Local Headlines Archives for 2016-07

Newtown residents view new Sandy Hook School

The new Sandy Hook School in Newtown was opened to the community last night for an open house.  The building is on the same property as the school which was demolished soon after the shootings on 12-14, but not on the same footprint.  Superintendent Dr. Joseph Erardi was passed the baton to lead the district by Dr. John Reed.  The intermediate school is named for Reed.

 

Erardi says Public Building and Site Commission chairman Bob Mitchell built the school as if he was building his own home.  He thanked the Town of Monroe for allowing students a place to learn for three and a half years.

 

Erardi says that was the last year for AM and PM kindergarten.  The following year, the district moved to all day kindergarten.  The 35 morning kindergarten students on site on 12-14 are returning to a Sandy Hook School in Newtown for the first time since that day.  He sees this as a celebration because they are a high achieving school.
The most impacted students, those in 1st grade, are now in the intermediate school. 

 

 Erardi says they have provided additional resources to students who were in the school on 12-14.  Class sizes for the impacted grade levels will remain less than class size throughout the district.  He says they will continue to move resources on an "as need" basis.  The oldest student body from Sandy Hook School on 12-14 is in the 8th grade now, so resources have been moved to the intermediate school.  Over the first three years of the town's recovery, grants have enabled them to bring in the highest level of mental health providers.

 

About 60-percent of Sandy Hook staff is returning for opening day.  Erardi says the 40-percent not returning doesn't indicate those unable or unwilling.  There have been some retirements, and others who have resigned as they change profession.  But Erardi says there are a handful of staff members, because of their personal recovery, have chosen to be in a different school in the district.

 

Erardi says the intent of the building is to give a warm and comfortable environment for students.  He says he would be comfortable with his child attending Sandy Hook School.  He called it a safe environment with great teachers.  Erardi says this is an extraordinary place to be mentored, due in part to the faculty who has never lost sight of the impacted families.

 

 

Matt Consigli says he was honored to be a partner in this special project.  Their goal was to create a warm and inspiring environment. He says they did that though care and craftsmanship in every aspect of the building.

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra says there was some initial discussion about renaming the school, but that was never seriously considered.  She says they are proud to be part of the Sandy Hook community, and the fact that a horrible thing happened there doesn't erase the wonderful things that have happened in the town's 300 year history.  Llodra says the design is a marriage between art and architecture, to honor everyone who walks through the doors. 

 

The children participated in a program called Kids Build.  They learned about school construction and created images for the flags lining the driveway to the building.

 

 

Barry Svigal did the design for the duck sculptures in the halls.  Shelley the Turtle was the school pet and relocated to new aquarium in the lobby. 

 

 

The school has a forest theme complete with sections created to resemble treehouses. Officials say it was designed to be attractive, environmentally friendly, conducive to learning and, above all, safe.

 

 

 

 

The "Be Kind" logo originates from the Ben's Bells projects, which now has a location in Bethel.  The organization was started in Arizona by a woman who lost a child to significant illness.  They promote kindness in communities where there has been a tragedy of some magnitude. 

 

 

Llodra says the mural helps to convey that Sandy Hook School will be a a place that inspires kindness.  It's built upon the message of slain Principal Dawn Hochsprung to be nice to each other, that that is all that really matters.

 

Through the efforts of Principal Dr. Kathy Gombus, the staff and faculty constructed the logo as a focal point of the new building.  She says kids made all of the pieces last year.  The staff put the mural up when they school year ended.  Several of the schools in the district are "Be Kind" schools.  Prior to taking the helm at Sandy Hook School, Gombus was principal at Johnson School in Bethel.  That school was also a "Be Kind" school.

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Store that sold gun used on 12-14 files for bankruptcy

The Connecticut store that sold the gun used at Sandy Hook School filed for bankruptcy .  A judge yesterday ruled that a lawsuit filed by some families of those killed on 12-14 will go forward against Riverview Sales, but will be delayed until after the bankruptcy proceedings. 

 

According to court documents, the President of Riverview Sales owes more than $140,000 to creditors, but only has about $825 in assets. 

 

The federal firearms license was pulled from the store in the wake of 12-14 when agent discovered about 300 examples of missing or false information in acquisition and disposition records.  There were also at least two instances of people receiving a firearm from the store before getting approval from the national instant criminal background check system. 

 

Riverview kept selling ammunition and accessories, but sales declined quickly.

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Newtown officials show off new Sandy Hook School

Newtown School officials have been welcoming Sandy Hook students, parents and staff into a new elementary school building for the past few days as they get ready for the start of a new year in their new home.  Town and School officials are hoping for a quiet opening on August 29th, but acknowledged the curiosity about the new Sandy Hook School. 

 

 

First Selectman Pat Llodra says the events of 12-14 ripped the heart out of 26 families and damaged all who are part of the district, and the community at large.  She thanked Monroe for their kindness and generosity in allowing the use of their old Chalk Hill School for the past three years.  But she says the focus was always to bring students and teachers home to the Newtown community.

 

 

The new building features security measures including impact resistant glass and video surveillance at a gated entrance.  Architects Svigals + Partners designed the school in a way that brings sunlight and nature inside.

 

Llodra says the magnitude of what happened on 12-14 propelled the state government, and all state taxpayers to take on the full funding of the $50 million project.  She says for that, the town is very grateful.  She noted that they would not be in the new place were it not for that generosity .  She says there was no way,given the emotional impact, anxiety and grief, that Newtown would have been able to manage the burden of debt for a new school.

 

Llodra says they would trade the beautiful new school in a minute for the more familiar and aged Sandy Hook School, if they could just change the past.  She says their role now is to bring the new school into its rightful status as the Sandy Hook School of the present and the future.  Despite it's birth from a horrible tragedy, Llodra says Sandy Hook School will be a place of laughter, love and learning.

 

 

 

 

Two playgrounds, a regulation sized soccer field and more parking are among the new features of the 86,000-square-foot school, which was built on the same property--but not in the old footprint. 

 

 

 

Newtown residents are being invited to explore the new Sandy Hook School building tonight.

 

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Lovers Leap fire burns 12 acres, continues to smolder

Officials are hoping the rain forecast today will help to lower the state's high forest and brush fire danger level.  State forester Chris Martin says 12 hours of steady rain will have a positive impact. 

 

Martin says a brush fire which began Friday night at Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford, which has gone underground but occassionally surfaces, is expected to continue to smolder for several more days.  That fire has scorched about 12 acres.  Martin says there are containment lines in place.  The fire department has been on the scene as they get new reports of smoke.

 

Martin says with summer drought conditions will cause the peat to burn, and that in turn will cause roots of trees to catch fire.  He says they will then smolder underground undetected from some time, and suddenly surface.

 

Martin says the dry weather and the gypsy moth de-foliation are among the factors that have contributed to the high danger level.  A dry lightning strike, unintended campfires and fireworks have contributed to blazes this year.  He urges people to be careful with fire outdoors.

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Tax break incentive program for seniors to expand in Danbury

A program in which seniors volunteer their time with non-profits and some Danbury agencies is growing.  The United Way of Western Connecticut says the S.A.V.E. program has been active in Danbury since 2008, and this year 36 residents participated. S.A.V.E. stands for Seniors Add Valuable Experience.

 

The S.A.V.E. program provides real estate tax relief to financially qualified Danbury homeowners age 65 and older.  Each volunteer must complete 100 hours of service over the course of the fiscal year, but many of them provide well more than that amount.

 

Funding has been made available to open the program to as many as 50 seniors.  The tax credit will also being increasing.

 

S.A.V.E. volunteers have completed 5,580 hours in the last year. This service to the community is valued at $154,970. 

 

These residents volunteered at 22 city departments and nonprofit agencies.

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Rifle maker wants documents sealed in school shooting suit

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has asked lawyers for Remington Arms and families of some Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims to meet privately to resolve disagreements over whether some company documents sought by the families should be sealed from public view.

The families of nine victims killed and a teacher who survived the 2012 shooting in Newtown are suing Remington Arms, saying the Madison, North Carolina, company should not have sold the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting to the general public because it's too dangerous. Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed.

A state judge in Bridgeport held a hearing on the records issue Thursday.

Remington wants many company records requested by the families' lawyers sealed from public view, saying disclosing them would hurt the company financially and benefit competitors.

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Rifle maker wants documents sealed in school shooting suit

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge will hear arguments on whether gun maker Remington Arms' company documents should be sealed from public view as it fights a lawsuit filed by families of some of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

A court hearing is set for Thursday in Bridgeport.

Madison, North Carolina-based Remington Arms is the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which made the AR-15-style rifle used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at the school. The families of nine victims killed and a teacher who survived allege the company should not have sold such a dangerous weapon to civilians.

Remington wants many company records requested by the families' lawyers sealed from public view, saying disclosing them would hurt the company financially and benefit competitors.

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Republican congressional candidate challenges incumbent to 41 debates

A Republican looking to be elected to Congress is challenging the Democratic incumbent to a debate in each of the 41 municipalities in the 5th District. 

 

3rd term Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope was unanimously endorsed by the GOP to challenge two-term Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  Cope said he was responding to the Esty campaign's vague challenge that is he unwilling to debate the facts.

 

He says what differentiates the pair is that he is hands-on.  He also called Esty "out of touch with the district".

 

Cope says the one time Esty visited Sherman was on a Monday, when town hall and all but one business in town are closed.  He said he would have been proud to share the progress in Sherman including a new library, a long-stalled firehouse which was recently completed and a new public works wash-station.  Cope also said he would have shared plans that the five municipalities that surround Candlewood Lake have to mitigate milfoil problems.  He called Candlewood Lake an economic engine for the five towns.

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Sanders delegates from Conn. reflect on Democratic National Convention

Two Connecticut delegates to the Democratic National Convention from the 5th District are weighing in on the first few days in Philadelphia. 

 

Justin Molito of Sherman is a Sanders delegate.  When he attended Western Connecticut State University, Molito was a Student Government President.  He says it was wonderful to see how organized the movement for social justice was against corporate interest, which he notes is dominant in politics today.

