.  Voters yesterday approved the $61.7 million school budget by about 140 votes, compared to the just 18 votes rejecting the first proposed school budget.  The $38.2 million municipal budget was approved by nearly 1,000 votes. 


The Board of Education budget was reduced by $500,000 after residents rejected the May budget proposal.  The municipal budget, which includes capital items, was not changed. 


There was a 16-percent voter turn out yesterday, almost double the 9-percent participation rate in May.

Bill increasing energy savings credit could benefit Bethel

Municipalities could save money under a bill signed into law by the Governor last week.  The legislation requires the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to authorize an additional $6 million of virtual net metering credits per year to municipal customer host towns. 


State Representative Steve Harding says locally, Bethel will be able to utilize these energy savings. 


The virtual net metering law allows host towns to receive billing credits for additional zero/low emission power they generate. Those credits, in turn, can be used at the towns’ discretion towards any other bills they may have. 


Harding says Bethel has already invested a great deal into utilizing solar energy, and this bill extends the cap on monetary credits for such investments.  He notes that this will mitigate energy costs and potentially save Bethel a significant amount of money. 


The bill takes effect July 1st.

Newtown victim's mom pens open letter after Orlando shooting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A woman whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the 2012 shooting at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School is expressing her grief over the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead.


Nelba Marquez-Greene says in a post on the memorial Facebook page for her daughter, Ana Grace, that she's sorry "our tragedy here in Sandy Hook wasn't enough to save your loved ones."


She also says the Orlando shooting took her back to when she was one of those relatives waiting to hear news about a loved one.


Marquez-Greene advises victims' families to embrace the love that will come their way and urges people not to send money to Orlando until they know it will be received by the victims and not "organizations designed to benefit from tragedies."

Juvenile Matters at Danbury Court to be closed due to state budget cuts

Juvenile Matters Court at Danbury will be closed due to state budget cuts.  Chief Court Administrator Patrick Carroll announced the first round of closings today.  The Judicial Branch budget for the coming fiscal year is $77 million less. 


Plans call for cases from Juvenile Matters at Danbury to be transferred to Juvenile Matters at Bridgeport and Waterbury.  Juvenile Matters at Torrington, Juvenile Matters at Stamford and the Judicial District Courthouse in Willimantic will also be closed by the end of the calendar year. 


Carroll said these closings will be disruptive and will impact many people. He notes that the savings generated by closing the facilities are required because of the loss of staff, through attrition, a strict hiring freeze and layoffs that have already been announced. 


To date, layoff notices have been issued to 239 permanent Judicial Branch employees across a wide range of job classifications. The layoffs are effective the close of business on June 23.  An additional 61 temporary employees assigned to courthouses have been informed that the Branch can no longer utilize their services as of the close of business on June 22.

Newtown Parents Offer To Settle With Town

The parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting massacre are offering to settle their wrongful death lawsuit against Newtown, and its school system for $5.5 million apiece.


The parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner filed the settlement offers Monday in Danbury Superior Court. A lawyer for the town and the school board declined to comment Tuesday.


The lawsuit alleges security measures at the school weren't adequate when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators in 2012. The other victims' parents aren't part of the lawsuit. In another lawsuit, the families of nine victims and a teacher who survived are suing Remington Arms, the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which made the semi-automatic rifle used in the shootings.

Congressman walks out on moment of silence for Orlando victims

4th District Congressman Jim Himes left the House floor during the traditional moment of silence Monday night to honor 49 people who died in an attack at an Orlando nightclub.


In a series of tweets Sunday, Himes said the silence doesn't honor victims, but mocks them.  He calls the observances an ``abomination'' and says he will not be silent. 


Himes shared similar sentiments on the House floor Monday afternoon.  "Silence, that is how the leadership of the most powerful country in the world will respond to this week's massacre of its citizens." 


If the Congress had a single moral fiber, he said they would force themselves to get to know the slaughtered innocents, cut short by a fetish to meet bloody tragedy with silence.  Himes said not him, not anymore.  He said he will no longer stand there absorbing the faux concern, contrived gravity and tepid smugness of a House complicit in the weekly bloodshed. 


Sooner or later, Himes says the country will hold members accountable for their inaction.  He said to his colleagues that as they bow their heads and think about what to say to their God when asked what they did to slow the slaughter of innocents, there will be silence.

$1 million grant to pay for phase 1 improvements at Richter House in Danbury

A $1 million grant from the state has been accepted by Danbury officials to be used for infrastructure improvements at Richter House.  The grant money has already been approved by the state Bond Commission.  Danbury has set aside $500,000 in the City's Capital Budget for renovations to the first floor of the 1920 building. 


During the City Council meeting last week Betty Bontempi of the Richter Association for the Arts says they have faced some challenging situations.  She listed three of them: the heat, the plumbing and the handicap accessibility.


The improvements are part of a three phase plan for renovations and remodeling. 


Bontempi says between the time they put up the thermostat and the first puff of heat is felt, it's two hours.  Performers have been so cold, volunteers make them hot chocolate just to hold.  For most of one season, they didn't have any hot water because something was wrong with the pipes.  They had to heat water on the stove in order to wash hands and dishes.


She called the upstairs plumbing a disaster.  The bathrooms upstairs have broken floor tiles, the public can't walk upstairs and they can't have art shows.  Bontempi also noted that they can't plug in two coffee urns in the same room, let alone the same outlet.