 

Molito says there's been great progress in moving the Democratic party, and he's optimistic about the movement for social justice.  He called it a diverse movement featuring young people.

 

Jennine Lupo, a teacher from Litchfield and Sanders supporter, says some Connecticut delegates for Sanders were always planning to vote Democrat.  She says others were swayed by Sanders speaking directly to them.  Others though still need to be convinced.  Lupo says the Connecticut delegation had a birds eye view of the Vermont delegation.  She says it was very moving to see Bernie Sanders and his wife react to the roll call vote of delegates from each state.

 

There was a walk out after the roll call vote Tuesday including by some Connecticut Sanders delegates.  They were joined by delegates from California, Oregon and Washington.  She says a wall of Secret Service members and police formed a wall behind them and it got pretty tense.

 

Lupo says the Democratic party is being transformed like never before.  She says the push to the left will help the most Americans who need it.

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Daughter of slain Sandy Hook School principal addresses DNC

I should not be here tonight. That is how Erica Smegielski of Connecticut started her speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night.  The daughter of slain Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung didn’t mince words what she said that her mother was murdered, so she had to be there.  Smegielski said she was there for those lives cut short in a school, in a movie theater, in a church, at work, in their neighborhoods or homes because those voices should never be silenced. 

 

The delegates gave her a round of applause when she said that she was there alone while too many politicians cower behind the gun lobby instead of standing with American families. 

 

In making the case for electing Hillary Clinton, Smegielski said what’s needed is another mother who’s willing to do what’s right, whose bravery can live up in equal measure her mom’s.

(Photo: Sen. Chris Murphy, Twitter)

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Sen. Murphy delivers remarks about gun violence prevention during DNC

Senator Chris Murphy spoke at the Democratic Convention on Wednesday night. His remarks, focused on gun violence prevention measures.  He opened by saying that he wished he hadn’t been there, moments he tries to forget the things he saw and heard, and what he called the soul-crushing morning at the firehouse in Sandy Hook.  

Murphy's oldest son is the same age as the kids who were killed Sandy Hook Elementary School, having just finished first grade.  He said he is furious that in three years since Sandy Hook, three years of almost daily bloodshed in cities, Congress has done nothing to prevent the next massacre.  He said that stoked a sense of outrage that he's never felt before.  And that’s what he says drove him to stand on the floor of the United States Senate for 15 hours to demand change.

 

Murphy then turned his comments to Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump who said he’ll mandate that every school in America allow guns in their classrooms.

 

Murphy says there is no reason to feel helpless about the horrifying trajectory of cascading massacres.  With smart gun policy, like background checks, he said change can happen.

 

When he finished speaking, the delegates all chanted 'Enough" because of the following remarks:

"I stood on the Senate floor for 15 hours because I had had enough.  Enough of children dying in classrooms.  Enough of nightly bloodshed on our city streets.  Enough of our police officers being outgunned, ambushed, and cut down in the line of duty.  Enough."

 

(Photo: Congressman Himes, Twitter)

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Local lawmaker scores perfect attendance record in 2016

A local lawmaker has achieved a 100-percent voting record for all votes cast on the floor of the state House of Representatives.  Monroe State Representative JP Sredzinski was present for all 313 votes.  The data was released by the House Clerk’s Office this week.  This is the second year in a row that Sredzinski has earned a perfect voting record.  Less than a third of state House members earned perfect marks this year.  Sredzinski serves on the legislature’s Public Safety & Security, Commerce, and Internship Committees.

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Ridgefield Police create comical Pokemon Go safety video

Police continue to warn Pokemon Go players, and their parents about the dangers of not paying attention to surroundings.  Ridgefield Police have found a creative and whimsical way to offer safety tips for those who play the popular augmented reality app.

 

Ridgefield Police Captain Jeff Kreitz and Officer Chris DiFalco say they want people to enjoy the game, but not break any laws or endanger themselves and others while playing. 

 

The video was developed with The Prospector Theater.  In one scene, a teenage follows a Pokemon into a jail cell while police explain about trespassing and wandering onto private property.  Another scene shows a teen walking right into a swimming pool, and an officer jumping in to save her while asking if she at least got the Pokemon.

 

 

The video also has Ridgefield Police warning a Prospector Theater film operator that playing while at work might not be the best idea, for anyone.

 

The app is designed for walkers, but AAA Connecticut spokeswoman Amy Parmenter says there's evidence of some people playing while driving.  If the temptation to play while driving is too great, AAA recommends putting your cell phone in the glove compartment, back seat or trunk.

 

The Ridgefield Police video showed a toy car driving off a cliff, crashing and catching on fire.  Police also suggest that bicyclists who want to play, ride a tandem bike.

 

While they're happy to see everyone out exploring the community and interacting with one another, Police hope players stay safe.

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Construction project to cause travel trouble in New Milford

A construction project in New Milford will cause some traffic headaches over the next couple of days.  The construction on East Street at Whittlesey Avenue by the CVS was supposed to start last night, but was delayed by the contractor due to delivery days.  The construction will now start at 7pm, and last through 11pm.  East Street will be one lane with alternating traffic.  Tomorrow, the construction will be from 7am to 4pm.  Drivers are being encouraged to use alternate routes to avoid the area.

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Ridley Lowell to offer free workshops about booming industries

Five complimentary workshops are being offered tonight by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute in Danbury.

The school is offering the workshops from 6pm to 7pm to introduce the public to several in-demand careers, especially in esthetics, information technology and electrical work, as well as to provide information to students on how to study for a test. Campus tours and an open house about hot careers in Connecticut will be held from 4 to 8 pm.

 

Admissions Representative Andrew Wetmore says that the workshops are being offered as a community service.

The hour-long workshops include:

• Make Your Own Facial Scrub – learn how to make your own facial scrub from easy-to-find natural ingredients,

• Reflexology – The art of applying pressure to the foot for pain reduction and overall good health,

• Computer Backup and Recovery – Learn how to back up your computer and recover lost information,

• General Study Skills – studying for tests is a skill that can be learned,

• Electrical Fire Safety – you’re a do-it-yourselfers can brush up on the basics of fire safety,

To attend a workshop, call 203-797-0551.

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'Newtown' documentary to be screened at DNC event

As part of the IMPACT Film Festival in Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention tomorrow, the documentary "Newtown" will be screened.  The documentary, which focuses on the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook School, follows victims' families, first responders, teachers, neighbors and clergy. 

 

David Wheeler and Mark Barden, whose first-graders were among the 26 children and educators killed in December 2012, said they wanted people to understand the grief in Newtown and to open up some lines of communication among those affected by the tragedy. 

 

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. 

 

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

 

A post-screening panel will feature film director Kim Snyder, producer Maria Cuomo Cole, Mark Barden and Congressman Ted Lieu.

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Local lawmaker takes small business tour of New Milford

Before heading to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention this week, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty spent some time in New Milford.  She met with Mayor David Gronbach for a small business walk through downtown.  One of the stops was to Bank Street Book Nook where Esty says she was also able to do some birthday shopping for her son.

 

They then stopped at Miles Finch Innovation.  She learned about bringing artists and people in the maker movement together.  Esty says she learned a great deal about the start up culture and entrepreneurship in New Milford.

 

They also stopped at Ameico Incorporated to see art and design objects in that space on Church Street.

 

Esty called the tour fascinating and fun.  She said she was also pleased to see a lot of people out on such a hot day, patronizing local businesses.

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Probate Court Judge candidate picks up endorsement of former Gov. Rell

A Bethel attorney seeking to be a regional Probate Court Judge is getting some big names to back him.  Republican Dan O'Grady, the former Bethel Probate Court Judge, has been endorsed by former Governor Jodi Rell.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky, former Redding First Selectman Hank Bielawa and current Bethel Selectmen Paul Szatkowski are also lending support. 

 

Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Joseph Egan is reaching the mandatory retirement age in October.  The vacancy election is November 8th, but there is a primary before then. 

 

O'Grady and Ridgefield Attorney Patrick Walsh are both seeking to be the GOP candidate in November.  The Primary is August 9th. 

 

The winner will face Democrat Sharon Dornfeld.

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'Paramobile' demonstration held at Candlewood Valley Golf Club

A piece of equipment that's equal parts golf cart, wheel chair and vertical lift is allowing people who had to give up golf because of neurological diseases a second chance.  Candlewood Valley Golf Club in New Milford recently bought a special cart that raises handicapped players to a standing position so they can swing a club. 

 

General Manager Beth Ford said the paramobile was instantly popular.  She says seeing people now able to play who had to give it up has really been an eye opener. 

 

Candlewood Valley Golf Club was able to purchase this and have it available at no charge through the California-based non-profit Stand Up and Play Foundation.  The foundation's founder, and the creator of the para-mobile was on hand for a clinic this morning.  Anthony Netto demonstrated how the equipment works.

 

 

Ford called it a game-changer for many people, including those with ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinsons, paraplegics, or quadriplegics.  The player is strapped in, a hydraulic lift stands them up and turns them.  She says people are then able to swing a golf club.  It could also be used for fishing or archery and other similar sportsman activity.

 

 

She says there's adaptive swinging equipment with special grips for people who only have the use of one arm.

 

Ford says there's no charge to use the paramobile at their course.  It's one of only two in Connecticut, the other located in New Britain.

 

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DOT paving project on Route 53 this week

A state Department of Transportation paving project will cause traffic in Wilton for the next few days.  Route 53 between the Norwalk town line and Route 106 will be paved over the next three days.  The paving is taking place between 6am and 5pm.  Officers are conducting traffic control to help ease any congestion, but Wilton Police are also asking motorists to use alternate routes.

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Danbury officials consider $10 million in bonding for public improvement projects

The Danbury City Council took comment last night on $10 million in bonding for several public improvement projects.  The Council will consider the funding at their regularly scheduled meeting in August.  There are six projects which would share in the bond money if approved. 

 

The largest project is $4.3 million for street paving, drainage and bridge repairs.  That money would also go to guardrail replacement, lighting, sprinkler installation along medians and other beautification of City streets, parking lots and bridges.  There is a separate proposed allocation of $1.1 million for sidewalk repair and replacement in the downtown area. 

 

Another $1 million would be set aside for recreation improvements to selected playing fields and courts including Westerner's Baseball Field and Rogers Park Tennis Courts among others. 

 

$1.6 million would go to improvements at Tarrywile Park, specifically design and construction plans for a walled garden at Hearthstone Castle, removal of contaminated debris there and stone removal and stabilization of adjacent rock retaining walls. 

 

Two $950,000 allocations are also included in the bond money.  One is for Richter Park golf course improvements and renovations to the Richter House mansion.  That would cover structural, environmental, utility and code related issues.  The second proposal is funding for planning, design and construction of a new Animal Control Facility.

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DEEP: Fireworks believed to be cause of Lovers Leap blaze

10 acres of Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford burned in a fire Friday night into Saturday.  While there is no active investigation at this point, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Spokesman Dennis Schain says it is believed that fireworks could have sparked by blaze.  Schain says it would be difficult to track this back to a particular person or persons, but that EnCon police along with New Milford Police are keeping an ear open for any leads. 

 

The fire danger was listed as high, due to lack of significant rainfall, the high heat and low humidity.  Campfires and open burns are not permitted during high fire danger periods. 

 

Two fire fighters suffered minor injuries, one from heat exhaustion and the other a rolled ankle.  Lovers Leap was closed Saturday and Sunday.

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Public hearing in Danbury tonight about proposed cell tower at Richter Park

There is a public hearing in Danbury tonight on a number of topics.  One is about a tentative lease agreement between the Richter Park Authority and Bay Communication to place a cell tower on their 180-acre property.  The proposal for the monopole structure would be 150 feet, and located by the maintenance area. 

 

Two appropriations are also being considered.  One is $10 million in bonding for improvements to the Waste water treatment plant and facilities system.  The other is $10 million in bonding for various other public improvements. 

 

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

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State proposes fare hike for Metro North New Haven line

The state Department of Transportation is proposing a fare hike for Metro North riders along the New Haven Line.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the legislature's Transportation Committee, says the hits keep coming for commuters and serves as a disincentive for people to stay in Connecticut. 

 

There are several public hearings in September about the proposed fare hike, though none in the Greater Danbury area.  The closest is Waterbury on September 13th. 

 

The DOT has not yet listed an email address for the public to comment on the fare hikes without attending one of the hearings.

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'Heritage Ride 2016' bikeway tour to travel through Wilton, New Milford, elsewhere

Western New England Greenway's 'Heritage Ride 2016' Bikeway Tour will see cyclists riding from National Historic Site Weir Farm in Wilton today on their way up to Massachusetts before riding on to Vermont and Canada.  The tour ends in Montreal on July 31st.  

 

It's about 6 miles across from Weir Farm to the route at the Saugatuck reservoir, then on to New Milford, passing the Still River Greenway along the way.  Stops include the New Milford River Trail, through the covered Bull’s Bridge then on to Cornwall Bridge. 

 

The Western New England Greenway is a bicycle route in progress, connecting the East Coast Greenway at Norwalk to a Route in Quebec Province, Canada.

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'Clean Start' program seeks mentors as participant list grows

The Clean Start Program in Danbury has been under way for about two months now.  The initiative puts homeless people to work for the City, and provides participants with gift cards.  About 20 participants are performing litter control twice a week, along with getting job mentoring from coaches.  Mayor Mark Boughton says there's demand for at least another 20, but they're looking for more volunteer to partner with the people participating in the program.

 

Boughton says the initiative has been really successful, and the City looks cleaner.  He says the participants will soon be expanding into other projects that they'd like to get to, but sometimes just can't get to.  That includes fire hydrant painting and fence painting.

 

Volunteers interested in helping someone who is less fortunate can contact Jericho Partnership, and they will be led through a brief and minimum training program.

 

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

 

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

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Environmental advocates push for funding changes for state parks

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is being urged by members of the legislature's Environment Committee to consider alternative revenue sources.  A recent $10 million cut in funding resulted in changes in the operation of state parks and museums. 

 

Litchfield state Representative Craig Miner, who is running for the 30th Senate District which includes New Milford, says the long term viability of public opportunities needs to be sustained.  Right now, he says what the public sees is less hours, less lifeguards and closed parks.  He says that may be needed in the short term, but if they don't rethink that model, it will be less forever.

 

Connecticut is 1 of 3 states which relies exclusively on General Fund Revenue.

 

Miner says DEEP is on the defense, but should be on the offense.

 

DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen says the Department has considered sponsorships, but past efforts haven't yielded the robust response they were looking for.  But she says they will keep trying.  She says certain protections have to be in place so the regulatory side of the agency doesn't get mixed up with the operational side.

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Local lawmaker sets off for Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention is being held this week in Philadelphia.  Among the delegates from Connecticut is 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  This is her first convention, and says she is looking forward to the whole experience.  She notes that the convention is much more than just the prime time speeches, there are a lot of policy meetings that go on during the day.

 

Esty says one of the events taking place outside of the convention center will be a breakfast meeting about congressional efforts to promote gun violence prevention, including the recent filibuster and sit in. 

 

She is also taking part in an Innovation Panel Wednesday.  It includes people from the business community and innovation experts from Harvard Business School.  She says she is exited about sharing ideas with people from around the country.

 

Esty says she looks forward to hearing from former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly.  Senator Christ Murphy and Erika Smegielski, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung.  There is a rally Tuesday on gun safety and gun reform efforts.

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Congressional candidate compares Malloy airport security breach to House sit in

The news that Governor Malloy skirted TSA airport boarding protocols by carrying his son's backpack without going through security, is drawing reaction from Republican 5th District Congressional candidate Clay Cope. 

 

The Sherman First Selectman says there is a double standard in Hartford and Washington.  He says every day rules apply to everyday people, but politicians use their positions of power to evade them. 

 

He compared it to Hillary Clinton setting up a personal email system at her home while serving as Secretary of State.  Cope says Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is part of the double standard.  He cited the sit-in on the House floor which bypassed protocols about food and cameras in the chamber.

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'Quilts of Valor' presented to local veterans

Greater Danbury area veterans have been presented with Quilts of Valor.  The quilt presentation at New Milford Senior Center is of items created by the Quilters of New Milford.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was on hand to present the quilts to Mike Zacchea and Robert Madorran.  Esty says this is relatively new to New Milford, but is a national effort that started in 2003. 

 

Former Mayor Pat Murphy, who is a veteran, urged the quilters to join in this movement.

 

Zacchea is a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Iraq War, was severely injured in the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.  Madorran is a veteran of the U.S. Army, who was injured while deployed in Afghanistan in 2010.

 

The quilters draped the men with the gifts.  The men then spoke about how touched they were.  They said there were times when they were serving, that any bit of home was a meaningful comfort to them.

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Environmental officials aim to slow spread of Emerald Ash Borer

Firewood transportation is a concern to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  DEEP says that could spread the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long Horn Beetle.  Forester Chris Martin says the statewide policy is for people not to travel long distances with firewood, but to purchase it at the park campgrounds themselves or local vendors.

 

While the Emerald Ash Borer is already in Connecticut, Martin says they want to keep the Asian Long Horn Beetle out of the state.  It's been found in New York and Massachusetts.

 

Martin says the Emerald Ash Borer has resulted in many dead ash trees, especially in Western Connecticut.

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UPDATED: Large brush fire reported in New Milford

There was a large brush fire in New Milford last night.  It broke out around 11pm near Lovers Leap State Park/Indian Ridge Road.  The first crews on the scene said two acres were burning.  Mutual aid was called in from Northville, Gaylordsville, Brookfield, Washington because the fire was still spreading after about an hour. 

 

The fire danger yesterday was listed as high.  That was due to lack of significant rainfall, the high heat and low humidity.  That all made for dried out underbrush.  Campfires and open burns are not permitted during high fire danger periods.

 

Water Witch Hose Co. #2 says an aggressive attack was made into the remote and steep terrain accompanied by man power from Northville and Gaylordsville Fire Departments, but the volunteer firefighters faces limited access and total darkness. The fire was fought through the night while crews awaited the support of state Department of Energey and Environmental Protection crews.

 

(A view from Indian Ridge rd shortly after the fire was Dispatched)

(Photo: Water Witch Hose via Litchfield County Fire/EMS group)

 

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says two fire fighters suffered minor injuries, one from heat exhaustion and the other a rolled ankle, while working the brush fire last night. 

 

Lovers Leap will likely be closed Sunday as well as today. Gronbach says preliminary reports are that fireworks started the blaze.  He says negligent conduct has real world impacts on the people that have to respond.

 

Marine 25 from Candlewood Company (Brookfield) attempting to gain access to the steep cliff side via the neck of Lovers Leap gorge.

(Photo: Litchfield County Fire/EMS group)

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Architect chosen to analyze needed Octagon House restoration work

A Danbury firm has been awarded the bid to conduct an analysis of the Octagon House.  Seventy2 Architects will assess the historic home to see what kind of restoration work is needed on the dilapidated building, now owned by the City.

 

The vacant house, which was in foreclosure, was purchased for $135,000 as a community improvement and neighborhood restoration project. 

 

The blighted property has attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years, and the area has become a magnet for drug dealers and prostitutes. Mayor Mark Boughton estimated the building needs $200,000 to $300,000 worth of work because it's fallen into disrepair. The yard also needs some upkeep, and the parking would have to be reconfigured.

 

Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team and a police substation on the property.  He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation.  He wants to convert the upstairs into a community room for residents to use. The backyard would become community garden monitored by a non-profit.

 

Seventy2 Architects work includes the Crown Point apartments in Danbury and the expanded worship space and gathering area of Walnut Hill Church in Bethel.