Bontempi says handicap people have a hard time on the uneven stones of the front path.  If they do manage to get to the door, she says there is no railing for them to hold when they try to negotiate the two steps into the house.  She says they had to have two strong men lift a young woman in a wheelchair down the three steps into the salon so she could perform her poetry program.  Bontempi added that most handicap people don't come to Richter anymore.


Richter House is listed on the Connecticut Register of Historic Places.

Bridge replacement projects force road closures in Redding

There are some road closures in Redding now in effect for road work.  Effective today, Route 53 just south of Umpawaug Road is closed.  The detour is Route 302 from Bethel to Route 58 to Route 107.  This is for a bridge replacement project. 


Also starting today, Poverty Hollow Road at Stepney Road is closed.  The detour is Church Hill Road to Route 58.  This is also for a bridge replacement project. 


No pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic will be able to pass through either closure.  Redding Police urge motorists to plan ahead using alternate routes, but to still expect heavier than normal delays because of the two closures.

Aquarion Environmental Champion Award winners selected

The 6th annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards ceremony has been held by Aquarion Water Company.  Aquarion accepted hundreds of nominations from across the state in four categories: Large Business, Non-Profit Organization, Adult and Student in Grades 9 through 12. 


The awards recognize volunteer projects that have significantly contributed to the improvement of Connecticut’s environment through the protection, conservation, restoration or stewardship of natural resources. 


The student winner, Anna Bower Richardson of Southbury, received $1,000 award.  The adult winner was Dick Leavenworth of Woodbury, who received a $2,500 grant to go to an environmental non-profit of his choice.  The non-profit winner was the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies of Danbury, which received a $2,500 grant. 


Pratt and Whitney was the large business winner.

'Row of Honor' to stay up through July 4th

Flags will continue to fly at the Row of Honor in Putnam County.  Due to overwhelming popularity and support, the flags lining Lake Gleneida, known as the Row of Honor, will continue to fly until July 4th this year instead of Flag Day.  240 flags will be flown to represent the 240 years since the United States of America was established. 


Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the Row of Honor is a beautiful way to show gratitude to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety and freedom.  She notes that the biannual tradition means so much to both veterans, and to the families who have lost their loved ones. 


Flags can be sponsored in the name of a loved one lost in the service of our country, with proceeds given directly to VET2VET, a program that helps veterans suffering from PTSD, depression, and other difficulties, reintegrate into society.

Senior Housing Forum to be held in Danbury Tuesday

A senior housing forum hosted by the Danbury Commission on Aging and the Department of Elderly Services is being held Tuesday.  The forum will feature three related topics. 


Geriatric Care Manager Joan Garbow will talk about independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing.  Danbury Housing Authority Executive Director Carolyn Sistrunk will discuss senior housing in Danbury.  Two representatives from Connecticut Community Care will also be in attendance.  Care Managers Rachael Meade and Amanda Hadgraft will talk about Connecticut at Home Care Program for the Elderly. 


Danbury Commission on Aging Secretary Neil Corday says there are diverse housing options for seniors in the community, and they want to keep seniors well informed.


The forum Tuesday is at Danbury Senior Center, 10 Elmwood Place, from 1 to 3pm.

Major renovations coming to Beaver Street Apartments Cooperative in Danbury

Major renovation projects at the Beaver Street Apartments Cooperative in Danbury have been launched.  The renovations are being financed by a $3,000,000 mortgage loan from Newtown Savings Bank.  The Beaver Street Apartments Cooperative is the only low-income family housing cooperative in Western Connecticut, with 70 units accommodating approximately 300 residents.


Connecticut Institute For Communities CEO Jim Maloney says funding will provide reroofing of the Cooperative's buildings, replacement of aging boilers, the installation of hardwired smoke and carbon detectors in every apartment, the internal rehabilitation of many individual apartments and major expansion of the on-site parking lots. He called this a significant commitment to insure affordable housing in the Danbury community. 


Connecticut Institute For Communities has been the Managing Agent of the Beaver Street Apartments Cooperative since 2005 when the Cooperate was threatened with foreclosure. Since then, CIFC has led a comprehensive administrative and physical revitalization of the Cooperative, including its' fiscal and managerial processes.


CIFC held a competitive process to see which bank could give the best terms and best rates.  Maloney says it was fortuitous that Newtown Savings Bank is a local bank.  They have a relatively new branch in downtown Danbury.

Elementary school yearbook honors Sandy Hook victims

MONROE, Conn. (AP) - A special page in an elementary school yearbook is dedicated to the 26 students and staff killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant reports the first-graders who survived the attack are finishing elementary school Monday, ending the students' three years in a Monroe school that served as Sandy Hook Elementary School since the shooting.

The Newtown school system doesn't hold elementary school graduations so the yearbook is the only chance to recognize the 20 first-graders and six teachers and administrators who were fatally shot in December 2012.

The yearbook features the colors of the school and a page with photos of most of the 26 victims.

The new Sandy Hook school is expected to open in Newtown in September.

Connecticut Rep. Himes opts out of AFL-CIO endorsement

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) U.S. Rep. Jim Himes will be the only member of Connecticut's Democratic congressional delegation not to receive an endorsement in this year's election from the state's largest labor organization.

Himes' campaign spokeswoman says the 4th District Democrat decided not to seek the backing of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, recognizing the concern over his support for granting the president trade promotion authority.

Maryli Secrest says that while Himes determined ``not to force a political discussion,'' he'll continue to work with organized labor ``on their many areas of agreement.'' She noted Himes has a 90 percent lifetime rating with the AFL-CIO, which met Friday for its state convention.