 

The Spring Street building is one of only a handful of 8-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1852.  It was eventually converted to apartments, and abandoned by its owner in 2008.

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DEEP continues to oppose proposed marina expansion on Lake Lillinonah

A dispute between the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and First Light Hydro Generating Company is continuing.  FirstLight wants to expand West Cove Marina on Lake Lillinonah from 25 slips to 136 slips.  DEEP rejected a November proposal to expand to 160 boat slips. 

 

At that time, DEEP wrote that they would support a smaller expansion of the marina if the applicant were to provide historical documentation about the maximum authorized operating size.  First Light supplied newspaper clippings about the permitted slips.  While it appears 75 slips were to be placed and that 100 existed, DEEP says the 1991 article was written before the slips were actually installed. 

 

DEEP again called for proof in the form of  rental documentation, slip assignment records, receipts and the like about the largest operation capacity of the marina, and when it was at that capacity.

 

A letter from DEEP to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that this branch of Lake Lillinonah is very narrow and based on current conditions there have been a number of documented reports of conflicts between rowers and motorboats in this particular section of the lake.  The state says in the interest of navigation safety and to avoid traffic congestion, the department does not support the expansion of the marina. 

 

DEEP also said there is a long history of conflicts between rowers and motorboats in this particular area of the lake.

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Aquarion says high demand leads to low water pressure in Newtown

Aquarion Water Company has issued a message to customers in Newtown.  Due to high water demand, Aquarion says some customers may be experiencing low water pressure.  The company is again requesting that people limit outdoor watering to hand-held watering.  The request will remain in effect until Tuesday evening.

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'Quilts of Valor' to be presented to local veterans

Greater Danbury area veterans will be presented with Quilts of Valor tomorrow.  The quilt presentation at New Milford Senior Center is of items created by the Quilters of New Milford.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will present them to Mike Zacchea of Brookfield and Robert Madorran.  Zacchea is a retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Iraq War, was severely injured in the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.  Madorran is a veteran of the U.S. Army, who was injured while deployed in Afghanistan in 2010.

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Redding officials opt not to add stop sign to Umpawaug Rd.

The Redding Board of Selectmen has voted not to put stop signs on Umpawaug Road.  Redding police proposed a temporary stop sign at Marchant and Umpawaug Road - making it a 3-way stop.  This would have been up through the Route 53 closure and the re-evaluated. 

 

There is increased traffic on Umpawaug Road because of the closure.  Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says only one accident has occurred since the closure.

 

But some Volunteer Fire Department members said the stop sign, temporary or permanent, would slow response time. 

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Lawmakers send comments to Office of State Ethics over proposed health insurance merger

Senator Michael McLachlan has joined other Republican lawmaker in submitting public comment to the Office of State Ethics.  The lawmakers are explaining why they believe Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade’s participation in the Anthem-Cigna merger is a violation of the State Code of Ethics. 

 

The Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board accepted public comment as part of their investigation into a petition filed for declaratory ruling by Common Cause Connecticut requesting a formal review of Commissioner Wade’s alleged conflicts. 

 

Wade is a former Cigna vice president and her husband is currently a Cigna attorney. 

 

They say the State Code of Ethics prohibits a public official from taking any “official action” if he or she has reason to believe or expect that such action would have a direct financial impact on such official, a spouse, a dependent child or a business with which such official is associated.  

 

Wade contends she has no conflict of interest that would prevent her from overseeing the proposed merger.

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Newtown officials to preview new Sandy Hook School this summer

The new Sandy Hook Elementary School will be unveiled at the end of the month.  Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi will open the school to the media for a press conference before the official opening at the start of the new schol year this fall. 

 

Erardi says the transition to the new school needs to be as seamless as possible for the children, asking for the space needed to allow high quality teaching and learning on the first day of school. 

 

Llodra says they are very grateful to state taxpayers for giving the town the funding to create a place of community and learning, and a place that would honor those lost.  Llodra says this new school will allow those who were left behind the chance to move forward.

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Community health center merger in Danbury

There's been a health center merger in Danbury.  The Seifert & Ford Family Community Health Center has officially become part of the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  The Family Community Health Center had been managed by Danbury Hospital, now part of the Western Connecticut Health Network, since 1999.  But beginning in April, the clinic at 70 Main Street became part of the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.

 

Connecticut Institute for Communities CEO Jim Maloney says the clinic doubled its core staff of physicians and advanced-practice registered nurses to about two dozen.  GDCHC South has also expanded its hours and now offers eligible patients cheaper prescriptions through its subsidized pharmacy program.

 

Maloney says the acquisition marks a milestone in what has been and will continue to be a multi-year effort to reorganize and strengthen community health care in the city and the Greater Danbury area.  The community health center provides medical, behavioral health and dentistry services on a sliding scale to people of all ages.  Maloney says one of the changes is that they've created electronic health records for some of the clinic’s patients who had paper records and transitioned to new telephone and management computer systems.  More work is planned.

 

A new four-story Greater Danbury Community Health Center is under construction and set to open this fall.

 

Western Connecticut Health Network will continue to offer specialty services like cardiology, orthopedics and nephrology.

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Brookfield residents approve Capital Budget

Brookfield residents have approved a capital budget.  $2.8 million for about 50 items was passed on a vote of 615 in favor, 381 opposed.  Many of the items are infrastructure improvements for the schools. 

 

About $60,000 will go to replace portable classrooms at Huckleberry Hill Elementary school.  At Center Elementary School, funding has been set aside to renovate two bathrooms and replace chairs and tables in the cafeteria.  The same upgrades will happen at Whisconier Middle School.  At Brookfield High School, a world language lab will be created using Capital Budget funding. 

 

Some funding in the Capital Budget will go toward the purchase of patrol cars and body cameras for the Police Department.  Equipment for the volunteer fire companies is also included in the budget. 

 

Funding for restructuring Brookfield's zoning laws, re-shingling the Gurski property and a planning study of the Library is also included. 

 

 

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Bethel Police thank area Departments for helping out during difficult week

The Bethel Police Department is thanking several police departments from surrounding towns for helping out in the past week.  Bethel thanked the Danbury, Brookfield, Newtown, Ridgefield, Redding and Norwalk Police Departments during what they called a difficult week for all.  Recently retired Bethel Lt. Kevin Kennedy was laid to rest on Saturday.  Bethel Police said they are very lucky to have such a great extended blue family.  Officers from the surrounding towns came in to help with various tasks as Bethel officers grieved.

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Bethel, Ridgefield attorney vie for Probate Court Judgeship in Aug. GOP Primary

There is a Republican primary on August 9th for an open Probate Court judge seat. 

 

The Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge position is on the ballot.   Judge Joseph Egan is leaving office in October when he reaches the mandated retirement age of 70.  The Court serves about 80,000 people in Ridgefield, Redding, Newtown, and Bethel. 

 

Bethel Town Treasurer, former Bethel Probate Court Judge Daniel O'Grady is seeking the position.  He is facing Ridgefield Attorney Patrick Walsh in the primary next month.  The winner of that contest will then face Democratic nominee Sharon Dornfeld in November. 

 

Absentee ballots are available in the participating towns.  In Newtown, the Town Clerk will hold a special Saturday absentee voting session on August 6th.

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Greater Danbury area arts organizations receive state grants

Some Greater Danbury area organizations are receiving grant funding from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.  The Supporting Arts in Place grants total $515,000 statewide and are for organizations that strengthen the state's nonprofit arts industry. 

 

Among the grant recipients are the Charles Ives Center for the Arts in Danbury, Creative Arts Center of New Milford and The Kent Singers.  Two Ridgefield organizations are receiving grants.

 

FY2017 Supporting Arts in Place Grantees:

 

Charles Ives Center for the Arts of Danbury $7,065

 

Creative Arts Center of New Milford, Inc. $4,375

 

The Kent Singers $1,115

 

Music on the Hill, Inc. of Weston $3,730

 

Ridgefield Chorale $3,581

 

Ridgefield Playhouse $18,630

 

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Local lawmakers excited to be delegate at GOP National Convention

Republicans have opened their four day convention in Cleveland where they'll nominate Donald Trump to be the party's presidential standard-bearer in November.

 

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan is one of the delegates from Connecticut.  He said he feels like a kid going to Disney for the first time, everything is exciting.  He notes that so far he is enjoying the experience and is honored to be a delegate.  McLachlan's great-grandfather was a delegate at the 1924 Republican convention, also held in Cleveland. 

 

McLachlan says they received a warm welcome from the host city Sunday night.  There was a greeting party, fireworks and performances by the Doobie Brothers, Three Dog Night and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  He and a group visited the President James Garfield homestead Monday morning.  McLachlan says the delegation is some 100 strong. 

 

In between speakers, loud music pumped throughout the basketball arena. A band set off to the side of the stage played covers of popular bands.  At other times, Republican governors from across the nation were featured on video screens throughout the arena, including some governors who are not participating in the formal convention program. They include John Kasich of Ohio and Susana Martinez of New Mexico, who are in Cleveland this week, but boycotting Trump's convention.

 

Melania Trump, wife of the candidate, addressed the delegates.  The higher profile-speakers, such as actors Scott Baio and Duck Dynasty star Will Robertson also took the stage Monday night.

 

Republicans are reminding the nation that Hillary Clinton was secretary of state during the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, part of a broader focus on national security at the GOP convention.  Pat Smith, whose son Sean Smith was killed in the assaults, is one of several speakers Monday night tied to the twin attacks that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

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New Milford Police have warning for Pokemon Go players

The New Milford Police Department is issuing a warning to pedestrians.  Officials say a number of New Milford Police officers have noticed younger people playing the Pokemon Go app on their phones in the downtown area.  Officers have reported seeing youth walking into traffic, or through private property without paying attention. 

 

Police are asking youth to be mindful of where they are walking, and to obey pedestrian laws. 

 

Police are also calling on parents to talk with their children about the game.  When certain areas are closed, people are not allowed to continue playing the game through that closed property, because that is considered trespassing.  Parents are also being asked to impose restrictions to help keep kids safe.