He's seeking a fifth term.

Trade promotion authority would set guidelines but let the White House send Congress a trade proposal to adopt or reject, but not amend.


Himes is being challenged by Redding Republican state Representative John Shaban.

Brookfield Zoning Commission approves 'Renaissance' project

A revised building project has been approved by the Brookfield Zoning Commission.  On Thursday, the group signed off on the new Renaissance housing development in the Four Corners area.  The developer initially submitted a controversial plan for a six story building, with no retail space. Public safety and other concerns were raised, prompting the negotiations.


The alternate plan calls for two three-story buildings, with commercial space on the ground level.  The alternate plan includes 120 units as opposed to the 156 units proposed in the original plan.  A pedestrian bridge would connect the two buildings. The developer's attorney, Chris Smith, says that was done in order for residents in the second, smaller building to have access to the amenities located in the larger building. 



The Brookfield Zoning Commission did put some conditions on their unanimous approval.  One condition is that the developer designate areas for commercial development, complete a lighting plan and set aside 10-percent of the units as affordable workforce housing.


Smith previously said the amended application is no longer affordable or incentive housing because there are fewer units being proposed.  If the alternate proposal had been rejected, the developer could have forced their original six-story plan on the town.  Since it was an 8-30g housing project, local zoning decisions would have been overridden. 


30-percent of the units would have been setaside as affordable under the original plan.  The only way to fight that would have been for Brookfield officials to show health and safety issues.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis reiterated that there would need to be a significant amount of training, possibly new equipment purchased and concerns of putting unpaid volunteers in an extraordinary situation.


Attorney Neil Marcus, who is representing the town, said density is not a public safety issue.


Some Zoning Commission members, including Secretary Mara Frankel, raised concerns with the small size of the proposed studio apartments and the overall density of the plan.  Commission chair Ryan Blessey said in perfect world wouldn't ask for this, but he would absolutely accept it at this point.


Blessey said their decision reflects Brookfield's willingness to deal with difficult properties.  He said this Federal Road property has been in a sad state for a number of years.  It is a challenge, not only in the marketplace, but physically.  The commercial highway in front of it has been vacated, for a lack of a better word, in recent years.  It's in close proximity to the Still River, which has substantial issues and on the third of four sides, there are high tension wires. 


Blessey says they worked hard with applicant to come up with a palatable compromise.


Marcus pointed out that if everyone is happy when they walk away from negotiations, it's not a compromise.



Black bear captured in Danbury

'Danbeary' was on full alert today after a bear scampered up a tree off of Lake Avenue.


(Photo Courtesy: Danbury Police Sgt. John Krupinsky)


Neighbors in the Lawn Crest Drive area had been seeing a bear for the last few days, and this morning it was spotted in a tree.  That tree was in the backyard abutting the backyard of former City Councilwoman Mary Teicholz.  She says Danbury Police were keeping an eye on the bear, and kept it in the tree until the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection showed up. 


(Photo Courtesy: Lee Teicholz)


Police then asked people to clear the area because DEEP wildlife biologists were going to wait for the bear to come down before tranquilizing it.  The male bear was about 245 pounds, and estimated to be two to three years old.


DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain says they did in fact shoot two darts at the male bear and he came down from the tree.  The bear hit a fence, but appeared uninjured. 


(Photo Courtesy: Mary Teicholz)


Teicholz says neighbors were good about keeping their distance.  The bear ran between cars in her driveway and then went into another yard before the tranquilizer drugs took effect. 


Schain says they did capture the bear and took it to a suitably forested area for relocation.


(Photo Courtesy: Lee Teicholz)

Relay For Life events to be held in the Greater Danbury area this weekend

Governor Street in Ridgefield will be closed tomorrow night for Relay for Life.  The road will be closed from Donnelly Plaza to East Ridge Road from 5:30pm Saturday until 8am Sunday.  Relay for Life will be held at Veterans Park Field during that time. 


A 12-hour Relay for Life event will also be taking place in Bethel this weekend from 11am Saturday to 11pm.  The event at the high school track will include a survivor lap and a luncheon.  The Relay for Life events are held to raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer through the American Cancer Society. 


New Milford is also among the 11 communities in the state holding events this weekend.

Greater Danbury area police departments participate in Special Olympics Torch Run

Police Departments across the Greater Danbury area this morning participated in the Special Olympics Torch Run.  Brookfield Police, along with officers from the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution took the torch from New Milford Police officers, and then handed off it off to the Danbury Police Department.  The Special Olympics Torch Run went also through Ridgefield and Wilton.  Redding Police, along with officers from Bethel and Newtown were also among those carrying the Flame of Hope.  Many officers will also be at the state games tomorrow at Southern Connecticut State University.

Danbury to study transportation, pedestrian safety in downtown area

20 projects across Connecticut will share $11 million in funding under a competitive grant program for transit-oriented development and responsible growth, targeted at boosting economic activity and creating jobs.  Danbury is set to receive $225,000 in state grant money for a Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Planning Study.  The money will be used for research on land use and transportation conditions in the downtown.


Recommendations will then be made to further transit-oriented development, responsible growth, and infill development in the City's downtown area. The planning study will also focus on analyzing existing transportation modes of ridership.


Planning Director Sharon Calitro says it could take several months of negotiations with the state Department of Transportation and other agencies to sign off on the grant and scope of services before going out to bid.  The study itself is expected to take 12 to 15 months.


Calitro says transportation is an important component to the future success of the downtown area. 