 

State Police previously published a "Do and Don't" list for playing the augmented reality game.

 

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Conn. to join multi-state study of mileage tax

Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, Vermont and Pennsylvania have applied for federal funds to test a vehicle mileage tax.  The multi-state pilot program study will cost Connecticut $300,000.  The study would include how tracking devices transmit driving data, and proposals for per-mile fees.

 

While the Malloy Administration has consistently said it is not moving in the direction of charging motorists based on the number of miles they travel, officials want to see what the facts are.  Officials also want to see if it makes sense as a way to pay for planned transportation infrastructure upgrades because the gas tax is no longer cutting it. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the Transportation Committee, says she's heard from a number of constituents who are concerned with the idea.  She says people feel they are taxed enough and this would just be one additional burden.  Boucher says she is concerned that the revenue from a mileage tax would not be used for infrastructure upkeep, because officials are raiding transportation funds already to close budget gaps and other uses. 

 

But Commuter Action Group founder Jim Cameron says the tax is a fair and effective way to maintain the roads based on how much people use them.  He touted Connecticut for getting in on the ground level, noting that it's being studied in California, tried in Oregon and in place in a number of progressive European countries.

 

Boucher says there is also a privacy issue.  While some argue that cars have GPS already, she says those things can be turned off.

 

Cameron says Google already knows where he travels, so why not a mileage tax device which would go to pay for improvements.

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Candlewood Lake Authority to buy new patrol boat

The Danbury City Council has approved funding to help pay for a new patrol boat for the Candlewood Lake Authority.  $9,905 was approved by the Council earlier this month.  Currently, the CLA only has one functional patrol boat which is older than the boat taken out of service.  CLA chairperson Phyllis Schaer said in a letter to the leaders of the five towns that surround the lake that the extra workload placed on the remaining boat will affect its operational life.  She added that the boat they do have does not have any towing capabilities. 

 

The CLA has committed $18,500 from their capital reserve for the purchase.

 

Schaer says this is a public safety issue, and a crucial service provided by the CLA.  With continued budget cuts by the state, the CLA was advised that there would be only one state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection patrol boat with limited hours available on Candlewood Lake this season, if at all.  Schaer says the CLA Marine Patrol cannot provide coverage and law enforcement support properly with only one operating patrol boat.

 

CLA officials were notified Wednesday that the state Bond Commission approved their grant application, which will reimburse 60% of the purchase price.  Boat delivery dates are being estimated at two months from the date of order. 

 

Patrol boats provide 1,100 hours per season on the water from May to September.  They respond to boating accidents and medical emergencies, and provide boating law enforcement and Boating Under the Influence control.  The patrol boats also provide more than 50 tows per year on average, lost boater assistance, out-of-fuel assistance and removal of boating hazards such as debris and floating logs.  The Marine Patrol checks activity at public boat launches, Down the Hatch and Chicken Rock. 

 

They also provide a public safety presence during lake events such as the annual clean up, fireworks and fishing tournaments.

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New traffic pattern in Bethel at Plumtrees Road bridge

A new traffic pattern is now in place in Bethel where the Plumtrees Road bridge replacement project is underway.  A bypass is now open.  The busy and narrow intersection is being turned into an “x” shape where it meets Walnut Hill Road and Whittlesey Drive.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Matt Knickerbocker)

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says dedicated right and left turn arrows to help move traffic along.  When the bridge replacement is finished, Knickerbocker says the realigned intersection will be less congested, safer for pedestrian crossings and wide enough for trucks and school buses to make turns without taking up both lanes.

 

(Photo Courtesy: Matt Knickerbocker)

 

There have been no weather delays so Knickerbocker says the work is about two or three months ahead of schedule. But he says it’s early in the process and they can’t count on it staying that way. 

 

The project is slated for completion in October 2017.

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Newtown rejects settlement deal of families' lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The town of Newtown has rejected an offer from two Sandy Hook parents to settle a lawsuit over the 2012 school shooting that claimed the lives of 26 students and faculty.

The Hartford Courant reports a deadline passed this week for the town to accept the motion to settle the case brought by estates of 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis for $11 million.

The lawsuit, filed in state Superiour Court, alleges security measures at the school weren't adequate when a gunman fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators in 2012. The other victims' parents aren't part of the lawsuit.

Attorney Donal Papcsy, who represents the Pozner and Lewis families, says the $11 million figure matches the maximum amount they can recover under the town's insurance coverage.

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State lawmakers file complaint about Insurance Commissioner

Danbury state Senator Michael McLachlan and other Republican Senators have filed a formal complaint with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission about Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade regarding a high profile proposed merger of Anthem and Cigna.

The lawmakers filed a Freedom of Information request in June, and Wade responded in July.  But McLachlan says her response was missing multiple pieces of communication between the Insurance Commissioner and the Office of State Ethics.

They say nearly 500 pages of what another state agency has deemed to be public records were missing. 

In the senators’ formal complaint, they say the refusal is without reasonable grounds and must be viewed as a bad faith attempt to keep secret the Commissioner’s potential conflicts.  The lawmakers are asking that the Commission take the rare action of imposing civil penalties against Commissioner Wade and her Department.

 

Wade is a former Cigna vice president and her husband is currently a Cigna attorney.

 

Connecticut’s Citizens Ethics Advisory Board has agreed to review whether Wade should recuse herself from overseeing Anthem’s proposed merger with Cigna.  Connecticut Common Cause asked the panel to issue a declaratory ruling on whether Wade should be disqualified.  A Department of Insurance spokeswoman says Wade has sought guidance from state ethics officials throughout the process and “should that guidance change, she will follow that instead.”

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Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend takes place on Candlewood Lake

Connecticut will mark its first-ever Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend this weekend.  It's part of an effort to encourage boaters and others to take all steps necessary to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals. Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is partnering with the Candlewood Lake Authority and Mystic Aquarium to promote this weekend.

 

DEEP staff will be at many boat launches throughout the state over the weekend including those at Lattins Cove and Squantz Cove on Candlewood Lake, Lake Zoar, Lake Lillinonah, Highland Lake, and Coventry Lake. They will be educating boaters about clean and safe boating practices and conducting Aquatic Invasive Species inspections.

 

DEEP staff will be at the launches from approximately 7am–3pm Saturday and Sunday.

 

Because of their ability to grow quickly and outcompete other species, DEEP officials say many aquatic invasive plants form dense mats just under the water surface, which can be hazardous to recreational boaters and swimmers. Zebra mussels, a problematic invader, has colonized in several lakes and ponds in Western Connecticut and need to be kept from spreading further.

 

The Candlewood Lake Authority representing the towns of Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Sherman had student volunteers from the local schools stencil DEEP's logo of CLEAN-DRAIN-DRY at all of the town launches surrounding Candlewood Lake.

 

Clean: inspect and remove aquatic plants and animals as well as mud or other debris from your vessel, equipment (including rods/reels), shoes, etc. (As a reminder to boaters, it is illegal to transport aquatic plants and animals on your boat or trailer).

 

Drain any water collected from that water body. For boats this means the bilge and associated equipment (buckets, coolers, live wells, etc.).

 

Dry for a minimum of 1 week in hot/dry weather or 4 weeks in cool/wet weather.

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Lebanon American Day to be held in Danbury Sunday

Lebanon American Day is this Sunday at noon at Danbury City.  The event begins with a flag raising ceremony at City Hall and special recognition of our Lebanon Day Honoree Superior Court Judge Robert T. Resha.  This is followed by a Lebanese food luncheon at the Lebanon American Club.  In attendance will be members of the Lebanese American Community along with local, state and Federal officials.

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DMV to review operations in effort to reduce wait times

State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Michael Bzdyra announced that an in-depth review of agency operations is being made in an effort to reduce wait times at branch offices. 

 

The DMV will first review passenger car, commercial vehicle and boat registration processes.  Around 3pm yesterday, the wait times at the Danbury branch were half an hour for licence and ID card renewals, but more than an hour and a half for registration services.  There were only 15 people in line waiting for registration services at that time.

 

Bzdyra says a recent survey of almost 1,300 DMV customers found about 70-percent felt the average wait time of an hour is too long.  Bzdyra says he agrees, and will work to cut that down as much as possible.

 

The overall review is expected to take about 6 months.

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Aquarion calling on customers to implement water conservation measures

Water conservation measures are being called for in the Greater Danbury area.  The Connecticut Department of Public Health has put out an advisory for water conservation.  Aquarion Water Company is asking its customers to conserve water and reduce non-essential outdoor water use. 

 

With a lack of significant rainfall, Connecticut is currently experiencing conditions ranging from “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought”. 

 

Aquarion customers are being asked to limit lawn irrigation to a maximum of twice a week if they are using an irrigation system or hose-end sprinkler. Use of a hand-held hose for watering is allowed at any time.

 

Aquarion is recommending ways to use water more efficiently, while helping conservation efforts.  They include allowing grass to grow longer because taller grass is healthier and requires less water, not washing cars or boats with a hose and shutting off ornamental water displays.  The advice also includes taking shorter showers, repairing leaks in plumbing and fixtures and hand washing dishes in a basin, not under running water.

 

Aquarion officials say it's important for all customers to help in this conservation effort to ensure everyone in the community has the water they need when they need it.

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Friends of New Milford Public Library book sale on now

The annual FRIENDS of the New Milford Library book sale is taking place.  FRIENDS President Anne Adams notes that it's in the air conditioned cafeteria of New Milford High School.  They do not have Sunday hours this year. 

 

Adams says they received great book donations this year, and have about 25,000 books and media available for the sale.  There is also a sizeable vintage book collection.  This is the main fundraiser for the FRIENDS, along with the annual drive every October.

 

They had about 100 people lined up for early bird admission yesterday when there was an entry fee.  The sale is today 10am to 6pm, and tomorrow from 10am to 5pm.  Tomorrow is half price day.  There is no fee today or tomorrow.  Adams says the most popular day is the last day of the sale, half price day on Saturday.

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Candidate drops out of race for state legislative seat

A young man seeking to run for state legislative office has bowed out of the race.  Thomas Burke Jr. of Bethel wrote an open letter on his Facebook page Wednesday to the people of the 2nd and 107th Districts.  The Democrat was looking to primary in the 2nd District, but state officials ruled that he switched parties too late to do so.  He then sought to run in the 107th District.  Burke is withdrawing his nomination in the 107th District and will not be seeking to run in the 2nd.

 

Burke said in his statement that he has sought to make the world a better place, whether it was through his military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, or while studying at Yale Divinity School.  When he set out to run for state representative, he learned that nation needs leaders who inspire others to service.

 

Burke said a recent trip leading his church’s youth group to Cuba reminded him of his vocational call to leadership and ministry, noting that that is where he is meant to change the world.

 

He endorsed Republican freshman State Representative Steve Harding has in the 107th District race after several meetings.  Burke said Harding has agreed to introduce and lead legislation that would provide in-state tuition to combat veterans with PTSD and TBI that may have less than honorable discharges. 

 

Burke said he could not endorse either candidate in the 2nd District race.  The open seat is being sought by Republican Will Duff and Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan.

 

Burke also plans to still file a complaint with Connecticut Superior Court against the decision that the State Democratic Committee made about his eligibility to primary in the 2nd.  He said there are laws for a reason, laws that he fought for and his friends died for.  He said he wants a judge to decide, not for himself, but for others like him in the future.

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YMCA Greenknoll branch to close early Friday

One of the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut branches will be closing early on Friday.  The Greenknoll Branch of the YMCA will be closing at 7pm tomorrow.  The facility in Brookfield is typically open until 10pm on Fridays.  The closure includes the outdoor center.  The YMCA says new pumps are being installed in the wells which necessitates turning off the water.  The Greenknoll branch includes indoor and outdoor pools, a cardiovascular room, a strength training room, basketball courts and studio space.  The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut also includes a Children's Center in downtown Bethel and Escape to the Arts in Danbury.

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AAA: Don't play Pokemon Go while driving or walking

Users playing Pokemon Go roam through the physical world searching for virtual Pokemon creatures to catch.  Some have been spotted in Danbury City Hall and at Danbury Library among other locations in the Greater Danbury area.

 

The AAA is warning people about the dangers of playing the "augmented reality" game while driving - or even walking.  It's worried about "tragic real-world consequences" if someone plays the popular smartphone game while behind the wheel or crossing an intersection.

 

Connecticut already prohibits smartphone use while driving.  The safety warning was prompted by the surging popularity of the game.  AAA says it's important that as you're playing the game, you don't forget about reality.

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Sen. Murphy takes on NRA statements about gun violence

In the wake of last week’s string of deadly shootings, Senator Chris Murphy delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday to highlight what he says are flaws in the National Rifle Association's assertion that more guns result in fewer gun deaths.

 

Murphy called it a marketing gimmick for gun companies.  He argued that the best policy is to stop madmen and killers from getting these dangerous weapons in the first place.

 

Texas is an open carry state.  Murphy said between the dozens of police officers and the potentially dozens of armed civilians, there were more "good guys with guns" in the vicinity of one very bad guy with a gun than any other crime scene in recent memory.  Murphy also quoted the Dallas Police Chief, who said it's hard to tell who is the good guy versus the bad guy when everyone starts shooting.

 

Murphy noted that a civilian in the Arizona parking lot where a man shot then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was unable to prevent that shooting, as was the armed security guard in the Orlando nightclub.  Just like a Newtown mother who Murphy says thought her guns would protect her family from harm, only for them to be used by her son to murder her in her sleep and then kill 20 children and 6 educators at Sandy Hook School.

 

If you want to buy a gun for self-defense, Murphy noted that it's an individual call.  He recently met with Connecticut women who came to his office to tell him about their belief that owning a gun was instrumental to their ability to protect themselves.  One woman told Murphy about how having a gun in her purse helped her repel an attacker.

 

But Murphy again quoted the Dallas Police Chief who said other aspects of government need to step up and help police who are putting their lives on the line.  Murphy says after Connecticut implemented a law requiring a permit to be issued before a gun is issued, gun homicides dropped by 40 percent.  He cited other statistics as well.

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Public hearing held about allowing microbrewery in Bethel

A public hearing was held in Bethel last night about allowing a microbrewery in town.  The Planning and Zoning Commission looked at permitting a microbrewery in certain zones.  The old train station building downtown could be leased to Broken Symmetry Gastro Brewery. 

 

The building is owned by the town and was most recently leased to Bethel Cycle.  The space is a single story structure that is 23 feet wide and 79 feet in length with approximately 1,894 square feet.  Bethel received seven bids from people interested in leasing the space. 

 

It was used as a train station from 1899 through 1996. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said in a previous interview that this would be a good addition to downtown Bethel.  He notes that the owner will have up to six months to retrofit the inside of the building once the lease agreement is completed.  Knickerbocker called the owner an experienced restaurateur.

 

Lisa Tassone, owner of La Zingara on P.T. Barnum Square; Chris Sanzeni, a brewer; Kevin Arrington, assistant brewer; and Paul Mannion, owner of the Green Grunion food truck are the people involved in the proposed microbrewery.

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Umpawaug Rd intersection gets a stop sign

New Stop Signs are going to be installed in Redding at Marchant and Umpawaug Road - making it a 3-way stop. Redding Police say this is being done on a trial basis during the Route 53 closure and will be re-evaluated with the Planning Commission after the construction is complete and Route 53 has reopened.

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New Danbury Police Chief sworn in

Police from around the region gathered at Danbury City Hall Monday night for the swearing in of a new Police Chief.  Patrick Ridenhour is the new official leader of the Danbury Police Department.  In introducing Ridenhour, Mayor Mark Boughton said the members of the Department have a long history of being ambassadors for the City.  He notes that the Department also went through a series of evolutions since 2001.

 

Boughton says Ridenhour exceeded expectations during the interview process, saying he has the experience, education and attitude needed to lead Danbury Police.  Boughton says this is a difficult and demanding job, but that with over 27 years of policing Ridenhour will excel  He cite Ridenhour's background in labor relations, advance technology uses, and connecting police to the community at large.

 

 

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.  Ridenhour started with the Waterbury Police Department before being hired as Deputy Chief in Stratford, where he was eventually promoted to Chief in 2012.

 

Ridenhour is a graduate of both the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar in Quantico, Virginia. 

 

Ridenhour 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, and is also an Executive Board member of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

 

 

Ridenhour's father was a police officer, and his son is an officer.  What drew him to Danbury was to take on a new challenge, to meet new people and to work with another group of men and women who are dedicated to public safety.

 

Ridenhour choked up when he acknowledged his parents.  He noted that he owed his professional development to past Waterbury police brass, and thanked the Stratford community for their support. 

 

Ridenhour says he looks forward to working with City officials, the business community and citizens to ensure the police department is meeting its mission.  He said communication and working together is the key.

 

 

Ridenhour had a message for the Danbury Police Department.  He said they are just one link in the chain.  To be successful, he said they must do more than enforcement.  He wants them to continue to be involved in the community, especially with youth.  He noted that police are judged as much by public opinion as by statistics. 

 

Ridenhour said his personal approach to policing is simple, what you see is what you get.

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Tunnel to Towers Foundation raising funds for slain Dallas Officers

An organization created to honor an FDNY member who died at the World Trade Center site on 9/11 is raising money for the families of slain and injured Dallas police officers.  The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation was started by former New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge and his family.  Siller was his cousin.  Hodge's sister Catherine Christman of New Fairfield is also involved in the Foundation.

 

In just a few days 3,500 donors have raised about $400,000.

 

Christman says the thoughts of the Siller family immediately went back to the turmoil, stress and sorrow of what happened on 9/11 with the loss of firefighter Stephen Siller.  Siller was her cousin. 

 

Christman says one way to relieve their stress is to take housing issues off their shoulders.  This is similar to efforts in the wake of the assassination of two NYPD Detectives in 2014.  The Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off the mortgages of Detectives Liu and Ramos.  Their widows were so thankful for what Tunnel to Towers did for their families, they started the Dallas fundraising effort off with $10,000 donations.  Their widows also pledged to travel to Dallas with Foundation members to meet with the spouse of the officers who were killed.

 

Jets player Nick Mangold is now involved in the fundraising effort.  Country singer Naomi Judd is also involved.  She's close with someone in law enforcement.  She sees what they go through first hand in terms of stress and also demonstrating their bravery.

 

People interested in channelling their support of these police officers can contribute to Tunnel to Towers online or 1-844-BRAVEST (1-844-272-8378).

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Local police station an 'E-commerce Safe Zone'

The Brookfield Police station is now an E-Commerce Safe Zone.  The Brookfield Police Department, parking lot and lobby, is now available as a “Safe Zone” where people can conduct their personal, legal E-Commerce transactions. These areas are under 24-hour video surveillance.

 

Although the police will not be involved in any of these private transactions, the program is designed to provide a known, well-lit and secure location at which to conduct their private business.

 

When conducting sales or purchases on Craigslist and other similar online sites, Brookfield Police say people can can request the buyer or seller to meet at this “E-Commerce Safe Zone”. If the other person declines, then it may be a sign the transaction is questionable.

 

Brookfield Police say they are providing this convenient location, not in response to any particular local incident, but as a proactive measure to provide citizens with a location where they can feel safe to conduct their private and legal business, as e-bay and Craigslist style transactions become more common.

 

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Brookfield Police K9 Officer Bruno laid to rest

Brookfield Police K9 Officer Bruno has died.  The 11-year old dog was laid to rest today after more than eight years of service.  Bruno began his career at the Brookfield Police Department with Sgt. Jeffrey Osuch in January of 2008, and faithfully served until this month.  Over the course of his career, Bruno was awarded 1 Life Saving award, 3 Exceptional Service awards, and 1 Unit Citation award in addition to many letters of commendation and thanks. 