There's a 10-percent City funding match required.  There was a contingency worked into the municipal budget in case Danbury was selected for this grant program.


The Main Street Renaissance Task Force has laid out Downtown Revitalization Zone boundaries, which consist of Main Street and City Center, but Calitro says the consultant would look at whether the Transit Orient Development should be a more extensive area.

New signage coming to Rt 53/Newtown Tpke intersection in Redding

A new sign is being added to the intersection of Route 53 and Newtown Turnpike in Redding. 


The sign will be added to the existing stop sign, warning drivers at the stop sign heading south that “Oncoming Traffic Does Not Stop.”  The state Department of Transportation next month will be upgrading the signing and pavement markings at the intersection of Route 53 and Newtown Turnpike in Redding. 


State Representative John Shaban says he was pleased by the DOT's quick response to his request. Both he and others have witnessed near collisions for years at this intersection because it looks to be a three way stop.  Shaban says the sign should ensure that drivers take pause, instead of assuming that the oncoming traffic will stop.

Decision on proposal to bring 'disc golf' to Danbury delayed

A proposal to build a so-called "disc golf" course on Danbury open space land is going back to a committee for further consideration.  The request to install an 18-hole disc golf course on the Farrington Woods property was made last June.  The sport is played like ball golf but instead of a club, a frisbee is thrown into a metal basket. The basket is four feet tall, sunk into the ground, and the baskets can be removed.


The City Council voted this week to send the proposal back for more discussion.  Councilman Duane Perkins was the lone vote to not recommit the item to a committee. 


The delay stems from a committee meeting last month where the Public Works Department said their involvement would be limited to determining the property boundary.  Questions came up over the number of trees that might need to be cut down.


Mayor Mark Boughton says if even one tree is going to be cut, he wants to know who is cutting it down and if they are properly insured.  He was under the impression that no trees would be cut down.  Councilman Vinny DiGilio agreed, saying that a project of this scope requires due diligence.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the trees on the property all belong to the City, so if any cutting is going to be done it has to be posted.  If there's an objection to a particular tree, a public hearing would have to be held.


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


Councilman Paul Rotello expressed concern during a committee meeting last month about some of the holes being located near the water.  There were also comments made about the conservation easement on the property.


Disc golf player Matt Serfass, a Danbury resident, called Farrington Woods "underutilized" and said the 192 acre property would be perfect for a course.  There are no disc golf courses within 20 miles of Danbury, the closest being in Norwalk, Mt. Kisko and Hartford.  He says this will bring other players to the area, who will patronize local businesses.


One concern, about grants and restrictions on the proposed property, has been resolved.  City Attorney Les Pinter says the grants have been reviewed and it was determined that there would be no violation of the agreement or passive use of the park.  Parking and liability if someone were to hurt themselves while playing are also concerns.

State Police K9 outfitted with bullet protective vest

A Connecticut State Police K-9 has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s.  The vest was sponsored by a fundraiser hosted by Blue Ribbon Boarding Kennels in Bethlehem. 


K9 Max has been assigned to Trooper First Class David Hawley for one-and-a-half years and is currently working at Troop L in Litchfield. Max is a three-year-old German shepherd who is trained in all patrol functions including tracking, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehension, obstacles and obedience. 


The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050.


Bear spotted roaming around Danbury

Danbury officials are warning of bear sightings in the last couple of days.


The most recent sightings have been in the Chambers Road area around Candlewood Lake and the Morris Street/Highland Avenue area.  Mayor Mark Boughton says there are 5 or 6 bears roaming around Danbury.  He encouraged residents to call the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection if they spot a bear.  While the first instinct is to call police or animal control, Boughton says officers are not trained to tranquilize bears.


In the past year, 27 bear sightings in Danbury have been reported to DEEP. 


Between last June and this weekend, DEEP says there have been 6 reported sightings in Bethel, 27 in Brookfield, 19 in Easton, 41 in Kent, 31 in Monroe, 23 sightings in New Fairfield, 108 in New Milford, 94 in Newtown, 53 in Redding, 19 sightings in Ridgefield, 10 in Sherman and 40 in Wilton.  DEEP officials say the numbers may be deceiving though, because if several neighbors all see the same bear and phone DEEP it's recorded as individual sightings.


The black bear is a stocky animal with short, thick legs. It is the smallest North American bear. In Connecticut, adult males, or boars, normally weigh from 150 to 450 pounds, while females, or sows, weigh from 110 to 250 pounds. Yearlings weigh 45 to 100 pounds. Adults are 5 to 6 feet long.


The black bear is an intelligent animal with keen senses of smell and hearing. It can detect the slightest aroma of food, which may lead the bear to campsites and near homes. Odor from carelessly stored food and garbage can lure bears long distances. Black bears travel and feed primarily at night, but can be active any time of the day.  Females with cubs tend to have restricted home ranges which average 5 to 7 square miles in Connecticut, while males move about widely in home ranges of 12 to 60 square miles.


To avoid attracting bears remove bird feeders from late March through November, wait until the morning of collection before bringing out trash and keep trash bags in a container with a tight lid and store in a garage or shed.  Residents are encouraged not to leave pet food outside overnight. 


Lime can be sprinkled on the compost pile to reduce the smell and discourage bears.

If you see a bear on your property you can either leave the bear alone and wait for it to leave or make loud noises from a safe distance to attempt to scare the bear away. After the bear leaves the property, remove anything that may have attracted it to the area.

Two Danbury Fire Department members promoted

Fire Fighter James Gagliardo has been promoted to Communications Coordinator.  He started his career in Danbury in June 2007, having been a certified dispatcher in Westchester County.  Gagliardo is a State Fire Instructor with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and the Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control. 


He has been Chief of the Putnam Lake Volunteer Department since 2003.  Gagliardo has earned many certifications throughout his career, and received numerous awards and citations.


Fire Fighter Kevin Lunnie has been promoted to Fire Lieutenant.  Lunnie started his career in Danbury in September 2007, having previously been a paramedic with Norwalk Hospital.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Lunnie has demonstrated his dedication to the department through his achievements over the years. 


He is working toward he degree in Fire Technology and Administration.  Lunnie has attained several certifications and receive numerous awards and citations.



(Photos: Danbury Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 801)

DMV warns of car tax bills going out from wrong towns

The state Department of Motor Vehicles is asking resident to check car tax bills to make sure all information is accurate.  The DMV says because of computer system changes made last summer, they've found an issue for about 50,000 residents.  Initially, 250,000 errors were detected by the DMV.  In some cases residents are receiving bills from the wrong town. 


Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the Transportation Committee, says this is a continuing saga of problems at the DMV, the most public agency of the state. 


Commissioner Michael Bzdyra says one challenge they knew they would face with the software upgrade was data conversion.  He says the agency has done a diligent job of reducing the errors as much as possible. 


In order to straighten it out, residents are asked to call the town that issued the bill.  In the past, the DMV collected registration information in a variety of inconsistent ways, but the new system standardizes that information.  Officials say some of the issue stems from residents having one mailing address, but a separate place where the car is kept or most often used. 


Working with the DMV, the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers says it's important that anyone receiving a bill from the wrong town not ignore the incorrect tax bill.


Boucher says this comes on the heels of wait times once again skyrocketing.  Over the weekend, Boucher says vehicle registrations came to a halt.  Information was able to be input right up to the end, and they weren't able to process it.

Danbury receives Transit-Oriented Development study grant

20 projects across Connecticut will share $11 million in funding under a competitive grant program for transit-oriented development and responsible growth, targeted at boosting economic activity and creating jobs. 


Danbury is set to receive $225,000 in state grant money for a Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Planning Study. 


The money will be used for research on land use and transportation conditions in the downtown.  Recommendations will then be made to further transit-oriented development, responsible growth, and infill development in the City's downtown area. The planning study will also focus on analyzing existing transportation modes of ridership.

Danbury City Councilman resigns

Danbury City Councilman Jack Knapp has resigned after 14 years of public service.  He served six years on the Zoning Commission, and the last eight on the Council.  Knapp says it's been an honor to serve, but with his limited time he has chosen to serve in another capacity. 


Knapp has been chairman of the Danbury Republican Town Committee for the past several months. 


He says he will miss the privilege afforded to him by citizens of Danbury to serve on the Council, but that he wouldn't have enough time to do both volunteer jobs in the way that he would want. 


Knapp thanked his colleagues, and all city servants, for their work and friendship.

Newtown documentary gets 1st public Connecticut screening

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Mark Barden and David Wheeler share intimate details of their families' struggles following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in "Newtown," a documentary that gets its first public showing in Connecticut this weekend.


The men, whose first-grade children were among the 26 people gunned down inside the school in December 2012, told The Associated Press they wanted people to understand the grief in Newtown and to open up some lines of communication among those affected by the tragedy.


Wheeler said that already has begun to happen. He said he's had conversations with fellow residents after private screenings in Newtown that wouldn't have taken place without the film.


"It is perfectly natural to be uncomfortable in the wake of this tragic, horrific experience. It is perfectly natural not to know what to say or do for any number of reasons," said Wheeler, whose son Ben died at Sandy Hook. "We humans make mistakes; we can be short-sighted and we can miss things, but in the end, connection and conversation can help ease that. I hope this film can help facilitate those conversations."


The film debuted this year at the Sundance Film Festival and is showing this weekend at the Greenwich International Film Festival. It focuses on the aftermath of the shooting in the Newtown community by following victims' families, first responders, teachers, neighbors and clergy.


"It moves past the failed political discourse into a real human level where we can see, think and feel through the lens of an authentic experience," said Maria Cuomo Cole, the producer of the documentary, which took three years to make.


Among other things, the film shows the struggle of an emergency medical technician who transported Ben Wheeler to the hospital and wrote a letter to his family. It explores the emotions of a priest who had to preside over numerous funerals and of teachers feeling guilty about not wanting to go back to work.


"Still, all these years later, nobody knows what to do," said Abbey Clements, who was a second-grade teacher at Sandy Hook and huddled with her class during the shooting. "It's like when someone is sick and you don't want to bring it up because you don't want them to be sad; you don't know what to say. I think that's the experience here. I hope a message of this film is about having those hard conversations and connecting."


Barden said he chose to allow the filmmakers into his home, to talk to his now-teenage daughter, Natalie, and to use home videos of his son because he wanted to give people a "first-hand window" into the devastation of gun violence.


He said he knows the film will be difficult for some to watch, but it's important.


"You see Daniel animated as he was in his little life and how he still should be," said Barden, who has become an advocate for mental health and gun policy reform. "I hope that translates to the audience and gives them a deeper, more personal sense of loss and for what's at stake here."


The filmmakers said they wanted to show how different communities in Newtown have been affected as grief has rippled out from the center of the tragedy. But Laurie Veillette, the EMT who transported Ben, said the film barely scratches the surface of the shooting's effects in Newtown.