 

Bruno was certified in and performed the following Police K-9 functions: narcotics detection, tracking, area and building searching, evidence recovery and handler protection.

 

Bruno was not only called into action in Brookfield, but he was also called in to assist other surrounding Departments. 

 

 

During Bruno’s more than 8 years of service, he was responsible for and assisted with countless drug arrests. Bruno served on a regional Emergency Services Unit and took the lead position on several ESU calls. On one ESU call, Bruno led the Unit on a track of an armed bank robber and assisted during a several hour standoff with the suspect.

 

Not only did Bruno track several armed and unarmed criminal suspects over his career but he tracked missing adults/children and suicidal persons as well. Most recently, in February of 2016, Bruno successfully tracked a suicidal 17 year old female, in the dead of winter, which helped save her life.

 

In addition to his front-line police duties, Bruno participated in numerous public relations and informational demonstrations in the community.

 


"We extend our sincere gratitude to City of Danbury Police Department, New Milford Police Department, Ridgefield CT Police Department, Wilton, CT Police Department, Wilton, CT Police K9 Unit, Bethel Police Department, Newtown Police Department, Newtown Police K9 Unit, Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police, and Connecticut State Police for assisting us with honoring Officer Bruno today! GOOD BOY BRUNO!!"  - BPD

 

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5 sites chosen as priority bird habitats in Connecticut

SHARON, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut state officials are collaborating with conservationists on a new effort to protect local bird species.

Five sites around the state have been chosen by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Audubon Connecticut as areas where birds are in the greatest need of conservation.

The so-called Important Bird Areas announced Monday include state-owned as well as privately held lands. Landowners can be eligible for grants to promote protection efforts.

The sites span forested areas of towns including Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Kent, Sharon, and Lakeville.

Audubon Connecticut director Stewart Hudson says the measure will help protect species of global concern such as the Cerulean Warbler, the Saltmarsh Sparrow and the Wood Thrush.

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Charities team up to provide kids with bikes for triathlons

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A kids' triathlon program created by the family of a Sandy Hook shooting victim is getting some help from another Connecticut charity as it expands throughout the state and beyond.

Bikes for Kids is providing 200 bicycles to be used in the Race4Chase Youth Triathlon program, which was created by the parents of Chase Kowalski. Chase competed in his first kids triathlon just months before the 7-year-old was killed along with 19 classmates and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012.

The six-week triathlon training camps started in 2014 at a YMCA branch in Western Connecticut. They are now in 14 YMCAs in Connecticut and another in South Carolina, with more expansion plans on the horizon.

Campers who don't have bikes will be able to take one home.

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Funds available for Connecticut marine waste facilities

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is accepting grant applications from owners and operators of marine facilities that want to install new marine sewage disposal facilities.

More than $1 million in federal funds will be available to facilities on Long Island Sound and Candlewood Lake for next year's boating season.

Those with existing pump out stations that need substantial repairs or upgrades and those seeking to operate new or existing marine sewage disposal facilities can also apply for funds.

Grant proposals are due Aug. 8. Up to 75 percent of the cost of an approved project may be reimbursed under the program.

Officials hope to increase the availability of proper waste handling systems for boaters and ultimately improve water quality.

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New Police Chief to be sworn in tonight in Danbury

A new Police Chief will be sworn in tonight at Danbury City Hall.  Members of the City Council offered praise at their monthly meeting for retiring Chief Al Baker.

 

Councilman Phil Curren thanked Baker for his years of service, and wished him the best.  He added that Baker and his wife were assets to the community, and it will be ashame when they move back to Wisconsin. 

 

Councilman Gregg Seabury said Baker was always very responsive.

 

Councilman Tom Saadi thanked Baker on behalf of 411th Civil Affairs Battalion for security at the Armed Forces Reserve Center and for the police presence at a send off ceremony last month.  Both of Baker's sons are in the military.

 

Councilman Paul Rotello says crime is way down and noted that Danbury is one of the safest cities in the country.

 

Council President Joe Cavo said Baker has been a professional from the minute he set foot in Danbury.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says he remembers interviewing Baker in 2005.  Boughton says he called Baker while he was still at the airport to say that he got the job.  The Mayor also praised Baker for helping to work to open a state of the art building, which he says will serve the community for 100 years.

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Scholarship program aids immigrants facing restrictions

WINDHAM, Conn. (AP) -- Ivonne Barcenas grew up in the hometown of the University of Georgia and had hopes of studying there - until she found out that immigrants without permanent legal status are prohibited from attending the state's top public universities.

Instead Barcenas, whose family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 3, this fall will be attending a public university in Connecticut, a state with more immigrant-friendly higher education policies. She will study at Eastern Connecticut State University under a scholarship program designed to help immigrants like her in 16 states where they are barred from top state schools or ineligible for in-state tuition.

Barcenas, 18, graduated with honors last month in a ceremony at the University of Georgia. She was accepted to a private college, but says she did not have the money to attend.

"A lot of opportunities were shut down to me because of my status," she said through tears in an interview this week. "I mostly took AP classes in high school, because I thought that was as close as I would ever get to a college experience."

She learned recently she was one of 46 students awarded a private scholarship to attend Eastern Connecticut, which along with Delaware State University is partnering to host students in the program sponsored by TheDream.Us, a national scholarship fund.

The four-year scholarships, which are worth up to $20,000 a year, are available to a group of immigrants known as DREAMers, who are covered under a 2012 federal policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The policy allows certain individuals who entered the U.S. before 2007 and before their 16th birthday to receive a renewable, two-year work permit and a Social Security number, which allows them to get a job.

Five of the 46 scholarship recipients who will attend Eastern in the fall are from Connecticut, which in 2011 passed a law allowing students with DREAMer status living here to pay in-state tuition.

That law and the scholarship program have been criticized by several groups that support stricter immigration laws.

Elise Marciano, president of the Danbury-based United States Citizens for Immigration Law Enforcement, said the students have "no business" attending schools that are operated with taxpayer money.

"A student in this situation is taking the place of an American student," she said. "We, as taxpayers do not want to be educating people from other countries. They don't belong in America and we don't need to be funding their education."

Mark E. Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said no students were bumped from being admitted to Eastern by the scholars and no taxpayer money is being used to fund their education.

"This in no way takes away anything from Connecticut students or Connecticut residents," he said. "This is an independent organization that decided Connecticut was a great environment to pilot the program."

He said the school will provide the students with some special services, such as liaisons to help them navigate the program. He said they also will make sure the scholars, most of whom come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds in the South, have coats, hats and boots to wear during the cold Connecticut winter.

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DEEP opposes expansion of marina on Lake Lillinonah

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has written to a federal agency in opposition to a marina expansion on Lake Lillinonah.  In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DEEP said they were concerned with the proposed expansion of West Cove Marina from 25 slips to 136 slips. 

 

DEEP rejected a November proposal to expand to 160 boat slips. 

 

The letter says that this branch of Lake Lillinonah is very narrow and based on current conditions there have been a number of documented reports of conflicts between rowers and motorboats in this particular section of the lake.  The state says in the interest of navigation safety and to avoid traffic congestion, the department does not support the expansion of West Cove Marina. 

 

In the 2015 denial letter, DEEP wrote that they would support a smaller expansion of the marina if the applicant were to provide historical documentation about the maximum authorized operating size.

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Danbury Police Chief to mark last day on the job on Monday

Danbury Police Chief Al Baker will serve his final day at the head of the Danbury Police Department on Monday, handing over the reins to Chief Patrick Ridenhour.  Ridenhour, a 28-year law enforcement veteran, comes to Danbury from Stratford.

 

Baker is retiring after 42 years in law enforcement and 11 years with Danbury Police, to move back to Wisconsin.  His wife retired last year, and he says they are looking forward to spending more time with their grandchildren. 

 

He has led Danbury Police through a period of transition, including into a new building and to civilian dispatching.  Baker says he's gotten a lot of support from Danbury government and from the Department to make these changes.  The ultimate goal of civilian dispatching was to put more officers back on the roads.  Officers go through nearly a year of training, so Baker says they would rather put that to use on the streets rather than answering telephones. 

 

Baker says he's particularly proud of Danbury being named one of the safest cities in Connecticut.  He also touted recent arrests in cold cases, which he says speaks to the perseverance of Danbury officers.  Baker says he's proud of the community support and public trust that the department enjoys.  He notes that law enforcement doesn't seem to have the same level of respect as it did even five years ago, but despite that the officers still work hard.  In Danbury, Baker says the Department enjoys the support of the community, and notes that the officers work hard to safeguard that every day.

 

The Chief says members of the Department are hard workers, and very honorable people who do some very good things with very limited resources.  Baker says he's grateful for support from City officials and taxpayers for the latest technology in order to better serve the community. 

 

Baker says the issues and the problems police see are universal.  In the past decade, technology has changed significantly.  There's a new computer system in place, which is used by most departments in the state.  They also don't use paper anymore, all reports are done on the computer.  Officers are also using cell phones a lot more.

 

On his last day, Ridenhour's first day, the Danbury Police Department is set to go through Tier 1 Accreditation.  It's a project that's been in the works for about a decade.  Baker says this will provide a systematic review of methods, policies and procedures to help Danbury become a better police department. 

 

He's met regularly with Ridenhour and expects a smooth transition next week.  Baker thinks Ridenhour will fit in well because he is familiar with Connecticut policing and is attuned to the issues in Danbury.  But Baker has a list of items to go over with Ridenhour.  The new Chief will be updated on the current status of projects and personnel matters so he will be fully informed when he takes the helm.

 

Negotiations of a union contract will be in the hands of the next Chief.

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Danbury authorizes funding for Shelter Rock School temporary classrooms

The Danbury City Council has authorized up to $490,000 to buy temporary classrooms for Shelter Rock Elementary School.  About 60 percent of the cost will be reimbursed by the state. 

 

The city's school enrollment is growing by 2.5 percent annually, but Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sal Pascarella says enrollment at the elementary school level has jumped as high as 5 percent in some cases.  He noted that redistricting was done two years ago, after 18 classrooms were added.  There is a sister-school agreement with Stadley Rough Elementary School as well.  But Pascarella says there's no room there anymore.