"The documentary shows a small number of people, close to the events of that day, many of whom have been able to respond to the tragedy through activism," she said. "I believe the film successfully represents these individuals, but it doesn't reveal the full scope of the tragedy."


But director Kim Snyder said she hopes the documentary shows a sense of purpose and community resilience in Newtown.


She highlights a scene in which Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan in the shooting, sits down to talk with a parent from the same classroom, whose son survived.


"It's in some ways about how do you have those conversations, which I think in some ways is a beginning of healing for the community," Snyder said.


After screenings on Saturday and Sunday, many of those who appear in the film will participate in panel discussions with the audience.


"Newtown" is scheduled for a wider theatrical release in September and will later be broadcast on PBS.

City Council confirms Danbury Police Chief appointment

A new Police Chief has been confirmed in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton selected Stratford Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour to take over for the retiring Danbury Chief Al Baker.  He was confirmed by the City Council Tuesday night.  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.


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 Connecticut Police Chiefs Association 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).

Federal officials: 2 tribes 'exhausted' recognition efforts

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs has notified two state-recognized tribes in Connecticut that they've exhausted both administrative and judicial remedies for gaining federal recognition.

The BIA says the tribes' only remaining option is Congress passing legislation granting them federal recognition.

The director of the Office of Federal Acknowledgement sent letters on June 2 and April 25 to the Historical Eastern Pequot Tribe in North Stonington and to the Schaghticoke (SKAT'-ih-kohk) Tribal Nation in Kent, respectively, saying the department no longer accepts requests for acknowledgement from entities that were previously denied.

Richard Velky, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, says the letter came as a complete surprise. He says his tribe does not have any applications currently pending. He contends there are ``other avenues'' for his tribe to receive recognition.

Wolf campaign confident it collected enough signatures

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A spokesman for Republican U.S. Senate hopeful August Wolf says the campaign is confident it has collected enough signatures to ensure the former Olympian will appear on Connecticut's Aug. 9 primary ballot.

Tuesday marked the deadline for Wolf's campaign to submit signatures of registered Republicans to registrars of voters across the state. Wolf needs 8,079 signatures to challenge the GOP's nominee, Bethel state Rep. Dan Carter.

The registrars now have a week to verify the signatures before submitting them to the Secretary of the State's Office, which will determine whether Wolf collected the required amount.

Wolf has blamed ``arm-twisting'' by ``party-insiders'' for his loss of the party's endorsement at the recent Republican State Convention. If there is a Republican primary, the winner will face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November.

Swim area at Kettletown State Park closed due to elevated bacteria levels

Connecticut environmental officials have closed inland beaches at five start parks because of high bacteria levels in the water.  The swimming areas at Indian Well in Shelton and Kettletown in Southbury are among those closed.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection blamed the issue on storm water runoff from Sunday's heavy rains.  Bacteria levels were elevated at the inland beaches.  Water at the beaches is being retested today and will be reopened when tests show bacteria levels have returned to required levels.

Redding Police cite more than 50 people for not wearing seatbelts

A two-week seatbelt enforcement campaign was carried out by Redding Police recently.  Chief Douglas Fuchs said yesterday that officer handed out 54 tickets or warnings during the safety effort, which ended on Friday. 


Two officers in unmarked patrol cars were stationed at four different locations during the campaign.  The state Department of Transportation provided Redding Police with a grant to cover the overtime costs for the 8 shifts. 


Fuchs says that according to state researchers tasked with making such observations, seat belt use rates in Redding have gone down.  He says it's such an easy way to prevent injuries and save lives.

Danbury company makes Fortune 500 list

A Danbury company has once again made the Fortune 500 list.  Praxair is listed at 262, with $10.8 million in revenue, and $1.55 million in profits.  The industrial gas supplier operates facilities that produce and distribute products like oxygen, helium, nitrogen and hydrogen.  Praxair has made the Fortune 500 list for 22 years, its previous rank was 249.   Companies are ranked by total revenues for their respective fiscal years.  The only changes to the prior years’ data are for significant restatement due to reporting errors that require a company to file an amended 10-K.

Local lawmaker applauds Gov. for signing 3D mammography bill

A local lawmaker is touting a bill recently signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy.  The so-called 3D mammogram bill allows women to have their insurance pay for new and accurate screening tests.  The technology was developed by a Danbury-based company. 


Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey says the accuracy of the technology made by Hologic will ultimately lower costs by preventing false positives that lead to more tests.


Malloy visited Hologic about five years ago and touted their high tech, high paying jobs.  At that time, Malloy highlighted their 3D mammogram imaging machines, noting that the precision manufacturing would help save lives and ensure the state's economic future. 


Despite his reservations about the bill, Malloy admits the technology will likely become the new standard. 


The bill passed the state Senate unanimously.  It was approved 139 to 3 in the House.


Godfrey says the Governor had a big decision to make, because big health insurance companies don't like the bill.  He says it was a decision between women's health care and local companies or Cigna, Aetna and other big health insurance companies.

All Brookfield Police Officers supplied with opiate overdose response kits

The Brookfield Police Department is part of the “NARCAN” Program.  All Brookfield Police Department Officers are trained in the recognition of Opiate use and overdoses. 


As of mid-March, all Brookfield officers have received mandatory training in the administration of intra-nasal Naloxone to help reduce the injuries and fatalities of Opiate overdoses. Every Brookfield Police officer has been issued an individual Opiate overdose response kit, which are carried by all on duty Officers. 


(Photo: Brookfield Police Facebook)


The Department says they take pride in equipping officers with a vital lifesaving tool.  Police say the kits have already been put to use in the community, and have saved lives.

Slain Sandy Hook principal inspires Danbury musician to create tribute piece

26-year old Paul Frucht is a Danbury native and classical musician/composer.  He is a doctoral candidate at the Julliard School in New York.  The American Composers Orchestra selected his work for a performance as part of their 25th Annual Underwood New Music Readings. 


The piece celebrates Dawn Hochsprung's legacy of positivity, courage, and strength. She was an assistant principal at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury from 2000 through 2003, when Frucht was a student there.  She also led the National Junior Honor Society, of which he was a member. 


After the shooting at Sandy Hook School claimed Hochspring's life, he wrote a piece of music he called Dawn.  The work was composed for a small group of instruments and performed at a ceremony honoring her at Rogers Park in June 2013.  He has since been inspired to rework the piece for a full symphony orchestra to continue to tell Dawn's story.


The performance is Tuesday the 14th at 7:30 PM at Miller Theatre in New York City.   It's part of their 25th Annual Underwood New Music Readings.  Tickets are free.

Newtown officials to discuss money for consultant on Sandy Hook memorial

The Newtown Board of Selectmen is meeting tonight.  Part of their agenda calls for a discussion about appropriating some funding to the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  The money from a special revenue fund dedicated for the purpose of a memorial, would go toward consulting services in the design process.  The Commission has gone back to the drawing board on a location for a memorial because open space advocates objected to construction on the pristine area of the Fairfield Hills Campus known as the High Meadow.

New Milford officials to host Q&A sessions on proposed budget

Two Question & Answer sessions are being held in New Milford for officials to discuss the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year with residents.  This Saturday and next, the Board of Education Chairman, the Superintendent of Schools and Mayor David Gronbach will host the sessions. 


Voters rejected the education budget by just 18 votes during a referendum May 24th, where there was only an approximate 9-percent voter turnout.  The municipal portion was approved by little more than 200 votes, but Town Charter says both must go back to referendum if one fails. 


Approximately 500-thousand dollars has been cut from the proposed budget, about half a percent.  The combined school and municipal budget is proposed at $99.8 million.


The failed $62.2 million Board of Education budget represented 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 $36.6 million. 


The Q&A sessions will be at the Lillis Administration Building on East Street from 10am to 12pm.

Gov. signs 3D mammography bill

Even though he had reservations about the bill Governor Dannel Malloy has signed into law the so-called 3D mammogram bill that allows women to have their insurance pay for new and accurate screening tests.  The technology was developed by Danbury-based Hologic. 


Malloy considered a veto of the bill because he has lingering questions about its cost.  He says there are possible legal issues, if women who had their insurance covered breast screening for the year now want the high tech test. 


The bill passed the legislature with virtually no opposition.  Advocates, including Danbury state Representative Jan Giegler, say its accuracy will ultimately lower costs by preventing false positives that lead to more tests.


Malloy admits the technology will likely become the new standard.  He hopes the price for the procedure will go down over time.

Part of Housatonic River designated as 'wild and scenic'

41 miles of the Housatonic River have been designated as "wild and scenic" under a bill signed by Governor Malloy on Tuesday.  The bill gives the designation to a northern section of the Housatonic River from the Massachusetts border to Boardman Bridge in New Milford.  The area from the Massachusetts border to New Milford's Boardman Bridge will be preserve according to the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.


Under the bill, the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG) acts as the administering agency for the river on behalf of the Housatonic River Commission (HRC). It must do so according to terms set out in a memorandum of agreement between the NHCOG, HRC, National Park Service, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Housatonic Valley Association, Inc. For this purpose, the bill makes NHCOG a political subdivision of the state.


The bill requires the governor to apply to the U.S. secretary of the Interior to complete the river's designation as a wild and scenic river. Rivers designated by the secretary are included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. 


The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects free-flowing rivers with important scenic, natural, recreational, historic, cultural, or similar values.


Lastly, the bill specifies that the wild and scenic river designation will not affect authorized agricultural activity along the river as long as the activity does not need a federal Army Corps of Engineers permit. These permits are required when conducting certain activity in navigable waters and other areas such as wetlands.

Connecticut parks participate in Trails Day

Connecticut Forest & Park Association has added to the locations and activities for the largest trails celebration in the nation.  There are over 200 free, guided activities taking place on Saturday and Sunday.  People of all ages and interests are encouraged to get outdoors and enjoy Trails Day events happening throughout the state, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, running, trail maintenance, kayaking, educational walks, bird watching, and letterboxing. 


Executive Director Eric Hammerling says getting as many people as possible out to enjoy the great beauty of Connecticut’s forests, trails, and other special places is the primary goal.  He says the organization celebrates the protection of public access to the outdoors with CT Trails Day.


The organization thanked Appalachian Mountain Club-CT Chapter, town agencies, land trusts, outdoors-oriented businesses, volunteers and financial supporters for making Trails Day and other events possible.



Bear Mountain Reservation 9am-12pm Letterboxing

Old Quarry Nature Center 11am-3pm Nature Walk

Tarrywile Park 9am-12pm Trail Maintenance



Appalachian Trail at Route 341 9am-3pm Trail Maintenance

Macedonia State Park 9am-3pm Hike


New Milford

Pratt Nature Center 10am-12pm Nature Walk



Zoar Trail/Paugussett State Forest 9:30am-12:30pm Hike



Saugatcuk Falls Family Hike 2pm-4pm



Rail Trail 6:30pm-8pm Nature Walk



Appalachain Trail 9am-3:30pm Trail Maintenance



Devil's Den Nature Preserve 11am-2pm Hike

Katherine Ordway Preserve 9am-11am Hike

Ridgefield Little League to present plans for lighted field

Plans for a lighted field for the Ridgefield Little League has been advanced by the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the Board agreed unanimously at their meeting last week to the $1 a year lease from the state to the town and the town to Ridgefield Little League. 