 

Pascarella says they've converted the space inside the building by turning the stage and pockets in media center into classrooms.  The average class size at Shelter Rock is 28 or 29 kids.

 

4th Ward Council members previously met with the Shelter Rock PTO about classroom overcrowding, and were pleased with the allocation.

 

Councilman Tom Saadi says this is possible because of a change in state law that now allows for reimbursement for temporary classrooms.  Before, it had to be permanent construction in order to be eligible for reimbursement.  Saadi says if Danbury doesn't need the temporary classrooms at Shelter Rock down the road, they can be utilized somewhere else.  Prior to the change in state law, municipalities were locked in to building classrooms that may be underutilized in the future.

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New state laws now in place regarding the elderly

With the start of the new fiscal year, many new laws took effect in Connecticut.  Several of the new laws that took effect July 1st concern the elderly. 

 

One is about Methadone treatment in nursing homes.  Previously, nursing home patients receiving methadone treatment for opioid addiction generally had to receive that treatment at a separate substance abuse treatment facility rather than in the nursing home.  A new law allows these substance abuse treatment facilities to provide this care directly at nursing homes, subject to the Department of Public Health commissioner's approval.  The Commissioner may grant the request if he determines that it would not endanger the health, safety or welfare of any patient.

 

One is about notice to nursing home residents.  A new law adds an informational letter on patients' rights and available services to the written notice that long-term care facilities must provide to patients and other parties when planning to terminate a service or substantially decrease bed capacity.  The informational letter must be one jointly issued by the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the Department of Aging.

 

A new law extends to nursing homes existing requirements for hospitals regarding the designation of patient caregivers at the time of a patient's discharge.  Among other things , the nursing home, when discharging a resident to his or her home, must allow the resident or their representative to designate a caregiver at or before receiving the discharge.  The nursing home must also attempt to notify the designated caregiver of the discharge, and instruct the caregiver on post-discharge tasks they will assist the resident with at home.  This law takes effect October 1st.

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Select areas of Lake Zoar will be chemically treated with herbicide

Select areas of Lake Zoar will be chemically treated with herbicide and copper sulfate algaecide, targeting aquatic nuisance plants of Eurasian milfoil and curlyleaf pondweed. The treatment is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday. If the treatment does not occur due to inclement weather, the back-up date will be the following Wednesday, July 20th.

 

Prior to treatment, the lake shoreline in the treatment areas and at public access sites will be posted with printed signs in accordance with state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requirements.  A map showing the specific treatment areas will be posted at the State Boat Ramp and at other public access sites, prior to treatment.

 

The shorelines of treated areas will be posted with signs that list the following temporary water use restrictions to be imposed in treated areas: no swimming in treated areas on the day of treatment; no use of treated lake water for drinking purposes for 3 days, no use of treated lake water for livestock or domestic animal consumption for 1 day, no use of treated lake water for irrigating turf or ornamentals for 3 days, no use of treated lake water for irrigating food crops or production ornamentals for 5 days.

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Squantz Pond beach closed due to water quality concerns

Squantz Pond State Park swim area is closed today.  According to a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection water quality report, there is elevated bacteria levels in the water.  DEEP officials say that is a common occurrence from storm water runoff, and the closure is a precaution until more testing can be done.  The park itself is open.

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Blue green algae bloom closes New Fairfield Town Park swim area

New Fairfield town park on Candlewood Lake is closed again today because of blue green algae, which can emit toxins harmful to people and pets.  Officials tested the water again today . Executive Director of the candlewood lake Authority Larry Marsicano says there's a lot of variables that create blue green algae which can have high toxin levels.

 

Marsicano says blue-green algae occurs naturally in lakes and ponds, especially when temperatures are high and phosphorus levels rise because of storm water runoff.  The swim area at Kettletown State Park was closed for more than a week last summer because of blue green algae.  Beach closures in the Greater Danbury area haven't been as long as the one at Kettletown.

 

Marsicano checked New Milford, and lifeguards at other town parks are checking the transparency levels.  He says that is a surrogate measurement of how much algae is in the water.

 

People exposed to the toxins by ingesting, inhaling or coming into contact with the algae have experienced irritation of the skin and respiratory tract; vomiting; and, if large amounts of the toxins are ingested, ailments of the liver or nervous system.

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Senate candidate takes fact finding trip to Israel

Republican US Senate Candidate Dan Carter took a fact finding mission to Tel Aviv, Israel last week.  He arrived in Israel Monday and returned to Connecticut Wednesday.

 

With uncertainty in the world, Carter says he wanted to meet with leaders and dignitaries to discuss national security, and the global war on terror.  Carter said his years of service in the military taught him that policies made from behind a desk don't always deliver desired results.

 

He called Israel one of America's greatest allies to better understand how to work together to solve some of the world's greatest problems.

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Bagelman considered for lease at Danbury Library cafe

A temporary vendor is being considered for the cafe attached to Danbury Library.  The Danbury City Council is being asked to consider a lease with Bagelman for a six month trial.  The bagel business has locations in Danbury and Brookfield.  The cafe has been vacant since February, when the previous operator decided to move on to other ventures.  There would be a potential for Bagelman to continue on a more long-term basis after the trial period.  The City Council is meeting tonight.

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New Fairfield officials concerned with 'walk ins' at Squantz Pond

New Fairfield officials are once again raising concerns about overcrowding at Squantz Pond State Park.  The state department of Energy and Environmental Protection lowered the cap on cars allowed to park at the site from 250, to 200 over the holiday weekend. 

 

On Independence Day, Squantz Pond reached capacity and was closed to cars by 8:15am.  But New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman says the lifeguards are still strained because DEEP won't ban walk ins.  DEEP officials say limiting walk-ins would have to be done through a standing committee of the General Assembly. 

 

DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain says walk-ins are an issue at other parks, particularly with swim areas, but more so at Squantz because of its location.  The entrance to the park is on a curve along a major thoroughfare, which has caused pedestrian safety concerns.

 

Schain says they have been working on language to limit walk-ins.  He hopes to have something approved by the Regulations Review Committee and in place by next summer. 

 

DEEP charges by the car at most State Parks and Forests.  There is no fee for walk-ins.

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Former City Councilwoman nominated to fill vacancy on Council

Former City Council member Colleen Stanley has been nominated by the Danbury Republican Town Committee to fill a vacancy on the City Council.

 

Stanley would replace Jack Knapp, who resigned last month to focus on his responsibilities as chairman of the Danbury Republican Town Committee.  Her appointment is subject to approval by the City Council, where Republicans hold a majority.

 

Stanley was elected to the Council in 2003, but resigned last year when she moved out of town. She has since moved back to the city.  

 

She owns American Paving in Danbury.

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Holiday law enforcement crackdown held in Carmel

In an effort to curb drunk driving during this Holiday weekend, predicted to be one of the busiest in terms of those traveling by motor vehicle, New York State Police conducted a DWI Roadcheck in the Town of Carmel from late night July 1st into the early morning hours of July 2nd. Troopers screened over 96 cars resulting in 1 Felony DWI Arrest, 2 Misdemeanor DWI arrests and 3 Unlawful Possession of Marijuana arrests. New York State Police says they remain committed to their mission of keeping the roadways safe for those traveling during this busy holiday and will continue these efforts throughout this summer.

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Squantz Pond In New Fairfield Filled Early On 4th

Squantz Pond State Park reached capacity and closed to new cars by 8:15 a.m. Monday, the second time the park closed early during the holiday weekend. The park reached capacity by 9 a.m. Sunday.

 

While the park closed to new cars, there isn’t a policy restricting walk-ins. Many parked their cars at nearby parking lots or on side streets on Sunday and walked to the beach along Route 37. Some carried coolers side-by-side and were in the road. First Selectman Susan Chapman has advocated for the state to create a policy restricting walk-ins for two years. She said it’s unsafe to have beachgoers walking along Route 37 because it’s a busy road. She also worries allowing walk-ins would create large crowds that the lifeguards can’t monitor as effectively. On Sunday, Chapman tweeted the state “needs to declare a moratorium on walk-ins at Squantz Pond State Park.”

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Environmental officials remind boaters to 'Clean, Drain, Dry'

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is asking boaters to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals.  Zebra mussels, black and white-striped bivalve mollusks, were discovered in Lake Zoar and Lake Lillinonah in 2010.  These were the first new reports of zebra mussels in Connecticut since 1998 when they were discovered in East and West Twin Lakes in Salisbury. 

 

Numerous invasive plants have been introduced into Connecticut waters in recent years. These invasive plants can form dense mats, making boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities nearly impossible.

 

Boaters can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals through a three step process: Clean, Drain, Dry. 

 

Before leaving a boat launch, clean all visible plant, fish, and animals as well as mud or other debris.  Drain all water from every space and item that may hold water.  Then at home or prior to your next launch, dry anything that comes in contact with water.

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State touts hiking challenge as activity to get families outdoors

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is urging people to get outdoors this summer.  DEEP has launched their second annual Sky is the Limit Hiking Challenge.  DEEP says it's a friendly competition where participants will receive a medallion for hiking at 10 state parks and forests, if they meet the requirements. 

 

Last year, hundreds of people hiked to 14 of Connecticut’s high peaks and received prizes for their efforts.  This year's challenge highlights bodies of water: lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, canals, and wetlands.  

 

Hikers need to take photos at two designated locations in each of the participating properties, and once 10 are completed , email them to DEEP.  Among the state parks participating, are Collis Huntington in Redding, Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and Black Rock in Watertown. 

 

Residents have until December 9th to email photos to claim a prize.

 

To receive a medallion and certificate, email your photos (a picture of yourself at ten of the “A” and “B” locations listed above), along with your name and home address , to deep.stateparks@ct.gov or mail to CT DEEP State Parks, Sky’s the Limit, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106. Entries must be received by December 9, 2016.

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