The Route 7 property near the intersection with Simpaug Turnpike was taken by the state through eminent domain decades ago for a Super 7 project, which is no longer in the works. 


Ridgefield Little League will now present plans to the town's Planning and Zoning Commission for the 2 acre site.  The Press reports that the plans call fro lights, a press box, concession stand and equipment storage, which would allow for tournaments now that the program includes travel baseball.

Democrats select delegates for National Convention

Democrats across Connecticut gathered at 10 caucuses to select the state's 36 district-level delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.  In total, 18 delegates were elected for Hillary Clinton, and 18 delegates were elected for Bernie Sanders, as determined by the results of Connecticut's primary. 


All at-large delegates will be selected by the Democratic State Central Committee on Tuesday. 


From the 5th Congressional District, the delegates for Clinton are Deborah D'Agostino, Julie Kushner and Nate Brown.  For Sanders, they are Mercedes Alonzo, Jennine Lupo, Robert Berriault and Justin Molito.  


From the 4th Congressional District, the delegates for Clinton are Mary McBride Lee, Barbara Reynolds, Mario Testa and William Tong.  For Sanders, they are Luis Magana, Christopher Yerinides and Nina Sherwood.

Route 34 detour planned this weekend at Stevenson Dam

Monroe Police are warning drivers that Route 34 at the Stevenson Dam will be closed this weekend, and a detour will be put in place.  The state road has been closed on and off for more than a year for maintenance work on the dam by First Light Hydro Generating Company.  Route 34 will be closed from 6am Saturday through 11:59pm Monday.  Traffic will be diverted down Route 111 to 110 toward Shelton where Route 34 can be picked back up in Derby.  The maintenance work is only being done on weekends to limit the impact to the public.

National Gun Violence Awareness Day 'Wear Orange' events in Newtown

On this National Gun Violence Awareness Day, more than 300 influencers, corporations, mayors, partner organizations and a series of more than 75 iconic landmarks across the country will participate in the Wear Orange Campaign.


Moms Demand Action Connecticut Survivor Engagement lead Abbey Clements says Wear Orange was inspired by friends of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago high school student killed by gunfire a week after performing at President Obama's second inauguration.


Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence/The Brady Campaign Southwestern CT Chapter, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Newtown Action Alliance, and Sandy Hook Promise joined the more than 90 partners participating in events today.


Governor Malloy issued a proclamation in recognition of the awareness campaign.


Nearly 150 gun violence prevention advocates, gun violence survivors, and community leaders will be wearing orange and participating an Orange Walk and Rally in Newtown tonight.  There will then be a free screening of Katie Couric's documentary, entitled "Under the Gun" at the Danbury AMC Loews Theater.


Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra, Sandy Hook Promise founder Nicole Hockley, Newtown Congregational Church Reverend Matt Crebbin, Connecticut Against Gun Violence Executive Director Ron Pinciaro, and Newtown Action Alliance Chairman Po Murray are participating.


The Walk begins at 6pm from the Fairfield Hills Campus and will end at Edmond Town Hall with a program of speakers.

Newtown Legislative Councilwoman gains Democratic backing to run for State House

There will not be a Democratic primary in Newtown's 106th State House District.  After narrowly losing to Newtown Legislative Councilwoman Eva Zimmerman, Kyle Lyddy has said he would not seek a primary.  During the May 24th caucus, Democrats voted 91 to 86 in favor of Zimmerman.  In addition to serving on the legislative council, she is a state labor union organizer and support liaison for Access Health CT. 


She is looking to unseat incumbent Republican Mitch Bolinsky, who won his party's endorsement to seek a third term. 


Bolinsky currently serves on the Aging Committee, the Education Committee and the budget writing Appropriations Committee.

Conn. panel to craft plan addressing opioid addiction and overdoses

Newtown officials are encouraging people affected by opioid addiction to give their input on how to tackle the epidemic.  Governor Malloy announced last month that the state would be working with a team from Yale University, the state Alcohol and Drug Policy Council and stakeholders across the state to craft a strategic plan to address the issue of opioid use, addiction and overdose in Connecticut. 
Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra encouraged anyone  affected by opioid addiction and overdose to share their experience, their constructive feedback and their suggestions for the CORE team. 
The CORE team is only collecting feedback for the strategic plan. Anyone seeking resources or help for a prescription opioid or heroin addiction should call 1-800-563-4086.
The CORE initiative team will be gathering that input and incorporating it into their final plan through two avenues: online or via Email -

Wilton-based company to expand in Indiana

A Wilton-based company has announced that it's building a new manufacturing plant in Indiana.  Blue Buffalo Pet Products says it will build a research and development center in Indiana, creating up to 165 jobs. 
Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher said that Connecticut's fiscal policies have once again resulted in another company not expanding in Connecticut.  The Indiana Economic Development Corporation says it offered the company up to $1.62 million in conditional tax credits based on the company's job creation plans. The County and city have approved additional incentives. 
Boucher says the incentive package is modest compared to those Connecticut has handed out in its system of choosing winners and losers.


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